Man Liftin Heavy Dumbbell Rack

How To Workout With a Single Dumbbell

Exercising with a single dumbbell may sound silly, but imagine the following scenarios. You walk into the gym, ready to roll, and it’s packed, and most of the equipment is taken. This makes completing your current program an annoying challenge. Either the will to exercise is strong, but the time is short, or you may be looking for variety in your workout for whatever reason.

What are you doing?

Here is a suggestion. Grab a dumbbell and do the following exercises and workouts below. These single dumbbell workouts will have you sweating—maybe even smiling—and able to take a quick shower while others are still wrapping up their day.

Here we’ll dive into the benefits of using dumbbells, the best dumbbell ankle exercises, and some examples of ankle dumbbell workouts to get your sweat on.

Benefits of training with a single dumbbell

  • Reduce power imbalances: Exercise with one dumbbell will help strengthen imbalances between sides when performing unilateral exercises if any exist. When you train with barbells, one side can take over for another, causing strength imbalances.
  • Ease of use: You have to get the plates on and off the dumbbells, and often another piece of equipment is required to do exercises like a bench or a squat rack. It’s not a big deal, but it can be a problem when the gym is busy and equipment is scarce.
  • Freedom of movement: Barbells and pull-up bars will lock you into a specific range of motion, which is great for lifting more weight. But with dumbbells, you can hold them with different grips, like the neutral grip. Changing your grip can make it easier on your wrist, elbow and shoulder joints.
  • Improved muscle development: Holding and lifting a single dumbbell offset, goblet or rack style will reinforce imbalances between sides, leading to better muscle development on the smaller or weaker side.

How to Hold a Dumbbell

There are a few ways to hold a single dumbbell to increase the training effect, especially on the squat, lunges and carries. Holding one dumbbell at your side, as with a trunk carry, provides an offset load that challenges your balance and core stability.

Holding the dumbbell cup style provides more anterior core action and is more difficult because the weight is further away from your legs. Plus, holding a single dumbbell in the front rack position will challenge your upper back, balance and glutes more. And having one dumbbell overhead is the most challenging position for a reason already listed.

There is no right or wrong way to hold a dumbbell. Use a position that challenges you and aligns with your fitness goals.

Common ankle dumbbell exercises

Theoretically, for most exercises where you use two dumbbells, you can use one, but some exercises IMO work better with one dumbbell. Here is a selection of exercises that you can use in any single dumbbell workout.

  • Total body: Jerk, crouch to press, press press, hang clean, and hang clean and press.
  • Wear: Case, mug, shelf and overhead carry.
  • Rows: Bench single arm ride, RDL ride, dead end ride, chest support ride, 3-point ride, lawnmower ride, bent over ride, and Birddog ride.
  • Crouch: Sumo, goblet, bag, offset front squat, offset overhead squat, and split squat variations.
  • Lunges and other lAnkle exercises: Backwards, sideways, forwards and short squats with any dumbbell positions listed above. Single leg deadlifts and step ups.
  • Chest and shoulders: Bench press, pullover, floor press, deadlift floor press, standing and seated shoulder presses, and Arnold press.
  • Hinges: Dumbbell deadlift, hip thrust, single leg hip thrust, and extended bilateral RDL.
Guy-Bicep-Curl-Dumbbells

Single dumbbell workouts to burn fat and build muscle

Please note: You can share a similar exercise of your choice. The following suggestions are not written in stone.

Take these single dumbbell workouts for a spin when you’re short on time or equipment. You’ll reinforce side-to-side imbalances while burning calories and getting in the showers early. You can thank me later. Or not.

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