The 15-minute Dumbbell Workout for Busy Guys

At some point in every guy’s life, finding workout time becomes problematic. It doesn’t matter if you’re a former bodybuilder or a master of time management. This is the era of parenting young children (i.e. any kid too young to drive), house ownership, and hitting your career stride.

It’s also the stage when you run into your fellow middle-aged buddies from college and think, “Wow. Do I look as bad as he does?”

Don’t make the mistake of joining a gym you’ll never visit, or buying a road bike or paddleboard that will just sit in the garage. Instead, allocate yourself a 15-minute dumbbell workout outside the demands of family, work, and career—a window that likely will come before everyone gets out of bed.

Fortunately, you don’t need to leave the house. Find a small space in the basement, home office, or guest room for your workout. Get a set of dumbbells, preferably a compact set of adjustable dumbbells with the versatility of an entire rack of iron. Failing that, get a pair that’s comfortably challenging for a number of lifts—whether 25-pounders, 40s, or something in between. Err on the side of going lighter, especially if you haven’t trained heavy in some time.

The 15-minute Dumbbell Workout: How to Do It
We’ve designed this workout by alternating lower-body and upper-body movements, or pushing and pulling exercises, so there’s no need for rest. That way you can make the most of your time.

  • Perform these six exercises as a circuit workout. Do the assigned reps of each exercise, then move to the next exercise. Once you’ve finished every exercise, that’s one round of the circuit.
  • Do two rounds of the circuit total, resting only between each round.
  • If you have more time, you can do more rounds of the circuit.

Do this workout first thing in the morning and you’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment before your chaotic day ensues.

1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Why it works: RDLs are great for building the proper activation patterns in your hamstrings and glutes while also strengthening your back. Since you likely spend much of your day sitting in the car and at a desk, RDLs help activate these areas at the start of the workout.

How to do it: Start with a light set of dumbbells. Form is especially key to getting full benefit from the RDL. Don’t think of the exercise as bending forward but rather as sitting back with your torso moving forward instead of staying upright.

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