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Breakthrough Fitness

Dumbbell Complex For Fat Loss

Dumbbell Complex for Fat Loss

I’ve got another workout for you today. But instead of breaking down a single move, I’m going to show you a series of fat-burning exercises you can do with just a single set of dumbbells.

I know what you’re thinking: “Dumbbells…for weight loss?”

Yep! Weights aren’t just for building bigger muscles and this dumbbell complex workout is a great way to burn fat. You can do it as a warm up, as a stand-alone full body workout, or as an added cardio bonus after your regular workout routine.



Before we get into the workout itself, I wanted to debunk one of the most popular fitness myths, namely the one that says weights are for strength training and cardio is for weight loss.

And while it is true that weight training can help build muscle mass, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t using your dumbbells in the most efficient way possible: with complexes.

One of the main reasons why complexes are so effective is because they pack a lot of work into a short period of time. This high intensity increases your heart rate, which raises your metabolism to burn body fat.

With the addition of a couple of weights, dumbbell complexes add an extra layer of resistance to provide strength and toning for your full body.

If it sounds too good to be true, try this fat burning dumbbell workout for yourself!



A complex is a series of movements using one training tool; in this case, a pair of dumbbells. Unlike HIIT workouts that allow you to rest 30 seconds after 15 seconds of work, complexes are done with no rest between exercises.

The transition between moves should flow smoothly; you want to keep your heart rate up to get the maximum amount of benefit from this.

For this dumbbell complex workout, do 6-10 reps of each of the following four exercises. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the entire series again for a total of three to five rounds. 

Your weights should be heavy enough to challenge you, but light enough that you can complete the workout without sacrificing form. If it starts to become too easy, increase the weight or your reps to avoid hitting a plateau. 



Muscle Groups Targeted: Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back

To begin, stand up tall with your legs hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, one dumbbell in each hand.

Sending your hips back, bend forward at the waist, keeping your arms pointing down at the ground. The dumbbells should be hanging towards the floor. Come up to your starting position and repeat.

If this is a little too tough on your knees, keep your legs straight and focus on increasing your range of motion through your lower back and hamstrings.



Muscle Groups Targeted: Upper Back, Shoulders, Triceps

Looking for an upper body exercise with endless variations? Enter: the dumbbell row!

After your last straight leg deadlift, do not return to a standing position. (For added support, you can do a one-arm variation with your non-working arm and corresponding knee propped onto a bench.)

Remain bent over at the waist with your arms straight toward the ground. Bring the dumbbells up to your sides in a rowing motion. Use your core to keep your back straight and supported.


man doing overhead press with set of dumbbells


Muscle Groups Targeted: Traps, Lats, Deltoids, Triceps, Core

For those who are new to gym lingo, “clean” is when you lift a weight from a lower position (such as the floor) to your shoulders. 

For the dumbbell clean and press, hold the dumbbells at your sides, then “clean” them up to your shoulders with each rep. From there, an overhead press will strengthen your entire upper body.

Stand straight, holding the dumbbells down at your sides.

Bend your knees slightly; as you straighten them, use the momentum to swing the dumbbells up to your shoulders. Press the dumbbells overhead, release down to your shoulders, then return to your starting position.




Muscle Groups Targeted: Calves, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core, Traps, Lats, Deltoids, Triceps

After your last clean and press, keep your dumbbells on your shoulders for a dumbbell squat. Squats are an excellent full body exercise and the added weight of the dumbbells will take this simple movement to another level.

Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor and send your hips back so you retain your balance. 

Too easy? Try a squat push press and lift the dumbbells overhead each time you stand.



We’re all looking for a way to get more done in less time, and this fat burning dumbbell workout is the perfect place to start!

Add this complex to your existing workout program as a total body warm up, or add it in on those days when you feel like you need to hit things a little harder. It’s also a great stand-alone workout routine if you’ll be traveling and only have access to the simplest gym equipment.

At Breakthrough Fitness, we’re all about finding simple ways to make better choices and we’re always here to motivate you to reach your goals. Incorporate this dumbbell complex into your routine and see the difference it makes!

Keep moving,

Coach Dom



This article was originally posted in April 2019 and has been updated to be more comprehensive.