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If you’ve got a dumbbell, even just a rusty old 25-pounder without a match, you’ve got a gym. That’s because building muscle and getting crazy fit isn’t about a vast array of modern equipment. It’s about desire.
How badly do you want it? Enough to do an entire workout with nothing more than a single dumbbell? If the answer is yes (as it should be), then Jim Ryno, a personal trainer and the owner of Iron House Gym in Alpine, NJ (iron-house.co), has two down-and-dirty workouts for you to try. Even better? One lasts 30 minutes and the other lasts 15. (We’re assuming you’re as pressed for time as you are for fitness equipment.) The routines may run short, but they go long on gains.
“Being limited to only one dumbbell can actually be a blessing in disguise,” Ryno says. “It’s a great excuse to work on unilateral training and asymmetric loads to help fix muscle imbalances and improve core stabilization. Most of the exercises in the two workouts train one side at a time, which is great for functional strength.”
Collectively, the workouts incorporate compound bodybuilding-style movements to spark muscle gains, power movements like snatches to enhance explosiveness, and isolation moves for the biceps, triceps, and abs to address the finer points of the physique. “There are also some nice combo moves in there like squats to shoulder presses,” Ryno says. “These will enhance your overall conditioning and core strength.”
All of this can be achieved in 30 minutes or less with nothing more than a moderately weighted dumbbell and some open floor space at home. And by home, we mean your gym.
The following workouts can be performed with any size dumbbell, though Ryno programmed the workouts with a moderate weight in mind—20 to 40 pounds. Choose a weight that corresponds to your current strength level and that allows you to execute all movements with the proper ￼￼form. Begin each workout with a brief dynamic warmup that hits your entire body.