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 Thu, 09/22/2016 - 16:18
Dan R

I am new to this workout. I have a question about how much weights I should be doing. The instructions say that if I can do a full reps on first set, then I should add more weight. So does that mean the first set should be a struggle? Also, how often do you add more weight?

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Posted Thu, 09/22/2016 - 16:10

Hi everyone,

Is this workout suposed to be done without any rest between series? I'm at intermediate level (around 2 years working out, but not training since July) and I really like this workout routine but I need to know if I have to do all the series of each exercise without resting or not.

Thanks in advance,

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Posted Sat, 09/03/2016 - 10:47

Should i perform al 3 sets of one workout, then move on to the next or do i go thru the entire routine, then repeat?

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Posted Fri, 09/16/2016 - 15:59

I go through the entire routine, and then rest for a few minutes, and do the next set of the routine.

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Posted Wed, 08/10/2016 - 11:22

Is there a substitute for the pull up on Friday? I don't have access to a pull up bar, and I don't trust my door to support me (as suggested further down in the comments)

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Posted Fri, 08/19/2016 - 17:46

I have the same issue and have been repeating the One Arm Dumbbell Row from Monday's workout since they are both lat exercises. If someone has a better suggestion I am open to it.

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Posted Mon, 09/05/2016 - 09:58
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Posted Thu, 07/28/2016 - 09:07


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Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 13:35

I will be 62 in Oct. should I try this workout? Have been working out 3 years.

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Posted Tue, 08/23/2016 - 23:46

Dennis, unless you have medical issues you can do ANY workout as long as you choose a weight appropriate for you and listen to your body. Just don't choose a weight that is dangerous for your abilities and you will be fine. That being said, if you do have any medical concerns, like asthma, weak back, high blood pressure, etc., then speak to a doctor first to be safe.

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Posted Sat, 06/11/2016 - 15:19

Nice workout. Dumbbells really are awesome if your looking to build muscle at home.

Check out my dumbbell transformation video below. This was done using a similar workout

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Posted Wed, 06/08/2016 - 01:26

What do you recommend if I literally cannot do the dumbbell squat? Not only are my knees horrible, but my legs are so weak that I literally can't go down past a basic standing squat.

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Posted Tue, 08/23/2016 - 23:49

You could do stairs/stairstepper. Won't hit the exact same muscles but still hit a lot of them. If at home you could also try lying on the floor and pushing away from a wall or furniture. So lay on your back then bend your legs and place them on a wall or sturdy furniture and push your legs straight. That may not be doable either with your knees, but an option. Stairs may be best idea, or even small box jumps if you can handle a little impact from the jumps.

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Posted Sun, 06/05/2016 - 13:35
Jeff Reissig

I am 56 years old. I have lifted on and off over the years. I am starting this routine today. It looks great and I have done many of these same exercises before. I have everything I need in my home gym. I am looking forward to getting back into good shape. Thanks M&S team for a good plan. Sometimes that's the hardest part.

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Posted Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:23

Will this lead to an aesthetic body or triangular shaped body??

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 10:21

I don't have a bar for pull up please help me pls I'm on my third workout tomorrow and I want to make things right. I don't wanna left one exercise undone

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Posted Fri, 06/10/2016 - 21:03

Hey man, I use to have the same problem but all I did was use my door!! Believe it or not you can use your door as a pull up bar. Just put something like a towel on top of the door and BAM just like that do pull ups.

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Posted Tue, 05/17/2016 - 08:01

I'm a beginner. For me this is few exercises is this normal? Will it help my muscle to grow I mean aesthetic body? I ve been using this exercise for week it feels pretty nice and legit. I just wanted to know if this will help me get an aesthetic body or something like conor McGregor body or less. Thanks guysss Newbie here

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Posted Tue, 08/23/2016 - 23:38

If you want a body like McGreggor you are gonna have to lose some serious body fat. You may want to incorporate some HIIT during the week.

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Posted Wed, 05/11/2016 - 18:51

How many weeks should this routine last?

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Posted Fri, 04/15/2016 - 17:07


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Posted Fri, 04/15/2016 - 17:05

Hi. I've benn doing this workout for 10 days now. So far, so good! At least the painful part has passed :D
Regarding shoulder shrugs and side bends: I read here and there that there is a controversy whether women should do it or not. Just wondering if I could replace them by some other things?
I am totally ignorant in sports. Any suggestion is welcomed.
Thank you very much.

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Posted Tue, 03/08/2016 - 03:41

I started this workout today. For the past couple months, I've been walking about an hour a day. Should I lower the time walking to adjust for the body building muscle? I'm 25, F, at 30% BF.

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Posted Sat, 02/27/2016 - 16:19

I am definetely a beginner (skinny guy looking to build muscle) and I have noticed that almost all beginner programs have you do a full body split. I work a physical job where I am on my feet all day and I do alot of walking and lifting. My question is, am I ok to start with a 3 day push/pull/legs type of split like https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/frankoman-dumbbell-only-split... and save my leg days for the weekends when I am not working. Or will I be able to experience gains with a workout like this since I am already burning a ton of calories everyday just working my job. It's my understanding that full body workouts require more energy and burn more calories than split routines. Your response is appreciated.

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Posted Tue, 02/23/2016 - 19:01

This exercise is great for me, but I kind of hate doing all of the exercises on Fridays, except for Wide Grip Pull Ups and leg raises. I kind of like the Standing Hammer Curl, but it kind of feels like a more difficult standing curl.

Dumbbell Lunge is hard on my knees, Dumbbell floor press doesn't feel as effective as pressing on a bench, and Lying Dumbbell Extensions feel murderous on my elbows.

Looking at the exercises, most of the muscles worked on Fridays' exercises are already worked in the last two days. I want to know, what is the progression in mind with these exercises. Is it still effective to just alternate between exercises 1 and 2?

I have had a knee injury a few months ago, and I weigh 210 lbs. I used to weigh 280 lbs, and I'm still looking to lose more weight, but I want to build strength as well so that I can handle my weight better and burn it faster.

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Posted Sat, 01/23/2016 - 22:30

Hey man i workout at night and have been following your routine. I slam my shake after my workout but was curious about my carb intake for my post workout meal(which is about an hour before i sleep). So far its eggs spinach and cottage cheese. Any harm in adding beans or oatmeal before bed to the meal or is it a better idea to add more carbs during daytime? Keeping in mind my carb intake isnt as high as it should be.

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Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 10:19


Post workout is the ideal time to replenish glycogen storage and consume carbohydrates. I would definitely recommend taking in some carbs before going to sleep.

Carb timing is highly individual and context dependent - age, gender, training frequency/duration/experience, insulin sensitivity, genetic factors, and lean body mass all play a significant role. If you notice yourself getting sleepy after a higher carb meal at certain times during the day (breakfast for example) then it may be worthwhile to play around with a different macro nutrient composition in order to enhance your energy levels.

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Posted Sat, 12/19/2015 - 01:24
Aray V

Does anyone see the issue with working out 9 exercises (6 Mon exercises and 3 Tue exercises) on day one (e.g. on Monday), then taking a day off and continuing with remaining 9 exercises (that is, 2nd half on Tue exercises and Fri exercises), e.g. on Tuesday. Essentially, I am looking for completing the entire workout in 2 days then on day 4 starting over.

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Posted Tue, 12/15/2015 - 19:16
Mike Mayers

Hi I have been lifting dumbbells for a total of 2 and a half month. Started from 6 kg and now I lift 13kg. The routine I have been using this far wasn't really difficult. But now I am really bored and want to give this a try. So I have few questions.
Do I use the same weight for every exercise?
I tried not to gain any weight, only muscles but still gained 1.5 kgs. If I do cardio and eat as much as I want, will it affect my gains in any bad way?
Also, how much time between each set?

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Posted Fri, 12/04/2015 - 10:49
Luis Castillo

Maybe a stupid question but i am new to this...should i perform 3 sets of each exercise without rest? Or is it a recommended resting time between each set? Also,How much resting time between exercise? Or is it a recommended resting time between each set? Thanks in advance

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 12/07/2015 - 09:45

Hey Luis,
If you're just starting out then it might be wiser to start with 2 sets of each exercise in order to ease yourself into things.

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Posted Fri, 12/04/2015 - 09:50
Luis Castillo

Hello. Thanks for the article. I am seriously considering to give it a try. However i have some questions. I am a 36 year old ectomorph body type and i want to add some muscles. Will this work out help me? Also i have been practicing Yoga for more that 1 year so far and i really like it..do you think it will be a good idea to do yoga 3 times a week and this routine 3 times a week? With 1 day of rest? Also, would you recommend any type of cardio? Considering my ectomorph body type? Thanks a lot in advance. Looking forward to hearing from you

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Posted Wed, 12/02/2015 - 00:18

Hello, Thanks for a Really helpful article...
I wish to start Dumbbell and Barbell exercises at home but don't have a space for putting a bench.
Can you suggest a routine which substitutes workout involving use of bench to other ones?

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Posted Thu, 11/26/2015 - 07:26
Jim b

What about adaptation/plateaus? do i need to alternate this routine with a different one every couple months and do you have an alternate dumbell routine if thats needed?

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Posted Tue, 11/24/2015 - 02:57
Rudy da Costa

I can do most of the exercises except for the Dumbbell Step Up, Standing One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise Dumbbell Lunge, Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift and the Wide Grip Pull Up. The reason i can't do those 8 exercises is that I have Spina bifida and have balance issues. Can I substitute these exercises?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:11


You can certainly substitute those exercises but I would consult with a professional regarding the Spina Bifida issue as that is definitely outside of my scope of practice.

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Posted Thu, 11/19/2015 - 12:57

Wide grip pull up in a "Dumb bell only workout"?! How does that worrk, then?

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Posted Tue, 11/10/2015 - 19:04

Hi I'm trying to bulk up. But I also play soccer so it's hard for me to gain muscle. I'm suprisingly strong for how skinny I am. I'm 6 ft and 151 lbs. should I follow this workout and add whey protein to my diet. Also what kind of food should I eat??

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Posted Fri, 12/18/2015 - 14:54

Jay, you need to become a boxer. With your height and a relatively light weight, you would have a reach advantage over most opponents.

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Posted Wed, 11/04/2015 - 15:02

What exercises i can use a barbell instead? I cant find any other programs for 'beginner' training level with only barbell and dumbbells.

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Posted Wed, 11/11/2015 - 09:36
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Posted Mon, 10/26/2015 - 04:03

Is it okay to do this twice every monday-wednesday-friday ?

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Posted Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:43

No. The last paragraph it states "Do not add additional exercises into this workout." That includes doubling up on exercises. You can add cardio, though.

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Posted Thu, 10/15/2015 - 21:40

It's hard for me to gain muscle/weight so should I stay with less reps it what should I do?

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Posted Mon, 08/17/2015 - 04:50
Yahya Farooq

I have weaker upper body and legs but have fat on my tummy. I am just starting out exercise and I am 31. Can you kindly guide as to how I can increase muscle and reduce tummy simultaneously. Also, can you advice on any additional exercise for lower back as I have a weaker lower back. Thanks

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Posted Tue, 08/23/2016 - 23:44

If you have a weak lower back then do body weight exercises to start before moving on to weights. Try flutter kicks or leg lifts on your back. Lay on the ground, legs straight, heels off the ground about a foot, and then flutter kick up and down.

You can not choose where you lose weight on your body, and unfortunately the stomach is the last place to go for males. Please do not do a million sit-ups, it will make your abs bigger but it will not make you lose stomach fat. If you want to increase muscle and lose fat around your stomach area, I suggest you choose a weight lifting routine that focuses on around 10-15 reps most exercises and then incorporate some HIIT training. Just google HIIT and you will see plenty of examples. You will also need to really focus on diet to lose enough fat so that your stomach can then begin to be a focus. Try low carbs and high protein. Add more fish, chicken, turkey and eat less bread, pastas, pizza, etc. Don't eat too late and close to bed time, drink a ton of water.

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Posted Sun, 08/16/2015 - 14:18
Muhammad Salman

Hey there

I had started goig to gym and i had became consistent , but after 3 months i got busy in studies and couldnt keep up. I had started gaining weight, from 45 i had raised to 51 kg, I am now at the same weight but i have lost muscle form.
Can you please recommend a routine and diet for me ?

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Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 09:52

I want to add wrist curls to this workout. On how many days should I do those? And is it wise to do wrist curls and reversed wrist curls on the same day? Thanks!

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Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 15:40

I have started following this program in the evenings of Mon, Wed and Friday and run 2 miles the remaining days - Sun, Tue, Thus and Sat. In addition, I am also doing Focus T25 every morning for 6 days a week.

I am kind of beginner to intermediate. I consider myself 50% fit. I am 5'6" with 168lbs. Do you think it is intense or can this be done without any side effects? Please suggest me.

Thank you