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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
8 weeks
3
30 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

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

1.8K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 17:28
David

I would like to start using some of the workouts but would like to know where I could get diagrams etc. online that show how to do the exercises that you state in your routines such as the hammer curl etc.. I am new to exercise so I don't know the terminology etc. yet

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Posted Tue, 02/22/2011 - 19:51
Aarron

Click the name of the exercise and it will show you a how-to video.

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 16:36
John

Hey Steve; I am a small guy to start with. I am 5'7" and weight about 144 lbs and i am 22 years old. I really wants to get big specially my arms and torso. But when ever i start lifting weights my arms gets tired really fast. What should i do for my problem? And is this program right for me if not can you suggest any other programs you guys have. Thanks.

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 14:28
Paul

For exercises like lunges is it 6-12 on each side or 6-12 in total?

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:07
Larry

My Brother and I been doing this workout 5 weeks today.. Feel much stronger and 29lbs lighter.. thanks for a great workout.

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Posted Thu, 01/27/2011 - 15:46
John

Hey Steve; I am a small guy to start with. I am 22 and I am 5'7'' and weight 144 lb. When ever I start lifting weights my arms gets tired very fast. Specially when i am working on my biceps. I want to get bigger and gain some mass in my arms and in my torso. Is it physically possible for guy like me or not. So can this workout can give me what I am looking for? Please let me know. You look like a person to talk when it comes to this kind of questions. Thanks man.

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Posted Thu, 01/27/2011 - 09:39
samuel

thanks for the info
i was wondering if there was a good substitute for the dumbbell lunge? my big toe is no longer attached to my foot and there is a lot of scar tissue in that foot so that exercise hurts the front of my foot where my toe used to be..just wondering if there is another way to work those same muscles that does not involve bending my toe?

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Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 20:33
Steve G

Steve First question is have you ever heard of the insanity workout by Shaun T. If so I was wondering if you think it would be ok to do this fullbody workout 3 times a week and do the insanity workout the other 3 days. Or do you think that is to much. Thanks

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Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 17:42
Andrew

Hi Steve,

I've been doing this workout for about 3 weeks now it seems to take 3-4 days for me to stop being sore from the previous workout. I am told that to add muscle mass I need to wait for my body to stop being sore before I do the next workout so that it can fully recover. Is this information correct? I have only been able to workout 2 times a week since I started due to the soreness, do I just stick with this workout routine until my body is able to handle working out every other day or should I cut the sets to 2 instead of 3 until then?
Thank You.

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Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 18:38
Dan

hi, this may seem like a silly question but how do sets/reps work with one-sided exercises?

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Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 13:18
Mike

how do you conquer body parts getting tired for one exercise which affects your next exercise- i.e after bench press arms not being able to cope with as much on the curls. do you lower the weight slightly on both exercises or just the second- maybe i'm overdoing weight? my form seems ok but i do get knackered on the curls- how comfortable should it be to retain your form? i find myself near my limit when i can't hold my form anymore- do i drop the weight to make it more comfortable? or do i just carry on stopping after my forms gone? also i can't manage 3x6 pull ups how do i ease into acheiving this? i go from a hanging position and slow up then slow back down to hanging, should i begin easier and bend my elbows or is that not a good idea? i can manage 7-4-3 currently with no idea how to develop that one as obviously you cant drop weight so is there an exercise that involves weights that could develop it? i have found that if you can do one exercise for a body part, that doesn't mean i can do another for the same part because the secondary muscles aren't quite there. sorry for the essay btw

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:58
Ricky

I have a question about adding another exercise to this routine. About two years ago I took some fencing classes but I stopped after a year due to intense school work. I want to train myself so I can get back into fencing for fun but it requires some leg exercises that are pretty intense on the quadriceps. Would this interfere too much with this full body workout?

Also, I really enjoy this workout because I can't really afford a gym membership and all I have is a door bar and ten pound weights (although I plan on getting some more weights very soon). Is there anything else that I can add with what is available to me so that I can maybe gain more muscle mass a little faster? If it helps any I am 23yrs old, 5'8", and 120 lbs.

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:05
Maros

Hi Steve,

I just started your workout. This webpage is just awesome. I am 76 inch tall and my weight is 185 lbs, my BMI is like 22.32 kg/m2, body fat 20.3%. I am on the low carb and high protein diet. Eating around 35g protein per meal every 3 hours plus some multivitamins, fish oil and i am thinking to add some L-Glutamine and creatine later if its ok?

I barely eating sugars just in a natural stage (fruit, and lot of veg. in the evenings) but my energy levels staying high. I also do some running combined with abs workout... I red its better for fat lose.
My goal is to lose my beer belly, worked out body, gain some muscles and stay fit...is everything ok with that, you think is gonna work out??? thanks

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 13:50
Barneszilla

Hi Steve

Thanks for this workout, its been working great and I thought I would give some input.

Firstly, me and my girlfriend where doing this together, she didn't realise that on the one arm dumbbell row that it needed to be 3 sets on both arms - so its worth adding that.

Anyway, im 6ft 8, 100KG's and I've seen fantastic gains all over the show using solely this workout since it was posted, maintained weight but gained 3" on arms, my chest has gained 4" (lost 6" on my belly, finally got a decent stomach going on) just by having around 200g's of protein a day and good food.

Anyway, thanks again Steve - all your input on this has really helped

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 11:33
realgentmn

I have been working out w/dumbbells for about 2 month now & doing ab work-outs yet it seem that my mid-sec. is getting bigger. After every meals i get supper bloated,and i am not getting any results. I really want ripped abs. what should i do ?

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 11:23
Ross

hi there, im staring this routine today,whats the duration i should aim to do this for,in weeks?

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 10:29
Tony McD

Hi Steve

I'm male, 21, currently about 205lbs, 5' 10". Doing 30-40mins high intensity cardio (70-80% max heart rate) 4-5 times per week (450-600 kcals/session).

Also doing dumbell routine at the moment as a split day routine (i.e. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3day-beginners-workout.html).

My daily dietary calorie intake is roughly 1500-2000 (for the most part it's about 1750) calories.

I am seeking your advice as to whether or not a full body routine 3days/week would be better to a 3 day split routine (as linked above)?

I have notice gains in my arms and shoulders, currently lifting 11.5kg (25lbs) on each arm.

Also, would it be beneficial for me to increase calorie intake, bearing in mind that my goal is for fatloss primarily?

Thanks,

Tony

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 06:52
Matt

Hi Steve, great articles for naturals & home bodybuilders. What do you think of the dumbbell 1 leg squat? This is in none of your programmes that I can see - is there a reason as I seem to get a great workout using this in preference to step ups & lunges! I find I can really push with these & the motion is more comfortable than dumbbell squats + deadlifts. In fact I find it a good substitute for regular barbell squats due to lower back pain. Await your opinion, many thanks.

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Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 05:20
Adam

Hey Steve,

just a comment to say thank you for the workout. I'd tried a lot of sites before I found M&S, and they just weren't helping, but your easy guide has been really easy and quick to follow. Thanks for putting the effort in mate.

Adam

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Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 01:16
Moe

I am starting this on monday and was wondering if I'm perpared I have everything needed and was going to drink EAS 100% Whey. Any opinions on other proteins would be good too. Also I am pretty fit so I would be able to these without any problems, except for the pull-ups as I could only do 4-5 pull ups. I am 5'10 140 lbs 16 years old. Any Tips would be great. For example how much time in between reps and how long should I do this plan until doing something else

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Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:06
robert

Is it ok to do additional abs and cardio on your days off

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Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 02:01
Jerry

Hey there,
I work out 4 days a week and eat fairly well but I'm still under weight (6' 3", 150 lbs.) Is there anything else I can do to put on more muscle mass and weight?

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Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 01:13
mike

i like this program as it is realistic and convinient, although i'm not looking to just build muscle. If i turned this into a high intensity program with high intensity cardio on different days would that help me ease into more of an athletes program later on? where this looks ok for strenth i dont want to pack on muscle and find i've lost the chances of gaining speed and power. maybe going into boxing would be better for what i'm looking for as its been a hobby in the past i enjoyed, but main question would this work as high intensity training.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:31
Steven

Hi Mike,

Really any fullbody workout would work well as a circuit with the right weight and limited rest.

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Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 20:18
CapnDonkey

I haven't been to the gym in a few years, used to be athletic, always been big. When I played lacrosse and football *defense*, I was 265 and pretty solid, but never defined. now, I'm 320 (6'2") and feel like I'm starting over in the gym. What can I do on top of this to maximize fat loss while retaining lean mass?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:29
Steven

Hi CD,

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

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 maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two 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, 01/18/2011 - 13:42
john

Hello Steve,
I was wondering how long should the rest periods between the sets and between each exercise be?
Thank you!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:28
Steven

Hi John,

On the average rest about 90 to 120 seconds between most sets. You can rest a little longer on any given exercise if need be.

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Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 05:45
Ron

Hey Steve,
What kind of a diet should i follow while doing this regime of yours at home???i am 21 yrs,165 pounds,5ft 10in,Indian...and what supplements are recomended(i hav never used supplements before)and can u plz provide a video of both hand dumbbell row...Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:24
Steven
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Posted Fri, 01/14/2011 - 07:25
Daniel

Hi Steve,

I have only one 10KG dumbbell at home. Can I do the workouts that require two dumbbells such as chest press twice by separating into left side and right side? Will it gives the same result?

Besides, how far I can go with a 10KG dumbbell?

Thanks!!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:20
Steven

Hi Danaiel,

If muscle building is a goal, you will be weight that can challenge you on every exercise. If the body is not being challenged, it will have no incentive to respond and grow.

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Posted Fri, 01/14/2011 - 06:28
Laura

Hi I have just started doing this routine & I think its great. The only problem I have is that the lying floor leg raise is hurting my lower back, which I sometimes have problems with. Can you recommend an alternative which is easier on the back?

Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:17
Steven

Hi Laura,

You can really swap in any abs exercise that works for you. Here are some to pick from:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/abs

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Posted Fri, 01/14/2011 - 05:22
AJ Robertson

Hey Steve it was my 26th birthday on the 7t of January and got some dumbells for it. I am taking a record of the weights that I am doing for each exercise, when should I increase the weight? should I wait a week or two to increase the weight?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:16
Steven

Hi AJ,

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 Thu, 01/13/2011 - 18:47
andrew

wat kind of food should i be eatting - like when you say `You MUST eat more then it takes to maintain your bodyweight` wat type of food would be more effective - ive been following your Hardcore Off Season Muscle Mass Diet and Supplement Plan (i dont have any of the supplements yet tho) an i do these fullbody works everyother day an tues, an thur ab an chest just want to make sure im eatting the right things in order to make this work.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:13
Steven

Hi Andrew,

You use any standard muscle building eating plan, which includes the one above. Here is some more information on proper eating:

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

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Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 16:46
jaenn

can this be used taking way protein?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:10
Steven

Absolutely. Proper diet is an essential aspect when trying to maximize gains. Here is an article that can help:

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

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Posted Wed, 01/12/2011 - 22:04
Andrew

Hi Steve, 2 questions,

1.)I've noticed that when I am doing the dumbbell stepups that my legs can handle the weight, but for some reason i am unable to keep my grip on the weights and my forearms get tired before my legs do. Should I decrease the weight, or just keep the same amount and let my forearms catch up?

2.)On some of the exercises I can do 12 reps on the first set fairly easy but by the 3rd set I can only do about 3 reps. The instructions state to go up weight if you can do the maximum reps on the 1st set. Should I stay at the same weight or increase the weight and only do 2 sets?

Thank You,
Andrew

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:02
Steven

Hi Andrew,

1) I would consider purchasing some lifting straps to help prolong your grip.

2) In this case where the third set is fairly weak, I would try to get it to 6-7 reps before progressing with weight.

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Posted Wed, 01/12/2011 - 00:58
Cozmo

Is this training program good if you are looking to progress on to the dumbbell and barbell mass workout? and how much weigh protein should i consume while on this program?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:59
Steven

Hi Cozmo,

Yes, this would be a great workout to use before moving on to that specific workout. As far as protein, check out this article:

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

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Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 21:55
andrew

would it be safe if i do mon-fullbody tues-abs wed-fulbody thur-chest fri- fullbody an saturday an sunday rest

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:58
Steven

Hi Andrew,

I don't recommend adding extra chest work. Tt's not needed. Adding workouts does not equate to an improvement in gains, especially with a fullbody workout.

You can do abs on off days.

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Posted Sun, 01/09/2011 - 22:52
Matthew Lynch

6'3" 225lbs who is not a beginner but more of a 10year guy always looking for a little help to improve my workouts from knowelagble trainers.
My concern is this, wont peformimng these same excercises over and over again on a weekly basis cause my body to become overly fimilliar with this routine and take away from the idea of shocking my muscle groups and not providing enough variation for for proper growth? Or will this routine be best used for a shortened time period. I am just looking to get back into proper shape before returning to the gym after a forced leave of absence caused by an injury to my shoulder and at this stage i only have dumbells to use at home.Also should i modifiy the workout by using the additianal excersises provided when i veiw the videos on how to perform the proper lifting motions. I just have a hard time believing repeating the same steps every week will work at building muscle mass.
Thanks for any input you can provide me.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:56
Steven

Hi Matthew,

Muscles can become more efficient at performing exercises, but they have a hard time adapting to progression of weight, which is the prime engine for strength and muscle gains. So as long as you are pushing for more reps and weight, you need not worry about adaptation.

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Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 00:46
Hunter

Hey first of all I just want to say thank you so much. I've been looking for something like this for a while, but I have one important question. I just turned 16. Is this workout okay for me? Im a skinny kid, not like bony but I want to get stronger and just be more tone. Is this workout routine okay for all ages?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:13
Steven

Absolutely!