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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1.7K Comments+ Post Comment

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:26
Steven

Hi Steven,

Most hardgainers aren't hardgainers at all...they are undertraining and undereating. Results come from 2 things:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to build muscle. Here are some articles that can help:

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

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

If you don't do both of these, you won't see results.

If you truly are an ectomorph then a fullbody workout is worth a try. Many ectomorphs gain with fewer sets but a greater training frequency. As far as supplements, check out this article:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/prioritize-your-supplement-pu...

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Posted Thu, 01/06/2011 - 14:11
Steven

Okay thanks, do you have an idea of how frequent an ectomorph workout at the gym is meant to be? (how many days a week)?

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Posted Thu, 11/25/2010 - 07:08
Nick

Is there anything I can do to stop my shoulders/elbows clicking when doing exercises such as the seated shoulder press etc. I can do the exercise, but the clicking does make it quite uncomfortable sometimes.

Nice workout - just need to get more weights now, can't fit more than 20kg on my dumbells (stupid vinyl weights)

Nick

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 11/25/2010 - 07:52
Steven

Hi Nick,

I'm not aware of anything you can do for the clicking. You may want to ask this question on the forum:

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

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Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 14:55
ebro

i do wrestling 5 days a week so should this workout with that be good? im pretty cut and i feel like it'd ad a little more strength just to keep up with my muscle maintenance and also because i cant be working that hard both during and after practice

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 11/25/2010 - 07:51
Steven

Hi Ebro,

This workout will work well with wrestling. It will help you add some strength.

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Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 07:47
Steven Davidson

Hey man,

Great workout. I am going to start this tonight. I only have a set of 19kg Dumbbells though, is this enough? What weights should i be using for each rep?

Also - looking to increase protein intake, what cheap, quick to make meals do you recommend? I have whey protein, how often should i be drinking the shakes per day?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 08:16
Steven

Hi Steven,

That will probably not be enough weight. The body requires progressive resistance for building muscle, and when it's not challenged, it won't have much incentive to add muscle. I suggest looking for adjustable dumbbell handles at Wal-mart, and standard 10 pound plates. They are relatively inexpensive.

As far as protein intake, check out this article for some inexpensive and tasty ideas:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/a-guide-to-muscle-building-an...

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Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 09:24
Steven Davidson

They are adjustable dumbbells, could i just buy plates and add them onto the bar?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 13:34
Steven

Absolutely. 5 and 10 pound plates are relatively inexpensive.

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Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 01:26
Vin

Hi Steve,

I've been doing this workout for about 3 months now and I've been making great gains! Thanks so much for posting it. At this point I would like to change it up a bit and emphasis my chest and biceps a bit more now. Would it be okay to mix and match this with the Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split? Here's what I was thinking:

Mon

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Flys 3 12
Dumbbell Lunge 3 6-12
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 6-12
One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 10-20
Dumbbell Side Bends 3 10-15

Wed

Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 10
Standing Dumbbell Curl 3 10
Cross Body Hammer Curl 2 10
Dumbbell Squat 3 6-12
Wide Grip Pull Up 3 6-12
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 6-12
Sit Up 3 10-25

Fri

Dumbbell Step Up 3 6-12
Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 6-12
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 6-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 10-15
Lying Dumbbell Extension 3 6-12
Lying Floor Leg Raise 3 10-25

Would this work okay you think? I'd appreciate any feedback.

Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 07:34
Steven

Hi Vin,

Your workout looks solid. best of luck!

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Posted Tue, 11/23/2010 - 23:19
andrew

steve

could i use this program but change it to 5 sets of 6 for strength?

will i gain muscle through strenth training?

i dont have a barbell thats why i jave to have a dumbell only one cant afford one yrt payed monthly christmas kids etc lol

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/24/2010 - 07:33
Steven

Hi Andrew,

I would recommend using 5 sets for every exercise. That would be too much volume. You are better off using 3 sets of 5-8 for most exercises. And yes, you will gain muscle though strength training - but you need to eat properly.

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Posted Mon, 11/22/2010 - 11:20
josh

Hi steve I was reading on other site that 400mg of caffeine would restrict muscle gain. I looked at my pre workout supplement n.o. amplified loaded and it has the same. If that's not good what do you recommend for a starter? If been doing your routine for 2 weeks and im loving the results so far just want the best for muscle gain.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/22/2010 - 11:29
Steven

Josh,

400 mgs of caffeine won't restrict muscle gain. You will find that some pre-workout supplements work better for you, and some better for others. My best advice is to try a few and see which you like best. I might suggest Scivation Quake 10.0, 1.M.R., Jack3d or Muscle Marinade.

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Posted Mon, 11/22/2010 - 10:48
Greg

Hi Steve,

Great workout, I did my first week and i like it a lot. I have very limited time to workout, about 30min at 12:30PM and I noticed that it's not enough to complete the whole workout. Since i also have two 15min breaks at 10AM and 3PM, Should I split the workout, let's say do the first excersize at 10AM, then the next three at 12:30 and the rest at 3PM, or should i reduce the number of reps to two?
I'm also considering doing my abs on rest days (Tuesday, Thursday)
Also, is 1.5 min rest between sets enough?

What would you recommend?
Thank You in advance,

Greg.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/22/2010 - 11:33
Steven

Hi Greg,

I would rather see you drop the sets to 2 per exercise.

As far as rest, aim for 60 to 90 seconds between most sets.

Abs on rest day works.

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Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 17:23
Mike

hello me again- (sorry) tried the monday workout and everything was fine, except legs- my upper body is used to the weight but i don't think my legs are- quite a bit stiff sitting down which is what i remember my arms once feeling like when i used to over-do weight or reps. question is- do they just need getting used to the exercise or do i need to down the weight of the dumbells? they felt fine whilst doing just a bit of a burn but no real discomfort.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 08:50
Steven

Hi Mike,

Don't drop the weight. Light weight won't lead to muscle growth. It may take weeks for your body to be conditioned to this workout, but the soreness - that's a constant. Muscle soreness is always a result of hard training. Here's my best advice - using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

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Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 17:59
Andrew

I've noticed that some beginner workouts have you do full body 3x per week (like this one) while others have you do split workouts i.e. back/biceps, chest/triceps, shoulders/legs (Frankoman's dumbbell only split). Is there really a difference or would they both be just as effective as the other?
Thank You in Advance.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:35
Steven

Hi Andrew,

Hardgainers tend to respond better to lower volume and greater frequency, aka full body workouts. I recommend starting with a full body for 2-3 months if you can. Then if you find you are making good gains, you can either stick on the program or try a split. Some hardgainers make the mistake of training too much too soon on split programs.

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Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 16:16
Phill

Hi , i have 3 meals a day and my question is , is it ok to have a cereal bar/chocolate in the day? i am not concerned about fat but is it better to have the extra calories than none at all? thanks :)

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:33
Steven

Hi Phil,

A small treat or two each day isn't a bad thing. As far as diet, you will want to make sure your meal;s are structured properly to maximize muscle gain. Here are some articles that can help:

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 Mon, 11/15/2010 - 11:06
ERB

I just started this program last week. So far great. I do have a couple questions though.

1. I'm currently cutting my calories for weight loss, but eating healthy food choices. I also use a good whey protein supplement post workout in addition to good food choices to aid in muscle recovery. Even with a smaller calorie intake, should I see cutting/toning results since I'm eating fewer calories than required to maintain my current weight?

2. Since this a full body workout and set up to go 3x's a week, every other day, is one day of rest really enough for the same muscle groups to be worked again. If I'm still sore after my Friday workout, is it okay to go on with Monday's workout? I'm sore, but not uncomfortable.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:32
Steven

Hi ERB,

1) It's very hard to add muscle while cutting fat. But with that said, you will start to look more defined which will make your muscles look bigger.

2) One day of rest is fine between full body workouts because they do not have the immense daily volume per bodypart that splits have. Training with soreness is ok.

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Posted Sun, 11/14/2010 - 16:25
Danny

Im thinking of starting this routine..And also when i start it i will start on the loading dose of creatine and will also be taking whey protein supplements...Roughly how long till i will see results using this routine ?? Also it says monday-wednesday-friday...could i then do sunday-tuesday-thursday and so on or just stick to mon-wed-fri ??...Thanks Dan.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:29
Steven

Hi Danny,

A beginner who trains hard and eats right can make very fast gains gains the first three to 6 months of lifting. You could possible gain 10 pounds of muscle during this time, which is quite substantial.

You could use this workout Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

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Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 22:19
josh

How long do you take between sets in one exercise, and from one to the other. Also are you saying not to do cardio on days off?

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 11/14/2010 - 09:34
Steven

Hi Josh,

Rest about 90 to 120 seconds between sets.

Cardio can be perform several times per week - first thing in the morning, on off days, or post-workout.

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Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 08:03
Patrick

Hi Steve
I want to pack on size but am kind of the skinny would this still allow me to gain muscle?
Another question I have heard that to build size and raise your testosterone level you should do compound exercises is that true?

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 08:44
Steven

Hi Patrick,

This is a good muscle building workout. Compound exercises are king! Squats, deadlifts, bench press, dips, pullups, rows, overhead presses, etc.

Keep in mind that a workout alone won't allow you to build muscle. You also need to eat correctly. Here are some articles that can help:

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 Fri, 11/12/2010 - 20:59
Jason

Hello Steve,
My name is Jason. What is the best workout routine??? I've been getting into working out since last year and I'm still trying different things while still learning. Here's the gear i have; a jump rope, dumbells(weights not a problem), an straight weight bench bar.
Here's the exercise's I've been doing; jump rope for 10 minutes, gorilla bar lift where i lift bar up above head & lower behind back & up again & then forward in front of chest,6 inch leg lift's while i hold leg's off ground for 1 minute, dumbell curl's while standing up, dumbell knee bends military style, sit up's; the way i do sit up's is i come up straight back down then as i come back up i lean to my right then back down & up straight again & then as I'm coming back up this time i lean to my left, dumbell laydown press on floor, push up's normal/with dumbells.
Mainly i work out 3 time's a week , but as of now i do a.m. and p.m. work outs. Does working out every day mean better or worse? Which is the best well-rounded work out routine for me? I try yo exercise and work out every aspect of my body , so i could realy use your help and advice Steve on routines, exercises, and work out schedule. My email is jasonshadow_forever_18@yahoo.com
Thank You,
Jason

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 08:42
Steven

Hi Jason,

There is no best workout routine. What are your goals? Are they primarily to build muscle?

Working out with weights every day is not good for a beginner. You should limit your weight training to 3 days per week for a while.

Let me know your goals and I'll help...

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Posted Sun, 11/14/2010 - 18:36
Jason

Well Steve, my goals are to work out every aspect of my body. I want to gain muscle mass mainly. I want to build muscle and get those rock hard abs. The kind of shape i want to be in? I want to be around 165-180 pounds, but built with lean muscle not like an 250 pound body building but rather somebody who looks like an MMA fighter. I drink protein shakes that has 65 grams of protein with every scoop. In the A.M. work out i eat oatmeal as it is and in the P.M. i ear tuna fish before i work out. Those are the foods I've been eating before work outs.
Thank You Again,
Jason

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:26
Steven

Hi Jason,

Keep in mind that natural bodybuilders who are ripped are around 160-180 pounds, so to hit your goals you will have to train like a bodybuilder. Only steroid users get bigger than that and stay ripped.

I would suggest starting with this routine, or a beginner's workout for 2-3 months:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3day-beginners-workout.html

Regarding eating, check out these two articles:

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 Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:34
Jason

Thank you so much for your advice & help Steve. Yea, that's the body type i want is around 160-180 pounds, mostly lean muscle or what not. i'll try it 3 day's a week and 2 time's on those 3 day's as an A.M. & P.M. work out.

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Posted Fri, 11/12/2010 - 03:53
Mike

hey steve i'm just wondering how its best to split up my time?
i work 13 hour shifts so 1 week its just a half day tuesday and then thursday but then gets reversed so i only get 2 days off in 7 days. i have found trying to fit exercise evenly around the 2 weeks difficult. would i benifit as much by doing monday, rest tues, wednesday, rest thurs, friday, rest sat, sunday, and then together on wednesday and thursday the following week?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:04
Steven

Hi Mike,

I might suggest this 2 day workout:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/2-day-simple-ab-split-by-stev...

It is very effective, and could simply be run on alternating days that you have available.

As far as the 3 day, the first week is fine but the second week would have you doing 2 full body workouts on back to back days which is a bit too much.

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 08:40
Steven

Hi Mike,

I don't think that's too much of a gap. I think it will work well.

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Posted Fri, 11/12/2010 - 17:56
Mike

thankyou, last question, if i was to do that first week and then only one day the second week, would my body begin to reject the first week and not really register the second? would this work;

1-monday, 2-wednesday, 3-friday, 1-sunday, 2-thursday 3-monday...

...or is this too much of a gap in between sun-thurs and thurs-mon?

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Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 00:02
James

Just wondering if there's anythign I can replace the dumbell bench press with that doesn't require many weights. Right now I only have an adjustable dumbell set that goes up to 20lb on two bars, or up to 35lb one bar. Its enough for the other exercises but it does nothing at all for the bench press (of course, it's only 40lb). I'm gonna try buy more weight plates or maybe a barbell, but until then, anything you can suggest to replace that exercise?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 07:59
Steven

Hi James,

You could try push ups as a replacement.

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Posted Mon, 11/08/2010 - 09:02
Mike

Nevermind that last comment, I just noticed the pullup exercise in the last day, sorry about that.

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Posted Mon, 11/08/2010 - 08:54
Mike

Hey Steve. Great looking workout. I'm about to start it today when I get home from school. Just a quick question. I have a chin-up bar at home and I'm wondering if there's anything I could replace/add with it, or if it doesn't really add any more dynamic to the workout? Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 11/08/2010 - 03:00
aidan

hi i was just wondering if i could substitute the floor press instead of the bench press as i don't have a bench. does the limited range of motion reap any consequences? thanks in advance, aidan

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 08:44
Steven

Hi Aidan,

The floor press is a great choice. As long as you are pushing yourself, the limit of range of motion won't be an issue.

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Posted Sun, 11/07/2010 - 21:51
Blake

Steve,

I am 5'10 inches 190 lbs 24 years old, a year out of college. I have a gut (overweight) and just quit smoking so I gained a lot of weight from that. I would like to lose about 30-40 lbs and add definition, and gain muscle.

I think this would be a good workout for me correct me if i am wrong. What would be a good timetable to achieve these results, what caloric and protein intake should i consume, and etc should i focus on.

I'm going to Hawaii in February and don't want to look like a slob.

Thanks,

Blake

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 08:43
Steven

Hi Blake,

This workout is a solid choice. To lose 30-40 pounds, and to maximize muscle retention, you will probably need around 4-5 months at most. As fas as diet, check out these 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 Sun, 11/07/2010 - 20:23
Ali Haider

Can I add any forearm exercises in this routine....if yes then what would be the preferable exercises?