Dumbbell Only Home Or Gym Full Body Workout

Short on equipment? No worries! This dumbbell only workout can be used at home or in the gym for building muscle mass. You can also use this as a muscle shock workout to mix things up.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female

Workout Description

Stuck at home and only have dumbbells? Maybe you're in a rut and what to try something different?

The dumbbell only home or gym full body workout focuses on the use of heavy compound lifts, and allows you to maximize muscle gains with minimal equipment. This workout can be run for an extended period of time. As long as you are experiencing strength and muscle gains, stick with this routine! Here are some key elements to maximizing progress:

  1. Progression. Never waste a set. Always push for more reps on every set using good form. When you can hit the top level of the recommended rep range on your first set of an exercise, add weight! This means that if an exercise calls for 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps, and on your first set you can perform 12 reps, add more weight the next time you perform this exercise.
  2. Failure. Do NOT train to failure. Train to the point where you believe you might fail if you attempt another rep.
  3. Food. You MUST eat more then it takes to maintain your bodyweight to pack on muscle mass. If you do not do this, you may add strength, but it will be very difficult to add muscle.

A note for women: Women can perform this workout. Recommend rep range is 10 to 15 for most sets.

You will be working out 3 days per week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Do not add additional exercises into this workout. Cardio can be performed first thing in the morning, or post-resistance training.

Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Squat 3 6-12
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 6-12
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 6-12
Standing Dumbbell Curl 3 6-12
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 6-12
Sit Up 3 10-25
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Step Up 3 6-12
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 6-12
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 6-12
Standing One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 10-20
Dumbbell Shrug 3 10-15
Dumbbell Side Bends 3 10-15
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lunge 3 6-12
Dumbbell Floor Press 3 6-12
Wide Grip Pull Up 3 6-12
Standing Hammer Curl 3 6-12
Lying Dumbbell Extension 3 6-12
Lying Floor Leg Raise 3 10-25
About The Author
Muscle & Strength's Content Team is a group of fitness industry experts dedicated to publishing the highest quality articles, workouts and guides on the M&S Website.

1.6K Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 06/10/2010 - 14:48
Could this be used as a cutting routine with BMR -500?
Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 06/10/2010 - 15:59
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/09/2010 - 13:15
Hey Steve, Great work out by the way. It got me fired up to get back in shape. It's great for someone like me... 30, 4 kids, no time/money for the gym and getting fatter day by day. 2 questions though: 1) I find the sit-ups challenging for now. Would cruches be a good substitute? 2) Is there a video demo for the two-hand dumbell row? I have a similar problem like the other guy. Don't have a chin up bar. I want to be sure I'm doing it right.
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 08/10/2010 - 19:21
Hi Johann, Crunches are a great choice. For the two handed dumbbell row, here is the version perform on an incline bench: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/incline-bench-two-arm-dumbbell-row.html I prefer to do them standing like a bent over row.
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/10/2011 - 04:33
barry connolly
Hi Steve What can you use if you dont have a bench at home? Barry,Ireland
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 02/05/2013 - 23:37
I don't have a bench at home but I use my wood coffee table. It is long and thin. Works perfectly.
No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/04/2013 - 18:52
No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/18/2013 - 13:28
isuru madawa
you miser ...if u dont have a bench then buy a one
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/30/2013 - 08:54
if you dont have a bench.. you can use a gym ball..., im used it for alternate incline and flat bench.. :)
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 07/13/2014 - 18:01
hi, used to cavity block with a piece of card board for padding, it work a treat until i got a good used commercial bench for 50
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/02/2011 - 11:50
Marley Miah
Hi Steve, Ive been following this workout for about 10-12 weeks, amazing results.....i would now like to give my workout a variant of these exercises ive been doing the same exercise for a bit. i would be grateful for any suggestions for a variance on this this workout, ideally using just dumbells and a chin up bar. Thanks great stuff! M Miah. Luton UK.
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 03/10/2011 - 11:32
Garrett L Monroe
Steve would 45 pounders be good for this workout?
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 08/03/2011 - 14:21
hi steve recently started working out trying to cut full body. 17% body fat midsection wanna go to the beach again and not be sucking in the gut!is it ok to do cardio after ,before, days off like to jog or bike daily is that ok? not overly concerned with the bulk gains wanna cut add strenght ,stamina definition before advancing to a stacking/bulking program. im also sticking to a low carb diet do u have any suggestions to maximize results your posts in the forums have been very helpful in getting started thanks for all the help
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:48
renee campos
steve, i am new here i just turned 20 years old i found this site by accident but i have seen your work out routines and they seem impressive and the comments people post are just great, the thing is, i used to work out a lot from age 14 til age 16 every day i had a great body but over time i just left work out alone so i lost most of my muscle mass, im trying to regain it but yes i only have dumbless, i was wondering what is a good diet to follow, i am kinda new to the whole diet thing but i can pull it off if any of you know please respond thank you.
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 01/15/2012 - 07:10
hey i am currently doing these workouts i have had significant resuls in short amount of time, i am 15 and a diet that works really well for me is a low carb diet and also lots of veggies basically i eat everything but i keep a balanced diet so not too many sweets
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 05/27/2013 - 10:46
you cannot build mass without substancially increasing the amounts of protein you take in. the general rule is to consume atleast 50g of protein 4 - 5 times per day, even on non-training days and to maintain a lean body, you must include an aerobic or cardio-vascular workout of atleast 20 minutes 3 times per week.
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/21/2010 - 11:36
Hi Steve, I currently do 3 sets of 15 reps push-ups a day. Should I keep the pushups and move them to Tuesdays/Thursdays only? I really like push-ups since it works out the muscles together (bicep, tricep, chest, upper back). Thanks Jeff
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/21/2010 - 15:23
I would perform the pushups on the days you work chest. Possibly as a warmup.
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/21/2010 - 19:55
hey, well, i'm 16yrs old and i want to have muscles.. such as abs and the rest. what should i do to start. let me know. thanks
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 02:34
The quickest way to get fit and gain muscle is to do 15 minute work out a day as detailed below: Do a set of 5 push ups followed by 5 squats Rest Repeat Do this continuously for 15 mins each day. These are full body compound movements. To understand how good they are get a pair of weighing scales, weigh your body weight. Put them on the floor and put your hands on them and do a push up and notice how much weight you are pushing. So in essence with a squat you are weight lifting the weight of your body and with a push up you are pushing most of your body weight. After a couple of weeks doing these sets go onto youtube or the like and look up super sets ie just adding more parts to each set. This strategy is known as Escalating Density Training, there is loads of info on the web about it the best I found was by Charles Staley. NB Push ups = if you find it difficult to do a proper form push up (which is way from rare so don't get concerned) just start doing push ups from the knee with your calfs crossed behind you and you will be amazed at how quickly you will be able to do full push up. I hope this helps.
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 08/04/2010 - 01:16
How long should you do that before you start lifting weights
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/05/2010 - 02:29
how long should the rest be?
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/16/2010 - 21:36
How long should you rest and should your rest period add up to 15 mins.
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 16:11
I found that doing "girl pushups" for a while never really helped me get into doing real ones. What helped me do real ones, was laying on the ground, on my toes, ready to do a real pushup. I couldn't, but I gave er a good try and I cursed and was mad at myself. But a few days later, I tried and I could do 2 :)
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 02:12
chetan bhatt
wow. its great....
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 11/14/2010 - 02:13
What you gotta do is this: Warmup: Do a couple situps, crunches, and a couple pushups. Workout: Max out on situps Max out on crunches Max out on pushups Max out 3 times w/ each Then later on, when you can do allot of reps with situps, take a wieght plate and hold it behind your head, start off light with like five pounds and keep moving up the wieght as your strength progresses
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 06/05/2012 - 16:14
vanilla gorrilla
You should start by getting one of those resistance bands cause you can do a ton of stuff with them and definately get a chin-up bar. Those two things combined will cost you about 20 bucks. In the meantime you should do as many push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, bicycle kicks, and dips as possible. By the way, another reason why I like the resistance bands is because you can take them basically anywhere. My friend took me to a Bruins game one time and is was doing bicep curls with a resistance band while I was waiting in line to get some soda. No lie.
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/30/2010 - 01:03
How many weeks do i workout at the beginner level, also should i do cardio on the other two day of the week? thanks reg...
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/01/2010 - 13:35
Hi Reggie, That is a very difficult question to answer. My best advice is to focus on form and progression of weight. If you do that, lifting level doesn't matter much. An intermediate lifter will be able to take a beginning routine and get gains from it.
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/23/2011 - 09:22
would it be too much if i picked another weekly routine to cycle on my off days of this one?
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 05/30/2011 - 08:05
I just started using this dumbbell workout. I was wondering do i just take protein shakes on workout days or both workout and off days?
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 08/31/2011 - 05:05
Hi dave, all shakes are different it should have a label on the back of information on the product and how to use it. Theres alot of shakes out there and they are for different things etc
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 08/21/2011 - 13:07
nice workaut
No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 01/07/2012 - 10:11
Hi steve..i am a skinny little guy, i had work on the training for a month and and my muscle start to look.. for how long i must workout to get a great shape, at least do not look so skinny ?
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 06/10/2010 - 20:00
hey! dis is najeeb im 19year old guy i m skinny my height is 5.8inch is dis routine works. i want 2 prepare my body like wwe superstar john cena....
No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 08/05/2010 - 14:32
Hunter Dickens
Im realy sorry about that. If you want to look like John Cena be prepared to do steroids.
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 02/09/2011 - 21:02
Looking the way some of the bigger bodybuilders takes a lot of time and even more dedication. Its not something that happens overnight or over the course of a year for some people. Being a thin fram guy myself, I can get ripped up but I cant get the mass that those guys have, but I can definately get the strength. Challenge yourself to work out 3 times a week to start for 15-20 minutes, when it hurts DONT STOP! The pain means a progress, and when a workout stops hurting throw your body for a loop, by using lighter weights just do 5 times the reps. After about 6 weeks of that routine go to 5 days a week if you have the time. I work out 6 days a week 90 minutes a workout.
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/24/2012 - 02:27
this was helpful, thank you
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 02:27
Is there an alternative to the wide grip pull up as I don't have a chin up bar?
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 08:10
You could do dumbbell rows with both arms at the same time.
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 08:43
Thank you, I'll give it a go!
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/18/2011 - 16:25
Keith in AZ
Is this a good alternative to pullups generally because I can't even do a pull up yet and I do have a bar. It is really frustrating. I doubt I am getting much benefit out of hanging there making awful noises.
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 15:56
Actually hanging there is a good workout for ur lats and for stretching. I cant do them either even though im 180 lbs and bench 215. I have never been able to do them. I climb a peg board just fine but pull ups...never. Good Luck and may god bless you.
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 10/16/2012 - 20:19
do a negative rep if you cant pull yourself up, to do that just jump up and fight to go down as slow as you can.
No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 02/15/2012 - 08:16
hi steve,how do we do two arms dumbbell rows? cant find any example of that exercise! don't have a bar or bench so kinda improvise a bench but can't do both arms as in the only example i found here(laying facing down in bech).can it be done sitting or standing? thank you
No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 11/03/2013 - 08:48
lau yi junht
hey !! i really cant do pull-ups even once ..so u suggested to do dumbell rows with two arms at the same time ...the question is could u show/or send any link on how u do dumbell rows with both arm at the same time . THANKS !!
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 06:41
Hi, I was just wondering if the Dumbell Home work out would be suitible for me! I havent trained in almost 2 years and have pilled on some fat around my midsection and have gotton myself a set of love handles. Just afraid the man boobs will come nest! I am 30 years old, 6ft 3" and 15 stone. thanks in advance. Liam
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 07:48
Sure, this workout is a great workout for gaining muscle, and can be used while trying to cut fat as well.
No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 11:16
I want to build muscle, but i really hate taking supplements. It makes me nauseated especially at the end of the workout as I dont think I can stomach the weight gaining shake. Will sticking to additional animal protein and soy be sufficient?
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/11/2010 - 11:57
You want to eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours to maximize muscle gains. You don't need supplements for this, but they sure are convenient...especially in between meals. Use whatever works best for you, that is what's most important.