-“A Complete DB Workout”
-“Athlete Fitness Testing Battery”





I recently designed a total-body program using only dumbbells (DB) as the exercise equipment. Remember that the number of sets and repetitions can be adapted based on your training goals. The program does provide a variety of exercises for all major muscle groups for individuals that are limited to DB’s as the training equipment.


Recommendations for increasing strength and adding muscle mass:

2-4 sets x 6-10 repetitions (*plus 1-2 warm-up sets of 10 repetitions).

Choose 1 exercise from each option.



-*DB SQUAT                       or                            *DB LUNGE

-*DB DEADLIFT                or                            DB STEP-UP (onto bench)

-*SINGLE-LEG CALF RAISE (hold DB in hand)


-TWIST CRUNCH (15-25 reps)



-*DB FLAT PRESS                    or                            *DECLINE DB PRESS


-DB FLAT FLY                     or                            DB INCLINE FLY

-LYING DB TRICEPS                 or                            OVERHEAD DB TRICEPS EXTENSION




-CHIN-UPS (if possible)


-DB CURL                             or                 DB HAMMER CURL




-*DB PRESS                          or                 *DB LATERAL RAISE








The following activities are used when I test athletes in “power” sports (i.e. basketball OR hockey). The tests give a good indication of the player’s general athletic ability and may help predict performance, BUT/ do not guarantee success. In fact, athletes that perform poorly on some of these tests may still be your best player on the ice, field, or court. Take the results for what they are, fitness tests.


Remember that a thorough warm-up is essential to help prevent injury and the order of testing should follow exactly as the tests are listed below. This helps prevent fatigue from the later tests from interfering in the performance of the strength and power tests.


Vertical jump (no step)

Measures leg power (strength + speed). Extend a yardstick on the wall from a set height. Chalk the fingertips and turn sideways with the “reach” arm closest to wall. Determine maximum reaching height of the athlete. 

For the jump, the athlete must bend the knees rapidly and jump as high as possible and mark the wall with fingertips. Allow a full recovery and a re-trial. Subtract reach height from maximum jump to find “vertical jump” height.


Vertical jump (one step)

A test that is more specific to basketball because most jumps are often a product of vertical and horizontal forces (i.e. a lay-up). Stand one FULL stride away from the measuring device with the “reach” arm closest to the recorder. The stride should place the athlete beside the wall. Have the athlete take a step and explode up in maximal jump. Subtract the standing reach height from maximal jump. 


CAUTION: This jump should be performed with extreme caution when using a wall-measuring unit. If possible, use a Vertec jump recorder. 


20-yd dash

Excellent measure of absolute response time (reaction speed + movement speed). Mark a start and finish and ensure an adequate deceleration area. The recorder stands at the finish with watch and arm raised. Watch starts as arm drops on “GO”. Stop when torso crosses line. Record best time from 3 trials.


20-yd agility run

This is a measure of acceleration, deceleration, the ability to change directions, and dynamic flexibility. Perform on a level, non-slip surface.

Mark the center-point and lines 5yd in both lateral directions. Athlete straddles center and places a hand on line. On “GO”, the athlete sprints to one side, touches the line, sprints to the far side (touch), and back across center line. The recorder stands at the center and stops timing when the torso crosses center. Record best of 3 trials.


1 RM Strength testing (Bench press & Leg press)

·         To estimate what your 1 RM will be.

: 1 RM = the maximal amount of weight you can lift for 1 repetition

Here is a general warm-up/preparation for your 1 RM attempt.

·         Begin the warm-up by choosing a weight that represents 50% of the estimated 1 RM.

: Complete 2 sets of 6 repetitions followed by 2-minute recovery periods. 

: Perform light stretching for the muscles.

·         The third warm-up set should be at 85% of the estimated 1 RM.

: Complete only 1 repetition followed by 2-minute recovery period.

·         Attempt the estimated 1 RM.

: It is important to be conservative when estimating your 1 RM because it is less

  accurate to move down in weight in contrast to increasing the weight each test. 

: For each successful attempt at the 1 RM, provide a 2-minute recovery and

  increase the weight by 2.5 to 5%. 

: If the initial 1 RM weight could not be pressed, allow a 2-minute recovery and

  reduce the weight by the appropriate increment. 

: Allow only one additional attempt at a failed lift and no more.

·         For safety purposes, you may want to extrapolate, using your 10 RM (the maximal weight you can lift for 10 correct repetitions) as 75% of your 1 RM



Muscular endurance/ability to sustain repeated contractions. Record the number of repetitions completed until muscular failure. Upper arm must reach parallel during down phase, arm must be completely extended in up position, and straight body alignment must be maintained. 



Flex hips at 45o, knees flexed 90o, and feet flat on floor. Cross the arms in front of body and have the athlete curl up until the shoulder blades are completely off the ground. I prefer to see how many repetitions can be performed in 30-seconds in order to get a measure of abdominal “power” rather than testing for abdominal endurance. Power is more important to sport performance. Record the number completed in 30-seconds.


Aerobic fitness

Indicates the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. An athlete with excellent aerobic fitness should have the ability to play at high-intensities and to recover rapidly between bouts. Excellent and convenient tests include the 1.5-mile run and the 12-minute run for time and distance respectively. 



The classic “Sit-and-reach” test is designed to measure hip joint ROM and flexibility of hamstrings and low back. If limitations are evident, a flexibility program is paramount. 

Sit upright with legs extended flat on floor and no bend in knees. Place feet (shoeless) against test box and extend hands in front of body with index fingers touching. Lean forward to maximal stretch, hold for 2-count, and record distance from fingertips to edge of box.


Anaerobic fitness

Required by explosive and stop-start nature of power sports. Players that can perform for long duration at high-intensity will succeed. Straight sprinting drills are ideal. I use 3 interval shuttle runs of a 20-meter distance. The athlete attempts to complete as many shuttles as possible during this time and then rests for 60-seconds between intervals.





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