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Keto exercise – Simple dumbbell workout ideas at home

Integrating exercise into your daily life can provide so many benefits both physically and mentally. One of the best methods is strength training and you can even do it from the comfort of your own home! Read on for some super simple dumbbell workout plans and advice that will compliment your keto lifestyle.

Related – want to know more about where to start with exercise and why you should add it to your keto arsenal? Check out our keto exercise guide.

Why dumbbells?

York fitness dumbbells on rack

To put it simply, they are one of the most versatile types of free weights. They can be used individually or in pairs, with one in each hand. If you’re going to invest in some workout equipment then they would make the most sense. Forgot all those random fad machines you see being advertised on TV.

Key benefits

Some of their key benefits include:

Versatility – can be used for full-body exercises as well as joint-isolated exercises (like bicep curls and shoulder raises). There are so many different exercises you can do that you can always mix up your workouts.

Increased safety – No complicated setup, just pick up the weights and go. Similarly, you can just drop the weight as needed (though try not to!). Perfect if you work out alone as you don’t need a spotter.

Better stability and activation – Unlike gym machines, free weights require greater stabilisation in order to maintain proper form. Consequently, this leads to better muscle activation (basically the act of contracting and relaxing a specific muscle) therefore greater gains.

Better muscle uniformity – As you control the range of motion in your workout (unlike with gym machines), you can ensure that both sides of your body are worked out evenly. Thus helping to prevent uneven muscle strength and size.

Cost-effective – a set of good iron dumbbells can cost as little as £30, which can often be less than a months gym pass.

Easily vary intensity – once you max out your reps with your current weight, you can just add more plates to increase your intensity. Most dumbbells have standard size bars so you can buy additional weight plates separately as and when needed.

Workout anywhere – you don’t need to go to the gym to workout. Just find some space, preferably with ample room to complete any exercises. This could be in the lounge, garage, garden or even bedroom.

Dumbbell workout plans

Now that you have some idea on why dumbbells are a great exercise tool. Let’s take a look at some dumbbell workouts you can do while on keto. Of course, these are just recommendations so try them out and mix and match as much as you like.

After about a month, it’s good to continually mix up your regime so that your muscles don’t get too used to the workout and hitting a plateau (see switching up workouts).

Full body workout

If you’ve never done a dumbbell workout or haven’t exercised in a long time, then this plan is a great introduction. Just take your time and don’t worry if you can’t complete it all in one go. The key is to be persistent!

Tone and Tighten have a great 30-minute dumbbell HIIT workout that combines strength and cardio training. It targets every major muscle group and can be done at home.

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, this basically means you exercise intensely for a set amount of time followed by less-intense recovery periods. You then repeat this until the whole workout is completed.

Example plan: Aim to do this 3 times a week leaving a days rest in-between workouts.

Targeted muscle groups

Ideal if you’re used to exercising and have used dumbbells before. Instead of completing the same workout ‘x’ times a week, you will target a particular muscle group for each workout. That way one muscle group can rest while you train another. Therefore, allowing for shorter overall recovery periods.

Zeus Fitness have a free 4 part dumbbell toning workout program called Thrive in 25. It covers every muscle group in the body and as the name suggests only requires a set of dumbbells.

Example plan: Mon – Legs, Wed – Arms, Friday – Chest and back, Sun – Abs and shoulders

Dumbbell types

Dumbbells come in a wide variety of weights, materials and sizes. What you will need will vary depending on your budget, space and goal. Let’s take a closer look at the available materials, types and options:

dumbbell workout strength training


Dumbbells are usually made of either cast iron, plastic or rubber. Cast iron is the more expensive option but has better durability and compatibility with other cast iron weight plates. On the other hand, plastic is generally cheaper but not as durable. Plastic and rubber dumbbells usually consist of a durable outer coating like plastic or neoprene and a different core (the part that makes up the weight). That can be concrete, sand, cast iron or even water.

Fixed vs Adjustable

Adjustable is the most common and consists of a bar and a removable set of weight plates. You can slide the plates onto both ends of the bar and secure them with collars. Fixed, as the name suggests are a set weight and can not be adjusted.



  • Speed – quickly swap weights by picking up another dumbbell.
  • Cost – cheap options exist that are made with plastic and concrete.
  • Safe – single body construction, no multiple points of failure


  • Cost – each set can be expensive and you will need multiple
  • Storage – you will likely need a rack to store weights safely and securely.



  • Versatile – allow you to change weight easily by adjusting the plates.
  • Space-saving – you can have a lot of different plates in a small area.
  • Safe – you can only load as much as you can carry.
  • Cost – only need to buy extra plates as needed.


  • Max weight limits – you can only put so many plates on a bar. You will need to buy heavier plates to replace multiple smaller ones.
  • Lose collars – over time the washers inside the collars can wear out and can cause them to loosen.
  • Cost – initial set with bars can be more expensive than a good set of fixed weights.

Recommended dumbbells

Depending on your budget and use case, here are three different dumbbell sets that we recommend.

Proiron 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable

Proiron 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable

Available at: Amazon

Type: Adjustable

Material: Cast iron


  • 4 x 2.5kg
  • 4 x 1.25kg
  • 4 x 0.5kg

Perfect for: Full home workout on a budget with limited space.

Extreme Fitness Hex Dumbbell

Extreme Fitness Hex Dumbbell

Available at: Amazon

Type: Fixed

Material: Cast iron core with rubber coating

Weights: Available in a range of sizes from 1 to 30kg sets

Perfect for: Gradually building out a full home gym.

Proiron Neoprene Dumbbell Set

Proiron Neoprene Dumbbell Set

Available at: Amazon

Type: Fixed

Material: Csat iron core with soft-touch neoprene coating.


  • 3kg
  • 2kg
  • 1kg

Perfect for: beginners on a budget and those recovering from injuries.


In conclusion, integrating a dumbbell workout into your keto journey can help you reach your goals faster. Whether that is fat loss, muscle gains, endurance or just general wellness. Just start off small and gradually increase the intensity & complexity as you keep hitting new levels of fitness!

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