This workout program only requires dumbbells, has just the right amount of volume to promote muscle growth, and is perfect to do at home or on the go.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

The following workout is designed for those who only have access to a set of dumbbells.

It’s perfect for those who work out at home, travel and are on the road a lot, or beginners who are new to weight lifting.

It can be performed as a complete workout program for up to 8 weeks. At that point you may want to consider increasing the volume of the workouts or change up your routine to include more of a variety of equipment.

This program calls for you to work out 3 times a week. Since these workouts are full body workouts, it is best to have a rest day in between your work out days.

For example, you could perform this program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This will give your body enough rest to recover in between workouts.

Be sure to track your rest periods during your workouts. The rest time in between sets for this program should be between 30-60 seconds.

Feel free to add cardio and ab specific training as you see fit. I’d recommend HIIT after your workouts on your work out days and a lower intensity form of cardio on your off/recovery days.

If you have any questions about this program, please feel free to ask in the comments section below!

After you've finished this workout program, move on to this 4 day dumbbell only workout program.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

3 Day Full Body Dumbbell Workout

Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Squat 3 10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 10
3. Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 10
4. Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
5. Lateral Raises 2 8
6. Standing Dumbbell Curl 2 8
7. Lying Dumbbell Extension 2 8

Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Lunge 3 10
2. Dumbbell Hamstring Curl 3 10
3. Dumbbell Deadlift 3 10
4. Dumbbell Military Press 3 10
5. Dumbbell Flys 2 8
6. Hammer Curl 2 8
7. Seated Dumbbell Extension 2 8

Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Step Up 3 10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 10
3. One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10
4. Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press 3 10
5. Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly 2 8
6. Zottman Curl 2 8
7. Close Grip Dumbbell Press 2 8

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2024 - 09:05

I haven’t lifted in years so I’m starting over. I’m still really sore after the day off in between. Should I still lift when I’m still sore or should I take an extra day in between?

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Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:15

Hi Giovanni, if you can fulfill the full range of motion and it is only soreness, then yes you should train. If you feel like you are injured or can't fully complete a rep properly, then you should not train yet.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2024 - 07:02

I’ve finished this workout program but I still only have 3 days a week available and do not have access to heavier weights - what is recommended for me moving forward?

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Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:14

Hi Pete, this link will help you find another three-day workout.

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2024 - 13:27

Is there a way to this if I have dumbbells but don't have access to a bench?

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Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:13

Hi Paul, there is. Shoulder presses can be done standing, and flat movements can be done on the floor. If you want to extend the range of motion, lie on pillows or folded blankets to help you lower your arms a little further.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2024 - 02:46

Hi, just started this since I no longer have access to a gym.
I like the range of exercises and it's quite a convenient short routine.
However, I'd previously been using your total package full body, and the obvious difference is the volume.
Would the intention of this one to up the weight/intensity?
Is the idea of this one that the lower volume suits beginners more? If I'm used to higher volume would I be better upping the volume/sets for this one, or is there benefits giving the lower volume a try for a bit?

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Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:12

Hi Phil, thank you for reading M&S!

The goal of this is to up the intensity and weight when you can. It also provides a different change into the routine, which can help break plateaus or sticking points. It would be better suited for beginners or those that are limited on time, but you could add a set to each movement or do more reps if you max out on weight.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 05/02/2024 - 10:31

Hey, Thanks for making this. I'm new to working out and I live quite far away from a gym so this helps a lot for me. I'm very new to this, so I wanted to ask a couple questions, if that's fine
1. As you said as a example, do this Monday, Wednesday, Friday. What should I do on the weekends and my days off. I like to bike ride, so should I do that on my days off or? I like to ride my bike everyday, so would that be fine. And you said to do HIIT after the workout. I have a cardio trainer, would that count?
2. I wanted to do little exercises like situps, jumping Jacks, etc everyday. Should I still do that everyday while doing the cardio and weight training.
3. Between different exercises, is the rest time 30 to 60 seconds right?
Thank you so much and I hope you can reply soon! Thanks and have a great day!

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Posted on: Wed, 05/15/2024 - 06:24

Hi Kosho, I will do my best to take these on one at a time.

1. Bike riding on the weekends is great. The cardio trainer would work for HIIT as well.
2. You could use those exercises as a warm-up before you begin the workouts.
3. 30-60 seconds is correct.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 22:09

Can you suggest a kettlebell routine to go along side this 3 day dumbbell routine?

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Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2024 - 18:53

Got one right here for you, Adam. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 04/21/2024 - 11:01

Can you suggest another 3 day dumbbell workout? I've been doing this one longer than suggested. It did take me time to learn correct form etc. Thx again

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Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 18:08

What do you think of this one, Carol?

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2024 - 04:30

Should I practice all the reps slowly, or try to complete each exercise and its set as fast as possible after the rest is done? I really do have a gut feeling that I have to do it slowly, it feels too short for 25-30 minutes. But this is the thought of a beginner, anyways.

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Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 18:04

Slow and steady wins the race, Popa. You are correct.

Posted on: Fri, 04/19/2024 - 09:49

Hello, I’m 16 (5’2, 100 lbs) and this workout plan is very helpful, but I’ve heard that some of these exercises should be avoided for teenagers to prevent injuries and joint stress, specifically the bent over row. I also don’t have a bench. What do you recommend as replacements or alternatives?

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Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 18:03

Hi Alexa, thank you for choosing M&S, and I love that you're using caution. What equipment do you have access to, and do you have any injuries or health issues? I want to be cautious as well and make the best recommendations possible.

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Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2024 - 18:43

Then I think you will be fine with all of the movements, including the row. As long as you monitor your form and move slow, you're good to go!

Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 21:49

I have 3 pound and 5 pound dumbbells, and the furniture in my house. And no, I do not have any health issues or injuries, though I am pretty underweight. Thanks for the reply!

Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2024 - 21:40

Hi, first of all thank you for this free workout program. I just want to ask if what exercise can I change or add to improve this 3 days program using a barbell? I Just want to maximize what equipment I have. Thank you again!

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Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2024 - 05:36

Hi Menard, do you have a rack and bench as well or just the barbell and plates? I want to provide the best answers possible for you.

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Posted on: Thu, 04/25/2024 - 18:00

Got it! You can do barbell curls instead of hammer curls. Bent Over Rows with a barbell in place of the one arm row. I would also suggest Deadlifts with the Bar instead of the dumbbell version. Those are the obvious ones. Once you get a rack, the game will change because you can do squats, incline bench, and other movements too.

Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2024 - 18:36

My equipments are barbell, plates and a bench. I don’t have a rack. Thank you for your input.

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2024 - 00:55

Hi Josh,

Thank you for sharing this workout plan. It has been really helpful for a sedentary beginner like myself.

I just have a couple of questions:

1) Can I change the Dumbbell Squat for a Goblet Squat? I find better stability and form with the later.

2) Can I change the Dumbbell Curl for a Barbel Curl? I find it easier for weight adjustment.

Thanks again, and I hope you are well.

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Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:10

Hi Alex, answering this one for Josh.

You can absolutely swap in the Goblet Squat. Go for it.

You can do the BB curl if you like. Since this was a DB only workout, no barbell movements were included, but if you got one, swap it in wherever you like. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 23:19

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for your response!

Have a nice rest of the week.

Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 12:15

Hi mate,

Appreciate the article - really clear and concise.

I was hoping you could help me with the following -

I play football twice per week (Wednesday, Saturday) and may potentially increase this to thrice (Monday) as I step up my rehab from an ankle ligament injury...

Wondered which days you'd recommend doing the exercises if that were the case?

I am more concerned by the leg specific exercises (Quads + Hammys) of course. I wondered whether it is more optimal to group the excercises by muscle group ie 2x Days w/ Chest, Shoulders, Arms, Back... then the other 1 x Day exclusively of Legs?

Really appreciate your input :)

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Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 06:11

What's good, LR? I would go with the latter suggestion of group them by muscle groups, myself. Make sure you have enough time to recover from that leg workout before you play again. Hope this helps, and thanks for reading M&S!

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Posted on: Sat, 04/06/2024 - 06:04

If you bump up to three times a week, make sure you get extra recovery in (extra calories, stretching, sleep, massage, etc.) because that is going to be a LOT of work. But you obviously love football and want to find a way to train, so I don't want to deter that.

Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 10:58

Thank you.

My current thinking is the following -

Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Arms / Chest / Back
Wednesday - Football
Thursday - REST
Friday - Arms / Chest / Back
Saturday - Football
Sunday - REST

Does that sound about right?

Likewise, if I increase the football to 3x week -

Monday - Football
Tuesday - REST
Wednesday - Football & Arms / Chest / Back (AM Session)
Thursday - Legs
Friday - REST
Saturday - Football
Sunday - Arms / Chest / Back

Appreciate your input :)

Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 10:18

Hi there - loving this routine. Combined with good nutrition that has worked wonders for me. A question - I have been going 2 months and was thinking about upgrading to "Frankoman's Dumbbell Only Split".

I prefer to stick with this one because:
1. I don't want to spend any more time on the exercise as I'm busy
2. I'm not looking to get super big, just more toned and then I see it more as maintenance. I am naturally slim and have already lost lots of my "skinnyfat".
3. Don't want to risk injury to my back 1x weekly whole session on it (I'm 40)

- Can I just stick with this program and up the weights every now and then when it becomes too easy?
- What are the disadvantages of doing that?
- If I do stick with this one, would you recommend any small additional activity to go with it?

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Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 20:08

Hi Aidan,

1. Yes
2. Outside of complacency, there is no real disadvantage.
3. Cut rest time briefly and find ways to make the last set more challenging (drop set, rest-pause, etc.)

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 04/01/2024 - 08:28

Thanks Roger!

Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2024 - 13:27

I'm thinking about starting the beginner 3 day dumbbell workout. I was wondering if there were any benefits to doing that routine in the morning to start my day and then again when I got home about 10 hours later?

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Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2024 - 19:48

If you're a beginner yourself, then I would suggest sticking to doing it once. If you've been in the game for a while but are looking for something you can do at home, you could get away with doing it twice.

Posted on: Sat, 03/16/2024 - 14:32

Hello,I've been doing the beginner 3day dumbbell workout for a month or so. Do you have another recommendation for the prone hamstring exercise? I can't position the weight between soles of feet...thx!

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Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:12

Do you have anything else besides dumbbells you can work with? I want to give you as many alternatives as possible.

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Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2024 - 19:47

Then, any hamstring exercise would work as an option. Leg curls (standing or lying) would be beneficial. Since you would be doing a machine, go with single leg curl, even if you do it lying.

Posted on: Thu, 03/21/2024 - 19:20

Yes, I go to to local Y. They have most circuit machines
Etc. Thank you.

Posted on: Sat, 03/16/2024 - 12:27

Hi Roger, thanks for replying to my comment, yes I think that would be very nice that you would provide a sample band workout, it doesn’t have to be exactly like this one but yeah that would be cool, M& has been my go to workout website for a very long time, it has helped me on weight loss journey (lost 117 lbs) and love that it has workouts for many situations, and someday I hope this website will have its own three day full body resistance band workout, thank you Roger, you and M& are awesome

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Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:11

We do what we can, Mark. I don't know if you have looped bands or handled, but I used handled bands for my training. So, you're getting this one straight out of my personal log.

Standing Military Press - 3 sets of 15 reps - Go slower with the reps each set if you can't go heavier.
Band Pull-Apart - 3 sets of 15 reps
Pulldown - 3 sets of 15 reps. Hold the folded band over your head. Pull down and apart as if you were doing a pulldown.
Chest Press - 3 sets of 15 reps. Wrap the band around you and do presses. Squeeze and hold at the top of each rep.
Band Curl - 3 sets of 15 reps.
Band Squat - 3 sets of 20 reps. Hold ends at shoulder height while standing in the middle and squat. Pause at the bottom.
Good morning - 3 sets of 20 reps. Hold ends at shoulder height and perform good mornings as if you have a bar on your back.

Start with upper body on Day 1 and go in reverse order on Day 2.

Also, love that story and I really appreciate you sharing it. 117 pounds is Insane! We're gonna get that band one up. May take a bit, but it's coming.

Posted on: Wed, 03/27/2024 - 07:44

I will definitely keep an eye out for for that article when it comes out…by the way…are the Roger from WV if so I’m from Fairmont WV …have a good day Roger and take care and thank you for everything you’ve done

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Posted on: Wed, 03/27/2024 - 07:47

It is indeed me from WV! Love Fairmont, great town. Have a great one and thanks for being a part of the M&S community!

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Posted on: Mon, 03/25/2024 - 20:29

My pleasure, Mark. I also have an update. May take a couple months, but the larger article has been green lighted. Watch for it later this year. I plan on making it a good one!

Posted on: Thu, 03/21/2024 - 05:47

OMG Roger, thank you for the band workout, that was awesome of you to do that and I will implement this workout into my routine right away, thanks again and take care Roger

Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 18:25

Ive been doing this workout for about a month. Unfortunately
aghravated elbow, forearm tendinitis. Also hand bothers me at times. Any suggestions about what I can do? Thx

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Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:04

Hi Carol, I hate taking this easy way out of it, but it's the best answer I can give you. Talk to your doctor about these issues. Outside of extra warming up, it would be hard for me to give options without knowing that is causing the aggravation of the elbow and hands.

Jude larsen
Posted on: Mon, 03/11/2024 - 20:30

Hi, I’m 22 and 6ft 0.
How many calories should I eat, and would hockey once a week be okay with this routine and mean I’d have to consume more calories to bulk up which is harder to do and do I eat excess of calories every day or only training days.
Would Thursday, Saturday and Monday be good training days with rest being rest days.

I’m doing the workouts at home so what would be a good substitute for a bench??

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Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:03

Hey Jude, this guide should help you with the calories question.

Hockey once a week would be fine while you're doing this.

If you don't have an adjustable bench, use the floor and do floor versions instead of incline or seated. You could also use a chair for seated exercises.