30 Best Functional Dumbbell Exercises to Scale Your Fitness

Functional Dumbbell Exercises

If you want to incorporate dumbbell exercises in your functional training, you need a comprehensive list of all exercises. It’s not easy to get them all in one place, as they are hardly available.

To save you time and effort, I’ve assembled the 30 best dumbbell functional exercises in this article for those who train at home with limited equipment.

These exercises will help you build muscle, increase strength, and improve your functional fitness and body composition.

I’ll also share a functional dumbbell workout routine at the end of this article that you can try for a few months to see the change in your body aesthetics.

Benefits of Doing Functional Workouts Using Dumbbells

Dumbbells allow you to perform various functional exercises at home and in the gym.

They provide freedom of movement and let you control the intensity of exercise depending on your fitness level.

They are also easy to grasp and allow you to perform both unilateral and bilateral movements effectively.

Doing functional training with dumbbells also torches significant calories, increases VO2 max, and promotes overall fitness.

The 30 Best Functional Dumbbell Exercises to Transform Your Fitness

  1. Man maker
  2. Burpees
  3. Push Press
  4. Single-arm Squat Snatch
  5. Hang Squat Clean
  6. Squat to Shoulder Press
  7. Carry Fast Walk
  8. Thrusters
  9. Clean And Press
  10. Hang Power Clean
  11. Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
  12. Pushup To Renegade Row
  13. Dumbbell Clusters
  14. Russian Twist
  15. Dumbbell Jumping Jacks
  16. Straight Arm Sit-ups
  17. Lunges to Overhead Press
  18. Shadowboxing
  19. Leg Raises
  20. Stiff-leg Deadlift to Upright Row
  21. Side Plank Rotation
  22. Weighted Pull-ups
  23. Bent Over Rows to Fly
  24. Step-up
  25. Push Jerk
  26. Standing IYT Raises
  27. Side Bend
  28. Bench Press
  29. Reverse Crunches
  30. Overhead Squat

Let’s see how to perform each exercise with step-by-step instructions.

About Exercise

  • Equipment Needed: Dumbbells Only
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Muscles Worked: Integrated Full Body

Exercise Benefits

  • It targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
  • Develop strength in the upper and lower body.
  • It combines several exercises into one, making it a time-efficient full-body exercise.
  • It incorporates a cardio element as well as strength benefits, helping you achieve better fitness.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, get into a high plank position with your arms straight below your shoulders and feet two times hip-width apart.
  2. Perform a pushup, and as you complete it, lift your right arm off the floor and row the dumbbell at your side. Then, repeat the same on your opposite side.
  3. Now, return to the standing position, perform one regular squat, and push through your heels to stand upright and press the dumbbell overhead. That is your one repetition.

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Muscles Worked: Chest, Legs, and Abs

Exercise Benefits

The burpee is a full-body exercise that burns more calories than other exercises, tones muscles, enhances strength and stamina and improves muscle coordination.

How-to Instructions

A dumbbell burpee includes three movements: a quarter squat, push-ups, and jumping. You can see the steps below.

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand upright and keep your hands at your sides.
  2. Hinge at your hips, lower the dumbbells onto the ground, kick your legs behind you, and get into the up position of a pushup. Perform one pushup.
  3. As you complete the pushup, quickly bring your legs forward and push through your heels to jump in the air. And then land your feet on the ground and go for the push-up again.
  4. At the time of the jump, hold your arms straight at your sides. Perform each rep as quickly as possible.
Psuh Press, A Dumbbell Functional Workout

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Muscles Worked: Shoulder, Legs, Abs, and Triceps

Exercise Benefits

  • DB push press engages multiple muscles from the upper to the lower body, especially the shoulders.
  • It improves explosiveness and endurance and enhances athletic fitness.

How-to Instructions

  1. Start with standing in the hip-width stance, holding one dumbbell in each hand just over your shoulders.
  2. Slightly bend your knees and then quickly extend your hips and legs to press the dumbbell overhead until your arms are completely straight. That is your one repetition.

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Legs, and Abs

Exercise Benefits

The dumbbell snatch is an excellent movement that helps increase strength and power.

How-to Instructions

  1. Place one dumbbell on the floor and stand upright in a shoulder-width stance (in front of the dumbbell).
  2. Bend forward, get into a partial squat position, and lower your right arm to snatch the dumbbell from the floor.
  3. Holding the dumbbell, extend your arm overhead. As you reach halfway, quickly explode up out of the squat and use the energy to press the dumbbell overhead and stall tall.
  4. Do not round your back during the entire movement.

5. Dumbbell Hang Squat Clean

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Muscles Worked: Legs, Shoulder, and Core

Exercise Benefits

The hang squat helps increase explosive power and endurance. It provides combined benefits of strength and cardiovascular training, making it a time-efficient exercise.

How-to Instructions

  1. Start with standing in the hip-width stance, holding a dumbbell in each hand, and keep your arms straight at your sides with your palms facing your body.
  2. Driving through your heels and exploding up while shrugging the dumbbells to catch them on your shoulders.
  3. Extend your hips quickly to stand straight and lower the dumbbells to the start. That’s your one rep.
  4. Dumbbells should be close to your body during the entire movement.

6. Dumbbell Squat to Shoulder Press

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Muscles Worked: Legs, Shoulder, and Core

Exercise Benefits

  • The squat-to-press is a combination of two exercises, allowing you to bolster a group of muscles in a limited time.
  • It reinforces the quads in the lower body and shoulders in the upper body, helping you build a firm and aesthetic physique.

How-to Instructions

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand straight in the hip-width stance, and hold the dumbbell on your shoulders.
  2. Perform a squat. And pushing through your heels to return to the standing position.
  3. Now, press the dumbbell up until your arms are straight overhead.
  4. Keep your core tight and back straight throughout the movement.

7. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Beginner
  • Target Muscles: Lower Body and Arms

Exercise Benefits

Walking with holding weights can help develop strength, stamina, and power.1 Woulfe, Colm Master of Sport & Exercise, MSc1; Harris, Nigel PhD1; Keogh, Justin PhD2; Wood, Matthew MHSc1. The Physiology of Strongman Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 36(6):p 84-95, December 2014. | DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000104 This movement seems easy. However, holding weight and walking 200 to 500 meters can be challenging for many people.

How-to Instructions

To do this movement, grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, hold it at your sides, and walk as fast as possible.

Pick dumbbells according to your strength. You can also do this exercise on the treadmill.

8. Dumbbell Thrusters

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Shoulders and Legs

Exercise Benefits

  • The thruster hits the legs and shoulders and strengthens the whole body.
  • It also helps increase endurance, explosiveness, strength, and mobility.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand straight in the shoulder-width stance. Keep your arms straight at your sides with your palms facing each other.
  2. Slightly push your hips back and drive up while swinging the dumbbells above your shoulders.
  3. Now, keeping your core engaged, lower your body in the squatting position. Again, dumbbells should be resting on your shoulders.
  4. Lastly, explode up and extend your knees and hips to stand upright. And then press the dumbbells overhead. That is your one rep.
  5. Do this exercise as fast as possible, but maintain a proper form.

9. Dumbbell Clean And Press

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Target Muscles: Integrated Full Body

Exercise Benefits

  • The clean and press is a total body compound movement that improves agility, strength, and power.
  • It also kindles plenty of calories in a quick time while bolstering multiple muscles simultaneously.

How-to Instructions

I’ve already shared a complete guide on clean and press, so you can check it out to learn more about it.

10. Dumbbell Hang Power Clean

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Delts, Arms, and Abdominals

Exercise Benefits

The hang power clean is an intense movement that increases blood flow, pumps your heart, destroys decent calories in a quick time, and promotes overall fitness.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand upright and let the dumbbell hang at your sides close to the body.
  2. Slightly bend your knees and swing the dumbbells back.
  3. Now, swiftly extend your knees and hips, and pull the dumbbells upward until they are on your shoulders.

11. Single-arm Dumbbell Swing

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Beginner
  • Target Muscles: Shoulders and Abs

Exercise Benefits

You don’t always need a kettlebell to perform the dumbbell swing. You can also do that efficiently with dumbbells.

The dumbbell swings help improve speed and endurance and ignite considerable calories in a limited time while strengthening your anterior deltoids and abdominal muscles.

How-to Instructions

  1. Stand tall in the shoulder-width stance, holding one dumbbell in your right hand with an overhand grip in front of your hips.
  2. Slightly bend your knees and lower the dumbbell so it comes between your legs.
  3. Extend your knees, thrust your hips forward, and simultaneously swing the dumbbell upward until it is in front of your face. That’s your one repetition.

12. Dumbbell Pushup To Renegade Row

Renegade Row

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Target Muscles: Upper Body

Exercise Benefits

The push-up to renegade row is a great functional movement that strengthens upper body muscles such as arms, shoulders, back, and chest.

With this exercise, you’ll not only develop a muscular torso but also torch substantial calories, heighten mobility, and elevate your performance.

How-to Instructions

  1. Gripping the dumbbells with a neutral grip, get into a high plank position with your arms straight underneath your shoulders and feet two times wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Perform a push-up and row the dumbbells at your sides alternatively.
  3. Keep your core tight and back straight throughout the movement.

13. Dumbbell Clusters

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Delts, Legs, and Arms

Exercise Benefits

The dumbbell cluster involves doing a squat jump and overhead press together, making it an excellent exercise for improving strength and aerobic fitness simultaneously.

How-to Instructions

  1. Place one dumbbell beside your feet and stand tall in the hip-width stance.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip. Your back should be flat while lowering down.
  3. As you grab the dumbbells, drive through your heels and explode up while shrugging the dumbbells to catch them on your shoulders.
  4. Then, extend your hips and legs quickly to stand straight. And then press the dumbbells up until your arms are straight overhead.
  5. As you press the dumbbells overhead, quickly push your hips back and lower the dumbbell until they touch the ground (beside your feet) and repeat for the desired number of times.

14. Dumbbell Russian Twist

crossfit dumbbell exercises

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Obliques

Exercise Benefits

The Russian twist is a core strengthening exercise that primarily works on obliques, helps thicken six-pack abs, and improves the midsection appearance.

How-to Instructions

  1. Grab one dumbbell with your hands and sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend your elbows and hold the dumbbells in front of your stomach.
  3. Lift your feet some inches off the floor and twist your torso from right to left and left to right for as long as possible.

15. Dumbbell Jumping Jacks

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Full-Body

Exercise Benefits

  • Jumping jack is an excellent way to pump your heart, increase blood flow, and kindle plenty of calories in a quick time.
  • Besides enhancing cardiovascular fitness, it also strengthens the legs and shoulders.

How-to Instructions

  1. Stand tall, holding one light dumbbell in each hand at your side.
  2. Now, jump your feet out and raise your arms over your head simultaneously.
  3. Jump as high as possible and then softly land your feet on the ground.

16. Dumbbell Straight Arm Sit-ups

Sit-up Exercise

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Mat
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Muscles Worked: Abdominals

Exercise Benefits

The weighted crunches help forge the abdominal muscles, increase your stamina, and reveal six-pack abs.

How to perform sit-ups with dumbbells:

  1. Pick one dumbbell in each hand, lie on the mat on your back, and hold your arms straight over your chest.
  2. Bend your knees in front of you, brace your core, and lift your torso off the floor until your abs are entirely engaged. Now, return to the starting position.
  3. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement.

17. Dumbbell Lunges to Overhead Press

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Legs, Glutes, Abs, and Shoulders

Exercise Benefits

The lunge to overhead press is a multi-movement exercise that works on multiple muscles, particularly the legs and delts. Incorporating this kind of exercise into a functional training program is crucial for building up total body strength.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand to a level of your ears, stand straight in the hip-width stance.
  2. Take one large step forward, perform a lunge, and press the weight until your arms are straight.
  3. Lower the dumbbells and repeat on the opposite side to complete your one repetition.

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Total Body

Exercise Benefits

You don’t always need a punching bag to punch hook, jab, cross, and uppercut. You can do that by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Doing shadowboxing with dumbbells is excellent for burning significant calories and enhancing endurance.

How-to Instructions

Grab a pair of light dumbbells, stand in front of the mirror, and do various boxing punches, such as jab, the cross, uppercut, and the hook.

19. Dumbbell Leg Raises

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Mat
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Abdominals

Exercise Benefits

The leg raise primarily works on the lower abs and helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles.

How-to Instructions

  1. Sit on the mat and clamp a dumbbell between your feet.
  2. Extend your legs straight on the floor, lie on your back, and raise your legs toward the ceiling until your abs are fully engaged.
  3. Hold for a second and lower your legs back on the ground.

20. Stiff-leg Deadlift to Upright Row

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Target Muscles: Legs and Traps

Exercise Benefits

The Stiff-Leg Deadlifts to Upright Row is a compound functional exercise that works on multiple muscles simultaneously. The SDL strengthens the hamstrings and glutes while making them flexible, and the upright rows engage the shoulder and upper back muscles. The combination of these two exercises improves strength, posture, and overall muscularity.

How-to Instructions

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
  2. Pushing your hips back, bend forward, and lower the dumbbells till they reach your shin level.
  3. Extend your hips to return to the standing position and pull the dumbbells toward your neck to complete the row.

21. Dumbbell Side Plank Rotation

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Midsection

Exercise Benefits

The side plank rotation is an advanced core exercise that mainly engages obliques, improves core stability, and helps build solid abs.

How-to Instructions

  1. Get into the side plank position, holding one dumbbell straight over your body in your hand.
  2. Bring the dumbbell down and reach under while keeping your torso stable.
  3. Then, bring your arm back to the starting position. That’s your one rep.

22. Weighted Pull-up

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Pull-up Bar
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Back, Biceps, and Abs

Exercise Benefits

The pull-up helps develop a wide and sizable back. It also activates other muscles, such as the biceps and abs. Adding dumbbells to it will take your pulling strength to the next level and help forge a muscular torso.

How-to Instructions

  1. Get onto the pull bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, holding one dumbbell with both feet. That is your starting position.
  2. Pull yourself up until your face crosses the bar, lower it down, and repeat.

23. Dumbbell Bent Over Rows to Fly

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Upper Back and Posterior Delts

Exercise Benefits

The row to fly reinforces the back and rear deltoid together and makes your trunk firm and flexible.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean forward and keep your arms straight below your chest.
  3. Pull your elbows in until your lats are entirely engaged, and return to the start.
  4. Now, raise your arms outward until you feel the full contraction in the back of your shoulders.

24. Dumbbell Box Step-up

Dumbbell Step-up

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Bench/Box
  • Exercise Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Legs and Glutes

Exercise Benefits

The step-up is an excellent workout to increase strength, endurance, and mobility. It helps you anneal your legs and glutes and boosts your athletic performance.

How-to Instructions

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand upright against a box/flat bench.
  2. Step your right foot on the bench, followed by the left one.
  3. Return to the start and repeat.

25. Dumbbell Push Jerk

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Shoulder

Exercise Benefits

Push jerk is an explosive exercise that works nearly every muscle throughout the body. It accelerates your speed, power, and stamina and improves athletic performance.

How-to Instructions

The steps to perform the push jerk are almost the same as the push press except for the jump movement. During the push press, your feet stay on the floor while you slightly jump in the air during the push jerk.

26. Standing IYT Raises

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Advanced
  • Target Muscles: Delts and Back

Exercise Benefits

The IYT raise is a multi-movement exercise that works on the entire upper body, especially the back and shoulders.

How-to Instructions

  1. Stand tall in the hip-width stance, holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip in front of your thighs. Your palms should be facing each other.
  2. Raise your arms before you until they are level with your face.
  3. Lower your arms back to the initial position and raise your arms slightly out to the sides, making a Y letter.
  4. Then, lower it down and raise our arms out to the sides (like a side lateral raise). As a result, your body formed a “T” shape at the top of the lift.
  5. Return your arms to the bottom position and repeat these steps for the desired number of repetitions.

27. Dumbbell Side Bend

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Obliques

Exercise Benefits

The dumbbell side bend specifically strengthens the love handles and thickens six-pack abs muscles.

How-to Instructions

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with your arms straight at your sides.
  2. Brace your abdominal muscles and bend to your right side as much as possible.
  3. Return to the upright position and repeat on the opposite side.

28. Dumbbell Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Bench
  • Exercise Level: Beginner
  • Target Muscles: Chest

Exercise Benefits

Training the big muscles is crucial whether you want to increase mass or lose weight. That’s why I’ve added the dumbbell bench press to this list. It bolsters the pectoral muscles, increases pushing strength, and helps build a firm torso.

How-to Instructions

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand and lie on the bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Brace your abdominal muscles, inhale, and press the dumbbells directly over your chest until your arms are straight.
  • After a brief pause, return to the start and repeat.

29. Dumbbell Reverse Crunches

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: Mat
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Lower Abs

Exercise Benefits

The DB reverse crunches hit the lower abs and help sculpt the abdominal muscles.

How-to Instructions

  1. Sit on the mat, hold one dumbbell with your feet, lie on your back, and extend your legs straight on the floor.
  2. Lift your legs off the floor and bring your knees toward your chest until your abs are fully engaged. Hold for a second, and then extend your legs straight and repeat for the maximum number of times.

30. Dumbbell Overhead Squat

About Exercise

  • Additional Equipment Needed: None
  • Exercise Level: Intermediate
  • Target Muscles: Legs and Deltoids

Exercise Benefits

The overhead squat works on the quads, midsection, and anterior delt together and builds a solid body. It also improves stability and muscle coordination and helps enhance your functional fitness.

How-to Instructions

Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand in the shoulder-width stance. Keep your arms straight overhead and perform a squat.

References

  • 1
    Woulfe, Colm Master of Sport & Exercise, MSc1; Harris, Nigel PhD1; Keogh, Justin PhD2; Wood, Matthew MHSc1. The Physiology of Strongman Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 36(6):p 84-95, December 2014. | DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000104

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Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

About Me

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

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