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
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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.

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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About The Author
Steve Shaw is an experienced raw masters powerlifter with over 31 years of iron game experience. His best competition lifts are a 602.5 pound squat, a 672.5 pound deadlift, and a 382.5 pound deadlift. Steve is also known as a powerbuilder. His goal is to help others build as much muscle and strength as humanly possible.

1.7K Comments+ Post Comment

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!

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Posted Tue, 01/04/2011 - 23:08
Stuart

Hey Steve im a senior in high school and im looking to get back in the gym and gain some muscle and get ripped. I did the Monday workout and loved it but im just looking for upper body. Is this a good workout for me to get the muscle I want and can I just do this workout 3 days a week? Also, what post-workout supplement/drink do you suggest for me?

Thanks, you can also respond to me on email sturner512@hotmail.com if youd like.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:12
Steven

Hi Stuart,

A 3 day per week fullbody workout is a great choice. 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-...

As far as post-workout, I recommend Scivation Xtend.

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Posted Tue, 01/04/2011 - 21:54
lee ballard

i am 55 yrs old work out 2-3 days a week. i am 5 11 weigh 216 i need a workout to enhance chest i have great arms and forearms, shoulders are good it seems like a lot i do goes to the shoulders would like to be cut better but im not on amy diet at this time overall in great shape so chest abs traps ?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:10
Steven

Hi Lee,

If those are the only areas you want to work on then you can certainly drop other exercises if you wish...

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Posted Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:03
sadigg

i was wondering do you have to change exercises(eg.wide grip pull to dumbbell rows to add variety to exercises) or do i stick to the same exercises for as long as there is muscle gain

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 15:16
Steven

Hi Sadigg,

You do not have to frequently change exercises to make good progress. The biggest key to progress is progression of 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 Sat, 01/01/2011 - 20:14
Ron

Hello there

I'm a beginner and this workout seems really nice. What i'm wondering is, can i just do squats 3x/week instead of interchanging them with lunges and stepups? Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 15:15
Steven

Hi Ron,

Sure you could do that.

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Posted Thu, 12/30/2010 - 07:53
andy

ive been doing a 3 day split for sometime now but i want to switch to this routine do i need to leave it a week or 2 before i switch to this routine ? or can i just start this routine instantly?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 15:14
Steven

Hi Andy,

You can start it immediately.

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Posted Wed, 12/29/2010 - 01:57
Joshua

I just started doing this workout. I haven't tried lifting weights before. Thanks for this program.
By the way, I just want to know what is the suggested dumbbell weight for a person like me. I'm 18, 5'7", 127lbs. I do swimming and running. Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 15:12
Steven

Hi Joshua,

Spend several weeks practicing good form with a moderate, non-taxing amount of weight. Once you feel you have a good grasp of 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, 12/27/2010 - 08:43
ismail

hi,

what reps should i begin with 6 or 12 or between them

and when i use 6 reps the dumbbell must be Heavier than i use in 12 reps

thanks for the workout.......

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 15:10
Steven

Hi Ismail,

Start with a weight that allows you to perform about 8 to 10 reps for a set. 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 Fri, 12/24/2010 - 11:01
Larry

Love this routine.. I'm over weight and pretty weak 49yo 290lbs.. I want my body I had when I was 30.. 190lbs 34inch waistline.. Long way to go.. Thanks for the workout and this website.. It's a big help..

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Posted Tue, 12/21/2010 - 15:30
Joe P.

Hi Steve,

I appreciate the wealth of information and workout wisdom you have made available to us. I am planning to start to working out again after a long break (1 year), and am looking to gain muscle mass. I am very skinny (150lb) and tall, and have always found it very hard to gain muscle, but am going to give it another shot, while making sure that I'm eating right to reach this goal.

The only issue I am having is trying to choose between these many many different workouts here. What do you think is best for someone like me, trying to gain muscle mass efficiently, but with no very advanced knowledge of workouts? Is this dumbbell only workout right for me?

Thanks!

Joe

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 09:29
Steven

Hi Joe,

The best thing to do is start simple and train hard. Most workouts contain the same exercises. The magic is in how hard you work the workouts. I would choose a 3-4 muscle building workout that fits your schedule, and that most motivates you to train. To maximize results, using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

You will also need to make sure you are eating properly. 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 Thu, 12/16/2010 - 18:55
Patrick

WOULD RUNNING ON OFF DAYS DEFEAT MUSCLE GAIN WHEN DOING THIS WOURKOUT

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:23
Steven
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Posted Thu, 12/16/2010 - 01:12
Patrick

This is a great workout for me I am 32 and just begining. My question is can I do 1 hour 3 times per week on the eliptical for cardio or will that defeat the purpose of building muscle. Also what do you recomend as a supplement for beginers for protein an all.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:26
Steven

Hi Patrick,

Here is a supplement article that will help:

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

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Posted Wed, 12/15/2010 - 20:04
Andrew

Hey Steve,
I just started this workout (great by the way!) and I am looking to build mass but i do have some fat on my lower abdominals. I keep hearing that you should shy away from cardio but I do want my abs to show. Would some cardio be ok or should I work towards the mass building stage for a while and then worry about cutting up?
Thank You.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:22
Steven

Hi Andrew,

You can perform cardio 3-4 times per week, post-lifting or on off days. The real key to losing bodyfat is 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-...

It is hard to both gain muscle and lose fat but beginners have a better chance than most other lifters because they experience solid beginner gains. It can be hard to lose fat and look good before you have mastered adding muscle. My best advise is to get your diet in check, and to spend a couple months lifting hard while eating clean foods. See what happens. You may lose a few pounds of fat.

Keep in mind, when you add muscle it will make you look more defined even with the same amount of fat.

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Posted Sat, 12/11/2010 - 18:57
Sup

What do I do on the off days?
Tuesday/Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:19
Steven

Hi Sup,

Rest.

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Posted Fri, 12/10/2010 - 18:23
taylor

hey steve im 21 and just started this routine, i run usually run a mile or more a day also. I AM 5'11 has had a big stomache my whole life,IS THIS WHAT I SHOULD DO. any advice? thanx great workout by the way

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:19
Steven

Hi Taylor,

What are your goals?

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Posted Thu, 12/09/2010 - 04:37
Squash

Hi, I'm 10 weeks into this great course, and noticed definite strength gains (tho' have to pile calories in I think, as muscle gains not very good), but I have a question about the seated bench press.

I find it difficult to lift weights with back remaing straight against seat throughout - it ends up arching as back muscles tense up as I lift. Is this wrong, or still acceptable form? Thanks in advance.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:18
Steven

Hi Squash,

It's best to start the lift with a slight arch and with tense/tight back muscles.

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Posted Sun, 12/05/2010 - 20:57
Marcos

Would it be ok to do this routine on wednsday, thursday, saturday, and sunday? Or should I stick to only 3 days a week with 1 day of rest in between?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 13:15
Steven

Hi marcos,

Because it is a fullbody workout, it should be run only 3 days per week with a day of rest in between workouts.