List of 25 Best Dumbbell Compound Exercises with PDF

Dumbbell compound exercises are a great way to strengthen and tone muscles. They work on various muscles simultaneously and promote muscle growth.

In this article, I’ve shared a complete list of dumbbell compound exercises that you can add to your routine.

These exercises are excellent for achieving better fitness as they help increase strength, speed, and endurance and build muscles.

List of Dumbbell Compound Exercises

List Of Dumbbell Compound Exercises
List of Dumbbell Compound Exercises

Whether you want to build strength and mass or lose weight, compound dumbbell exercises will help you achieve your fitness goal.

Here’s a list of the best compound dumbbell exercises I tried and found helpful. These exercises train the entire body and help me improve my fitness, from athletic to strength level.

You can also integrate them into your workout program to level your fitness and achieve an aesthetic physique.

1. Squat to Calf Raise

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
Intermediate Quad, Calves, and Hamstring

It is a combination of two exercises, squat and calf raise. These movements provide excellent contraction in your quads and calves and help build firm legs.

It also helps burn significant calories and promote weight loss.

Steps to do it:

  • Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your elbows and hold the dumbbells on your shoulder. This is your starting position.
  • Push your hip back to lower yourself in the squat position until your butt is parallel to the floor.
  • Press into the floor through your feet and stand on your toes until your calves are fully engaged.
  • Pause for a moment to feel the contraction, then return to the start.

How to Program:

Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps on your leg day or total body workout day. It can also be included in a HIIT or Crossfit program.

2. Incline IYT Raises

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateBack and Shoulder

The IYT raises are an excellent compound exercise you can do with dumbells. It includes three movements: I, Y, and T raise. These movements target the deltoids, traps, and rhomboids and help build a muscular torso.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand and lie on a 30-degree incline bench.
  • Keep your arms straight below your shoulder and slightly lift your shoulder blades.
  • Raise your arms in front of your head until they are parallel to the ground. That’s the I raise.
  • Return your arms to the start and raise them slightly outward to make a Y shape.
  • Lower your arms to the initial position, then raise them out to your sides to complete the T raise.
  • Repeat all three movements six to eight times to complete one set.

How to Program:

As the IYT raises targets the back and shoulder, you can do it on your upper body day. Perform three sets of six to eight reps.

3. Dumbbell Pullover

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediatePecs and Lats

The pullover is a multi-joint exercise that provides decent stretch to your pectoral and latissimus dorsi muscles and helps build a defined trunk.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab a dumbbell, lie on the bench, and keep your feet flat.
  • Hold the dumbbell behind your head with your arms straight. That’s your starting position.
  • Slightly lift your lower back off the bench, and pull the dumbbell until it comes over your chest. Keep your arms as straight as possible.
  • Squeeze your chest at the top and then lower to the start.

How to Program:

Perform there sets of eight to ten reps on your chest or back day, usually at the end of the session.

4. Arnold Press

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
Beginner to IntermediateFront, Lateral, and Posterior Deltoid

It works on all three deltoids simultaneously and helps build sturdy shoulders.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on the edge of a bench.
  • Hold the dumbbells at your chest level by bending your elbows with your palms facing the chest. Keep your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Brace your abdominal muscle and maintain a straight back. That’s your starting position.
  • Twisting your wrist, press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully straight. Your palms will face away, and your elbows will point forward at the top.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the start.

How to Program:

Do three to four sets of 8-12 reps on your upper body, push, or shoulder day. If you do this movement, skip the overhead press.

You can do Arnold press in two ways; seated and standing. The seated press allows you to lift more weight and put less stress on the lower, while the standing variation engages the abdominal muscle.

5. Deadlift

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
BeginnerIntegrated Full Body

If you want to engage several muscles at once, you should do the dumbbell deadlift. The deadlift engages multiple muscles at once and helps promote strength and muscle development.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your arms straight at your sides with your palms facing in.
  3. Pushing your hips back and bending your knees, lower the dumbbells until they are close to the ground.
  4. Lift the weight in a controlled manner to return to the standing position.
  5. Maintain a flat back and tight core, and keep your chest up throughout the movement.

How to Program:

If your goal is to increase strength, use heavy dumbbells and perform three to five reps in one set. And if you’re lifting for hypertrophy, go for eight reps minimum.

6. Bulgarian Split Squat

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateLegs, Glutes, and Hips

The Bulgarian squat is one of the exercises people often skip. You rarely see anyone doing it in the gym. However, it works great for lower body improvement.

It bolsters the inner and outer thigh, improves hip mobility, and enhances overall balance.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, and stand upright with your arms straight at your sides and your palms facing inside.
  • Place the top of your left foot on a bench behind you.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up. That’s the start.
  • Lower your hips toward the ground so that your right knee comes close to the ground.
  • Press into the floor through your right foot to return to the starting position. This is your one repetition.

How to Program:

The Bulgarian squat requires decent strength and balance, so it would be best to do it at the start of the workout.

You can do it on your lower body day or add it to a full-body workout to bolster your leg strength.

Aim for three sets of ten reps each.

7. Power Maker

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
AdvancedIntegrated Full Body

The power maker is an advanced compound movement that is challenging but effective. It works on various muscles throughout the body, increases endurance and mobility, torches significant calories, and improve cardiovascular health.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, get into a high plank with your arms straight below your shoulders and feet two times hip-width apart.
  2. Perform one pushup, then lift your right hand off the floor and raise your elbow to your side.
  3. Pause for a moment, return the dumbbell to the start and repeat on your opposite side.
  4. Now, return to the standing position and perform one regular squat.
  5. Press the dumbbell overhead to complete one rep. Repeat for the desired times.

How to Program:

You can add this exercise to your endurance or cardio training. It will help you increase your heart rate and warm you up nicely.

8. Dumbbell Surrender

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateIntegrated Full Body

The surrender is a combo of multiple movements, such as lunges, jumping jacks, and overhead presses. These movements solidify the entire body and improve your body composition.

It also develops speed and endurance and improves aerobic fitness.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, place it on your shoulder and stand tall on your knees.
  2. Bring your right foot on the floor, followed by the left one, so you’re seated on your feet.
  3. Jump in the air and press the dumbbells overhead simultaneously.
  4. Land softly on the ground and return to the standing position.

How to Program:

The dumbbell surrender helps raise your heart rate and warm you up nicely. So, it is best to incorporate this exercise into your endurance or cardio training. You can do as many reps and sets as needed.

9. Lunges to Hammer Curl

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateLegs and Biceps

The lunges to hammer curl help target the biceps and legs simultaneously. It is a great exercise for those who have limited time.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each at your side, perform one lunge to your right side, then a hammer curl.
  2. Now, take a step forward, lunge to your left side, and perform the curl again. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

Aim for three sets of six to eight reps. You can do this exercise when you train your legs and arms together or include it in your total body workout.

10. Squat to Overhead Press

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateLegs and Shoulder

The squat to overhead is a high-intensity workout for endurance and muscle building. It targets the quadriceps and anterior deltoid and helps improve your fitness level.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each and hold them to your shoulder level.
  2. Perform one squat and press the dumbbells overhead when you return to the standing position. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

You can integrate this exercise into Crossfit training to build strength, endurance, and muscles.

Aim for three sets of eight to ten reps each.

11. Squat to Swing

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateIntegrated Total Body

The squat-to-swing bolster the multiple muscles throughout the body, helps increase endurance and build an athletic physique.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab a dumbbell and stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly out.
  2. Perform one squat and return to the standing position.
  3. Swings your arms in front of you until they are parallel to the ground. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

If you want to level up your endurance while strengthening your muscles, you can integrate the squat-to-swing in your workout regime.

Shoot for three sets of eight to ten reps.

12. Dumbbell Burpee

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
AdvancedIntegrated Full Body

The burpee is a combo of three exercises: pushups, squats, and jumps. All these exercises collectively help you build a firm physique.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand upright.
  2. Lower into a partial squat, place your hands on the ground, and kick your legs behind so you’re in a high plank position.
  3. Perform a pushup, return to the squat position, and then jump high in the air. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

Add to your total body workout routine to build muscles and improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Aim for three sets of six to eight reps.

13. Deadlift to Upright Row

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateTotal Body

The deadlift to upright row bolsters various muscles from the upper to the lower body and increases endurance and muscle mass.

Steps to do it:

  • Holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, stand straight in the hip-width stance.
  •  Keep your arms straight in front of your thighs with your palms facing inward. This is your starting position.
  • Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself in the full squat position.
  • Now, push your feet into the floor, return to the standing position and bring the dumbbells upright toward your neck, so your elbows flare out to the sides. You’ll feel the contraction in your upper trap and shoulder muscle. Once your muscle is engaged, lower the weight to the start. That’s your one rep.

How to Program:

Integrate this exercise into your full-body training program to level up your fitness.

Perform three sets of eight to ten reps.

14. Romanian Deadlift

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
BeginnerPosterior Chain

The Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise to hit the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes and improve lower body fitness,

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and stand in the hip-width stance.
  2. Pushing your hips back, lower the dumbbells until they reach your shin level.
  3. Pause for a moment and then extend your hips to return to the standing position.

How to Program:

The dumbbell RDL can be added to any training program, from athletic to bodybuilding. You can even start your training session with this exercise to stretch your posterior chain muscles.

15. Standing FYT Raises

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
AdvancedShoulder

The standing FYT raises are an excellent way to bolster the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid at once and build muscular shoulders.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each with an overhand grip and stand upright.
  2. Keep your arms straight in front of your thighs with your palms facing in.
  3. Raise the dumbbell before you until your arms are parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment and return to the start.
  4. Now, raise your arms slightly out the sides until your body forms a Y shape.
  5. Return to the start, then raise the dumbbells outward until your body forms a T shape. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

If you’ve limited time, include this exercise in your routine to get a complete shoulder workout with just one move.

Perform three sets of six to eight reps.

16. Dumbbell T Pushup

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
AdvancedIntegrated Total Body

The T pushups help develop upper body muscles and increase balance and coordination. It requires you to perform a pushup and then twist your entire body from side to side. Because of multiple movements, it targets the chest, triceps, and core and helps achieve better fitness.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, get into a high plank position.
  2. Complete a pushup, then lift your right hand off the floor and raise your arm directly over your shoulder by twisting your body from top to bottom.
  3. Pause for a movement, then return your right hand to the floor and repeat on the opposite side.

How to Program:

You can incorporate this exercise in your strength and mobility training to improve your balance while strengthening your muscles.

Aim for three sets of six to eight reps on each side.

17. Weighted Pushup to Row

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateChest, Core, Arms, and Lats

The pushup to row is one best compound dumbbell exercises to prop upper body muscles and improve overall balance.

Steps to do it:

  • Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, get into a high plank position.
  • Perform one pushup, lift your right hand off the floor and raise your elbow to your side.
  • Pause for a moment, return the dumbbell to the start, and row on the opposite side.

How to Program:

You can add this exercise to your full or upper body workout to bolster your torso. It would be best to do this exercise at the start of the workout to perform this effectively.

Aim for three sets of six to eight reps on each side.

18. Dumbbell Cluster

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
AdvancedIntegrated Total Body

The cluster is an explosiveness exercise for developing strength and endurance. It works on the shoulder and legs and helps improve athleticism.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, keep your arms at your sides, and stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bending your hips and knees, lean your torso forward until your chest is parallel to the floor.
  3. Pull the dumbbells over your shoulders while returning to the upright position.
  4. Now, jump your feet out and land into a deep squat.
  5. Pushing your feet into the floor, stand back and press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are straight. That’s one rep.

How to Program:

You can integrate this exercise into your HIIT program to burn fat and build muscles at the same time.

Perform three sets of as many reps as possible.

19. Clean and Press

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateIntegrated Total Body

The clean & press helps develop strength, mobility, and endurance and level up your fitness.

Generally, it is a part of Crossfit training, but people of any fitness group can try this exercise to improve their athletic fitness.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand, keep your arms straight against your thigh, and stand tall.
  • Pull the dumbbells over your shoulder while sitting in a partial squat.
  • Once the dumbbells are on your shoulder, stand upright and press them overhead until your arms are straight.

How to Program:

Add this exercise to your strength and endurance program and do three to four sets. Perform as many reps as possible in every set.

20. Dumbbell Swings

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateIntegrated Total Body

The DB swing is a high-intensity exercise for increasing speed, endurance, and strength. It works on multiple muscles throughout the body and improves body composition.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the waist, swing the dumbbell back between your legs and then swing it forward until your arms are parallel to the floor.

How to Program:

Whether you want to build up cardiovascular fitness or strength, you can include this exercise in your program to level up your fitness. Perform three sets of 15-20 reps.

21. Farmers Walk

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
BeginnerTotal Body

The farmers walk is a low-intense exercise that requires you to walk while holding dumbbells in your hands. It improves aerobic fitness and strengthens the entire body.

Steps to do it:

Grab a dumbbell in each hand and walk as far as possible.

How to Program:

Add this movement to your total body workout program as a warm-up exercise.

22. Bridge Press

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateGlutes, Hamstrings, Chest, and Triceps

The bridge press is an excellent way to work simultaneously on the upper and lower body.

It is an excellent exercise for those who do not have a workout bench.

Steps to do it:

  1. Sit on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and hold it to your chest level.
  3. Lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hip, and chest are aligned.
  4. Brace your core, thighs, and glutes, and press the dumbbells until your arms are straight over your torso.

How to Program:

You can include this exercise in a no-bench dumbbell home workout program to target your pecs and posterior chain muscles at the same time.

23. Sumo Cossack Squat

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateLower Body

The Sumo cossack squat is one of the challenging squat variations. It works on the inner thigh and helps build sturdy legs.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand upright with your feet two times wider than hip-width and toes pointing out.
  2. Keep your arms straight between your legs with your palms facing each other.
  3. Lunge to your right side until your left leg is straight, then return to the start and squat down on the opposite side to complete one rep.

How to Program:

The sumo cossack squat can be an excellent addition to your lower body workout it targets the inner thigh and improves leg definition.

24. Bench Press

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateUpper Body

The dumbbell bench press is an excellent push exercise for muscle development, especially in the pectoral region. It targets the chest, anterior delt, triceps long head and helps achieve a firm torso.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lay down on a flat bench with your face up.
  2. Keep your core tight, chest up, and press the dumbbell over your chest until your arms are straight.

How to Program:

You can perform bench presses on any training day you like, such as push day, or upper body day, or mix it with total body exercises.

25. Bent-over Row

Exercise LevelMuscles Worked
IntermediateBack, Biceps, and Core

The bent-over row is a pull exercise that primarily hits the lats, traps, and rhomboid and helps defined upper body muscles.

Steps to do it:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand in the shoulder-width stance.
  2. Bent forward at your waist until your chest is parallel to the floor and keep your arms straight below your trunk.
  3. Raise your elbows at your sides until the dumbbells reach close to your ribs.
  4. Staying in the bent-over position, perform the desired reps and sets.

How to Program:

You can include it your dumbbell pull workout routine to build bolster back muscles.

Aim for three to four sets of 12-15 reps.


Benefits of Doing Compound Exercises with Dumbbells

You can do plenty of compound workouts with dumbbells at home, as this article has already seen. Now, you may want to know the benefits of compound workouts with dumbbells.

So, let’s look at some of the important benefits here.

  1. Dumbbells allow a greater range of motion and help you target muscles more specifically. You can also do a plethora of compound exercises with the help of only one dumbbell.
  2. Training with dumbbells allows two types of overload; mechanic and metabolic. And these two overloads promote muscle growth – according to an article published by the American Council of Exercise (ACE).
  3. Dumbbell exercises work efficiently when it comes to muscle activation. They create inter and intramuscular coordination in the muscles and increase muscle activation.
  4. Doing compound exercises with dumbbells will improve your balance. Compound dumbbell workouts like good morning, single leg RDL, DB pushup to row, and dumbbell T pushups enhance body balance.

How Does a Dumbbell Compound Workout Plan Look?

Here is a sample of the 4-Day dumbbell compound workout plan that you can do at home.

  • Duration: 30-45 Minutes;
  • Weight: As Heavy As Possible for Muscle Growth, and Light Dumbbells for weight loss;
  • Intensity: Moderate for Muscle Gain and Fast for Fat Loss;
  • Rest: 1-2 minutes

Monday

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 repetitions
  • DB Squat to Calf Raise – 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 repetitions
  • Dumbbell IYT Raises -3 sets of 8, 6, and 6 repetitions.
  • Arnold Press – 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 repetitions
  • Sumo Cossack Squat – 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 repetitions

Tuesday

  • Deadlift to Upright Row – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Pushup to Row – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • DB Pullover – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Lunges to Hammer Curl – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Swings – 3 sets of 12-150 reps

Thursday

  • Standing Dumbbell FYT Raises – 3 sets of 10, 8, and 6 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Cluster – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Bench Press – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Clean and Press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Bent-over Row – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Friday

  • DB Squat to Overhead Press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell T Pushup – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Power Maker – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Bridge Press – 3 sets of 10, 8, and 6 repetitions
  • Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 6-8 reps

This is just a sample of a compound dumbbell workout routine. You can create your own routine with the help of the exercises I’ve shared above.

I’ve also designed an ultimate 12-Week Detailed Workout plan for serious fitness enthusiasts who want to put on muscles and increase strength. 

Download The PDF

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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