17 Dumbbell Exercises For Weight Loss (That Actually Work)

Dumbbells are a great way to burn calories and build muscle, hence putting you in a great position to lose weight. With the muscle-building properties that they offer in a workout, you’ll be able to burn calories not just during the session, but long after as well.

Here are the 17 best dumbbell exercises for weight loss:

  • Dumbbell Squat
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Forward Lunge
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Dumbbell Thruster
  • Dumbbell Chest Press
  • Dumbbell Flys
  • Standing Shoulder Press
  • Skull Crushers
  • Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Upright Row
  • Renegade Row
  • Bent-Over Row
  • Single-Arm Snatches
  • Weighted Russian Twist
  • Farmers’ Walk
  • Dumbbell Burpee

We are going to be taking you through each of these exercises to ensure that you perform them with the correct technique. 

These exercises will cover your entire body so expect these movements to hit both your upper and lower body as well as your core. 

It’s also important to note that to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, that is, eating fewer calories than you burn, so make sure that you focus on your nutrition as well.

If you’re looking to pair these dumbbell exercises with cardio, then be sure to check out our guide on The Top 5 Cardio Machines For Weight Loss.


Need a workout program? Get 3 free workouts on Fitbod right now.


Dumbbell Exercises You Can Use To Lose Weight

We’re going to split this list into lower body, upper body, full-body, and ab exercises that you can do with dumbbells.  

The key for weight loss is to keep the reps high (above 8) and the rest intervals short (less than 90-seconds).  

You can also superset a lot of these exercises back-to-back if you wanted to do a metabolic resistance workout, which has been shown to elevate calorie burn up to 38 hours post-workout.  

Lower Body Dumbbell Exercises For Weight Loss

Dumbbell Squat

dumbbell squat - lower body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core

  1. Hold either one dumbbell in both hands at chest height or two dumbbells of equal weight in each hand by your side or by your shoulders with your elbows bent.
  1. Spread your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart or in your normal squat stance. Keep your toes pointed slightly angled out and torso upright.
  1. Brace into your belly and bend your knees, squatting down. Keep your hips back and your chest up.
  1. Once you hit your depth—aim for at least parallel if possible—drive through your heels and stand back up.
  1. That’s one rep. Now, repeat.

Take a look at our complete guide on the Benefits of Squats For Weight Loss.

Romanian Deadlift

romanian deadlift - lower body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, adductors, core

  1. Hold two dumbbells of equal weight in an overhand grip each hand in front of you so your palms are facing your body.
  1. Keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent, hinge at your hips, sliding the dumbbells down towards your shins. Keep them as close to your body as possible.
  1. Keep hinging until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. 
  1. Then, come back up to the starting position.
  1. Repeat.

Take a look at our complete guide on the Benefits of Deadlifts For Weight Loss.

Forward Lunge

forward lunge - lower body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: quads, calves, hamstrings, core

  1. Hold a dumbbell at your chest with both hands or two dumbbells by your side.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward.
  1. Engage your core and look straight ahead. Then, take a step forward with one foot. As your foot lands, bend both knees so you’re lunging. Stop when your back knee is an inch off the ground.
  1. Push off from your front foot as you straighten back up, bringing your foot back beside your resting one, ready for the next rep.
  1. Repeat on the same side until you’ve completed your reps. Then, switch.

Related Article: Leg Day Workouts For Weight Loss (10-Must Do Exercises)

Reverse Lunge

reverse lunge - lower body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glute, core

This variation of the lunge is similar to the forward lunge, except, instead of stepping forward with each rep, it requires taking a step backwards.

  1. Repeat step 1-2 from the forward lunge.
  1. Now, take a step behind you with one foot, bending your knees and dropping into a lunge until your back knee is near the ground.
  1. Then, push through your back foot, bringing it with your resting one.
  1. Finish your reps on the same side before switching to the other.

We wrote a complete guide on How To Lose 5lbs In A Month. It discusses how to do it the healthy way!

Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises For Weight Loss 

Dumbbell Chest Press

dumbbell chest press - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: pecs, triceps

  1. Lie on your back on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  1. Hold two dumbbells in each hand in an overhand, with your arms extended above you. 
  1. Bring the dumbbells down towards your chest.
  1. Pause in this position for a moment.
  1. Press the dumbbells back up so that your arms are straight again.
  1. Repeat.

Dumbbell Flys

dumbbell flys - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps

  1. Lie on your back on a bench or on the floor.
  1. Hold two dumbbells (you may have to go for a lighter weight for this exercise) above you so that your arms are straight and palms are facing each other.
  1. Slowly, separate your arms so that they form an arc as you bring them out to the side. Your elbows will be slightly bent as you do so.
  1. Go as far as your body allows.
  1. Then, engage your pec muscles as you bring the dumbbells back together again, meeting in the middle with your arms straight, though don’t let them touch. Keep an inch or 2 of space between them.

Related Article:  How to Work Your Hamstrings At Home

Standing Shoulder Press

standing shoulder press - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: shoulders, triceps, delts, pecs

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in an overhand grip. 
  1. Bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells by your shoulders, palms facing away from you. 
  1. Engage your core, tuck your pelvis in and press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are extended. Ensure that your back doesn’t arch in this position.
  1. Pause in the top position.
  1. Bring your arms back down to your starting stance.
  1. Repeat. 

Skullcrushers

skullcrushers - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: triceps

  1. Lie on a bench or on the floor on your back, facing the ceiling.
  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms up to the sky. Your palms should be facing each other.
  1. Bend at the elbows, bringing the weight back towards your head. The only movement should be the bend of your elbows; your forearms should remain still.
  1. Keep going until you’ve reached the full range of motion.
  1. Then, bring the dumbbells back up so that you’re in the starting position.
  1. Repeat.

Overhead Tricep Extension

overhead tricep extension - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: triceps

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet planted firmly into the ground. Hold a dumbbell overhead, gripping it with both hands on one side so it hangs down. Be careful not to arch your back in the position by ensuring you’re bracing and tucking your pelvis in.
  1. Bend at the elbows so the weight goes behind it, towards your head.
  1. Then, bring the weight back up so that your arms are extended again. That’s one rep.
  1. Repeat.

Related Article:  How To Start Strength Training With Dumbbells Only 

Upright Row

upright row - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: delts, biceps

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you. Use an overhand grip so palms are facing your body.
  1. Engage your core. Then, row the dumbbells up vertically, keeping them as close to your body as possible. Bend your elbows to do so so that they are pointed out to the side.
  1. Once you’ve reached the top position, pause for a moment.
  1. In a controlled motion, slowly bring the dumbbells back down to the starting stance.
  1. Keep repeating this until you’ve completed your set.

Renegade Row

renegade row - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: core, back, trap, biceps

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into a high plank position. Support yourselves by balancing on the dumbbells, ensuring they’re directly beneath your shoulders with your arms fully extended. 
  1. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and brace your body.
  1. Then, lift one dumbbell up until it’s at your chest height, bending at the elbows but making sure it remains close to your body. Try to keep your torso straight; try not to twist your body as you row.
  1. Lower the weight back down in a controlled movement.
  1. Alternate arms and row with your other side now. Repeat until your set is complete.

Bent-Over Row

bent-over row - upper body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: back, biceps, lats, traps

  1. Hold two dumbbells, one in each hand, in an overhand grip. Hold them sideways so your palms are facing each other with your arms straight. Keep your feet at shoulder-distance apart with your toe pointing forwards. Look straight ahead and hinge at the hips so your torso is slightly angled forwards but keep your back straight.
  1. Brace and row the dumbbells up toward your body. As you bend your elbows, keep them tucked in close to your body.
  1. Pause at the top position and squeeze those lats.
  1. Then, lower the weights back down until your arms are straight again. 
  1. Repeat.

Full Body Dumbbell Exercises For Weight Loss 

Dumbbell Thruster

dumbbell thruster - full body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, shoulders, triceps

  1. Hold a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand by your shoulders. Keep your elbows bent and palms facing each other. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  1. Brace and squat down, bending at the knees and pushing your hips back. Keep going until you hit parallel or your depth.
  1. Drive through your heels to stand back up. As you do so, press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended.
  1. Lockout in this position. This is one rep.
  1. To seamlessly move into the next rep, then bring the dumbbells back down by your shoulders as you simultaneously bend at the knees into another squat, ready to press the weight overhead again.

Single-Arm Power Snatch

single-arm power snatch - full body dumbbell exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: shoulders, hamstring, lower back, glute, lats

  1. Hold your dumbbell in one hand in an overhand grip. Place it on the ground beneath your feet, which should be slighter wider than shoulder-width. Bend at the knees, sitting your hips back and leaning forward so that your chest is parallel to the floor.
  1. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, keeping your back and core tight. Your free arm can be by your side or behind you.
  1. In one movement, pull the dumbbell up, bending at the elbows so that the weight remains close to your body. Simultaneously, straighten your body, extending your hips, knees and ankles.
  1. Once your elbow goes as high as it can go, in an explosive movement, lock your arm out in an overhead position so that it’s completely straight and the dumbbell is above your head. As your elbows straighten, drop into a quarter squat. Make sure that your core and shoulders remain tight.
  1. When you’re ready, stand up, keeping the dumbbell in an overhead position.
  1. Once you’ve completely stood up, lower the weight back down to the floor, ready for your next rep.
  1. Do all the reps on one side before switching to the other.

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Dumbbell Ab Exercises For Weight Loss 

Weighted Russian Twist

weighted russian twist - dumbbell ab exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: core, lats, hips

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet off the ground. Lean your upper body slightly back so your body hips make a V-shape. Hold the dumbbell at your chest with both hands.
  1. Bring the dumbbell to one side, keeping your legs bent and in the air. Twist your body to do so, working your obliques.
  1. Rotate as far as you can go to the side.
  1. Then, rotate back the other way.
  1. Do the same number of reps on each side.

Farmers’ Walk

farmers’ walk - dumbbell ab exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: core, back, biceps, triceps, grip, shoulders, glute, hamstring, quads

  1. Grab two dumbbells and hold them in one hand each. Stand with your toes pointing forwards, shoulder-width apart. 
  1. Brace and pull your shoulders down and back.
  1. Then, start walking down the length of the floor. Keep your chest up and your body straight. 
  1. Try to walk as fast as possible while still maintaining your form.
  1. When you reach the end, turn around and come back the other way.

Dumbbell Burpee

dumbbell burpee - dumbbell ab exercises for weight loss

Muscles worked: legs, core, glutes, chest, arms, shoulders

  1. In each hand, hold a dumbbell in an overhand grip. Keep them by your side as you stand up tall with your feet apart at shoulder-distance. Look straight ahead.
  1. Bend your knees and drop your hands and dumbbells to the ground.
  1. Balance on the dumbbells as you kick your legs out behind you, dropping your chest to the ground.
  1. Then, tuck your feet back into your chest.
  1. From this position, jump back up, keeping the dumbbells by your sides.
  1. As you land, drop to the ground again, into your next rep.

Sample Workout Using Dumbbells For Weight Loss

Visit the FitBod app for more dumbbell exercises that you can incorporate into your workout for weight loss. 

FitBod can generate a workout for you or you can pick and choose the exercise that you want to do and create your own. 

In the meantime, here is a sample workout that’ll assist you in burning calories and getting closer to your weight loss goal:

  • Romanian deadlift – 4×10
  • Single-arm power snatch – 3×10 (each side)
  • Bent-over row – 3×12
  • Russian twist – 3×20 (each side)
  • Superset:
    • Farmers’ walk – 3x20m
    • Dumbbell burpee – 3×10

Final Notes

These 17 dumbbell exercises are great for building muscle, improving strength, and burning calories for weight loss. 

Thanks to their muscle-building properties, you’ll be able to keep burning calories, long after you’ve put the dumbbells down so make sure you try our sample workout or incorporate some (or all) of these exercises into your training sessions.

If you’re wanting to work out twice per day, then check out our guide on How To Work Out Twice A Day For Weight Loss.


About The Author

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.