7 Easy Lean Muscle Moves That Only Require 1 Dumbbell

In a perfect world, we’d all have hours to workout every day and access to the finest fitness centers on the planet. Reality looks different for the vast majority of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of what we have. In fact, it’s possible to tone your muscles using only a single dumbbell and your own body weight.

Investing in a set of dumbbells allows you access to all kinds of slimming and toning exercises. And for these seven lean muscle moves, you’ll only need one at a time.

Donkey kicks

Fit woman doing full plank core exercise

Donkey kicks are great for your glutes. | iStock.com/undrey

There’s actually no equipment required at all for this leg and glute-toner. But if you do them with a dumbbell, the moves are more challenging, and you’ll get fitter faster.

Bottom-Half Get-Ups

Man laying on floor with dumbbell

This exercise is a little challenging. | iStock.com

This move requires lying on the floor with one leg bent, and one leg straight, holding a dumbbell in your hand above your chest. Without taking your eyes off the weight, you’ll prop yourself up on your elbow and straighten your left arm without taking your eye off the weight. Rotate between arms for 30-60 seconds.

 Goblet squats

woman dumbbell squat

This exercise will tone your butt. | iStock.com/LUNAMARINA

Hold your dumbbell in front of your chest vertically, brace your abs, and lower your body into a full squat. Pause, push yourself up into the starting position, and repeat. Squats are extremely effective, and the weight makes them even more challenging.

Tricep kickbacks

Man working out his triceps.

Your arms will be sore after this exercise. | iStock.com

These can be performed using only one dumbbell, targeting each tricep to the fullest. Grab a flat bench or something similar, position yourself on the left side with your right knee and right hand resting on it, pick up the dumbbell with your left hand, tuck your left upper arm close to your torso and bend at the elbow, and move the dumbbell behind you until your arm is fully extended. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch sides.

 One-arm rows

Woman holding a dumbbell

Try this exercise out for size. | iStock.com

In a staggered stance with your left foot forward and right foot back, grab a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left forearm on your left thigh. perform the row with your right hand, keeping your hips and shoulders square to the ground the entire time. You’ll use your core to stabilize your torso and “fight” rotation as you row.

Lateral hops

Man's feet next to a dumbbell

Be careful when trying this move. | iStock.com

This is a way to use your dumbbell creatively while toning your legs. Place the weight on the ground between your legs, balance on your right foot, bringing your left knee in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Hop over the weight, landing on your left foot. Hold for a split second and repeat.

Turkish get-ups

Muscular woman doing stretching workout on exercise mat

This exercise is a little like the bottom-half get-ups. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

This full-body exercise is an extension of the bottom half get-up and challenges your endurance, mobility, and core strength. Lie on your back, bend your right leg at the knee, and keep your left leg straight. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand above your chest, keeping your left arm on the floor. Use your core to pop yourself up to a sitting position.

Slide your left arm out so you can push off your palm and bridge your hips as high as possible while keeping your eyes on the weight. When you’re high enough, pull your left foot underneath and your left hand off the floor so that you’re kneeling.From there, push yourself off your front and back feet to rise up to a standing position.  Follow those movements in reverse, and repeat.

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