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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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 Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:40
Steven

Hi John,

It's most likely your diet. An improved diet will really help. Check out the following articles. A poor diet will limit muscle gains.

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

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

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Posted Tue, 10/12/2010 - 05:29
nowshad

hi steve, i hav a question.............can i change the schedule to tuesday,thurusday and saturday? by the way thanks a lot for short tips :)

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:37
Steven

Hi Nowshad,

Absolutely! Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will work great.

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Posted Mon, 10/11/2010 - 04:04
Kerry

I have recently lost 185lbs. with the help of a bariatric bypass; unfortunately I have become very week, and have very little muscle mass. I can only afford dumbbells at the moment, and need help. My legs are pretty fit from the hiking and other activities I do, but I really need help on my upper body. I have created a work out routine with exercises I've found on Muscle and Strength, but need advice on the number of reps/sets for my routine. I plan on working out 6 days a week with the thought of working each body part every other day. At this point I need endurance, strength, and size. In which order should I proceed, and can you help me by telling me how many reps/sets I should be doing to build up my endurance, strength, and size. I was thinking about starting with my endurance, then moving onto size, and then finally strength. I am just unsure. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Kerry

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:35
Steven

Hi Kerry,

First, I wouldn't recommend working out with weights 6 days per week if strength and muscle are your goals. Stick to a 3-4 day muscle building workout, like the ones on M&S. For natural lifters, 3-4 days per week is plenty. For sets/reps, I would stick with 3 sets of 5 to 12 reps for compound movements.

Regarding your program/routine, I would post it up in the forum. You will get some quality feedback on what to change to help you reach your goals.

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/

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Posted Sat, 10/16/2010 - 01:12
Kerry

Thanks Steve,

I had a feeling that I was pushing it with 6 days a week. I will post my routine to get some feedback. One question that I didn't ask was whether not it was okay to do sit-ups and push-ups every night - including the nights when I lift? I don't want to contradict or hinder what I'm getting from lifting the weights.

Thank Again,
Kerry

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Posted Sun, 10/10/2010 - 10:27
Sharib

Hi, Im Sharib, I am 16 vears old.
My height is 5.10 and I am 151 pound. I am a little flabby and wanted some exercise.. Is it a good routine for me? Should i do some warm up before starting? If yes, then which exercises should i do for warm up?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:33
Steven

Hi Sharib,

This workout is a great choice. For workouts, perform 2-3 warmup sets using moderate weight and reps prior to starting heavy, taxing lifts. For smaller lifts, and once warmed up, you generally only need one lighter, non-taxing warmup set.

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Posted Thu, 10/07/2010 - 13:09
Dave

How long should I rest in between sets? Can anyone tell me how good your progression is using this workout, thnx. Day 1 on this routine is starting for me today..

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/07/2010 - 14:43
Steven

Hi Dave,

Rest about 90 to 120 seconds between sets, and a little longer if need be for very heavy, taxing sets.

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Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 14:15
Harold

How do you feel about working the entire upper body in one workout and legs the next workout. This is what I do currently with a full 2 days rest in between the upper body workout. Would this progrma work with that kind of routine?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/07/2010 - 14:43
Steven

Hi Harold,

That can be a solid approach depending on the exercise choice and total sets. For this workout you could do:

Day 1: Upper
Day 2: Lower
Day 3: Rest

and then repeat...

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Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 22:06
abel garcia

any cardio? I like run

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/07/2010 - 14:41
Steven

Hi Abel,

You can perform cardio 3-5 times per week based on your goals.

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Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 18:09
sportschica76

Hi steve,
I read some of the earlier comments on the very first page and you said that for this workout, ideally, if I will not be taking any supplements, the daily intake of protein should be about 200 to 300 grams, or 30 to 40 grams every 3 hours. I am a female, 90 pounds, 56 inches...what is the recommended amount of protein for me, although I would like to lose fat (my BMI is quite high although I am not chubby) and build muscle, I am more interested in gaining strength? I like this work out because I only have access to dumbbells.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/07/2010 - 14:40
Steven

Hi SC,

I recommend that men take 30 to 40 grams every 2.5 to 3 waking hours, so that is roughly 150 to 240 grams per day. For women I recommend about 20 grams every 2.5 to 3 hours, which is about 100 to 120 grams per day.

You can gain quite a bit of strength using only dumbbells.

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Posted Mon, 10/04/2010 - 12:42
Bryn

Hi i had access to a gym for 6 months.
i put on a stone as i eat at set times etc and had a protein shake now and again
ive beewn home for a few weeks now and have had a monday wednesday and friday routine but feel like i have lost weight. and look slimmer.

i basically want at the end of the day larger biceps wider shoulders, visible pecs ((abs but not a must)and too look bulky.
i only have my dumbells. (barbell aswell)
But will this give me the results i want while taking usn anabolic(no protein taken atm)

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-...

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Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 21:37
micah

if you want to get big biceps get the shake wieght

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?