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

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Posted Mon, 05/11/2015 - 14:14

What is the expected rest between sets? Been doing 60 secs.

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Posted Sun, 05/10/2015 - 13:02

Hi, i am 25 years old and i am long 1.87 m and i am heay 90 kg. My objective is not adding weight, to get giant. i just want to give more shape to my muscles. enlarge them a litle bit, and reduce a the fat on my abdominals.Also I have two months that i make run about 45-60 minutes in the morning/ evereyday. This workout,together with the run, work for my target?

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Posted Sun, 05/10/2015 - 14:08

If you don't want to get giant then just don't do up in weights. This is a solid workout, I've used it for 6 weeks with great results. If you want to reduce fat on your abs that's more down to diet than the workout. Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:24

thanks for your response Mike. i will continue the run and the workout together & and will notincrease the weight of the dumbell( i work on 7 kg/dumbell). regards :)

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Posted Tue, 04/14/2015 - 18:30

Also I cant get enough access to 20-30g every 2-3hours in food, can I make this up in protein shakes.

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Posted Tue, 04/14/2015 - 17:52

dear Steve, I only have dumbells and do not have time to go to the gym, I'm 16 and want big arms that is my main target but would also like all other muscles to be big, is this the right workout for me? Also will this workout get me bigger arms quickly?

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Posted Tue, 03/31/2015 - 02:47

Hi Steven! I'm loving the routine! however i have questions. (1) how can i reduce /remive my belly fat to show my abs? (2) Is this routine suitable for 14 years old? (Will it stunt my growth?)

Thank you! :)

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Posted Wed, 04/01/2015 - 08:29

(1) In order to see your abs, you need to reduce the fat that surrounds it. Cardio and proper diet would be the key here. These exercises tend to strengthen and build your muscles more than burn fat.
(2) Well, regarding that, it's kind of complicated to discuss it with layman's term like do you know what an Epiphysial Plate is?
"The epiphyseal plate is an area at the long end of the bone that contains growing bone. As people develop, the bone grows longer as a result of activity inside this area. These plates permit growth after birth, allowing the long bones of the body to extend and a person to grow as he or she reaches maturity. Once growth is completed and the person reaches full maturity and stature, the new bone slowly hardens and the plate turns into the epiphyseal line." (Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-epiphyseal-plate.htm)

TL;DR this are "things" at the end of your bones that functions for growth. At some time, they harden and your bones won't grow anymore. These plates can also PREMATURELY harden if too much pressure is acted upon it, possibly stunting growth.

So, for your question, I do believe using light-moderate dumbbells won't stunt your growth, it can actually help (search Wolff's Law), but make sure they are LIGHT-MODERATE and not heavy because of the explanation above.

How do I know this? Our professors and our lessons about resistance exercises.

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Posted Thu, 03/26/2015 - 00:51

How long will it take before I start seeing muscle gains??

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Posted Wed, 04/01/2015 - 08:18

It takes 6-8 weeks before muscle hypertrophy (muscle gain in layman's term ) is seen. This is a very vague statement though.
There are many principles that needs to be taken into consideration in order for this to be true (eg. Progressive Overload, adequate resistance/intensity, etc...)

Source? Our professor and our lesson about resistance exercises.

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Posted Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:47

I am just starting to work out on a consistent basis for the first time in my life (53 years old) and was wondering if this is a good work out routine for me? Thanks for any replies..

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Posted Mon, 03/02/2015 - 10:53
Jim D.

Since the Dumbell Bench Press is similar to the Dumbell Floor Press, can the bench press be substituted with a Butterfly type exercise?

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Posted Sun, 03/01/2015 - 22:04


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Posted Sat, 02/28/2015 - 08:13

i have been doing at home this with 16-20kg each dumbbells
i read and see " You use the same weight for all sets, When you can perform 12 reps for the first set, add weight for this exercise the next time "
That means i just use same weight for all set of all exerices right ? or i must have one or two warm up sets with ligher weight and so when i change to main set i will use max weight i can lift ?

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Posted Wed, 02/25/2015 - 19:20

Can you clarify the variation for women? Which sets are 10-15?

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Posted Sun, 02/22/2015 - 13:39

This might sound.stupid but, if you only work out a certain muscle group on the first day, then that muscle group doesnt appear in the workout until that day the next week, would the muscle you built the first time be gone by the next time you did that workout the week after?

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Posted Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:13

I am thinking of doing this. I'm a 31 year old female who's just starting out- my question is can I add one extra leg exersize to this on each of the days? Like hack squat or even goblet squat on the day with lunges and add lunges on the day with squats?

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Posted Sun, 02/15/2015 - 23:02
Graeson Wasicuna

Hey! I just finished going from 310lbs - 175lbs in 1 1/2 year. I'm 17 as well. I'm just wondering if these workouts with the Dumbbells will get me to a good muscle mass ?

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Posted Sun, 02/08/2015 - 12:11

How much time between sets and reps?

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Posted Sun, 02/08/2015 - 05:17

i juat got done with reconstructive shoulder surgery and was wondering would this workout be ok its been 6 months since my surgery but a year since i have been able to work out

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Posted Fri, 02/06/2015 - 19:11

I was just wondering what exercises are for the pecs. I am working to get a little more there and I don't see too many directed towards that area. Any suggestions or comments?

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Posted Fri, 04/24/2015 - 18:36

the dumbell bench press and floor press are pecs

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Posted Thu, 02/05/2015 - 08:55
Arash Tarafar

Great workout plan, but I have a question:

Can one extend this program to the whole week?
I mean, do the Monday, Wednesday and Friday exercise on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday too, respectively.

Thanks for the answer in advance ;)

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Posted Wed, 02/04/2015 - 06:29
Robin sandhu

Hey guys.i am 16 year old.i m working on mY ARMs doing some dumbbell workout. Is dumbbell exsercise can help me to loose belly fat.

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Posted Wed, 02/04/2015 - 04:47

Is it possible to drink supplements while performing this workout? Such as a pre workout, weight lost and protein shake?

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Posted Mon, 02/02/2015 - 08:03

Hi Steve, This is a great home workout. I am using this work out to lose weight and trim up. How many times a day should I eat and how many calories should I eat a day? I would like to add muscle as well as lose fat. any advise would be great!

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Posted Tue, 01/20/2015 - 20:12

Thanks so much for this, its like a dream workout for me. I am a 30 year old woman trying to lose weight, I had lost 90 lbs but gained about 40 of it back which is sad, but I suppose part of the journey. This has really helped, is it recommended for weight loss? I am definitely gaining muscle which excites me. Any other advice would be awesome.

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Posted Mon, 01/12/2015 - 23:52

I'm about to start this workout plan. Quick question.. I'm 5'6" 140lbs, pretty lean except for the stomach area. I want to add more muscle and gain a little bit more weight. I want to be at 145-150lbs. I'm looking for a good meal plan and wondering how many calories I should take in daily to reach my desired weight?
Does this plan sound good? 2500 calories, 224g carbs, 256g protein, 55g fat.. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you

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Posted Tue, 12/23/2014 - 23:30
Ali mahmud

Hi Steve,
How should we do a set? Should I finish one exercise first then move on to the next or should I do the whole thing then repeat?

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Posted Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:15

I've been doing this workout for the last 6-7 months. I am 31 years old and this is the first period of working out in my life. I have not been doing any sports for the last 10 years. Did some crew in high school. I combine this workout with regular mountain bike trips, which I fell in love with last year. My wife has noticed some results after 2 months of working out with this program. Currently I can see significant muscle growth all over my body. My legs and bottocks are hard as rock, I think there is no fat at all on them. Great program. All you need is a set of dumbells, bench and something for pullups. I have all this simple equipment in my basement. I think the best advice is to not skip workouts and it is not that hard when you have everything you need in your home. Big thanks to Steve. I have really transformed myself.

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Posted Wed, 02/18/2015 - 01:07

Hi loved your comment. Can I ask please how you warm up and how long for, thank you.

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Posted Mon, 03/30/2015 - 09:45


I ride my bike outside the house in circles during summer, during winter it is set up on a turbo trainer. If I cannot do either I use my jumping rope. 15 minutes is enough for me. Until first sweat comes out.

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Posted Sun, 11/30/2014 - 21:58

Can I do this workout with a low carb diet? I started Atkins induction 20 carbs /day.

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Posted Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:21

For how many weeks should I work on this program ?

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Posted Mon, 11/17/2014 - 01:52

Hello Steve !
i done The Ultimate 6-Week Home Workout and just started my last week. All i have two dumbbells, one curl bar, barbell and a bench which i made my self at my workshop. so i need a another workout plan for next stage using those stuff.Could you please provide me a one !



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Posted Sat, 11/15/2014 - 10:49
kiran shinde

can u suggest some warm up exercise ? before starting..

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Posted Wed, 11/05/2014 - 13:57

Any ideas how to intigrate an elliptical machine into this workout? Or is there a better workout that would include an elliptical machine?

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Posted Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:01

Hi, Steve. I'm 19, 5'6, and 158 lbs. I used to be at around 140 lbs. The lbs I gained are probably fats because I haven't really worked out. I'm looking tk cut down fats and gain some muscle. What would be the best way to approach my diet? I consume rice and a beef/pork/chicken stew or fried variants, for most, if not all, of my meals. Will protein shake for every meal be enough for the 30-40g of protein per meal? Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 11/05/2014 - 07:37

Hi, Steve. I'm a beginner and I'm just wondering, do I perform fast/explosive reps or 3/5-seconds taking down the weight reps? Thanks!

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Posted Sat, 11/01/2014 - 16:15

Hey Steve...what supplements do you recommend starting out with? I am 6'4" and right around 240 with a spare but otherwise in decent shape. I take a Optimum Nutrition Multivitamin, Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil, Optimum Nutrition Oats & Whey Protein , Bulk Supplements DAA powder, Body Fortress Creatine Powder and ZMA. I know I am missing BCAA's, but am trying to narrow down some good ratings/reviews on some. Do you recommend any? I do have low-T, blood work from Dr. and want to know if I should add an anti-estrogen to my supply? There is so many fake reviews out there that it is difficult to find something really. Anyways, thanks for any help you can send my way!

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Posted Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:10


Do I need to warm-up for the exercises in these workouts? How should I warm-up for the exercises in the warm-ups? Could you explain this to me or give me a link to a page that can?


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Posted Wed, 10/01/2014 - 23:05
Stig Johnny Hansen

hello, i've been trying this workout for a few weeks now and I feel that 3 days a week is too little. because when it comes to the rest days i feel all recovered and that i don't need them. So i am wondering, can i do this workout dubble up per week? f.exs, mon - tue - wed....thur(off)....fri - sat - sun....mon(off) and so on?? or is it too much? i feel like this workout is to easy for me and that it goes too long between each time I work on each muscle. what do you suggest??

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Posted Sat, 09/20/2014 - 11:03

Glad that I found this. Do you have any special recommendations on how to warm up the muscles and cool them down before and after the exercise?

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Posted Sun, 09/07/2014 - 18:01
Pat Webb

Hi This is a brilliant website. I have dumbbells but not a bench. Do u have some alternative exercises for the bench exercises? Thanks

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Posted Thu, 09/04/2014 - 20:59

Hi Steve,

Not sure if you still look at this.

I've been using this workout for a few months, and it's really changed my life. It's come to the point where I either need to drop some serious money on more home equipment, since my DBs stop at 70 pounds, or join a gym. I am leaning toward the latter, and I was hoping you could advise what a good next step / routine would be. I'm kind of useless around barbells and gym equipment, so the whole thing is rather intimidating.


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Posted Fri, 10/03/2014 - 09:47

Steve Shaw has a systematic way to use your 70lb dumbbells at home. Go to YouTube and search for The "Bearded Beast from Duloc", which is his pen name and look for the video on how to build muscles with limited equipment at home. The ideas are 1) increase reps, 2) slow down the lifting tempo, 3)pre-exhaust with body weight exercises, 4)decrease rest time, etc..

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Posted Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:31

How long of rest period between sets?

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Posted Fri, 08/15/2014 - 07:59
jerry joy

awesome really helpfull

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 17:17


In highschool I did some weight training( bench normal/incline and squating) but with ALOT of cardio. Now that I'm starting college I've gained a litte weight, not quite the freshman 15. I've done alot of long distance running and this has really made my calfs large and not toned at all. The rest of my body is decent except for them. So my question is, other than what you have listed in your workout, what should I do? Superset with another not listed? More reps?

Thanks in advance,

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Posted Wed, 08/06/2014 - 18:42
William Kelly

Hey Steve Great Workout. Im kind of short on weights right now. Would it be ok to throw on some ankle weights for the step ups? I am not sure if that would ruin form or anything.