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 Mon, 10/25/2010 - 09:36
Steven

Hi Charlie,

That workout has potential, but you aren't always hitting the largest muscle groups first (like chest and back), nor is you exercise selection always optimal (bench press is better than pushups).

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Posted Sat, 11/06/2010 - 14:07
charlie

hi steve thanks for ur reply and thanks for the tip :)

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2011 - 23:40
Charlie

Hey, thanks for your reply, I apologise for the lateness. I prefer using dumbells, are there specific exercises I can do to target the main muscle groups with a mixture of body weigh and dumbell exercises?
Thanking you in advance.

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Posted Sat, 10/23/2010 - 18:03
Onur

Hi, do you suggest a specific workout for forearms or is this program enough to build it as well?

Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/25/2010 - 09:31
Steven

Hi Onur,

Most individuals will see an increase in forearm size simply by all the gripping work involved with this routine. I wouldn't rush to add any. Wait about 6 months and see how your forearms respond without direct work.

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Posted Thu, 10/21/2010 - 14:32
mike

im 29y.o. 185 pounds 5-9 med build i want an mma fighter build do you think ths is the right one for me should i use suppliments and what kind?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/22/2010 - 08:16
Steven

Hi Mike,

This workout is a good choice. As far as diet and supplements, check out this article:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/power-muscle-burn-bulking-die...

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Posted Wed, 10/20/2010 - 23:34
Raji

I am, having trouble loosing my stomach. I'm 17 years old, 5'2.5, and weigh 118. I really want to drop to 110, how should I achieve this. I work out 7 days a week

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Posted Wed, 10/20/2010 - 07:56
Daniel

Hi Steve,

This routine looks really and I'm gonna be strarting it. I was just wondering would it be ok to start the routine in the morning around 6am and do card in the gym after I finish work about 5pm? Also throughout the day making sure I eat correctly and healthily.

Thanks.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:26
Steven

Hi Daniel,

Cardio later in the day is a solid choice.

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Posted Mon, 10/18/2010 - 16:29
Jay

Hey I wanted 2 know if playing basketball on tues and thurs would be a problem...I also wanted 2 know the if that's the only weight lifting that's necessarry or if more can b done

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:25
Steven

Hi Jay,

Playing basketball won't impact your gains as long as you are eating properly. As far as the program, I wouldn't add in more volume. This is a full body approach and shouldn't be used more than 3 times per week.

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Posted Mon, 10/18/2010 - 02:40
mitch

hey steve,
i was just wondering how fast my reps should be, should i go around the same passe as the guy in the video is? (if that make sence?)

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/18/2010 - 14:44
Steven

Hi Mitch,

You want to use good form and a controlled speed. Don't focus on speed so much as focusing on completely the rep. As the weight gets heavier it becomes more difficult to use the same speed. Make every effort to lift the weight and complete the rep. This is most important. No need to lift slow on purpose.

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Posted Sat, 10/16/2010 - 02:54
ben

what workout should i switch too after this one to keep my gains up. btw i only have dumbells and a 15 pound barbell

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/18/2010 - 14:42
Steven

Hi ben,

You could try the dumbbell and barbell workout:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/dumbbell-barbell-home-workout...

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Posted Fri, 10/15/2010 - 15:37
Calum

Hi steve, Im 17, weighing approx 64kg and approx 6ft in height. I am desperate to put weight on ansd to gain muscle. Do you think this workout would be best to develop these goals?

Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/18/2010 - 14:40
Steven

Hi Calum,

This workout is a solid choice. You will also want to make sure you are eating properly. A good weight program needs a solid diet. 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 Wed, 10/13/2010 - 01:50
Lestat

Greetings

I am 5'11 and currently 311 pounds, i have lost 50 pounds over the last couple months due to gall bladder issues.

I am told to start a strength training workout to help with the loose skin from further weight loss, i plan to keep this weight loss up but in a more healthy way.

Im currently working on cardio only, i have the DB's already at home of various weights.

Would you recommend this work out to start with, and what weight per DB would you start with?

THank you

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:51
Steven

Hi Lestat,

You want to take a month or two and practice good form while slowly increasing the weight. Over time you will start to understand which exercises are easy and need more weight.

At some point you will need to start pushing yourself so that you maximize muscle retention as you loose weight. 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 Wed, 10/13/2010 - 01:21
xavier

how heavy should my dumbbells be?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:49
Steven

Hi Xavier,

As heavy as possible, if muscle mass is your goal. 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 Wed, 10/13/2010 - 01:07
mitch

im 16 and ben using dumbbell wieght of around 17-24 lb depending on the exercise, is this not enough? if not how heavy should i go? and i have also been running around 5km before hand, is this appropriate?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:49
Steven

Hi Mitch,

If your goal is to gain muscle, you need to constantly challenge yourself. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

The weight you have will prevent you from making any substantial progress. I would either purchase more weights or look into a gym membership.

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Posted Tue, 10/12/2010 - 22:30
Josh

Hey Steve,
First of all, GREAT site and workout plan!! This is the best place I have found.
Anyways, I am 35 yrs old; 5'11-225 lbs. I am looking to build muscle and lose weight. All the added weight went right to my gut. I have been on your workout for two weeks now. I am doing cardio on my off days and added USP Labs Powerfull supplements, as well as fish oil and multivitamin. I also have been drinking whey protein shakes. Thing is, I am not noticing a drop in weight. Could that be because I am simultaneously adding muscle? I am eating good and drinking a lot water. I am going to start a calorie journal, but I doubt I am eating more than 2000-2300 calories a day.
Thanks again,
Josh

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:44
Steven

Hi Josh,

There's a good chance you may be adding muscle. If you are training hard, the body can add a pound or more per month when you first start training.

If your goal is weight loss, definitely start counting calories. 2000-2300 per day should be helping you to drop fat. Count calories for 2 weeks and try staying around 2200 per day. Watch the scale during this time, and if you don't lose weight try 2000 per day. Also, here are some articles that might 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 Tue, 10/12/2010 - 13:43
Valerie

Hi Steve,

I am in my mid forties and am not overweight, but I am losing muscle tone. I really want to improve the appearance of my arms, butt and thighs. Will this workout help?

Valerie

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 09:41
Steven

Hi Valerie,

This workout is a great choice. You will also want to make sure you eat right to help you reach your goals. Here are some articles that can 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 Tue, 10/12/2010 - 06:12
John

hey, im a teenager and ive been doing the routine which is
monday: arms,
tuesday: legs
wednesday: rest
thursady:arms
friday: legs
sat/sun: abs and cardio

i always do an ab workout and cardio AFTER every training, as ive read that if you have already depleted all your muscles of energy, the body turns to fat to get the energy required to run that little bit further. I am defitnely noticing change in strenght, but not in definition and size. i eat not very much protein, as we are a very healthy family, but not eating much meats, etc. would this routine add size to my muscles, or is it just the way im eating?
NB: i usually do 3 sets of 8 on my arms (heavy weights) and 3 sets of 15/20 on my legs (heavy-ish weights)

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.