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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
Beginner
8 weeks
3
30 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

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.

Monday
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
Wednesday
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
Friday
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

1.8K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:03
Esker

I asked you for only dumbbells workout and you told me this. I am doing this for two weeks. I recently came to know that my body fat % is about 30%. I am a thin guy with fat around my belly, chest, hips and thighs. I needed to know whether this program is enough or shall I add something to this or switch to some other program. Please guide.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:18
JoshEngland

Hi Esker,

The best way to lower your body fat is through proper nutrition. You must be in a calorie deficit to lower your body fat. To do this, you have to burn more calories than you take in.

Find your calorie needs here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Subtract ~250-500 calories from that number and aim to eat that number each day for a couple of weeks. Track your progress. If you don't lose any weight in that time period, try lowering your calories by another 100 cals and repeat the process.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:39
Esker

Ya this helps, but do I need to add some cardio or something else or this program is enough? If yes, what?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 11:36
JoshEngland

Cardio can be a helpful tool to use to increase the amount of calories you burn, but at the end of the day it all boils down to whether you are in a deficit or not.

There are other benefits to performing cardio outside of calorie expenditure. It helps keep your lungs and heart healthy, improves mood, as well as many other things. Personally, I like to perform some form of cardio 3-5 times a week for those benefits.

But if your goal is solely fat loss, it may not be necessary if you are in a calorie deficit.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 07/30/2017 - 12:12
Richard

On Friday, why is there dumbbell floor press and lying dumbbell extension, both working triceps? I can get through the floor presses fine, but by the time I get to the extensions, I struggle to get through 6 reps, even at a much lower weight. Otherwise I am enjoying the workout, currently at week 6.

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Posted Thu, 07/27/2017 - 10:16
David

I'm currently weight 252 pounds/114 KG. i'm wondering will I loose weight and gain muscle by lifting weights and dieting correctly,

for example today's diet is as follows, as i worked out in the morning, I had water and banana preworkout then followed your guide,then post workout I had protein shake,water and 40grams of oats then an hour later I had

tuna with green veg (spinach, broccli, green beans, celery)mush rooms and rice.

next meal- 4 boiled eggs with lettuce and gerkins

snack- Banana and Liberte Greek Stylel 0% Fat Yoghurt

next meal- chicken with vegetables and protein pasta

snack-- chicken with small salad.

I'm wondering if I continue this and days when i'm not weigh lifting I reduce carbs intake, so i'm wondering if their is anything else i could add or help myself loose weight and gain muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/28/2017 - 09:30
JoshEngland

Hi David,

Losing weight is all about putting yourself in a calorie deficit. That is, you've got to burn more calories then you take in. A workout program, especially one that incorporates weight training will help out a lot in creating that deficit, but inevitably it comes down to tracking the amount of calories you consume each day.

Find the calories you need here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Then subtract ~250-500 calories you put yourself in a deficit. It takes time, but being in a calorie deficit over time will lead you to your goal weight.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 07/28/2017 - 10:19
David

Thank you for your reply and i'm doing a calorie deficit, i'm taking control over my food and portions at the moment, I aim for around 2000 calories a day and I will be implementing cardio after the workouts as well.

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Posted Thu, 07/27/2017 - 00:11
James

Is there an alternative to dumbbell step up? No bench to step on

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/27/2017 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi James,

I'd go with a dumbbell lunge here. But you could sub in any quad focused dumbbell exercise you like.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 07/15/2017 - 11:04
Scott

I have used your 8 week dumbbell challenge and like the whole body work out and how I can do it in about 30 minutes, three days a week. Thank you for the program, I love it! Now that I have completed this challenge what would be the next challenge/step?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/17/2017 - 09:16
JoshEngland

Hi Scott,

If you're still seeing results after 8 weeks, you can continue doing this program. Or you can make it more challenging by getting a heavier set of dumbbells, manipulating the rep speed, the rest periods, or adding sets/reps to the workout.

Or you can check out our workouts database to find a new program that fits all of your needs here:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workout-routines

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 07/12/2017 - 15:09
Tim

So I have been doing this work out for 4 weeks now consistently. Just curious, any suggestions on what to do after this 8 week course is completed? I have the bowflex adjustable weights and my own bench/pull up bar. My apartment also has a mini gym in the basement. Id like to keep working out at home, but I do have membership to Lifetime Fitness. I did not see anyone address this in comments below. Thanks for the great post.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/13/2017 - 09:55
JoshEngland

Hi Tim,

If you're still seeing results after 8 weeks, you can continue doing this program. Or you can make it more challenging by getting a heavier set of dumbbells, manipulating the rep speed, the rest periods, or adding sets/reps to the workout.

Or you can check out our workouts database to find a new program that fits all of your needs here:
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workout-routines

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/11/2017 - 04:18
Kyle

I'm 14 years old as the comment below, and I understand what your saying, but I am a boxer and I need to gain about 8kg to get into the right division; is this a good circuit or should I find something else more sports specific?

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Posted Mon, 07/10/2017 - 12:10
Blake

Hey would this work for a 14 year old guy looking to build muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/10/2017 - 15:10
JoshEngland

Hi Blake,

At 14, exercise should still be more about having fun. Don't worry so much about body composition yet, your body will be going through plenty of changes in the coming years that will help you with putting on muscle mass.

Focus on having fun for now, then really aim to implement strength training at ages 16+. In the meantime, focus on educating yourself on nutrition and sleep hygiene. Knowing as much about those 2 topics as possible will give you an enormous leg up on anyone else your age when you do start weight training.

Also, you can check out these articles on teenage bodybuilding, sleep, and building muscle:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/teenage-bodybuilding

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/hacking-sleep-9-tips

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 07/05/2017 - 07:23
BeKu

Hi Josh,
I run 5K three times a week. If i perform your workout, can i continue to running on off days of your workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:16
JoshEngland

Hi Beku,

Sure, I don't see why not. Just make sure you are recovering properly from both the 5k's and weight training sessions. If you're feeling fatigued all the time, maybe dial back a bit on one or the other.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/04/2017 - 02:30
programmer23

Hi,

I only have 3 days a week time for working out because of my job and want to build some muscles. It is really hard to find a routine which is best for me. Generally, I like splits more because you hit each muscles harder and it's just more fun for me, but many people say Splits are only effective if you workout 4-6 times a week.

I can't decide if I should do Frankoman's dumbbell only split or this full body routine. Which one is better if I train 3 days a week?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:04
JoshEngland

Hi Programmer23,

I'd say both are good options and it will depend more on which you prefer performing more. Maybe you could cycle back and forth between them? That would be a good option as well.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:41
Ben

Hey guys,

Still plugging away at this. (This is Ben from the 410lb post below).

One of your suggestions for big guys like me is to use resistance bands for some of the excercises I can't do on the floor etc. Just a quick Q on the resistance bands: how is the resistance calculated in 2-arm vs. 1-arm excercises? For example, if my bands are set to 100lb resistance and I'm doing standing chest presses, does that work out to 50lb or 100 lbs per arm? I also do standing one-arm extensions with the bands, but I only do one arm at a time. So when I'm doing them is that only 50lbs while my presses are 100? The maths are confusing me! haha

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/26/2017 - 13:04
JoshEngland

Hi Ben,

There's not going to be an easy answer to this question.

Bands will vary in resistance depending on the manufacturer, how elastic they currently are, and how far you are stretching them. Newer bands tend to provide more resistance than used bands do and the further you stretch them out, the more resistance they will provide.

In the scenario you've presented, I'm assuming the bands will be 50lbs per arm and around 100lbs total, but again, this can depend based on how worn the bands are and if you are stretching them out as far as they can be stretched.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/21/2017 - 02:18
Jeff

Is there a phase 2 after this 8 weeks is completed? Thx

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/21/2017 - 09:20
JoshEngland

Hi Jeff,

One just might be coming out soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can make this program more difficult by adding sets, reps, exercises, or even increasing the weight you use for each exercise.

You can also browse our entire workouts database here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workout-routines

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/18/2017 - 07:12
Dominic

Hi,
I wonder if only one chest exercise (bench press: 3 sets x 8-10 reps for example) is gonna be enough to make this body part bigger within 2 months consuming enough protein. What do you think?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/19/2017 - 10:07
JoshEngland

Hi Dominic,

Sure, if you're not used to working out your chest with weights, performing 3 sets of bench press every 48-72 hours will make your chest grow over time.

With that said, doing so is best done in part of a complete workout program that also trains the other muscle groups of your body.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/14/2017 - 23:14
Rich

Hey Josh.

I see here the workout time is listed as 30 minutes. I am always way over that, can you give me a breakdown of how long I should be resting between sets and exercises, for example on a Monday?

Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:11
JoshEngland

Hi Rich,

Rest should be limited to between 30-90 seconds. For 18 sets, you'll be looking at 27-30 minutes if you limit rest to 60 seconds in between sets.

Grant it, rest is highly individualized. Some may be able to rest for only 30 sec, while others may need the whole 90 seconds. The 30 mins is just a guesstimate, but your workouts should be falling pretty close to that time frame.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 06/13/2017 - 13:30
Adam

Hi,

Is it ok to use the rowing machine as my form of cardio during this routine...likely just after the resistance exercises or on the "rest" days?

thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:51
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

Sure, so long as you do not feel it affects your recovery negatively, I don't see why not.

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Posted Sun, 06/11/2017 - 17:11
Ali

Hey

I'm planning on starting this program within the next week but I had a quick question. Since I don't have access to a bench can I just do dumbbell floor presses instead of the dumbbell bench press or is there some other variation that you would recommend for me to do instead?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:50
JoshEngland

Hi Ali,

That should be fine, or you could incorporate pushups instead.

You're also more than welcome to check out our exercises database to find suitable alternatives for exercises that you can do with the equipment you do have: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/09/2017 - 16:29
Atox

Hey

I have just started this program about a week ago. I was wondering, would it be advisable to add some barbell exercises either in the program or during the off days? For example, I have a bench at home where I can do bench presses as well as squats and deadlifts.
What do you recommend?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/09/2017 - 16:36
JoshEngland

Hi Atox,

Definitely! You can do that for sure. This program was written for those with only dumbbells to use in mind. You can check out our exercise database here to find suitable barbell alternatives that target the same muscle groups: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 06/06/2017 - 15:01
Didier

Hi,
i'd like to know what weight i should choose for the dumbbells. I weight 75kg.

Thank you : )

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/07/2017 - 10:10
JoshEngland

Hi Didier,

Individual strength differs from person to person. I'd recommend starting out with a weight you know you can get for the prescribed amount of reps. If it is too easy, move up in weight from there. If it is too hard, move down in weight.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 06/03/2017 - 08:23
Ubay

Hi.. what is the next level fbw only with dumbell?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/05/2017 - 09:18
JoshEngland

Hi Ubay,

One just might be coming out soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can make this program more difficult by adding sets, reps, exercises, or even increasing the weight you use for each exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/01/2017 - 19:33
Gab

Hi do you think this is good example for a dumbbell workout other than the one above?

Monday:

Dumbbell bench press (Chest)
Warm up 1 x 15 reps
3 sets of 8 reps

Incline dumbbell press (Upper Chest)
3 sets of 8 reps

Dumbbell squats (Quadriceps - Front Of The Thighs)
4 sets of 10 reps

Alternate dumbbell curls (Biceps)
3 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell Pullover (Back / Chest)
3 sets of 12 reps

Ab Crunches (Abdominals)
4 sets of 15

Wednesday:
Arnold press (Shoulders)
Warm up 1 x 15 reps
3 sets of 10 reps

Alternate front dumbbell raises (Shoulders)
3 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell rows (Mid Back)
3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts (Hamstrings / Butt)
3 sets of 12 reps

Ab Crunches (Abdominals)
4 sets of 15

Friday:
Dumbbell deadlifts (Mid Lower Back)
4 sets of 12 reps

Incline dumbbell press (Upper Chest)
3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Lunges (Legs)
3 sets of 12

Alternate dumbbell curls (Biceps)
3 sets of 12 reps

One arm dumbbell extensions (Triceps)
3 sets of 12 reps

Ab Crunches (Abdominals)
4 sets of 15

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/02/2017 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Gab,

Yes, I'd say this is a good dumbbell only program. I wouldn't say one is better than the other. Both will help you with building muscle and/or fat loss depending on your diet and sleep schedule.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 05/28/2017 - 22:20
Steve

Hi there,

I am beginning to do this workout routine and just wanted to ask if these exercises will provide a sufficient core workout? I don't mean just getting nice abs but actually strengthening my entire core?
If not is there anything you would recommend we add or substitue to ensure the core is getting enough of a workout? New to working out and it is hard to find real info on core workouts, thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:52
JoshEngland

Hi Steve,

Yes, this workout provides enough indirect core work from your body needing to stabilize itself while performing the exercises to build core strength.

You're also more than welcome to add additional core work to the tailend of these workouts or on your rest days. I've provided a link to our ab workouts database below as well as an excellent article on core training that I think you'll find very useful.

Abs databse - https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Understanding Core Training - https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/understanding-core-training

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 05/28/2017 - 13:44
Ben

Hey! I'm 16 years old 6 ft tall and weight 73 kg (160 lbs). I started going to a public gym 2 months ago but I got tired of it so i bought i pair of dumbbells and decided to workout from home. I was wondering if this is enough intensity for my workout. Is 3 workouts a week enough? Can I build muscle without any powdered protein or protein shakes/drinks etc. fast enough. If there is another weekly workout routine you would recommend your help would be grately appreciated.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:49
JoshEngland

Hi Ben,

Yes, 3x a week is enough to build muscle. You can build muscle without protein powder so long as your whole foods protein intake is adequate enough (.6-1.2g of protein per lb of lean mass is the recommended sweet spot) - protein powder does make it a lot easier to meet this need. This workout is an excellent program based on what it appears you have available to use.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 05/26/2017 - 07:14
Joseph

Hey

I know this going to sound silly i have just started lifting weights and im just wondering for each exercise are you supposed to complete them in one go. For an example the dumbbell squat would i do 6-12 reps then wait 30 seconds and then do another 6-12 until i complete the 3 sets or would i do one set of dumbbell squat the move on to bench press and work my way back round to the first exercise.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 05/26/2017 - 09:09
JoshEngland

Hi Joseph,

You can actually do either or and it'll be beneficial in providing different stimulus. The first scenario you've explained is called horizontal loading and the other is called vertical loading (aka circuit training).

The first does well with a focus on hypertophy (or muscle building) while the latter is beneficial for increasing endurance and cardiovascular health.

This program is written for you to perform all the sets at once before moving on to the next exercise, but that doesnt mean you cant adapt it to be more of a circuit if you prefer and feel it will help you reach your goals better.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:32
Cheryl

How much cardio should I be doing along with this to optimize results? I'll be using this program to lose weight, if that changes anything. Also, I won't be able to do cardio first thing in the morning - when should I do it? How many days a week?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:45
JoshEngland

Hi Cheryl,

Sure you can add cardio to this program if you'd like, but when it comes to weight loss the most important thing is being in a calorie deficit. That is burning more calories than you consume in a given day. Ideally, to lose weight, you want to be in a deficit of ~250-500 calories a day, although it will differ from person to person. See how many calories you should be eating in a day with our BMR calculator below, and then subtract your target calorie deficit (more isn't necessarily better, you want to make sure this deficit is something that is sustainable).

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Now, you can do cardio to increase your calorie expenditure. As to what, when, and how many times a week, that is up to you and will also depend on how well you recover from these workouts and those cardio sessions.

I'd recommend finding a form of cardio that you enjoy doing (for me it's long walks preferably in nature). If it's low impact such as walking, you could do it every day. If you enjoy sprinting or something a little more intense, then you'll want to account for having to recover from those sessions. Maybe aim to do those 2-4 times a week.

Weight loss is more so about finding a consistent plan of attack. It takes time so you have to find something you can do consistently. Consistency is sustainable and will help you get the results you desire.

I hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 05/14/2017 - 17:22
bashar

Hi
For how long should I do the plan???
4 weeks or more