Welcome to the Men’s Health Dumbbell Club, your new weekly plan for a fitter, stronger body, using just two dumbbells. Click here to head back and check out previous weeks or simply get stuck into our latest offering— week 20 – and follow the programme from here.
New This Week…
We’re moving into the fourth and final week of our ‘density conditioning blocks’ phase, finishing strong with three more ‘repeat and beat’ sessions this week, looking back to our workout notes from week 18 and aiming to smash our previous rep scores. This ensures we’re utilising ‘progressive overload’ building strength and adding muscle.
As in previous weeks from this phase, each workout will consist of a single 30-minute block. Your goal is to make your way through as many high quality rounds as possible, resting only as necessary to catch your breath and keep your form sharp, aiming to beat your previously scored reps and rounds, and pushing past your previous limits.
If this is your first week in the club, or you didn’t record your scores previously, simply perform as many high quality reps as you can across the 30-minute window.
Every workout is designed to hit your full-body, targeting your chest, back, shoulders, quads and hamstrings across the week, while also pumping up those arms and delivering a lung-scorching conditioning effect that’s sure build fitness and burn calories.
If your goal is to shed some body fat, then this is the perfect phase for you. When combined with a smart, sustainable eating plan that ensures your body is in a calorie deficit over the course of each week, while also providing you with enough energy to smash your training sessions, you’re sure to begin dropping fat while preserving lean muscle and building explosive fitness.
Coach’s tip: Use a pen and paper to track your workouts and try to avoid Instagram doomscrolling between sets. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, staying mindful of your breath and focussed on the reps ahead will help you to optimise your rest, and ultimately— maximise your gains
DAY ONE (W20/D1)
After a thorough warm-up, grab your dumbbells, set a countdown timer for 30 minutes and work your way through as many high quality rounds of the following circuit as possible. Rest as necessary to keep your form on point, but push yourself hard if you want to see results.
At the end of each round, make a note of how many reps you performed for each movement, creating a running tally for the entire workout.
Keep this safe, we’ll be referring back to your ‘score’ in the coming weeks.
1. Front Squat x 15-20 reps
Clean your dumbbells onto the front of your shoulders (A). From here, drop into a front squat, by pushing your hips back and bending at the knees until your thighs pass parallel to the ground (B), before driving back up explosively. Keep those dumbbells secured high, with a strong, upright torso throughout.
2. Bent-Over Row x 10- 15 reps
After your final squat, drop your dumbbells to your sides, hinge forward until your torso is almost parallel to the ground and allow the dumbbells to hang just below your knees (A). Maintaining a flat back, row both dumbbells towards your hips (B), squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower under control to the start before repeating.
3. Push Press x 8-12 reps
Clean your dumbbells back onto your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a breath and create tension in your core. (A) Dip at the knees and use your legs to help (B) press your dumbbells overhead. Lower with a controlled tempo to your shoulders and repeat. If your weights feel a little too light, don’t use any drive from the legs and focus on a strict press from the shoulders.
4. Jump Squats x 20
Lean slightly forward as you squat (A), then explode up, jumping as high as you can (B). Cushion your landing with bent legs, then sink immediately back into another squat and repeat. Aim for the maximum possible height you can achieve on each and every rep, even if that means pausing for a quick breath. We’re looking to produce power here, not simply go through the motions.
DAY TWO (W20/D2)
As with day one, perform a thorough warm-up and work your way through as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes, recording your efforts for each movement.
1. Dumbbell Deadlift x 10-15 reps
With your dumbbells on the floor just outside of your feet, hinge down and grip them with a flat back and neutral spine (A). Engage your lats and stand upright, pushing the ground away with your feet, keeping your chest up and black flat throughout (B). Lower them back to the ground in a hinging motion and repeat. Avoid excessive rounding in your lower back, keeping your form tight throughout. Don’t rush, in a race to build muscle, slower and steady wins.
2. Dumbbell Floor (or Bench) Press x 10-15 reps
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Press the weights above you, locking out your elbows (A). Lower them slowly until your upper arms are resting on the floor (B), close to your body, pause here before explosively pressing back up. If you have a bench, use it.
3. Renegade Row x 10 (each side/ 20 total)
Drop into a press-up position with your hands on your bells and midline tight (A). Shifting your weight onto your left hand, row the right dumbbell towards your hip (B). Pause briefly, then lower the weight under control. Repeat on your left side (each row equals one rep)
4. Burpee Over ‘Bells x 10
With both dumbbells on the floor next to you, step back and hit the deck into a press-up position. Lower your body until your chest touches the floor (A). Stand back up and jump powerfully over the dumbbells (B) – driving through your hips when you take off. Land and immediately drop to the floor and repeat. The dumbbells keep you accountable for the height of each jump.
DAY THREE (W20/D3)
As with day one and two, perform a thorough warm-up and work your way through as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes, recording your efforts for each movement.
1. Push-Up on Dumbbells x 10
Assume a long arm plank position, with your core tight and, hands below your shoulders stacked on top of your dumbbells (A), bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively.
2. High Pull x 8-12 reps
Stand tall with your dumbbells at your waist, in front of your body. (A) Keeping your core tight, hinge forward slightly before explosively standing back upright and pulling the dumbbells up towards your chin, driving your elbows up and back (B). Slowly lower back down to your waist under complete control. Avoid simply dropping your dumbbells back to your waist to build more muscle and avoid injury. If your dumbbells feel light, avoid the help from your hips and simply stand tall and pull the weights up to your chin.
3. Tempo Goblet Squats x 10
Hold a single dumbbell close to your chest (A). Sink your hips back and slowly, over a count of 4 seconds, descend into a squat (B). Your elbows should come in between your knees at the bottom. Drive back up explosively. Repeat. Pay attention to that tempo, it matters.
4. Split Squat Jump x 20 reps (total)
Step one foot backward and sink into a deep lunge, with your rear knee lightly touching the floor (A). Explode upward, jumping into the air and switching legs mid jump (B) to land in a lunge.
With almost 18 years in the health and fitness space as a personal trainer, nutritionist, breath coach and writer, Andrew has spent nearly half of his life exploring how to help people improve their bodies and minds.
As our fitness editor he prides himself on keeping Men’s Health at the forefront of reliable, relatable and credible fitness information, whether that’s through writing and testing thousands of workouts each year, taking deep dives into the science behind muscle building and fat loss or exploring the psychology of performance and recovery.
Whilst constantly updating his knowledge base with seminars and courses, Andrew is a lover of the practical as much as the theory and regularly puts his training to the test tackling everything from Crossfit and strongman competitions, to ultra marathons, to multiple 24 hour workout stints and (extremely unofficial) world record attempts.
You can find Andrew on Instagram at @theandrew.tracey, or simply hold up a sign for ‘free pizza’ and wait for him to appear.