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…

We’re into the second week of our 4-week ‘Centurion’ phase. Utilising powerful ‘chipper’ style rep schemes, you’ll be treading the line between volume and intensity by working up to 100 reps per exercise. You’ll break down each movement into as many sets as necessary to maintain high quality movement and a controlled tempo, but pushing yourself to complete each 100 rep ‘centurion set’ in as few individual sets as possible. Push close to failure on each bout, utilising short ‘micro-rests’ as fatigue sets in; you may begin by eating away at 15-20 reps in each set, but don’t be surprised if you’re grinding out doubles and triples towards the end!

Each session this week will finish with a heart rate spiking, conditioning blast. You’ll drop the dumbbells for these, but the goal is to keep the intensity high, this is where we build fitness and stamina, ensuring that we’re not ‘all show, no go’.

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 keep your rest periods consistent by watching the clock or focussing on the number of breaths your take. 10-15 deep, mindful breaths between each effort will not only keep your short rest periods consistent, they’ll also help you to recover optimally.

Keep your notes somewhere safe, we’ll be referring back to them in the weeks to come and attempting to ‘beat the notebook’— this will ensure 'progressive overload’. Progress in the notebook is a surefire sign that visible improvements aren’t far behind.

This week we’ll be concentrating on a full body approach, spreading the volume throughout the week for a ‘high frequency’ effect, but cycling through different movement patterns and body parts at the beginning of each session, when you’re at your freshest.

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.

DAY ONE (W10/D1)

After a thorough warm-up grab your bells and get to work. If you have a selection of weights, pick a pair that you clean 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. Front Squat x 100 reps

dumbbell front squat
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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. Dumbbell hang cleans x 100 reps

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Stand tall holding 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.

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

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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.

4. Split Squat Jump x 100 reps (bodyweight only)

split squat jump jumping lunge
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Finally, finish with a bodyweight lung blaster. Step one foot backward and sink into a deep lunge, with your rear knee lightly touching the floor (A). Explode upward, jumping into the air and switching legs mid jump (B) to land in a lunge position with the opposite leg forward. Repeat the movement, alternating legs each rep. Focus on getting as much ‘air time’ as possible, keeping each rep explosive.

DAY TWO (W10/D2)

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 row for more than 20 reps without seriously compromising your form.

1. Bent over row x 100 reps

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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.

2. Tempo Push-ups on dumbbells x 100 reps

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

After your final row drop your bells to the ground and assume a long armed plank position, with your core tight and hands gripping your dumbbells (A), bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest to the floor over a strict count of three seconds (B). Keep your elbows close to your body and pause for one second, feeling the deep stretch through your chest as you push back up explosively. Break your set when you can no longer control your descent or explode back up.

3. Dumbbell Deadlift x 100 reps

db dumbbell deadlift
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With your dumbbells on the floor just outside of your feet, hinge down and grip them with a flat back and neutral spine (A). Engage your lats and stand upright, ‘pushing the ground away’ with your feet, keeping your chest up and black flat throughout (B). Lower them back to the ground in a hinging motion and repeat. Avoid excessive rounding in your lower back, keeping your form tight throughout. When you can no longer keep your form tight, take a rest.

4. Jump squats x 20

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Finally, lets turn up the heat. Lean slightly forward as you squat (A), then explode up, jumping as high as you can (B). Cushion your landing with bent legs, then sink immediately back into another squat and repeat. Aim for the maximum possible height you can achieve on each and every rep, as soon as you start slacking, take a breath.


If you have a selection of weights pick a pair that allows you to perform no more than 15-20 presses in your first set. If you weights are a little on the light side, stick to ‘strict press’ only roping in your legs to help if you start flagging. Be sure to note what set this occurred on though.

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. High Pull x 100 reps

dumbbell high pull
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Stand tall with your dumbbells at your waist, in front of your body. (A) Keeping your core tight hinge forward slightly before explosively standing back upright and pulling the dumbbells up towards your chin, driving your elbows up and back (B). Slowly lower back down to your waist under complete control. Avoid simply ‘dropping’ your dumbbells back to your waist to build more muscle and avoid injury. If your dumbbells feel light, avoid the help from your hips and simply stand tall and pull the weights up to your chin.

3. Goblet Cyclist Squats x 100 reps

goblet cyclist squats heels elevated
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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, and it will burn.

4. Burpee over ‘bells x 100

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Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

With both dumbbells on the floor next to you step back and hit the deck into a press-up position. Lower your body until your chest touches the floor (A). Stand back up and jump powerfully over the dumbbells (B) – driving through your hips when you take off. Land and immediately drop to the floor and repeat. The dumbbells keep you accountable for the height of each jump.

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