This week I want to share with you one of the best conditioning tools I have. It’s a set of variations on a dumbbell matrix circuit. It’s brutal and it has amazing metabolic and conditioning effects.

I’ll show you its progressions as well.

The dumbbell matrix is used in sports for various types of conditioning protocols and can rival interval training for lower body effects. It is an absolutely amazing conditioning and sculpting tool, especially when time is a factor. It is broken down in to four phases (5 for the Ultimate version) and is done all at once till completion, as you can see. Progressions are done by adding heavier dumbbells over time, or by adding more reps to each phase – and/or trying to complete the matrix in faster and faster times.

HOWEVER: when first starting out, feel free to do way less reps per sequence to get a feel for it – even as low as 3 reps is fine starting out and a slower pace as well.

There are THREE versions of the Dumbbell Matrix below:

  • The Basic Dumbbell Matrix
  • The Advanced Dumbbell Matrix
  • The Ultimate Dumbbell Matrix

The Advanced Dumbbell Matrix was originally designed for Figure effects (nice shoulders, narrow waist, etc.) but anyone can benefit from it. In the Ultimate Dumbbell Matrix Video, you’ll see experienced bodybuilders (who are already in excellent condition) as well as yours truly, experience the wicked metabolic and conditioning effects of the circuit. It took over 8 minutes to get through it all.

We call this “toenail-to-fingernail” conditioning.

I recommend no more than 2 sets or circuits once or twice per week. You’ll notice tremendous effects from this sequence. It can either be done as a workout in itself, or done “after” a workout for a Metabolic Conditioning effect. Better than anything else you can do metabolically, because it also sculpts the body in a very unique way.

 

The Basic Abel Dumbbell Matrix

(featuring Shara Vigeant)

This example is performed by my first mentoring student Shara Vigeant. Shara is now making a name for herself with her own training facility and her role in Coaching and prepping MMA fighters.

The Basic Dumbbell Matrix

Phase One: Overhead

  • 1. Simultaneous Shoulder Press for Speed X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 2. Simultaneous Y Press for Speed X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 3. Simultaneous Cross Press with Pivot/Rotation X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)

Phase Two: Thoracic: Waist to Shoulder: Core Driven

  • 4. Simultaneous DB Curls for Speed X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 5. Simultaneous Upright Rows for Speed X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 6. Alternating Cross Punching from Shoulder with Rotation X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)

Phase Three: Lower Body: COM (Center of Mass): Multi-Planar

  • 7. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 8. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 9. Alternate Posterior Reaching Lunges X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)

Phase Four: Lower Extremity with Kinetic Chain Addition to Engage Extensor Mechanisms

  • 10. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 11. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)
  • 12. Alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 8 total reps (4 ES)

The total repetitions in the sequence is 96.

Again, all exercises are done one after another with NO REST until completed. One way to progress this basic Matrix is to add reps as well, from 8 (4 each side) to as high as 20 (10 each side)

 

The Abel Advanced Dumbbell Matrix

(featuring Desiree Walker)

This version is performed by super-athlete Desiree Walker.

Desiree (a former client and IFBB Pro) was recently featured on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior” but at the time of videotaping this she was my coaching client (you can  hear from Desiree herself on my coaching page — scroll down, she’s on the right).

This is seriously impressive folks: ladies, want to lift that butt and carve your glutes/thigh area, and cap those delts for that sleek look? Try this dumbbell matrix.

As you would expect, the Advanced Dumbbell Matrix is a little harder than the Basic version.

The Advanced Dumbbell Matrix

Phase One

  • 1. Simultaneous Dumbbell Shoulder Press X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 2. Simultaneous Shoulder Level Dumbbell Punches in Front X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 3. Simultaneous Dumbbell Cross Punching with Pivot at Shoulder Height X’s 20 reps (10 ES)

Phase Two

  • 4. Simultaneous Dumbbell Bent Alt. DB Rows X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 5. Alternating Dumbbell Side Laterals with a Contralateral Front Stride X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 6. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises with a Contralateral Side Stride X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 7. Simultaneous Dumbbell Upright Rows X’s 20 reps (10 ES)

Phase Three

  • 8. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges X’s 10 reps (5 ES)
  • 9. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges X’s 10 reps (5 ES)
  • 10. Alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges X’s 10 reps (5 ES)

Phase Four

  • 11. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 10 reps (5 ES)
  • 12. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 10 reps (5 ES)
  • 13. Alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges with Push or Press X’s 10 reps (5 ES)
  • 14. DB Squats X’s 10

 
Total amount of repetitions in the sequence is over 200.

Again, all exercises are done one after another with NO REST until completed. One way to progress this version to add reps to the lower body segment to a total of 20 reps (10 each side) doubling the listed amount above.

 

Abel Ultimate Dumbbell Matrix (featuring Scott Abel)


This is the most advanced version I created and is performed here by yours truly at my 2010 Workshop. This Ultimate version I did for 2 sets, twice per week and the metabolic effects were… extreme.

I was eating like a 20 year old version of myself on my spike days, sometimes able to eat two whole pizzas – the metabolic effects of this version are so strong after 3-4 weeks of breaking into it.

The goal is to get this “Ultimate Version” done in about 7 minutes and do 2 sets. You see in the video it takes a bit longer than 8 minutes, but that is because I had to wait for the trainees, trying to do it with me to catch up. This version, if you have the fortitude to stick with it – will take the pounds off. 2 sets, twice per week max (once per week fine) – take just under 20 minutes, with rest between sets – and is killer with tremendous body sculpting and metabolic effects.

I’m very proud of this version.

The Abel Ultimate Dumbbell Matrix

Phase One

  • 1. Simultaneous Dumbbell Shoulder Press X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 2. Simultaneous Shoulder Level Dumbbell Punches in Front X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 3. Simultaneous Dumbbell Cross Punching with Pivot at Shoulder Height X’s 20 reps (10 ES)

Phase Two

  • 4. Simultaneous Dumbbell Bent Alt. Dumbbell Rows X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 5. Alternating Dumbbell Side Laterals with a Contralateral Front Stride X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 6. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises with a Contralateral Side Stride X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 7. Simultaneous Dumbbell Upright Rows X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 8. Push Ups, with the Dumbbells X’s 10

Phase Three

  • 9. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 10. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 11. Alternate Posterior Reaching Lunges X’s 20 reps (10 ES)

Phase Four

  • 12. Alternating Front Reaching Lunges w Overhead Press X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 13. Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges w Push X’s 20 reps (10 ES)
  • 14. Alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges w Upright Row or Hammer Curls X’s 20 reps (10 ES)

Phase Five

  • 15. Dumbbell full Squats X’s 10
  • 16. Dumbbell Burpees with Jump X’s 10

 
Total amount of repetitions in the sequence is 290 (2 sets).

Again, all exercises are done one after another with NO REST until completed. One way to progress this sequence is to go for 20 push ups, 20 DB Squats and 20 Burpees. But this is more a pipe dream than a reality. The above, with a properly selected weight, is as hard as it gets. But it is non-ballistic, and easy on the joints –- and probably THE BEST toe-nail-to-finger-nail, sculpting and conditioning metabolic sequence out there – and in minimum time. But it does take “growing a pair” so to speak!

I recommend just starting with the basic version for a few weeks, maybe 1-2 sets after a training session. Then progress by doing the basic version one day per week, and the Advanced version one day per week. At that point try the ‘Ultimate’ version twice per week – as its own workout, or after a workout for 2 sets. Do about 4 weeks on, 6 weeks off – for tremendous metabolic and weight loss effects.

And if you’ve given any of these versions a try… let me say: welcome to “The Abel Approach“!

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