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.

1.7K Comments+ Post Comment

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

How many weeks is this?

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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.

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Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 10:44


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.

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Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 12:18

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

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

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Posted Mon, 10/31/2016 - 09:13


Should take about 1 hour to complete.

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

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

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

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

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Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 09:11


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

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

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.

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Posted Mon, 09/26/2016 - 09:28

Hi Sally,

You may benefit from a deload week or active recovery week. A deload week is where you do half the sets of your routine or half the weight you're used to using.

If you are ready to move on to another workout program (although not necessary if you opt to deload for a week), we have several great one's you could try out. Check them out in the link below.


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Posted Fri, 09/30/2016 - 13:14


We have a couple other dumbbell only workouts on the site. I've provided a couple below that you can look at.

Yes, after any extended period of working out your body can always use a deload or active recovery week. This enables them to grow back fast and also allows you a mental break. I try to take one every 8-12 weeks or whenever I feel I need one (could be more or less frequent).

I'd definitely recommend trying to purchase slightly heavier dumbbells if you feel you are too use to the ones you currently use. Your muscles need progressive overload to continue to develop. This can be done either via adding more sets to this workout or (the less time consuming way) performing the lifts with heavier weight.



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Posted Thu, 09/29/2016 - 21:57

Thanks for getting back to me Josh. I love what I've been doing as working out from home using dumbells. I can do deload week then recommence? Do I need to keep increasing weights though right? May need to buy heavier dumbells as mine only go up to 10kg. Are there any other new specific routines for dumbells I could use to mix it up?

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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 Sun, 09/25/2016 - 03:25

Hi Dan,
You want to either fail or nearly fail in the number of reps suggested for the set. So f it says 10-12 reps, then you should choose a weight where you can complete at least 10 reps, but not quite 13. So if you fail on rep 10,11, or 12 then you are just right. If you fail on rep 9, then less weight, if you do rep 12 and know you can do more then add weight. The first set is the tester. Make your best guess, then adjust from there. Write it down so you know what weight to do next set and next time you workout, so you don't have to keep guessing the first set.

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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 Sun, 09/25/2016 - 03:27

You definitely want to rest to allow your muscles (anaerobic system) to recover before the next set. You have to determine the time, usually it is about 45-60 seconds, but can be whatever feels right. I personally like to do aerobic exercises between sets. So, for example, I will bench press my set, then run in place or jump on the eliptical for 45-60 seconds, then do my next set, etc. This gets in some great cardio between sets, but it is tiring.

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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?