Welcome to the Mens Health Dumbbell Club, your new weekly plan for a fitter, stronger body using just two dumbbells.
With workouts lasting 20-40 minutes, designed to add lean muscle mass, build fitness, and increase strength, your weekly dose of dumbbell goodness decreases by the week.
You can go back to check out week one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten or just get stuck into our latest offer Week 11 and follow the program from here.
New this week
This week marks the first of two repeat and beat weeks. We’ll look back at our reps, sets, weights, and scores from week one of the Centurion Phase (Week 9) and aim to go harder, faster, and bigger in each set, overloading our muscles and causing explosive new growth.
Your goal in the first two weeks of the centurion phase was to reach 100 reps of each movement in as few high-quality sets as possible. Your goal now? Get there even faster demonstrating the same flawless muscle-building reps and consistent breath-based rest periods.
For example, if the overhead presses you performed on day one broke into sets of 16, 14, 15, 12, 12, 10, 8, 5, 5, 3, with 15 deep breaths between each effort, your goal this week is to beat each of those sets, with equal rest between each, resulting in fewer total sets, for the same goal of 100 reps.
If this is your first week on the program and you don’t want to go back and start from a previous week, simply aim to complete all 100 reps in as few sets as possible, working close to muscle failure but avoiding a burnout of form and pace. . .
Just like in week 9 you will use a push/pull/lower divided. The first session targets your chest, shoulders and triceps. Session 2 will make your leg and core muscles explode. You’ll finish the week strong and pumped, pumping up your back and biceps.
Tip for coaches: Having concrete rep goals to hit in each set can help you fight fatigue and push yourself harder than you thought possible. This is the secret sauce for muscle growth. Let’s beat that notebook!
DAY ONE (S11/D1)
After a thorough warm-up, grab your bells and get to work. Use the same weights as in week 9, unless this is your first week on the program, in which case try to pick a set of dumbbells that you could press overhead for about 15-20 reps in your first set, but don’t moreover. Try to beat your reps and sets from week 9 by taking 10-15 deep breaths between each effort until you reach 100 reps, before moving on to the next movement.
1. Overhead or Push Press x 100 reps
Wipe the dumbbells across your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a breath and create tension in your core. (A) Dip your knees in and use your legs to help you (B) press the dumbbells overhead. Lower yourself in a strictly controlled pace to shoulder length and repeat. If your weights feel a little too light, don’t use any push from your legs and focus on firm pressing from your shoulders.
2. Dumbbell floor (or bench) press x 100 reps
Then, make your way to the floor, lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press the weights above you, locking your elbows (A). Slowly lower them until your upper arms are resting on the floor (b), close to your body, pause here before explosively pressing. If you have a bench, use it.
3. Dumbbell push-ups x 100 reps
After your final press, release the bells and turn around, assuming a long cocked plank position. With your core tight and your hands under your shoulders gripping the dumbbells (A)bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back explosively. Focus on slowly lowering yourself before explosively springing back up, maintaining your form rigorously throughout.
4. Triceps x 100 reps
Burnt chest and shoulders, time to stretch those sleeves. Sit upright on a bench or box, support your weight with your arms, and walk your feet out to the side, moving over the edge (A). Lower your body until you feel a stretch in your chest (b). Push back hard. For maximum effect, try counting to three down and one up, while forcefully contracting your triceps at the top.
SECOND DAY (W11/G2)
As with day one, warm up properly and jump right in, looking to beat your previous efforts across the board. If it’s your first time here, choose a set of dumbbells or kettlebells that you can’t squat for more than 20 reps (without feeling like you might burn out).
1. Front Squat x 100 reps
Wipe the dumbbells on the front of the shoulders (A). From here, come down into a front squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor (b), before ascending explosively. Keep those dumbbells secured high, with a strong, straight torso the entire time.
2. Romanian deadlift x 100 reps
Next, drop the dumbbells at your sides, feet shoulder-width apart (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push the hips back and slowly lower the kettlebells to the floor (b), pinching the shoulders back and keeping the back flat. When you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings, stop and explosively return to a standing position.
3. Cyclist goblet squat x 100 reps
You could drop a dumbbell, but that’s half the weight and double the burn. Lift your heels onto a weight plate, block, or other dumbbell heads. Keep your feet 15cm apart, heels close together. Keep the dumbbell close to your chest. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, (A) stand up explosively, pausing just before locking your legs to keep the tension on your quads (B). Repeat. Get over the burn on this one, it’s worth it (we promise).
4. Lying (or hanging) leg raises x 100 reps
Lie on your back, heels just off the ground, dumbbells behind your head, gripping them like an anchor (A). Keeping your feet together, tuck in at your stomach, lifting your legs toward the ceiling until your hips clear the floor (B), pause here for a second before slowly lowering yourself. Once you start, try to keep your feet off the ground at all times. If you have a bar to hang from, use it.
THIRD DAY (S11/D3)
Same details as previous days, same weights as week 9. Last day, let’s go big!
1. Renegade row x 100 (total) reps
Come down into a pushup position with hands on bells and midline taut (A). Shifting weight to left hand, row right dumbbell toward hip (b). Take a short break, then get the weight under control. Repeat on the left side (each row equals one repetition)
2. Bent over row x 100 reps
100 lines of dumb renegades, stand up with dumbbells at your sides. Lean forward until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor and let the dumbbells hang just below your knees (A). Keeping his back flat, he rows both dumbbells toward his hips (b), squeeze your shoulder blades down and back before slowly lowering the kettlebells to the starting position. Repeat.
3. Dumbbell hang clean x 100 reps
Stand up and hold the dumbbells by your side. Zipper at the hips to bring them down to the knees (A). Explosively stand up with a slight jump, landing straight on your toes and using momentum to pull the dumbbells to your shoulders (b). Stand straight, then lower yourself under control to your hips and repeat.
4. Single Dumbbell Bicep Curl x 100
Still standing, drop one of your bells. He grasps the remaining bell with both hands, keeping the outer heads and palms facing each other (A). With minimal momentum, curl the dumbbell up until it is under your chin (b). Squeeze in here and drop the weight under control, fighting it all the way. Keep repeating, squeezing those biceps as hard as you can until you can go for another rep.
With nearly 18 years in the health and fitness field as a personal trainer, nutritionist, breath coach, and writer, Andrew has spent nearly half his life exploring how to help people improve their bodies and minds.
As our fitness editor, he takes pride in keeping Mens Health at the forefront of reliable, recognizable and credible fitness information, both through writing and testing thousands of workouts each year, diving deep into the science behind building muscle and fat loss or exploring the psychology of performance and recovery.
Whilst constantly updating his knowledge base with seminars and courses, Andrew is as much a lover of practice as he is of theory and regularly tests his training by tackling everything from Crossfit and strongman races, to ultra marathons, to multiple bouts of 24 hour training and (extremely unofficial) world record attempts.
You can find Andrew on Instagram at @theandrew.tracey, or just hold up a free pizza sign and wait for it to appear.
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