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

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.

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

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

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!

Girish Munjal
Posted on: Sun, 09/25/2022 - 10:15

Thanks for the work out routine!
I dont have anything to do pullups, what exercise can I replace it with?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 09/25/2022 - 20:08

What do you have access to? Let me know, and I will try to offer some alternatives.

Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 04:38

How do I stop my abs from painful cramps? It feels like my entire abdomen is being twisted when I do sit ups

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2022 - 08:44

Hydration and longer rests between sets can help, Vincent. If you're still feeling cramps after taking longer breaks, talk to a doctor.

Ebube Menakaya
Posted on: Fri, 06/03/2022 - 14:22

Great guide.
I've had issues with ab and core development in the past, what's the best way to fix that while also maintaining the workout schedule in this guide?
Also, I dislike running or jogging for cardio so I was wondering if there are suitable substitutes I can use to replace them. When should I perform cardio and how should I cool down after a workout?

Thanks for the information.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/08/2022 - 09:49

Hi, Ebube. Here is a great ab workout you can do while on this program.

As for cardio, any bike or machine you have access to would work. Do cardio in the morning or after your weight training. If you train in the morning, do the weights first, then the cardio. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 04/25/2022 - 08:22

What could I replace the dumbbell step ups with?

I was thinking about the upper lower split routine but then saw this one. Which one do you recommend for someone at an intermediate level, who does not have a whole lot of time to workout nowadays?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:24

What are the issues with the step ups? Want to make a good substitution that will help you.

Paul Felix
Posted on: Sun, 01/09/2022 - 09:43

Hi, for me it's hard to have chest gains. May I do two exercices for chest each day or it's dangerous for my remover?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/13/2022 - 16:39

Two movements for chest should be fine, Paul.

See Boon Yee
Posted on: Mon, 12/27/2021 - 06:17

Hi, I believe that my body can handle more than beginners because I have finished my workout program on another website as well before coming across this website. And my concern is that I want to try the intermediate level of these workout sets, 3 days is my ideal plan so is there any way I can modify it to meet my standard, for example, increase sets or reps or pick another workout program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 12/27/2021 - 09:30

Hi, See Boon. Another program may be the best bet in your case. If you really want to stick with this one, then one or two more sets per exercise would be the best way to do it.

Posted on: Mon, 12/27/2021 - 23:39

Hi, thanks for replying appreciate it. The reason I wanted to stick with this program is that I only have dumbbells at the moment, and I couldn't find any workouts regarding the intermediate level of 3 days full body with dumbbells only. Thx for the suggestions btw, by any chance that I can receive the link for the workouts you mentioned that might suits me?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/28/2021 - 08:49

If you want to go with another one, try this one. It's more suited for people who want to use more volume and train three times a week.

There are also ways to make this workout harder such as slow negatives, longer contractions, and rest-pause sets. Consider those as well.

Posted on: Fri, 10/15/2021 - 06:47


Thank you for this great article
Do you recommend doing cardio on weight training days or on off days
Your reply is very much appreciated, Thank you..


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/20/2021 - 16:00

Hi, Ahmed. Yes, do cardio on off days. 20-30 minutes of either moderate level or 15-20 minutes of HIIT would suffice.

Anthony pace
Posted on: Sat, 09/25/2021 - 02:33

Hi , why all the work outs have a duration? in this case .. after 8 weeks should i change the workout type??

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 21:14

Anthony, the durations are recommended so you can consider more options based on your progress. If you enjoy this one, keep going.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/13/2022 - 09:21

You could run it one more time, and you could still see progress. I definitely suggest changing it up after two runs in a row.

Posted on: Sat, 06/11/2022 - 03:01

Would I still be able to achieve gains if I continue with the program after the 8 weeks or would I find more success in another program?

Posted on: Mon, 09/20/2021 - 18:34


I've completed 11 weeks of this program and will have access to a gym in a few weeks. Thank you so much for this routine as its been so useful as a beginner. Do you have any reccommendations about any 3-4 day gym routines that would be best as a progression from this workout routine.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 21:13
Posted on: Sun, 08/29/2021 - 22:50


If I have the energy in between workout days, should I continue with full body workouts, or would it better to increase sets on my workout days instead?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 09/10/2021 - 20:18

Hi, Kevin. Try adding a set to each exercise on the workout days. Save the off days for recovery. Those are important for your overall progress.

Posted on: Sat, 08/21/2021 - 00:59

Hey.. How can i add pushups in all three days?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 20:58

Hi, Smith. If you really want to add in pushups, use them to help you warmup before the workout begins, or you can do them at the end of the session for a good burnout. Try both and see which works best for you.

Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2021 - 16:38

Would it be alright to perform Dumbbell Squats 3x a week (removing Dumbbell Step Ups and Dumbbell Lunges) in this workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:50

Hi, John. The step ups and lunges offer different benefits than dumbbell squats, so keeping them in the program would be best. If for some reason you can't do them, then check out the M&S Exercises section to find other alternatives that you feel you can do.

Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2021 - 23:44

I've been doing this workout for a few weeks now, and I love it! Quick question: Would the workout lose any of its effectiveness if you split up the six exercises for a particular day, for example, doing three in the morning and three in the evening? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:44

Hi, JG. The workout would be most effective doing it as it is written. However, if you are crunched for time and must split the workout up, it beats not training at all.

Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 09:02

How much rest time between sets?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:44

Hey Shxripan - rest can be anywhere from 30-90 seconds between sets.

Posted on: Fri, 07/16/2021 - 14:55

Hi, I train in BJJ (1.5 hrs a day x 4 days a week). I want to add strength conditioning in but am nervous about over training. Would this work out be ok? I would shift it to Friday, Sunday, Monday. Giving Saturday as a complete rest day. Friday and Sunday would only be this. Monday would be both this and BJJ.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/19/2021 - 09:45

Hey Robert - yes, this is a good program. Keep an eye on your recovery and make sure you're eating enough, getting enough water, and sleeping enough.

Posted on: Sun, 07/04/2021 - 09:36

Hello, in this workout can I substitute Dumbbell Squat with Goblet Squat and Dumbbell Step Up with Bulgarian Split Squat? Thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/06/2021 - 09:13

Hey Giuseppe - yes you can

Posted on: Tue, 07/06/2021 - 19:54

Thank you!

Posted on: Sun, 06/20/2021 - 00:59


I was wondering if I could just do the first 3 days and still have it be a good weekly routine? I've been doing all 4 for a couple months and it's been great but recently I've become more busy and doing all 4 has become difficult to maintain. Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 09:46

Hey Teddy - this is a 3-day program so you shouldn't have any issue following it as written

Posted on: Fri, 06/04/2021 - 15:41

For dumbbell shrugs and dumbell side bends...the rep range is we get 15 we add weight the next week right?

Posted on: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 08:40

can a intermediate lifter do this....if its easy for me so can i add another set to all the exercises in the workout routine

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:03

Hey mickael - yes you can do that.

Posted on: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 06:09

the workout routine says that if we can get the maximum rep of a particular exercise....we have to add weight the next week right? suppose if we get 12 reps of bench press with a particular weight we have to add weight the next week right? so that we can get anywhere between 6 to 12 reps and then we have to keep using that weight till we get 12 reps and then increase and so on right?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:05

Hey mickael - yes, that's correct

Posted on: Sat, 05/29/2021 - 14:33

Hi...most of the rep ranges are from if I get 12 on my first set...I have to keep increasing weight across both the sets to try to get to 6... right?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:04

Hey Hope - you'll add weight the following week. Weight should be kept consistent across all sets.

Fiebe Op de Beeck
Posted on: Sat, 05/08/2021 - 05:45

Can I somehow go from 3 to 4/5/6 days a week using this program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/10/2021 - 10:21

Hey Fiebe - it's best to follow the program as written.

Posted on: Wed, 04/07/2021 - 11:04

When should I take if I want to consume the supplements like fish oil, multivitamins and others?
And what time is the best to do these workouts?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/07/2021 - 11:23

Hey Henry - fish oil and multivitamins can be taken in the morning. Protein can be taken after your workout. Timing of your workouts isn't really all that important so whenever works for you is the best time to do the workouts.