At-Home Workout: 15-Minute Dumbbell Routine for Beginners


 2021-04-22

*Talk to your healthcare team before starting any new fitness regimen. If you take insulin or other medications that can cause hypoglycemia, be sure to check your blood sugar each day before exercising, during exercise as needed and after exercising.


Trying to start a new fitness routine can be really overwhelming. But strength training doesn’t have to happen at the gym, it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money or a lot of time and it certainly doesn’t have to look like an intense Crossfit workout in order to be worth your time.

Instead, try thinking of it this way: 15 minutes a day of basic strength training. (You don’t even need to change your outfit or put on sneakers!)

Just 15 minutes a day. That might not sound like much, but if you did basic strength training once a day for 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, that’s 75 minutes of strength training a week!

Compare that to zero minutes and 75 minutes a week of strength training is absolutely worth your while.

As philosopher Will Durant once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Make a little bit of strength-training something you do regularly, and you’ll gradually see the benefits.

15 Minutes of Strength Training Five Days a Week

Here’s how it’ll work: for one month, try to do one of these three routines each day. There are three exercises in each routine. You’ll perform one routine each day, repeating that routine three times in a row (three sets of three different exercises) to add up to about 15 minutes of strength training. The next day, you’ll move on to the second routine, etc.

Note: You will be sore throughout the first week. You’ll think you shouldn’t do anything because you’re sore. The best thing for sore muscles is movement! Work through those stiff muscles, get your heart pumping and you’ll find you actually feel less sore after doing more exercise.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

Two or three different sets of dumbbells:

  • Recommended dumbbells for a beginner woman: 5 pounds, 8 pounds, 12 pounds
  • Recommended dumbbells for a beginner man: 12 pounds, 15 pounds, 20 pounds

The weight should be light enough that you can do 12 to 15 reps of each exercise, but heavy enough that rep 15 feels reasonably challenging to complete.

Where & When to Workout

In your living room…while you watch your favorite show, between sips of morning coffee, or during your lunch break!

The whole idea is that this workout is not a big deal. You don’t need to change your outfit. You don’t even need to put on your sneakers. You’re adding 15 minutes of strength training to your day and it’s gonna count, but it’s not a big deal.

Why five days a week? We’re starting with a small number of exercises and a short period of time because the first goal is to create the habit. If your goal was purely to “build muscle,” for example, you’d set your workouts up in a very different way. The goal of this article is about creating the habit.

Strength Training Routine #1

10 to 15 reps for each exercise, repeat the entire cycle three times

  • Sumo-squats with 1 dumbbell: Standing with your feet more than hip-width distance apart, hold the dumbbell down in front of you. Be sure to push your hips back (towards the wall behind you) as you squat down. Your chest will lower towards the floor along with the dumbbell, keeping your weight in your heels as you tap the dumbbell on the floor and stand up. Try not to let your knees shift towards your toes by pushing your hips back, back, back to the wall behind you.
Sumo squat with a dumbbell
Sumo squat position 1
Sumo squat with a dumbbell
Sumo squat position 2
  • Standing dumbbell press (alternating each arm): Standing upright, hold each dumbbell at your shoulder and press one at a time above your head, alternating sides.
standing dumbbell press
Standing dumbbell press, alternating
  • Ab & Elbow Leg Extensions: Sitting on your bottom with your hands placed behind you for support, extend your legs slowly as far as you can OR extend one leg at a time, alternating. The more control you have as you move your legs, the more you’ll work your core muscles.
Ab & Elbow Leg Extensions
Ab & Elbow Leg Extensions position 1
Ab & Elbow Leg Extensions
Ab & Elbow Leg Extensions position 2

Strength Training Routine #2

10 to 15 reps for each exercise, repeat the entire cycle three times

  • Coffee table squats with dumbbells: Standing in front of a coffee table or chair, with your feet more than hip-width distance apart, push your hips back as your chest leans slightly forward, bending at the knees with your weight in your heels, and tap your bottom to the table or chair. Try not to let your knees go over your toes by pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you.
Coffee Table Squats
Coffee Table Squats position 1
Coffee Table Squats
Coffee Table Squats position 2
  • Bent-over dumbbell rows: With dumbbells in each hand, lean your chest slightly towards the floor, shift your hips back towards the wall behind you, and keep your weight in your heels. Maintaining this posture, pull the dumbbells back towards each side of your torso, squeezing your upper back muscles with each rep.
Bent-over dumbbell rows
Bent-over dumbbell rows position 1
Bent-over dumbbell rows
Bent-over dumbbell rows position 2
  • Couch crunches: Sit on the floor facing the couch while slide your toes under the couch for leverage. Start with your elbows touching your knees as you slowly lean back as far as you can without falling. Count to three at the hardest position, then sit back up and repeat!
Couch crunches:
Couch crunches position 1
Couch crunches
Couch crunches position 2

Strength Training Routine #3

10 to 15 reps for each exercise, repeat the entire cycle three times

  • Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts: Standing upright and holding the dumbbells against your thighs, lean forward with a slight stiff bend in your knees as you push your hips back and your chest moves towards the floor. Stop when the dumbbells reach about mid-shin level, and stand back up. Remember to keep your weight in your heels and don’t let your knees shift over toes.
Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts
Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts position 1
Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts
Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts position 2
  • Dumbbell floor press: Lie on the floor, with your knees bent, and dumbbells in your hands. Starting with your elbows flat on the floor, you can have them along your side or up higher at shoulder height, depending on how this feels for your shoulders. Then press the dumbbells up over your chest, tapping them lightly in the middle. Gently touch your elbows back to the floor between each rep.

 

Dumbbell floor press
Dumbbell floor press position 1
Dumbbell floor press
Dumbbell floor press position 2
  • Lying-down leg extensions: Lie flat on the floor and tuck your hands palms-facing-down under each hip for support. Curl both knees in, then slowly extend one leg or both legs (both is more difficult) to engage your core. If you’re extending one leg at a time, you can alternate from side-to-side. The more slowly you move your legs, the more you’ll engage and work your core muscles.
Lying-down leg extensions
Lying-down leg extensions position 1
Lying-down leg extensions
Lying-down leg extensions position 2

Remember, you’re going to be sore throughout your first week (or two) of introducing strength training into your life! The best thing for sore muscles is to warm them up with more exercise. Go for a walk and stick to the plan!

WRITTEN BY Ginger Vieira, POSTED , UPDATED 06/26/22

Ginger Vieira is an author and writer living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. She’s authored a variety of books, including “When I Go Low” (for kids), “Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes,” and “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout.” Ginger’s also written for Diabetes Mine, Healthline, T1D Exchange, Diabetes Strong and more! In her free time, she is jumping rope, scootering with her daughters, or walking with her handsome fella and their dog.