Training with just a single set of dumbbells can seem limiting at times. Choose a pair that are too light and you’ll struggle to stimulate the heavy-hitting muscles of the legs and back, but go too heavy and you risk not being able to perform less mechanically advantaged movements, such as overhead presses, missing out on entire body parts in the process.
If you don’t have access to a selection of weights, but are still looking for a balanced way to hit your whole body, our ‘descending ladder’ has you covered. You’ll begin with a pre-fatiguing bodyweight primer, hitting those pecs and getting the blood pumping, before picking up your dumbbells and working your way from the heavy lifting muscles of the legs, through to the back, before finishing with a shoulder blast. The reps of each movement tactically descend throughout the circuit, meaning you'll work each muscle group to it’s limits.
Perform 8-10 rounds of the following four-move throwdown, resting for 60-120 seconds between rounds. Keep rest between movements to the bare minimum, but keep your form tight. If you do have to take a break mid-set, pick up from where you left off, as soon as possible.
1. Press-ups on Dumbbells x 12
Assume a strong plank position, with your core tight and hands gripping your dumbbells directly below your shoulders (A). Bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively.
2. Front Squat x 9
Hop to your feet and clean both dumbbell onto the front of your shoulders (A). From here, drop into a front squat, until your thighs pass parallel to the ground (B), before driving back up. Keep your torso upright and maintain tension in your trunk throughout.
3. Bent Over Row x 6
After your final squat, lower your dumbbells to your sides and hinge at the hips until your chest is parallel to the floor (A). Maintaining a flat back, pull your elbows back, rowing both dumbbells towards your hips (B). Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower under control to the start before repeating.
4. Push Press x 3
Finally, clean your dumbbells back onto your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a breath and brace your core. (A) Dip at the knees and use your legs to help (B) press your dumbbells overhead. Lower under control to the ground. Repeat.
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