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
8 weeks
30 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
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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.

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

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1.7K Comments+ Post Comment

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

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

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).


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

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

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/15/2017 - 09:39

Hi Bashar,

For as long as you'd like so long as you are seeing progress, it's helping you achieve your goals, and you are enjoying doing it.

With that said, I'd give it at least 6-8 weeks of consistent effort to determine whether it is or not.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 05/01/2017 - 18:01
Felix Mak

Is there anything else I can change for the workout for the wide grip pull ups. I live in a small space and many of the doors don't allow me to use my iron gym anymore

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Posted Sun, 04/30/2017 - 14:33

Thanks for this workout, it has really helped me get back into the workout routine. I've lost weight with exactly what you've said in other posts, caloric deficit. I'm about 9 lbs from my weight goal but have focused on the protein intake to build muscle. With that said, my calorie intake has increased to hit my protein goal - 1g of protein per lb of body weight. I eat clean for the most part meaning I have some ice cream once a month but the extra calories has me a little concerned. Feels like I'm eating a lot, is the school of thought these days still 1 g of protein per lb of body weight? Other question is I tend to workout late and I have a protein shake right after I'm done. Then about an hour later I go to bed, is it ok to down some casein protein before bed that close to my after workout shake? Or should I try to space out my workout earlier? Thanks for your help.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:26

Hi joe,

Congrats on your progress!

A good amount of protein to consume over the course of the day is between 1.6-1.7g per Kilogram of bodyweight and you can go up to 2g per kg . You can certainly eat more than that, however the benefit of increasing protein intake after that amount doesn't necessarily increase as well.

Typically, there is more of a benefit in eating the 1g per bodyweight or 2g per kilogram of bodyweight when you are in a calorie deficit to preserve muscle mass,

As far as consuming a protein shake and a casein shake within an hour of each other, so long as you are in good health, you should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 04/29/2017 - 23:30

Is this workout suitable for really skinny guys to start with to gain mass?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:12

Hi Nat,

Yes, paired with a sound and solid diet that puts you in a slight caloric surplus, overtime this program will help you put on mass.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 04/23/2017 - 16:27

I'm usually busy on mondays so sometime I do this workout on sunday, tuesday and either thrusday or friday. Im just wondering if the workout on friday is special in the terms of that I have to rest two days before doing another workout, or if I can rest two days between any workout

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/24/2017 - 09:32

Hi Joe,

These are full body workouts. So, ideally you'd want to have atleast 1 full day of rest from resistance training between each workout. The 2 rest days can be before any workout. It's more set up this way for those who want to have weekends off from weight training.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 13:58
Frank DeVita

I have a herniated disc in lower lumbar,is this routine back friendly? If not could you please send a dumbbell routine that is back friendly? Thank you so much.....

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 15:23

Hi Frank,

I'd recommend working with a professional in person. I know it's probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but it is the best advice I can give.

Plenty of people could blindly make a program for you to follow, but they wouldn't understand the state of your prior injury or how it has affected your movement patterns. Thus, they may come up with a program that will result in re- or further injury and that's not fair for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep up the great work!

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

Thanks for the tips, Josh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Hope this helps!

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

Can I lose weight with this workout?

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


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Hope this helps!

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

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

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

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

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

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

You'll want to increase weight, not reps

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

How many weeks is this?

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


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.