Build Full Body Strength with Dumbbells

The Dumbbell Workout Handbook: Strength & Power is an all-new collection of dumbbell workouts to create a complete fitness program focused on using dumbbells to pack on muscle, build power and burn fat while improving total body conditioning.

Developed by best-selling fitness author and strength and conditioning expert Mike Volkmar, this collection contains workout circuits perfect for every fitness level, from beginner to advanced. Below, check out Mike’s thoughts on building Full Body Strength with only dumbbells.

Let’s get right down to it.  Dumbbells are my favorite piece in the gym because I can get a killer full body workout.  I also love how versatile they are compared to barbells and machines.  Finally, I appreciate how they can progress with you from beginner to advanced workouts.

I challenge you to give me an foundation exercise I cannot do with only a set of dumbbells.

  • Deadlift – Sumo, RDL, and Single Leg Deadlift
  • Squat – Goblet, Pause Squat, and 1.5 Squat
  • Bench Press – Incline, Decline, and Single Arm Bench Press
  • Pull up / Chin up
  • Row – Supported Row, Single Arm, and the traditional Row
  • Lunge – Reverse Lunge, Bulgarian Squat, and Lateral Lunge
  • Farmer Carry – Single Arm, Mixed (1 by your side / 1 hold at the shoulder), and Off Set (different weights) Carries
  • Jump – Squat or Broad Jump
  • Glute Bridge / Hip Thrust – Double leg or Single Leg for each variation
  • Shoulder Press – Traditional Shoulder Press, Single Arm, and Push Press
  • Leg Curl – Slider Leg curl

That above list is quite exhaustive for one, single piece of exercise equipment.

I will grant you, stacking a barbell with 3 plates on both sides cannot be duplicated with a pair of dumbbells.  If pure strength was your primary objective, this is not news to you.  However, a pair of 125 lbs Power Blocks can take you a long way.  Are you bench pressing or RDL (Romanian Deadlift) 250 lbs of dumbbells?  Me neither.  With that said, as seen from the above list, you still hit every single muscle with all the foundation exercises with just a pair of dumbbells.


I also love the versatility of a pair of dumbbells:

  • Dumbbells allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), which increases core stability for athletes and can improve on any muscular imbalances created by the lifter.
  • Dumbbells are safer than other weight tools those who train by themselves. For example, you can simply drop a heavy set of dumbbells after a brutal set of bench presses, instead of having the barbell pin you to the bench.
  • As the above list shows, dumbbells afford a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout, enhancing potential growth.
  • Dumbbells are perfect for the at-home exercisers with limited space. Do you have a small apartment? Do you not have a garage? A set of Power Block dumbbells takes up only 2 square feet of space and still allows for full body workouts.


Finally, dumbbells allow for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced workouts.

  • Dumbbells easily allow you to increase your weights as your strength improves.
  • They allow you to constantly challenge yourself with increasingly difficult single leg or single arm exercises.
  • Finally, they allow you to train for Size (additional reps and sets), Strength (heavy weights), and Power (Maximum repetition speed).


For those three compelling reasons…

  1. Exercise Versatility
  2. Multiple Applications
  3. Program Progression

I strongly believe that dumbbells can make a huge impact on most people’s lifelong pursuit of strength and your body’s happiness. What are you waiting for? For more information on using dumbbells for building strength, check out The Dumbbell Workout Handbook: Strength & Power.



MICHAEL VOLKMAR, MS, CSCS, PES, CPT, received his master’s degree in Exercise Science with a specialization in Exercise, Nutrition, and Eating Behavior from George Washington University (GWU). In 2001, Mike started his well-traveled path in Sports Performance Training at the Junior College level (OCC, Onondaga, NY) working with the baseball team. He worked for three years as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at GWU, first with the Single A affiliate (High Desert Mavericks) of the Milwaukee Brewers, and later season with the Double A affiliate (Harrisburg Senators) of the Washington Nationals, before moving on to spend one year at the International Performance Institute of IMG Academies, FL. Mike continued his professional development by becoming the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the APEX Academies. Currently, Mike is the strength and conditioning coach at the Peddie School. A Division I baseball player during his undergraduate career, Mike is an amateur powerlifter with a passion for all things fitness.  Mike has advanced specialty certifications in strength and conditioning, post-rehab exercise, athletic development, and sports medicine.