A Dumbbell Workout You Can Take Outside

I’m not going to say anything about summer in Chicago coming to an end because I’m going to insist that we adhere to the true seasons. Summer ends September 23, according to the official date. That’s more than a month left, people. I don’t want to hear the words “summer” and “end” in the same sentence for at least three more weeks.

Here’s the deal with my strong insistence: I want to work out outside until the last possible second. The great thing about an outdoor workout is that one can get creative, using parks, steps, rocks, ledges and hills to make the most of a little patch of sunshine and fresh air in the day.

We took over the lakeshore path, Chicago’s favorite place for fitness, for this dumbbell workout. My apologies to the runners who either A) swerved to avoid the photos or B) ran right through them. I understand both of those reactions. Thanks and sorry, runners.

This workout can be done with or without dumbbells. We love our bodyweight workouts at aSweatLife, but we want to make sure that you’re able to scale you workouts as you get stronger. Weights are a great way to do that.

I packed eight-pound weights in my backpack for this workout because, frankly, any heavier and I would have tipped over backwards with everything I carry around in my giant, purple backpack. You can use heavier weights, lighter weights or no weights at all.

You’re going to do this workout as a ladder. You’ll do all of the exercises for 50 seconds and rest for 10. Then you’ll do the exercises for 40 seconds and rest for 10. Then 30 on and 10 off. The bottom of the ladder will be 20 on and 10 off. You’ll go back up the ladder after that, going through the 30-, 40- and 50-second rounds once more.


(Photos by Christiana Basso)

180 degree squat jumps: Starting in a squat position (make sure that your butt is parallel with your knees at the bottom of your range of motion – I was sore after going back to Hardpressed after a 49-day hiatus and I literally could not). Jump up while taking a 180-degree turn (or half-circle turn, for those of you who forget Geometry) and land in a squat position.

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Bent over Ts: Hinging from the hips with a slight bend in your knees, keep your back flat and hold your weights directly beneath your shoulders. Start with your palms facing each other and rotate your hands out, lifting your weights up to a parallel position with your shoulders. Lower down with control to return to the starting position.

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Bent over Vs: Hinging from the hips with a slight bend in your knees, keep your back flat and hold your weights directly beneath your shoulders. Start with your palms facing each other and reach up and out in front of your shoulders, bringing your hands to a V formation.

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Dumbbell leg lifts: Holding your dumbbells above your head while laying on the ground with your legs extended straight in front of you, use your abs to lift your legs up. Exhale as you lift. Bring your straight arms up at the same time. Keep your low back on the floor as you lift.

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Recumbent bike: Leaning back with you back in a straight line, float your feet off the ground, alternate bending and extending your legs as if you were pedaling a bike. You can hold your weights at your chest to make this more challenging. 

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Triceps dips: Start by sitting on the ground and lifting up your body by placing your hands under your butt. Your fingers should face towards your body. For a more challenging move, keep your legs in a straight line. and to scale it down, bend your knees. Bend your elbows to lower down, straighten your arms to lift up.

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(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)

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About Jeana Anderson Cohen

Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of asweatlife.com a premiere wellness media destination that creates content and community to help womxn live better lives and achieve their goals. Before founding health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - and fresh out of college she worked on the '08 Obama campaign in Michigan. From there, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience in building community and her passion for wellness. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, trying to join a book club, and walking her dog Maverick.