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
8 weeks
30 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
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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.

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
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
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, 02/18/2011 - 21:55

hey steve i do 50 push ups and sit ups a day should i do them 2 times a week or just keep doing what im doing?

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Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 22:07

hi steve

i was wondering that with the form in the video for dumbbell floor press that it would hit more of the shoulders as opposed to the chest?

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Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 17:36

Hi there steve,

Just started doing this training to gain muscle and its really impressive but i want to know is... Im 16 and i think i have a high metabolism because when i eat i put nothing on? I use whey protein and eat lots of protein such as chicken and eggs but what should i do?


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Posted Wed, 02/16/2011 - 18:33

Hey there im 6'3 215 lbs and im on a supplement called superpump 250 and im on whey protein and im going to the gym 4 days a week. I have a frame and i want to fill it out as in bulky ripped not toned ripped. I want to know possible routines for my daily workout. I would also like to know if i do 3 sets of 12 at a comfortable weight as in i strugle at the end or should i go more weight with a spotter and fewer reps?

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Posted Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:17

Hi Steve, just wondering if this method will help me gain muscle. If it won't please suggest a better way and tips would be great :)

I am 16 around 5ft 7", im not sure on my weight but I am skinny for my age and height. I do eat a fair amount and I never watch what I eat but I never put weight on. I am going to eat a can of tuna everyday and a whey protein shake everyday, and lots of fruit and oatmeal for calories and complex carbohydrates.

I have decided to use your workout as you say Mon Wed and Fri with 2 5kg dumbbells, 12 reps, 3 sets, is this enough? Just thinking of adding squats again to Wed and Fri because everywhere I read say they are the most important exercise.

I am not looking to get massive but I need to put some weight on and I'd rather muscle than fat lol. Like I said, will this work? And how much do you expect me to put on in how long?

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Posted Tue, 02/15/2011 - 16:20

what would be the best way to take this workout and make it so that i can workout on mondays tuesdays and wednesdays to gain the muscle and lose the fat in the stomach. i would like to do both legs and arms but do not know how to fit them in on the three days. should i do arms on mondays and wednesdays and legs on tuesdays or all on all three days? if so what exercises should i do on each day? and how much cardio should i be doing and on what day, as well as what kind of cardio.
just want to let you know typical workout is 30 mins of cardio on stairmaster or bike then workout both legs and arms on all the mahcines as well as simple dumbell exercises like lawn mower pull as they call it.

if there is one for threee days in a row that will be good. hoping i can workjout legs and arms all three days but robably will not work

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Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 23:23

Hey Steve,
I currently don't have a bench, so what do you recommend doing instead of the dumbbell bench press on monday or is there a substitution for the bench? Also, is it possible to do cardio on the off days (something like running or basketball)?

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Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 20:58

I've been doing this workout since early January and really enjoy it. I recently bought a new adjustable bench and would like to incorporate incline and decline bench press into it. I was thinking of doing one on Wed and one on Fri, since regular bench press is on Mon. Would this be recommended?

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Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 14:19

Hi Steve, I am 16, skinny for my age and never seem to put on weight lol, I never ever watch what I eat either.

Decided to try and build up some muscle and weight. I'm now eating very high energy (complex carbohydrate) and protein foods, (a can of tuna daily, and lots of oatmeal and fruit and thinking of buying some whey protein). I am also doing this work out with 5kg per dumbbell, with 12 reps, 3 sets. Only been going one week, but I am wondering, does this sound like a good method? Will I put on some muscle (not talking about being massive haha, just gaining muscle steadily so I do become a bit bigger than average, but need to be bigger than I am now.

If this method will not work please say why and what I should do.

PS: If anyone has any extra tips they would be great :)


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Posted Sun, 02/13/2011 - 15:56

Hey just did the first day today killer workout man. im 145 pounds 6 foot 1 with 12% body fat been doing p90x for a year now but looking to really pac on some muscle now. the one thing i was wandering would it be fine t do yoga on the off days? I think wouldnt it help with muscle growth more? Just wandering cuase im one of those people that want to work out every day but I now you cant with weight lifting so just wanted to no your opinion thanks.

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Posted Sun, 02/13/2011 - 14:01

How long till you start seeing results from this workout?

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Posted Sun, 02/13/2011 - 11:05

I don't have a bench, could I use a pilates ball instead?

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Posted Sat, 02/12/2011 - 18:11

Hi Steve,
I've been doing this 3x week fullbody workout for a couple of weeks now and I noticed that I don't seem to recover quick enough. I worked out on Monday but I was still sore on Wed. I was told for muscle mass that you should never workout when your muscles are sore. For the last couple of weeks I have only been able to get in 2 workouts a week due to soreness. Should I stick with this workout or move to a split routine since I don't seem to recover quick enough?

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Posted Fri, 02/11/2011 - 14:45

Hey steve amazing workout, love it. i just wanted to ask why not to train to failure? sometimes i times -i think i got an extra rep in me but i dont and i end up doing about half a rep, pause half way, push as hard as i can but then just fail. but i mean doesnt this mean im giving everything i got even if it is just half a rep? further encoroging muscle growth?

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Posted Wed, 02/09/2011 - 23:46

quick question, what is the usual time frame when someone would see results? results as in mass gain

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Posted Wed, 02/09/2011 - 21:03

Solid workout, I think I will impliment this in my routine. I love dumbells and kettlebells, they are versitile and inexpensive. Kudos

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Posted Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:07

hi steve workout is great do you think it is okay if i do workout at night before i sleep

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Posted Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:50

hi steve, i'm currently in week 2 of the c25k program, my goal is to lose weight and build muscle at the same time so i was wondering if this workout is suitable for the other 3 days where i'm not running.

i also have a fat butt (i'm a dude btw) as a result of years of having fast food for dinner and being a couch potato, this may sound stupid, but i once heard that dumbbell squats enlarges one's butt by building butt muscle and its the wrong thing to do in my case so is that true?

2 more things: what am i supposed to do for warm up? and i'm going to purchase dumbbells for this workout so whats the right weight for a beginner? thanks a lot

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Posted Tue, 02/08/2011 - 14:01

I just started this yesterday and today my arms are really sore, specifically triceps. Is there something I can do after the workout to reduce this, like a specific stretch or something?

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Posted Mon, 02/07/2011 - 15:12

Having a gap from Friday until Monday can cause serious atrophy of the muscles... Also dumbbell decline bench press works all parts of the pectorals

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Posted Mon, 02/07/2011 - 13:44
Thomas Borbeli

Hello. Is there a risk to stop you from growing up by doing these? I've just started today(Monday) and i will do as you said for at least 4 weeks from now. Are the Deadlifts and some others dangerous for your height? I'm a beginner and i wish to know and other tips as well if you could, :D. Thanks

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Posted Sat, 02/05/2011 - 16:56

What do I do if I don't have access to a bench or pull up bar? Please give some alternatives.

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Posted Wed, 02/02/2011 - 00:59
Carlos Duarte


I was wondering if this routine has enough exercises for the chest? I am a beginner so I was curious, thanks!

Best regards,

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Posted Sat, 01/29/2011 - 16:19

I've been doing a modified routine of yours since June of 2010. I weighed 154, 6'3" had a bit of a middle (for my frame size) I could pinch a little more than an inch. I'm 53 smoked for 33 yrs but in two weeks I will have quit for 3 yrs. I started with 10 lb dumbbells and have now worked my way up to 40 lb dumbbells for the biceps. I do pushups, squats, dips, situps, and a couple others. I dropped down in weight to about 145 two months after I started so I upped calories, by using whey protein, creatine and eating more meat, veggies, etc. (no sugar candy or snacks). I also had to use a weight gainer for a month and am now also taking xtend and t-boosters. I am back up to 153 lbs, looks like all muscle add-on. I notice it a lot on my frame. Thats my background so far. When is the optimum time to join a Gym and what exercises should I do there and do I need any other supplements? I also take fish oil, multivitamin and glucosamine. What weight can I expect or shoot for this body frame(been skinny all my life) and age? I have a four pack but the two bottm packs don't wanna show. Any ideas? Sorry so long but I bet others would like reading the above info and your answers. Thanks Steve!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?



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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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.

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Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:31

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

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

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: