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, 11/23/2023 - 23:17

Would it be fine to just do the day 1 set of exercises for all workout days a week since it is still full body or would there be some kind of muscle imbalance.

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Posted on: Mon, 11/27/2023 - 19:35

Hello, Derek. The full program promotes balance and complete training of each muscle group. You could do the same workout for a week and change the following week if you wanted, but I don't advise sticking to only one all the time. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 11/14/2023 - 07:59

Is this a good program for someone looking to lose fat?

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Posted on: Mon, 11/27/2023 - 19:33

As long as your nutrition plan and cardio support fat loss effort, then yes.

Posted on: Thu, 10/26/2023 - 08:27

Female here about 5’5 160lbs. This is my heaviest, I’ve been here a few years ago. I’m not really consistent in the gym usually I’ll gain weight then work it off for about 3 months then stop. 2-3 months of cardio/weights and I’ll be back at about 135/140. Story of my life lol. Looking at me my legs and arms are still pretty slim, weight goes to my stomach. I want to build muscle, nice biceps, calves, abs, shoulders etc…should I focus on weight training with a little cardio after or should I focus on losing weight? Even at 160lbs I still look proportionate/smaller build it’s just my stomach. I’m trying to stay away from that skinny fat look and I want the muscle as soon as possible.

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Posted on: Sat, 10/28/2023 - 07:10

Hi, AP. Thanks for coming to M&S. The answer to your question is yes. You can focus on the weight training and cardio (more than a little) and you can lose weight while doing so. This training program can help, and a consistent eating lifestyle focused on health and fat loss will be key as well.

The key to all of it, however, is being consistent. It's good that you acknowledged the issue, so hopefully you can address it. Let us know if you have questions along the way, and we will do our best to help.

Posted on: Mon, 10/16/2023 - 15:18

Would this be a good routine for a skinny person that’s trying to put on lots of muscle?

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Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:21

If all you have to work with is dumbbells, then you can use it to build muscle as long as you eat and recover properly. If you have access to other equipment, let me know and I might be able to find another program to consider. Thanks for reading M&S!

Ghadeer Ali
Posted on: Wed, 10/11/2023 - 07:57

I love this guys, its the best ever weight training Ive done
only been doig it for a month, noting Ive been lightly lifting weights before, but now I see a huge difference when trining and sometimes after I can see changes in my body and it looks a bit better
thx guys

Posted on: Tue, 10/03/2023 - 15:46

This was not very easy to stay consistent with, to many mixed movements not enough concentration.

Posted on: Mon, 10/02/2023 - 18:38

Is this workout okay to do even after 8 weeks?

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Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:26

Absolutely! Keep doing it as long as you continue seeing progress.

Dave C
Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2023 - 10:34

Is there a poster to show the exercises listed? I'm totally new and thought that might be easier than clicking links to see every exercise.
Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:59

We don't have a poster, I'm afraid. Apologies.

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2023 - 04:02

Hi there,
Why do the last 3 exercises only involve 2 sets when the rest are 3?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:58

The author may have been concerned about volume and felt you didn't need the extra set. If you feel like the third set would serve you, you can add it in.

Posted on: Mon, 09/11/2023 - 11:40

Would it be okay to swap rows or some other exercise with pull-ups?

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Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:12

I would suggest keeping one version of a row in, but you can certainly add the pullups if you like. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sat, 08/19/2023 - 11:18

Hello just wondering the time frame to see results I'm really trying to bulk up my biceps shoulders and back

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:54

Completely dependent on the individual's training experience and commitment. If you do everything right and follow a sound nutrition plan, you should see positive changes within a few weeks.

Posted on: Fri, 08/11/2023 - 08:50

Do you do sets for the same exercise back to back to back? Or do you do one set of each exercise and go back to the top to do the second set per exercise, etc?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:54

Do the first set of an exercise, rest, do the second set, rest, do the remaining sets in that same pattern. Once you finish the first exercise, move on to the second.

Posted on: Thu, 08/10/2023 - 07:33

Hi, I got a few questions. I got a workout routine consisting of 7 leg exercises, 3 deadlifts, 5 chests, 5 shoulder, 3 bent over row variations, 4 biceps and 4 tricep. Now I want to know If It's better to rest 30–60 secs between each set, or should I rest 30-60 for each Isolation exercise and 2-4 min for compound ones? I've been seeing few videos on YouTube saying that I'ts better to have different rest time for Isolation and compound exercises, Which one is better?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:53

Hi, Max. Go with the 2-4 for compound and 30-60 for isolation. The body is working harder and with more muscle groups with the compound exercises. So, the extra rest time would be necessary, especially for beginners. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 08/31/2023 - 17:01

Thanks for answering.

Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 14:45


I've been doing this plan for 6 weeks, with a small difference (I do all exercises for 3 set 10 rep). This is my first time doing exercises with dumbbells, also not been working out for couple of years. So we can say I started to exercise with this program.

I am planning to move on to 4-day plan you provided here in 2 weeks but the issue is, I am still having difficulties finishing each day. I am in my 7th week but still, daily workout feels hard. Is it normal to feel this way because of my lack of exercise history, or am I doing something wrong?
Personal info: 6ft1, 220 lbs, 31y, male. I only have 11lbs dumbbells(fixed weight), don't have bench so doing some exercises on ground and/or in modified way. Rest between reps are about 30 sec, between exercises are about 50 sec.

What would you recommend? Stick to the plan, finish 8 weeks and transition to 4-day 12-week plan; or keep doing this for more? Or something else?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:52

Hi, Curtis. Thanks for reading M&S.

I would suggest finishing the eight weeks, then transition to the 4-day plan. If after that first week on the new plan, you feel overwhelmed, simply go back to the three-day plan.

Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 12:44

Can you elaborate a bit on how I would determine how heavy the weights should be for the various exercises?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:51

Hi, Rocky. If you grab a weight and you feel like you could do more than two reps over the recommended reps, then it's too light. If you would struggle to get two less than the reps called for, then it's too heavy. You should feel challenged but be able to finish the set with the weight you use without sacrificing form. I hope this helps!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:12

Yep, too heavy. Go lighter on all three sets so you can meet the rep ranges. Then, gradually work so you get stronger and can go back up.

Posted on: Sat, 09/02/2023 - 02:07

Thank you! Quick question: for some of the exercises (e.g. Standing Dumbbell Press), for the first set I can do 10, then for the second and third I can 5 and 4 (respectively). Are my weights too heavy? Many thanks!

Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 10:24


I really need help and guidance, so please bear with me and my long post. I am 40 years old and have not exercised since I was in my teens. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and am on the autism spectrum (I have high-functioning autism). I have a wife and three children and need to turn my life around.

Due to my mental state and having severe social anxiety, I am somewhat of a hermit who stays to himself, with the exception of my family whom with I enjoy every moment with. I am unable to join a gym because of my social anxiety; I end up panicking and breaking down in public if I'm alone and need to do something that is out of the ordinary for me. Therefore, I need to workout at home, but due to limited space, I really only have room for dumbbells and a bench.

As for my body type, I am 6'3" and about 200lbs. I have always been skinny, but in the last few years I've put on weight and have fat predominantly in my belly area, but I don't seem to gain weight anywhere else. As for my diet, I generally eat well, but I do falter a lot when the weekend comes. I used to drink quite a bit of beer, but have recently cut that out, but don't drink anything else. I am okay with eating clean and healthy, as it's not a problem for me.

As for my goals, I simply want to reduce my body fat, become lean and "ripped", and improve my energy and endurance. I don't want to get "jacked" or anything of that nature.

So here are my questions:

- Are adjustable dumbbells okay to use?
- Is it okay to start with this 3 day plan and then slowly progress to your 4 day and 5 day plans?
- What other factors should I take into consideration?
- How much cardio should I implement? We do have an elliptical and treadmill at home.

I want to thank you in advance to whomever reads and replies to this post. Again, I am sorry that it was long, I just really need help. I have thought about going to a personal trainer, but money is very tight and so it is more feasible for me to buy a dumbell set and bench and workout at home.

Lastly, I understand that this will all take time, I am not looking to rush anything. I have given myself a time-frame of one year, so that by the time I'm 41, I will be in better shape. If it comes quicker than that, that's just a bonus, but I understand this is going to be a difficult road, but I need to do it for my mental and physical state, which in turn is all for my children and wife.

Thank you again!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:31

Hi, Luke. Thanks for reading M&S.

1. Yes, adjustables are ok.
2. You can start with the 3 and work up.
3. Keep it as simple as possible until you get in better shape.
4. Go with 20-30 minutes a day either in the morning or after you train.

Take it a day at a time and do what you gotta do to move forward. We're here for you if you got more questions along the way. Props for finding positive solutions and focusing on getting better.

Posted on: Sat, 09/09/2023 - 22:30

Hi Luke,

I hope this message finds and serves you well. First of all it was great to listen to your comment and it just shows that even though you are going through alot in life you still have the strength to actually wanting to make change. Here goes just train 3 times a week get a full body workout in , I would say they the strength workouts if you can. Squats bench press military press and dead lift. You can perform all of these with dumbbells if that's all you have.track your calories there are plenty of apps on the market for free. Your not going to get jacked don't worry just concentrate on building up your strength and the rest will follow. Don't rush into it and don't make it just a get well soon remedy. Make this part of your life. I have had a similar journey to yours on the verge of breakdown and I picked myself back up. Losing approx 30kg in weight , I now train 3 times a week eat reasonable when I can but don't over think it. What comes slowly will sustain itself. Hope this helps you on your journey. Just remember there is only one person who can help you achieve the goals and that's you , so get strong and kiss ass.

Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2023 - 17:18

when doing the squats, my forearms and grip tire out before my legs, as well as my balance. I hear Bulgarian split squats are more effective than squats, so would it be alright to do the split squats instead of the dumbbell squats?

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:20

How effective they are is dependent on the person doing them, but you can make the switch if you like, Malga. If grip is an issue for the split squats, use lifting straps to hold onto the dumbbell.

Posted on: Tue, 08/01/2023 - 16:31

Thanks for the reply! Also, one more question: my apartment gym has a leg extension and curl machine and I was wondering if that’s effective at all and how does it fare against dumbbell squats?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/17/2023 - 22:12

They would be great to do in addition to the squats, but if you have to choose one over the others, do the squats.

Posted on: Mon, 07/03/2023 - 12:36

I'm a beginner, is the last set of each exercise supposed to be done to failure or to failure on each set? Thanks!

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Posted on: Mon, 07/10/2023 - 07:51

Last set to failure, especially since you're a beginner.

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:01

It means you can't perform another rep with proper form, even if you tried your hardest.

Posted on: Sun, 07/16/2023 - 11:14

I'm a complete beginner but what does doing an exercise to failure mean?

Posted on: Fri, 07/28/2023 - 20:42

It means to do the reps until you absolutely can't anymore.

Posted on: Sat, 07/01/2023 - 07:26


I'm new in the fitness world. I will start with this program and will do all of the only dumbells workouts from this website. How many weeks do I have to do this program and then start to the 4-days week program?

Thanks in advance,

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/06/2023 - 08:45

Hi, Stijn. Glad you're starting your fitness journey with us. Work with the 3-day for at least four weeks, maybe six if you feel you need it. Then, you should be able to move up to the 4-day plan. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 17:24

Newbie Question: I’ve read to use the highest weight your comfortable with. Should this be one weight across all exercises or can you alternate weight depending on the exercise. For example I can do a lot more weight on bicep curl sets than I can with lateral raises. So should I lower my dumbbell weight across the board or only for lateral raises?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/27/2023 - 08:05

We always welcome the newbie questions, Brody. Thanks for being a part of the M&S community.

It means to use the weight on the particular exercise. If you can do 25's on curls, use 25's. If all you can do is 10's for lateral raises, go with that. I don't know how strong you are so those numbers were made up, but hopefully this helps. Alternate weight depending on the exercise.

Posted on: Mon, 07/03/2023 - 12:21

Your weights will probably be very different between exercises. Almost every exercise will be done with a different amount of weight. If you compare what most people can squat vs fly, for example, the gap is absolutely enormous. So, to answer your question, use the most weight you can for each individual exercise, the weight does not have to (nor should it) be the same between all exercises.

Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 15:50

Hi! I'm considering starting one of these workout programs but having trouble deciding which is the most effective. Here are the options I'm considering:

1. This program

I only have access to dumbbells and a pull-up bar, so I'm looking for a workout program that preferably utilizes this equipment. Which one do you think would be the best option in terms of effectiveness and hypertrophy? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/27/2023 - 07:58

Any of the three would help, but if it was me in your position, I would go with number three and add pullups into it since you have the pull-up bar. The volume on the third workout will be beneficial, and you can do more direct work to more muscle groups. Hope this helps.