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
3
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.

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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
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1.7K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 18:17
James

Does this help you arm become bigger and your abs show more

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Hi James,

Yes, if paired with a proper diet aimed towards fat loss (meaning you are in a calorie deficit), you could see those goals as a result of performing this workout.

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Posted Sat, 03/18/2017 - 21:23
Mike

Been doing your workout for two weeks and it's been working great! But I'm wondering if I can do my cardio on the rest day or if I should do them on the days I work out

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 09:55
JoshEngland

Hi Mike,

You can do either or. Personally I like to perform LISS cardio in the mornings before work as a means to wake up, but also as a form of recovery.

The important thing isn't when you do cardio, It's making sure you actually do cardio and the form of cardio you do doesnt negatively affect your performance in the gym.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/01/2017 - 23:13
Ben

Thanks so much for this!

I'm a very obese 40 year old man (6' , 410 lbs). I'm currently on a 2300 cal diet that leans a bit towards carbs and protein over fat. So far I've been making some great progress losing weight. But I don't want to lose lean mass while I'm at it so I'm blowing the dust off my dumbbells and plan on integrating some weight training into my workout. I plan on starting slow and easing into it.

Some of these I just won't be able to do for a while in my current shape - can you recommend any alternatives? Namely sit-ups, floor press, pull-up and lying floor leg raise - basically anything on the floor will be difficult. I see Alper asked already for alternatives for the Pull Up. Any suggestions for the others?

Thanks again for your excellent workout! For someone like me getting to the gym is a bit of a nightmare so being able to do something in the privacy of my own home without having to spend big money is a huge win.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/02/2017 - 09:18
JoshEngland

Hi Ben,

Congrats on all of your progress thus far!

You're right, it's not advisable for obese trainees to start out with floor exercises. I'd recommend investing in some resistance bands to use alongside your dumbbells. They can be pretty cheap and they will help you add variety into your workouts.

For example:

You could substitute floor press with standing band chest presses. -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqzVVl6cPAI

You could sub pullups with resistance band pulldowns - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA2NEQGPfpU

You could substitute core work with standing trunk rotations - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbj54X5pPT4

Just a couple of options. It might also be worth investing in a couple of training sessions with a professional to work with in person. They'll be able to give you so many more viable options that are more constructive for you personally than I (or anyone else) can blindly over the internet.

I hope this helps and best of luck on your fitness journey!

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Posted Mon, 03/06/2017 - 09:40
Craig

Keep up the great work!

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Posted Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:45
Ben

Thanks for the tips, Josh!

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Posted Tue, 02/28/2017 - 07:35
Alper

Good workout thank you. But i can't make Wide Grip Pull Up at my home. Is there an alternative?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/28/2017 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Alper,

The easy fix would be adding dumbbell rows or pulldowns with a resistance band if you have any of those. However, I'd highly recommend purchasing a portable pull up bar. They're fairly reasonably priced, easy to assemble, and the pullup is a staple muscle building exercise.

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Posted Mon, 02/06/2017 - 18:25
Karl

I've seen a lot of stuff lately about how sit-ups aren't very good for your back. What's a good replacement for the sit-ups? Would 'planks' work?

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

Hi Karl,

Planks or Swiss ball crunches would be great substitutions if you're experiencing back pain during situps.

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Posted Sat, 02/04/2017 - 19:57
Ash

Hi, I am wanting to lose the weight around my stomach, about 14lb ideally, this was the weight I was when I could see my abs much more clearly.
If I were to do this program but eat calories to put muscle on, would I still lose the fat around my stomach? Or would you suggest sticking to Cardio until I lose the 14lb? I don't mind staying at the same weight as long as my stomach tones up more and I can see my abs again.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/06/2017 - 09:33
JoshEngland

Hi Ash,

To lose fat you must be in a caloric deficit. A deficit of ~250-500 calories is recommended with a goal of losing .5-1lb per week. Below is our fat loss expert guide, it should be pretty helpful in answering any of your fat loss questions.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 01/31/2017 - 16:58
Kevin

hi, i started to give this a go because i only have a pair of 14kg dumbbells to work with. with that weight i can see myself exceeding 12 reps on some of the exercises pretty soon, like the bent over rows and shrugs for example. if that happens i know i can increase intensity by reducing my rest time and increasing time-under-tension, but should i do more reps or add a set if i can finish 12-15 reps on all sets? by the way i'm 47 and have been lifting weights periodically. i just liked the full body workout you presented and hopefully i can see new gains.
please could you suggest an alternative to pull ups because there's not even a monkey bar at the playground in my area now. thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/01/2017 - 11:14
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

All of those adaptations sound fine as you continue to progress. It might be worth investing into heavier dumbbells if you ever feel like your not making enough progress.

Also, I'd highly recommend purchasing a pullup bar. They can be very cheap (~$20) and the pullup is a staple exercise. You can remove it from your program until you have one, or preform extra sets of bent over rows.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 01/26/2017 - 15:04
Tim

Regarding the diet part. Since my work schedule isn't really flexible, can I eat 3 big meals instead of small ones throughout the day? As long as I eat more than it takes to maintain my weight it's fine right?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 01/26/2017 - 16:00
JoshEngland

Hi Tim,

Yes, that should be fine as long as your overall calorie consumption and macronutrient intake is in line with your goals.

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Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:24
Rev Bob

Would it be okay to do cardio (treadmill) on the off days? I'm trying to lose the "love handles."

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:56
JoshEngland

Rev Bob,

It's definitely ok to do some additional cardio work on your off days. In fact, I'd highly recommend doing some form of cardio on the daily to make sure your heart and lungs remain healthy and in good working fashion throughout your life.

In terms of fat loss, the best way to get there is through being in a consistent caloric deficit over time, You have to burn more calories than you are taken in to lose fat around your problem areas.

Below is our fat loss expert guide, it should be a pretty good resource to help you out with your goals.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss

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Posted Sun, 01/22/2017 - 22:05
Gracie

Can I lose weight with this workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:53
JoshEngland

Gracie,

It can help by increasing your caloric expenditure through increased activity as well as increasing your metabolic rate. The more lean muscle you have the more calories you will burn at rest.

With that said, the thing that will help you most with your weight loss goals is being in a caloric deficit consistently overtime. You have to burn more calories than you are taking in, otherwise your weight will either remain the same or increase (that's not to say an increase in weight is bad, it can actually be quite good if it is an increase in lean muscle mass).

Check out this reference, it should be a good guide to help aid you in your weight-loss goals.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss

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Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 21:10
Gracie

Thank you so much! I'm excited to begin this journey and transform this body I have. I think this then will be a good starting place for me. I was in the gym last year for about 5 mos and lost 25lbs. I was getting bored with the elliptical and treadmill and eyed the weights very often but was a bit intimidated. I have been out of the gym for at least the last 6 mos and have gained 8lbs :-( Again, thank you so much for the information and I will check out the reference you provided and continue to follow Muscle&Strength!

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Posted Sun, 01/22/2017 - 05:48
Lee k

Can cardio be done after each of these workouts as i want to lose a lot of body fat.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:50
JoshEngland

Hi Lee,

Of course! I'd highly recommend doing some form of cardio (either very light such a walking or more strenuous) every day. It will compliment your weightlifting efforts greatly.

Just be sure that you're giving yourself enough time to recover in between workouts. Also, a consistent caloric deficit overtime is what will really aid in your fat loss efforts. So be sure that your nutrition is on point as well and you should have no problem accomplishing your goals.

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Posted Sat, 01/21/2017 - 08:20
Dave

I'm wanting to lose weight and plan in a lot of cardio. I also want to build strength as well. Will This get me there ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:41
JoshEngland

Hi Dave,

Sure, it will help. However, losing weight and gaining strength is just as much about diet and nutrition as it is about exercise. Don't forget to eating accordingly to your goals.

Another often overlooked element to fitness is sleep and recovery. You got to be sure to get plenty of sleep each night and have plenty of rest in between exercise bouts to recover and grow.

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Posted Sun, 01/15/2017 - 12:07
Toup

Can I have have weight gain shakes and eat as much protein as I can or is there a limit?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/16/2017 - 09:16
JoshEngland

Toup,

This completely depends on what your goals are. Short answer, you can, but it's probably not the best idea. You always want to have some sort of knowledge about how many calories you're putting into your body to avoid gaining fat. And if your goal is fat loss, you'll want to make sure you're in a caloric deficit.

Check out the BMR calculator link before. If you're trying to gain lean muscle mass, aim to eat 250-500 cals more per day than the amount of calories the calculator gives you.

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

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 01/10/2017 - 09:18
dipak

Here is my workout plan (im a newbie)

1. 20 pushups
2. 10-15 crunches
3.20 leg raises
4. 20 squats
5. Rest
6. Repeat all the steps(done this much in the first week.3days)

7.then added pull ups
8. Next week added front and side planks,some bicep workouts (i forgot what they are called) and dumbles

Are these enough for building muscles? I have been through this workout for like 2 weeks (3 days each). If this is a proper way,how long might it take to see the result? If its the wrong way,any mods?

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Posted Sun, 12/25/2016 - 19:14
ERX

I wanted to ask if i can add an exercise to every single day workout of these (monday,tuesday,friday) i have an ab machine called "ab prince pro" i was wondering if i can use that in these workouts as well.
Also i wanted to ask should i do the exercises like 3 sets of each and move on to the next one or do all of the exercises, and then do them all again like 3 times like that.
All answers are welcome, thank you.

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Posted Fri, 12/23/2016 - 10:55
Tony

For leg raises can i hang legs off bench for fuller range?

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Posted Sun, 12/11/2016 - 13:18
Aiz

I recently started this program and I'm wondering if I could increase my reps on some of the exercises? will it be a good idea for a beginner? Thanks

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Posted Thu, 01/12/2017 - 03:17
Joe

You'll want to increase weight, not reps

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Posted Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:41
John

How many weeks is this?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:54
JoshEngland

John,

You can run this for however long you want. Especially if you're still seeing progress and find it enjoyable. The minute you see progress halt, or if you get bored, you may want to look for another program.

Personally, I like to give each workout program I do 8 weeks to see the results. If after 8 weeks I still enjoy it and am seeing results, I continue it until it's no longer the case.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 06:03
Julian A

Going to start this workout soon (just need to get myself a bench. Already ordered one, takes a few days to get shipped).

So far I'm probably able to do most of the workouts....except one. The Pull-up ain't happening.

2 Reasons.
a) I don't have anywhere to do it. Might be able to find a spot, but then there's
b) I'm currently at a weight of 169kg/373lbs (startet at 182kg/401lbs). There is no way in hell I could pull my weight up.

Soo, what's the best alternative I can do? Really don't want to just scratch that one part of the workout.

Really looking forward to it. The limited workouts I've been doing with my dumbbells are fun surprisingly enough. Way more fun than the cable machines in the gym years back (new workplace, no gym in the area).

So yeah, any advice would be great. I'm tired of carrying around weight that's not made out of iron.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 10:44
JoshEngland

Julian,

If you have access to a pulldown cable, you could substitute pull ups with a pulldown variation. If not, you could purchase some resistance bands and perform banded pulldowns.

Eventually you'll want to progress yourself to doing assisted pullups whenever you're more comfortable in your capabilities. This can be done either using a partner or with a resistance band.

Once you've mastered all of that, you should find yourself capable of doing pullups :)

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 11:03
Julian A

I have an old cable machine that I could use. That might work! Thanks, didn't even think about that one (our "workout room" has been turned into the "stuff where we put stuff we don't need every day-room"......so it's not something that you remember instantly^^

my goal is to be able to do pullups one day. for now, one step after the other. the next big one is breaking through that 160kg barrier....that one stopped me multiple times so far. not this time. it's not really about building muscle and strenght and more about loosing weight, but hey, a few more muscles never hurt ;)

thanks for your reply :) hope you have good day.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 12:18
JoshEngland

You're welcome! Oh yeah, you've got it this time!

Just remember, building muscle and increasing your strength will only aid in your fat loss attempts (a lot actually considering lean muscle mass increases your metabolism). Keep up the good work!

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Posted Mon, 10/31/2016 - 14:10
John B

It's not so easy regarding progression. Dumb Bells go up 2kg or 4g per dumb bell - that's a big jump.

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Posted Fri, 10/28/2016 - 20:09
Nick

Roughly how long should this take to complete each day, assuming you keep your rests short?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2016 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Nick,

Should take about 1 hour to complete.

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Posted Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:09
Lukas

I am a beginner and im quite skinny. I have 3kg dumbells and i want to know if they are to light... What weight do u guys propose? (I am new to weight?

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Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 18:15
Himanshu

what kind of protein or food i need to take in between the workout????

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Posted Wed, 10/05/2016 - 19:37
Mustaqeem

Hi.
Will I be able to see changes in my body if I do this workout for 8 weeks?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 09:11
JoshEngland

Mustaqeem,

Definitely! You should seem some good changes in your physique by doing the workout. Especially if your diet is on point as well.

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Posted Mon, 10/03/2016 - 16:03
Emre

Hi, I'm a skinny-fat person and as I learn from articles I should do 4 sets of 4-6 reps. What should I do ? 4-6 reps or 10-12 reps ?

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Posted Fri, 09/30/2016 - 06:20
John B

I think dumb bells are better - better range of motion, targets your muscles more effectively, less injury and reduces imbalances.

Progression can be tricky. You need to use rep and set changes and not just increasing weight.

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Posted Sun, 09/25/2016 - 18:56
Sally

Hi I've been doing this workout for about ten weeks and have seen improvements. I feel like I have plateud now. Do I need to do different routines for awhile? If so are you able to direct me to some please? I have been increasing weights and doing max reps.