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 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 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.

MikeWines's picture
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 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

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:41

you're doing to much cardio if you want to build muscle. muscle takes alot of calories to build, and youre burning most of them off by doing so much cardio and putting yourself in a catabolic state.

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Posted Fri, 07/31/2015 - 18:17

Thank you for your reply. First, I want to lose fat and then build muscle. That's the reason I am focusing more on cardio. My body fat is 20-22%. So what would be the good workout to lose fat? I'm trying to eat healthy below 2200 calories.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 14:38

Lift hard (3-5x/week) and condition some (2-3x/week). Lifting will pay larger dividends in the end due to its influence on metabolic rate and physiological signaling.

You could start with this workout depending upon your goals and what you enjoy but in the end, it really depends.

Remember, consistency and enjoyment are the keys to sustainability.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/31/2015 - 09:25

Yes, that's likely too much volume initially. I would start with strength training 3-4 days per week and maybe 1-2 cardio sessions depending upon your work and social schedule.

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Posted Tue, 07/21/2015 - 22:17

Hi, How if I'm able to go gym only on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Is it good or not to follow this routines ?
The rest days I can running/swimming only. Thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/22/2015 - 09:33

Sure, that's fine provided you're able to maintain consistency within your workouts and your progress doesn't slow.

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Posted Tue, 06/23/2015 - 10:54

The introduction states:

'You MUST eat more then it takes to maintain your bodyweight to pack on muscle mass.'

I'm at fat percentage +/-20% and wanting to get more lean, surely I shouldn't eat more than needed?
(Currently eating lots of veggies, meats, fish, protein, full fat dairy, low carb, whey powder, etc. Aiming at 2000 calories max/day)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 06/24/2015 - 09:57

If your goal is to reduce your body fat percentage then you should be focused on maintaining a caloric deficit. Pick a specific calorie goal, eat there for 2-3 weeks while monitoring your weight, adjust as necessary. Ideally you should be losing around 1% of your bodyweight per week.

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Posted Thu, 06/18/2015 - 13:42

Can this workout be performed as a circuit? Like one exercise after the other with no breaks, until you have completed 3 sets of every excercise?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 06/19/2015 - 09:46

Sure, that's a potential option.

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 15:32

Do you have to do Wednesday's dumbbell step-ups twice, one for the left leg and one for the right, like with Monday's one arm dumbbell rows?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 06/17/2015 - 09:07

Correct. All unilateral exercises require you to complete both sides for each set.

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Posted Mon, 06/08/2015 - 23:59

Has anyone noticed reasonable gains from this program? I started two weeks ago, and I'm noticing small changes but I want to know if this is a solid work out program. Everyone always told me to start with 10/15 if you're a beginner, but when I used those I felt like I was doing nothing so I upped it to 20/25 and that's when the work outs got intense. Although sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough per work out. Don't get me wrong, my arms are always sore after a workout, but other days I feel like "...ok so that's it?"

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Posted Thu, 06/11/2015 - 12:25

If you can do 25 reps, it's time to add more weight.

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Posted Tue, 06/16/2015 - 19:25

Sorry I meant pounds not number of reps

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 06/17/2015 - 09:07

Start with a weight that is challenging for YOU and still allows you to get the prescribed number of reps. Some may start with 10, some may start with 40. All that matters is that it's challenging to you.

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Posted Tue, 06/02/2015 - 03:11

I follow this routine, as said, on MONDAY-WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY. I wish to know what other exercises should I do on TUESDAY-THURSDAY-SATURDAY (& SUNDAY)???

Can I do all the exercises regularly ??

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 06/02/2015 - 09:40

Hey Sam,
I would say you could likely perform this workout in a cyclical fashion 4x a week and add a 5th day of conditioning (hill sprints, sled pushes, loaded carries, etc.) or even low intensity work (walking, hiking, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.) if you were pretty tired from your training.

It would look something like this:
Monday - Workout A
Tuesday - Workout B
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - Workout C
Friday - "Active" Rest (Ideas ^above^)
Saturday - Workout A
Sunday - Rest
Monday - Workout B
Tuesday - Workout C

So on and so forth...Hope that helps.

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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 ?