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
Beginner
3
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.

Monday
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
Wednesday
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
Friday
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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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

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 13:09
Steven

Hi Bryn,

As long as you train hard and eat correctly, you will achieve your goals. In the weight room, using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight. As far as diet, here are a couple articles that will help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Posted Mon, 10/04/2010 - 12:30
eric

hi steve! i am 22 years old and quite a medium built. I'm toning my muscles lifting weights. But i have this problem, im the eldest and my dad wants me to share with him a few beers.. I really cant avoid it because of my dad.. Is this really bad for me lifting? and belly is starting to build.. hat should i do? thanks..

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 13:07
Steven

Hi Eric,

A few beers a week isn't necessarily bad. If you are concerned about fat, it's more important to watch your overall daily calorie intake.

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Posted Sat, 10/02/2010 - 21:04
Johann

Thanks for all the help. I'm sorry I have more questions though. I really want to learn more.

1) I am trying to lose weight and eventually grow muscle. I currently am taking 3 supplements (protein shake, weight gainer / fast carbs & creatine). I'm getting various opinions on when & which to take pre & post work out. What's your opinion on this? Which should I stack before & after?

2) What's the logic of doing cardio after this routine? I've been doing a 10 minute run before I do this to get my heart pumping & ready. What's better then?

Thank you again. Your site is awesome! Good on you for helping people out.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 13:05
Steven

Hi Johann,

1) Whey protein is best used first thing in the morning and post workout. Casein protein is best used in between meals and before bed. Weight gainers can be taken in between breakfast, lunch and dinner. For creatine, take 5 grams 30 minutes prior to lifting, and again post workout.

2) You can do some cardio prior to lifting as a warmup...just make sure it's low intensity and not physically taxing. Extended cardio, or cardio for general health, is best performed post-workout. If muscle building is a goal, always save most of your energy for the weight room.

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Posted Thu, 09/30/2010 - 12:51
William

Hi im 5.8" and weigh about 160 pounds i have a bit of a gut that i would like to get rid of but im also interested in muscle gains basically is there any way to gain weight in muscle while still losing the gut what would you suggest

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 13:01
Steven

Hi William,

It is difficult to gain muscle while losing fat, but with that said, some beginners can do both. Train hard using a program like this, and check out these diet articles:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 21:37
micah

if you want to get big biceps get the shake wieght

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/28/2010 - 15:16
Louis

First, thanks for the workout. I have been doing it for 8 weeks now and I seem good results.

I have a few questions but le me give you some background info first.

From what I have picked on the different site, I have an ectomorph frame (7 inch wrist, don’t sleep much, not naturally strong,…). Through years of doing no activity whatsoever and having the worst possible diet, I had managed to get to 6 foot tall, 212 pounds, 26% body fat.

End of June this year, I decided that it was enough and that I needed get in shape before I turned 40 in November.

With disorganised dieting (cutting liquid calories and fried stuff) and a little bit of mistmatch weight training, I went from 212 to 180 pounds and 21% body fat in two months. I was looking better but still had a lot of belly flab.

Mid august I decided to get serious and started digging up info with the goal of getting an athletic figure with visible abs muscles. I was at that time that I started this weight training program.

During the 8 week I’ve been doing this stuff I’ve progress more of less 10 ponds on every exercise in the list (ex biceps curl from 8 rep at 25 pounds to 6 rep at 35 pounds). I’ve also gone down to 172 pound with 18.5% body fat. I still have belly flab.

After a while I’ve noticed that 1800-2000 calories a day are what is giving me best results for fat loss so that’s what I’m aiming for 5 days a week (weekend is around 2200 because of family diners and stuff).

Now for my questions

1- I seem to be getting stronger but I’m not seeing real gain in lean body mass. Is it normal ?

2- Since my primary goal is a lean body and flat belly, am I using the right approach?

3- The one exercise where I really have a hard time is the wide grip pull ups. I really want to be able to do them but I just can’t do one. For the time being I’m doing negative in order to build the strength to do my first one. I can do 3 sets of 6 negative. I can only lift myself about 60% of the way doing a normal one after 8 weeks of doing negatives. Is there a good way to build strength for that specific exercise?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:43
Steven

Hi Louis,

1) It's normal for many to not gain muscle while cutting fat. You generally won't see muscle gains until you start eating more normally.
2) You are pushing yourself in the weight room, which is a big key. Also make sure you are eating enough daily protein - about 30 to 40 grams every 2.5 to 3 hours.
3) Here is an article that might help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-increase-wide-grip-chi...

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Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 14:37
Elliott

Hi,

Sorry if this has already been asked but I was wondering if there are any diet plans for this routine?

Many Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 15:37
Steven

Hi Elliott,

What is your primary goal...to build muscle or drop fat?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 13:17
paul

hi steve, i am 41 5ft 11 and 19st12lbs is this a good workout for me, i want to lose weight and build muscle, i am fairly strong and have big biceps and forearms due to my past job as a fencer/flagger (fence erector and flg stone layer) i packed it up and went on the taxi's for two and a half years and went from 17st and quite solid to 20st of fat. i have lost confidence and feel like crap, ive just started a new job as a mental health support worker and i work shifts, ie, 8am to 2pm or 3pm to 10pm or 3pm to 10pm + a sleep then 8am to 3pm, and i work around 50 to 60 hours per week, and my diet is up the wall.any advice would be great as i am desperate to turn my life around.
thanks
paul.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 15:47
Steven

Hi Paul,

There are 2 simple keys...

1) Keep it simple, and work hard on basic exercises. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Nail down your eating. I would eat around 2200 to 2500 calories per day, and make a goal to lose about 2 pounds per week. Adjust your calories to hit this goal. Also, make sure you eat about 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. Here are some articles you should take a look at:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

If you eat right and train hard you can make incredible progress. Most guys fail because they try to do too much in the gym, and eat poorly. Train hard 3 days a week, eat correctly, and you will reach your goals in no time.

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Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 10:33
Cindy

How much protein should a woman take every 2.5 -3 hours? I assume your recommendation of 30-40g applies to men only?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:21
Steven

Hi Cindy,

For women I suggest 20 to 30 grams every 2.5 to 3 hours. This is a broad range - about 100 to 180 grams per day. Most women don't need much over 100 to 120 grams, but some women have a harder time losing weight eating too many carbs. In this case it is better to eat more protein then carbs.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 08:31
George

Should I do all reps of an exercise before moving to the next one in the routine, or do I do one rep of each and then move back to the beginning? TIA.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:19
Steven

Hi George,

Yes, it is best to perform all sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 05:47
Svetlana

The workout is for people with only dumbbells at home, yet there is an exercise needing a bar for pull-ups?

Is there a different exercise that can be performed in place of this one not requiring additional equipment?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:17
Steven

Hi Svetlana,

You can perform bent over two arm dumbbell rows.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/23/2010 - 09:51
Marcel

Hi,

i started with this work out for two weeks now, I included skipping rope as a cardio excercise before the work out.is this okay?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/23/2010 - 14:47
Steven

Hi Marcel,

It is better to perform cardio after lifting.

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Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 15:22
Bill

Steve, if I am doing this routine for cutting, should I expect to be increasing the amount of weight I lift over the course of a few months?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/23/2010 - 14:46
Steven

Bi Bill,

Many can increase strength while cutting, and some have problems and will lose a bit of strength. I can't say for certain you will or won't lose strength, but you should keep pushing yourself at all times.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 12:33
KC

How long do you rest between each set.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 13:17
Steven

Hi KC,

About 90 to 120 seconds.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 13:26
KC

Would this workout or the Frankoman's Dumbbell Only Split be better for muscle building. Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/23/2010 - 14:44
Steven

Hi KC,

Both are quality workouts. I would sue the one that most motivates you to train.

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Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 15:35
Johann

This work out is awesome, Steve! I've been doing it for just 1 1/2 months now and I'm already seeing results. Thank you!

Just another question though. I only have a few plates for my dumbbells and based on what I can do, I have only been able to add 2.5 lbs from one set to the next in most exercises. I think you recommended somewhere that a 5 lb increase from set to set is ideal. Is it still ok if I keep it this low?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 11:05
Steven

Hi Johann,

Any increase is a good increase. It's ok to be slow and steady. All progress is good progress.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 12:57
Brad

Hi Steve

Im 5ft 6 about 10 Stone, I have started training for the past couple of weeks could you please give me some advice on how to keep my calorie count high enough, I generally eat 3 meals a day and only snack on fruit and ceral bars, im looking to get rid of the love handles and tone up, would you advise protein shakes

Thanks

Brad

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 13:47
Steven

Hi Brad,

I recommend checking out the following articles. They will help you to eat properly:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-to-gaining-m...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

Whey protein shakes are good first thing in the morning, and post-workout. Casein is good in between meals, and right before bed.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 12:01
brenda

hi steve. what can i do in place of the wide grip pull up as i don't have a pull up bar?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 12:21
Steven

Hi Brenda,

You could perform a bent over two arm dumbbell raise.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 02:59
robert

hi,steve I started the work out about two weeks ago and have lost some weight. I went from 202 lbs to 190 but i dont eat during the day just at night.should I up my protein at night or just stick to a regular meal.im on a high protein low carb diet cause i also want to lose fat.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 08:43
Steven
No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 02:59
Drew

Hi, hoping you can help me get an informed start.... I'm a 34 yr old male, 5'7, 180 pounds. I have a good knowledge of diet and nutrition, and stick to it well. Whenever I start an excerise program/routine, I get demotivated and stop because I feel like I'm not working out the right way.

My goals are to get rid of the excess weight around my stomach, love handles, and the dreaded "man boobs" have started to form. I'd also like gain some muscle and tone my arms, shoulders, and chest. For now, I don't want to pack on lots of mass nor do I need ripped abs or a perfect beachbody. I just want to lose weight, gain some muscle, and wear t-shirts without worrying about my chest or stomach looking flabby in them.

1. I only have 3 days a week to workout (1 hour per workout), what sample workout routine would you recommend?
2. What should my daily calorie intake be with this sample workout?
3. What would you recommend for my protein intake?
4. Can I always eat protein bars instead of protein powder.....should I worry about the added calories in protein bars?

Sorry for the long message post.....thanks for your help!

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 14:41
Steven

Hi Drew,

1) There are many good choices. Quite frankly for a home-based workout, this one is great. Results are all about diet and effort. Since you have a solid diet, you just need to get the proper effort down. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2-3) As far as diet and protein, check out this article. It might help with the fat loss:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

4) Overall calories counts more. If bars are convenient, I would use them.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/17/2010 - 12:17
Tom

Great guide,
Just one question I have a set of dumbells that max 15kg on each, would it be best to buy more weight to add on or should I just add more reps per set?
Thanks.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/17/2010 - 13:30
Steven

Hi Tom,

You will need more weight. Muscle building requires, in some form, progressively greater challenges. It will be hard to make gains you want with 15kg.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 09/18/2010 - 10:27
Tom

Oh right Thanks,
where would be the best place for me to get some weights for a good price that ain't to wide that they take up too much room on the bar?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 14:37
Steven

Hi Tom,

I purchased some adjustable dumbbells and plates at my local Wal-mart for a very low cost.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/15/2010 - 17:34
Gerald

Hi im just wondering what's the best way for me to gain muscle or even tone ma body.im 20 years old and about 5,7 iv only recently started working out with dumbbells as i want to look better than i do. im rather skinny in the arms and such but have a little podgy belly witch id like to get rid of so any help would be appreciated thanks.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 10:02
Steven

Hi Gerald,

It can be very difficult to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I would recommend training hard with the weights for 2-3 months while trying a bodybuilding-style cutting diet. After the diet is done, you could work on muscle building. Here are a couple articles I recommend:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/15/2010 - 16:22
a dude

hi steve, im a 15yro and want to start building muscle. i already have some muscles build like i have the 4 upper abs and bit of biceps but i want to start weight lifting, should i do these routines ? or should i start with a softer routine?.

BTW. i weight around 130-135 LB what weight(dumbells) should i buy?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 10:00
Steven

Hi Dude,

This routine is a solid choice. I recommend purchasing an adjustable dumbbell set which allows you to change weights. Stores like Wal-mart sell adjustable handles and plates at a low cost.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/14/2010 - 16:22
Bill

Steve, if I do this routine for cutting, would you still recommend having a protein shake? I am 39 yrs old, 6 foot, 210 lbs with a thin frame, but I have a gut. My diet consists of about 180g of protein a day. If I am trying to cut, it seems pointless to take in more protein...do you agree?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 09:59
Steven

Hi BIll,

Proper protein intake is essential while cutting fat. protein is the most thermogenic of macronturients, meaning that it takes more energy to process protein, making it a natural fat burner. In addition, it's a fairly standard practice to eat fewer carbs while cutting fat. Here is an article that might help. Let me know if you have any questions.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/14/2010 - 15:23
Rob

Hi Steve,
Been doing this for about 6 wks now and have maxed out my dumbbells on many exercises and cannot afford new ones right now. Is it acceptable in this instance to add a 4 set or will that help? BTW seen good muscle gain and weight loss on this plan as well as watching what I eat.

Thanks,
Rob

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 09:57
Steven

Hi Rob,

Before adding sets, I might recommend that you start dropping the rest between sets. Say to 60 seconds. Then down to 50, 40, 30...as things become easier. At this point, if a weight is easy, you could turn the negative aspect of the lift into a challenge by taking 4-5-6 seconds to lower the weight before you lift it again.