HomeFitness4 Compound Dumbbell Exercises You Need To Add To Your Routine

4 Compound Dumbbell Exercises You Need To Add To Your Routine

4 Compound Dumbbell Exercises

When it comes to training purely with dumbbells forget the triceps kickbacks and biceps curls for a moment, if you truly want to transform your physique you must incorporate compound dumbbell exercises.

There’s a number of different styles of dumbbell training in existence, there’s no ‘one style suits all’ when it comes to weight lifting in general – if you’re a bodybuilder then explosive power based training isn’t going to be ideal for you, if you’re a marathon runner low repetition strength training won’t do you any favours either.

The style of training you choose to pursue is based upon your end goal.

Let’s take a look into the different styles of training, how they’re characterized and who they’re best suited to.

Strength Oriented Dumbbell Training

In order to build strength and muscle mass the 4 – 6 repetition range is utilized, focusing on compound exercises such as the dumbbell squat, dumbbell deadlift, dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell bench press.

The dumbbells being used should able to be lifted for a minimum of 4 repetitions per set, with no more than 6 repetitions before reaching failure.

In terms of tempo a 2-1-2 (2 seconds up, 1 second pause, 2 seconds down).

Endurance Oriented Dumbbell Training

Hypertrophy based endurance dumbbell workouts focus on a slightly higher repetition range than the aforementioned strength training protocol.

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The dumbbells being used should be able to be lifted for a minimum of 10 repetitions per set, with no more than 15 repetitions being performed before reaching failure.

The weight being lifted will be significantly lighter than those training for strength, however the tempo (2-1-2) remains the same.

Explosive Dumbbell Training

Explosive dumbbell training is suited to athletes requiring both explosive speed and strength for their chosen discipline, whether this be baseball, mixed martial arts or any sport in-between.

In order to utilize dumbbells for building explosiveness performing power based exercises with a fast powerful eccentric phase (the lengthening or ‘positive’ portion of each repetition).

Meet Your Makers - The 4 Key Compound Dumbbell Exercises That'll Transform Your Physique

Regardless of which style of training you choose listed above you'll want to ensure that these 4 compound dumbbell exercises are in your routine.

Dumbbell Bench Press


Sit down on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand resting on top of your thighs, palms facing together.

Driving through your thighs, load the dumbbells up to the starting position – extended at arm’s length at shoulder height as you lay on the flat bench.

Maintain the dumbbells in position at shoulder width with your upper arm and forearm creating a 90 degree angle.

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As you exhale power through your chest to push the dumbbells up. Lock your arms at the top of the lift and contract your chest, hold for a second and then begin coming down slowly.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes:

Be mindful of your elbow position while performing the dumbbell bench press – excessive flaring of the elbows is a sign that the weight you’re lifting is too heavy and can often result in shoulder/rotator cuff injuries.

Utilize a full range of motion –lower the dumbbell all the way down to your chest before driving them back up to the starting position.

Keep the dumbbell under control during all phases of the lift – do not allow the dumbbell to lower too quickly and bounce off your chest as this is taking tension off your chest.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press


While holding a pair of dumbbells, sit on a bench with back support. Place the dumbbells upright on top of your thighs.

Load up the dumbbells to shoulder height by using your thighs to propel them up into position.

Exhale and push the dumbbells upward until they touch at the top.

Hold the contracted position for 1 second.

Lower the weights back down to the starting position while inhaling, your arms should be in line with your shoulders to ensure a full range of motion.

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Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes:

Ensure you’re returning to the starting position before you proceed with the following repetition, do not limit the range of motion to the top half of the exercise only as you won’t be engaging all muscle groups of the shoulder correctly.

Stay in the ‘groove’ for the duration of your sets – ensure your arms are tracking evenly as opposed to flailing around between repetitions.

Ensure the back support on your bench is strictly upright, tilting the back support further backwards will allow you to lift more weight however this is because you’re utilizing more chest – not what we’re going for here.

Dumbbell Deadlift


Begin in a standing position with a dumbbell on either side directly in front of you.

Ensure that your back is straight and stays that way for the duration of the exercise.

Squat down and grasp the dumbbell utilizing a hammer grip (palms facing inwards towards each other).

Flex your hips, slowly pushing your butt as far back as you can. This involves a horizontal movement of the hips and a bend of the knees.

The knees should only partially bend, and your weight should remain on your heels.

Drive through your heels and your hamstrings as you lift the dumbbell to an upright position, ensuring your back position is not compromised.

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Pause for a moment at the top then slowly return to the starting position by extending the hips.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes:

Ensure you’re getting down as low as possible for the starting position of the dumbbell deadlift, if you’re unable to get down low I recommend foam rolling and working on some dynamic stretches for your hamstrings.

Rounding your back on a heavy set of deadlifts is a sure-fire way to end up with a lower back injury, ensure your form is strict prior to increasing the weight – if the weight is too heavy or you’re too fatigued to maintain strict form it’s time to lower the weight or call it a day for your deadlifting.

Dumbbell Squat


Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing towards your body.

Your legs should be in a stance slightly wider than shoulder width with toes pointing outwards, head forwards, back straight.

While maintaining a straight back bend your knees and drive your butt backwards until your quads are parallel to the floor, if you’ve got the flexibility I recommend going slightly below this parallel level.

Begin to slowly lower your torso by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

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Pause for 1 second at the bottom of the repetition.

Drive through your heels to raise your torso back to the starting position, ensuring back is straight for the duration.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes:

Do not allowing your back to round as your bend your knees to lower your torso, by looking forward/up this will force you to maintain a straight back.

Follow a full range of motion on each repetition – some individual will be able to squat lower than others however reaching parallel is a realistic goal for everyone regardless of their previous athletic experience.

Hunching forward while returning your body to the starting position is a common mistake often a result of driving through your toes. Your butt should be pushed back as you drive through your heels to maintain control of the dumbbells during the lift.

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What's Your Take On These Compound Dumbbell Exercises? Let Me Know Below!

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Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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