Add some variety to your lifting routine and chase the challenge with these must-try dumbbell variations.

I'm Performix athlete Andy Speer, and today I'm going to take you through three challenging dumbbell exercises. Get ready to turn the basic curl on its head and step outside your comfort zone of standard triceps kick-backs and overhead presses.

These dumbbell exercises are somewhat unconventional, but they target your entire body while testing your posture and giving your core a workout. Let's get started.

1. Batwing Row

I call the first exercise a batwing row. If your gym doesn't have an incline bench, no sweat; make your own by stacking a couple of plates on the floor to prop up one end of a flat bench.

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This move will strengthen your upper back and improve your posture.

  1. Take the position you would for a normal incline row, making sure you have proper posture. Pull your shoulders back. Feel the tension between your shoulder blades.
  2. Pull both dumbbells up simultaneously and squeeze.
  3. Drop one dumbbell down to your side, row, and return to the starting position. Then switch sides.
  4. Continue rowing in an alternating fashion, maintaining tension in your upper back.
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2. Half-Kneeling Curl and Press

This total-body movement calls for tension in your glutes, a stabilized trunk, and a strong overhead press. This one exercise amounts to a killer ab workout and some biceps and shoulder work.

Half-Kneeling Curl and Press

  1. In a half-kneeling stance, rest your left knee on a pad or folded towel. Before you even touch the weight, make sure your torso is vertical and your right heel is under your right knee.
  2. Keep the tension in your left glute. This will stabilize your hips and force you to engage your abs to keep your trunk steady.
  3. Facing forward with your hips squared, take a dumbbell in your left hand.
  4. Curl and press the weight overhead. Focus on keeping glute and trunk tension so that your hips don't waver and your body doesn't shake.
  5. Switch knees and repeat.

3. Deficit Reverse Lunge

Target your hamstrings while front loading for that extra ab challenge with the deficit reverse lunge.

  1. Step onto a surface that gives you 3-5 inches of elevation. A small box, a bumper plate, or a small step all work well.
  2. Front load the dumbbells, bringing them in front of you at roughly shoulder height. Keep your elbows tucked. This added weight will challenge you to keep your body straight and abs engaged.
  3. Step back into a reverse lunge with one foot off the weight. Then, press straight back up to the standing position.
  4. Do as much work as you can on that front leg with your front foot driving up before switching legs.

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