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 in to our latest offering — week 27 and follow the programme from here.
New This Week…
We’re continuing on with our ‘centurion sets’ based sessions from the previous few weeks, but now we’re cranking it up a gear. Over the next two weeks we’ll be completing a ‘repeat and beat’ phase, where we’ll be revisiting our previous centurion workouts and aiming to smash our previous rep scores by completing all 100 reps of each movement in fewer sets than before. This will challenge our strength and tenacity and invoke the progressive overload principle, which will lead to muscle growth and improved conditioning. This week we’re looking back at the first week of this phase: Week 25.
Consult your notes and use the same weights for each movement, unless you managed to complete a movement in less than five micro-sets, in which case go heavier. If you don’t have access to any heavier dumbbells, slow your tempo right down and try to beat your previous ‘scores’ with a much stricter cadence.
If this is your first week in the club, simply jump in here, for everyone else, here’s a refresher on how to perform ‘centurion sets’:
Using full body sessions, big compound movements and limited rest times, our aim is to push your muscles into the growth zone right on the edge of failure. You’ll chip away at a 100 rep target for every movement in each session. The aim is to break up each movement into as few sets as possible (while maintaining impeccable form), using short micro-rests as you tire, pushing yourself past fatigue to remain in the high intensity goldilocks zone for muscular growth, whilst also building grit and all round fitness.
If you have access to a selection of dumbbells, choose a pair for each movement that you could perform 15-20 high quality reps with, but not a single rep more.
Example Centurion Set:
Push Press x 100 reps performed as: 20 reps, 18 reps, 18 reps, 14 reps, 13 reps, 8 reps, 9 reps
Consult your notes from Week 25 and aim to beat you reps for each individual set while maintaining the same short rest periods.
DAY ONE (W27/D1)
After a thorough warm-up grab your bells and get to work. Consult your notes from Week 25 and aim to push past your limits and ‘beat the notebook’. Push each set as close as you can to technical failure – the point at which your form or tempo begins to break down. Focus on taking 10-15 deep belly breaths before jumping straight back in. Continue in this fashion until you achieve 100 reps, then move onto the next movement.
1. Dumbbell Floor (or Bench) Press x 100 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.
2. Bent-Over Row x 100 reps
After your final floor press, stand tall with your dumbbells at 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. Front Squat x 100 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.
DAY TWO (W27/D2)
1. Push Press x 100 reps
Clean your dumbbells 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.
2. High Pull x 100 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. Dumbbell Deadlift x 100 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.
DAY THREE (W27/D3)
1.Renegade Row x 100 (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)
2. Front Rack Reverse Lunge x 100 (Total)
Clean your dumbbells onto the front of shoulders and stand tall (A). Keeping your chest up at all times, take a step backward with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground (B). Stand up explosively, pause and repeat with the other leg. Alternate back and forth.
3. Hollow Body Pullovers x 100
Lay flat on the floor, lift your feet six inches from the ground whilst pushing your lower back into the ground and lifting your head and shoulder blades off of the ground. (A) Hold one or both of your dumbbells behind your head, with straight arms pull the dumbbell over your head and above your chest, (B), pause, squeeze your chest hard and return to the floor under control.
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.