The Men’s Health Dumbbell Club – Your New Weekly Muscle Building Masterplan

·8-min read

Welcome to the Men’s Health Dumbbell Club, your new weekly plan for a fitter, stronger body using just two dumbbells.

With workouts lasting from 20-40 minutes, which are designed to add lean muscle, build fitness and increase strength, your weekly dose of dumbbell goodness drops weekly.

You can head back to check out week one, two , three , four , five, six , seven or eight or simply get stuck in to our latest offering— Week 9 and follow the programme from here.

New This Week…

This week marks the commencement of a 4-week ‘Centurion’ phase. We’ll be using a combination of full-body training and 'push/pull/lower' splits across the next month, but the real hallmark of this phase will be the deployment of ‘chipper’ style rep schemes.

You’ll be treading the line between volume and intensity, working up to 100 reps per exercise, breaking up each movement into as many sets as necessary to maintain good form and high quality movement, but not a single set more. Your goal is to complete each 100 rep ‘centurion set’ in as few individual bouts as possible, taking short ‘micro-rests’ as you fatigue and working progressively closer to growth and grit inducing muscular failure.

As always, to track your gains and ensure that you’re overloading your muscles sufficiently for progress, make careful notes of the weights you use for each movement and the reps you achieve in each set. Attempt to homogenise your rest periods by focussing on your breath, staying focussed and counting 10-15 deep breaths between each effort.

Keep these notes safe as we’ll be referring back to them in later weeks, attempting to ‘beat the notebook’— ensuring progressive overload and guaranteeing that visible improvements aren’t far behind.

This week we’re using a ‘push/pull/lower’ split. The first session up targets your chest, shoulders and triceps. Session 2 will blitz the muscles of your legs and core, and finally, you’ll finish the week strong and swole, pumping up your back and biceps.

Coach’s tip: Use a pen and paper notebook to track your workouts and try to avoid Instagram doomscrolling between sets. Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, staying mindful of your breath and focussed on the reps ahead will help you to optimise your rest, and ultimately— maximise your gains.


After a thorough warm-up grab your bells and get to work. If you have a selection of weights, pick a pair that you could press overhead no more than 15-20 times. Push each set as close as you can to ‘technical failure’ (the point at which your form or tempo begins to break down). Between each effort, tally your reps and focus on taking 10-15 deep belly breaths before jumping straight back in. Continue in this fashion until you achieve 100 reps, then move onto the next movement.

Be sure to record how many individual sets each movement took to complete, this is the number we’ll be attempting to beat in future outings.

1. Overhead or Push Press x 100 reps

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Clean your dumbbells onto your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a breath and create tension in your core. (A) Dip at the knees and use your legs to help (B) press your dumbbells overhead. Lower with a strict controlled tempo to your shoulders and repeat. If your weights feel a little too light, don’t use any drive from the legs and focus on a strict press from the shoulders.

2. Dumbbell floor (or bench) press x 100 reps

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Next, head to the floor, lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Press the weights above you, locking out your elbows (A). Lower them slowly until your upper arms are resting on the floor (B), close to your body, pause here before explosively pressing back up. If you have a bench, use it.

3. Push-up on dumbbells x 100 reps

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After your final press drop your bells and flip over, assuming a long armed plank position. With your core tight and hands below your shoulders gripping your dumbbells (A), bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively. Focus on slowly lowering before explosively pressing back up, keeping your form strict throughout.

4. Tricep dips x 100 reps

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Chest and shoulders scorched, it’s time to stretch those sleeves. Sit upright on a bench or box, support your weight with your arms and walk your feet outwards, shifting off the edge (A). Lower your body until you feel a stretch across your chest (B). Push back up hard. For maximum effect try a count of three down and one back up, squeezing your triceps hard at the top.


As with day one, warm-up adequately and jump straight in. If you have weights to choose from, pick a set of dumbbells or kettlebells that you can’t squat for more than 20 reps (without throwing up).

1. Front Squat x 100 reps

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Clean your dumbbells onto the front of your shoulders (A). From here, drop into a front squat by pushing your hips back and bending at the knees until your thighs pass parallel to the ground (B), before driving back up explosively. Keep those dumbbells secured high, with a strong, upright torso throughout.

2. Romanian Deadlift x 100 reps

db dumbbell deadlift
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Next, drop your dumbbells at your sides, feet shoulder width apart (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push your hips back and slowly lower the bells towards the ground (B), pinching your shoulders back and maintaining a flat back. When you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings, pause and explosively return to an upright position.

3. Goblet Cyclist Squats x 100 reps

goblet cyclist squats heels elevated
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You might be dropping a dumbbell, but this one is half the weight and double the burn. Raise your heels up on a weight plate, block or the heads of your other dumbbell. Keep your feet within 6 inches of each other, heels close together. Hold your dumbbell close to your chest. Squat down until your thighs pass parallel to the ground, (A) stand up explosively, stopping just short of locking your legs out to keep the tension on the quads (B). Repeat. Push through the burn on this one, it’s worth it (we promise).

4. Laying (or hanging) Leg Raises x 100 reps

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Lay flat on your back, with your heels just off of the ground, your dumbbells behind your head, gripping them as an ‘anchor’ (A). Keeping your feet together, ‘curl’ at the stomach- lifting your legs towards the ceiling until your hips peel from the floor (B), pause here for a second before slowly lowering. Once you start, try to keep your feet off of the ground throughout. If you have a bar to hang from, use it.


If you have a selection of weights pick a pair that allows you to perform around 20 (total) renegade rows in your first set, but no more. Feel free grab a lighter set and perform two-handed curls for the finale, just ensure you note this down.

1. Renegade row x 100 (total) reps

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Drop into a press-up position with your hands on your bells and midline tight (A). Shifting your weight onto your left hand, row the right dumbbell towards your hip (B). Pause briefly, then lower the weight under control. Repeat on your left side (each row equals one rep)

2. Bent over row x 100 reps

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100 renegade rows ticked off, stand tall with your dumbbells at your sides. Hinge forward until your torso is almost parallel to the ground and allow the dumbbells to hang just below your knees (A). Maintaining a flat back, row both dumbbells towards your hips (B), squeeze your shoulder blades down and back before slowly lowering your bells back to the start position. Repeat.

3. Dumbbell hang cleans x 100 reps

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Stand up and hold your dumbbells at your side. Hinge at the hips to lower them to your knees (A). Stand back up explosively with a slight jump, coming right up onto your toes and using the momentum to pull the dumbbells on to your shoulders (B). Stand up straight, then lower under control to your sides and repeat.

4. Single Dumbbell Bicep Curl x 100

Still standing tall, drop one of your ‘bells. Grip the remaining bell with both hands, holding the outer ‘heads’ and palms facing each other (A). With minimal momentum, curl the dumbbell upwards until it’s beneath your chin (B). Squeeze here and lower the weight under control, fighting it all of the way. Keep repping out, squeezing those biceps as hard as possible until you can’t eek out another rep.

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