A Hollywood Trainer Gives You His Favorite Treadmill Dumbbell Workout

There are certainly days when your workout is all about striving for PRs — that’s personal record — on a weightlifting platform. Then there are moments when the goal is to be time efficient: get your heart rate up, integrate some low-impact weight training, and do it all in an hour or less. On days like that, all you need to achieve your objective is a treadmill, and a set of dumbbells.

A treadmill dumbbell workout can be adapted to accommodate you no matter what your present fitness level is. It can function as a full-body exercise routine, or it can be adapted to prioritize your upper body, or your large lower body muscles like your glutes and hamstrings. No matter your goals, there is a version of a treadmill dumbbell workout that can be aligned with your fitness goals. 

Meet the Expert

Gunnar Peterson is one of the most well-known personal trainers in the world. The collection of A-list celebrities he has trained included Mike Tyson, Sylvester Stallone, Khloe Kardashian, Hugh Jackman, and Matthew McConaughey. He is the former director of strength and endurance of the Los Angeles Lakers. Peterson is a graduate of Duke University. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), and is certified by the American Council on Exercise.

Best Treadmill Dumbbell Workout 

This is the workout routine Peterson gives his clients when they’re going to be staying in hotels with limited facilities and they require a training routine that checks all the boxes. The strength training component combines bodyweight exercises with all-in-one moves, including squats and biceps curls into overhead press reps.

“You’re going to get your lower body, you’re going to get a big metabolic boost, you’re going to get biceps and shoulders — and if you really want to make it fun, turn the overhead press into a twisting press,” explains Peterson. “Then you’re adding a rotational core component to it.”

[Read More: The Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Your Home Gym]

This treadmill workout contains a circuit workout that alternates the muscles being used so that you’re always relatively fresh and can give each set all you’ve got. You’ll simultaneously be getting a cardio workout that begins with a dynamic warm-up and leads into 30 minutes of constant lower body movement. 

You can also easily customize the workout to your liking by donning a weighted vest or substituting a resistance band or a barbell for your pair of dumbbells.

The Workout: 4-5-6-6-5-4

How Often to Do This Workout: Especially if your recovery is dialed in, you can do this workout as often as every other day.


Make It Easier: You can shorten the minutes by making the workout 2-3-4-4-3-2. Another option is to substitute bodyweight squats or step back lunges for the squat into curl-to-press sets.

Make It Harder: You can increase the minutes to 6-7-8-8-7-6 or up the speeds of the jogging segments.

Coach’s Tip: “Don’t stress yourself about completing every minute of every workout,” Peterson advises. “Just stay consistent with your training, and it will all come out in the wash.”

Peterson stresses how simple the workout is to process psychologically, along with how easily it can be adapted based on your personal preferences. He recommends substituting or adding rear lunges for a different lower body movement, or lateral lunges if you want to make it a frontal-plane movement.

[Read More: The Best Budget Treadmills for Streaming, Walking, and More]

“This workout is easily digestible, and effective,” insists Peterson. “It includes 30 minutes of cardio, with a lot of start and stop. You get a walk, a run, and then a high-incline walk, and then it’s easy psychologically at the end because you know that the durations of the segments are getting shorter.”

Dumbbell Treadmill Safety 

Not every two pieces of fitness equipment can be matched together as seamlessly as — for example — a barbell and a weight bench. Even in instances where equipment seems to pair up flawlessly, precautions should still be taken. In the case of a treadmill and a set of dumbbells, there are several safety steps you should absolutely take.

You can technically stay on the treadmill during any of the resistance exercises, but the safest option would be to step off of the treadmill completely.

Take your time and do the resistance exercises with proper form, and with your body in an appropriate starting position. Avoid racing to get back on the treadmill.

When you are not using your dumbbells, make sure you place them somewhere safe and secure, where no one will trip over them (including you!).

Safe, Thorough, and Effective

Peterson stresses his belief that the foremost goal should be putting together beneficial workouts for the sake of your longevity — both in athletics and in life. That’s one of the reasons he advises you to try treadmill workouts that are safe, thorough, and effective. 

“You don’t have to make every workout about breaking personal records,” adds Peterson. Instead, opt for efficiency and sustainable consistency as the cornerstones of your program.


If you’re still wondering how a treadmill dumbbell workout can benefit you, the answers to some common questions are available below.

Can you use dumbbells while on the treadmill? 

While you certainly could bring dumbbells onto the treadmill and use them, it isn’t necessarily the safest place for them. If you are mixing dumbbell exercises with treadmill training, we advise you to pause all treadmill activities while doing your dumbbell moves. Then, resume treadmill movement without the dumbbells in your hands.

Is holding weights on a treadmill good? 

Holding weights on a treadmill is possible, but not advisable for safety reasons. If the treadmill starts up or begins to move too quickly — or if you momentarily lose focus or balance — your hands will not be free to steady your body.

What is a good weight to use for a treadmill dumbbell workout?

If you only have one pair of dumbbells at your disposal, determine the lift in this workout that you need the lightest weight for. For most people, that will be the biceps curl or overhead press. This will become the limiting factor of your workout. There’s little point doing the workout with a weight that you can’t curl or get overhead — so, select a weight that’s usable for you.

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