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.

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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, 12/17/2010 - 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.

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Posted Sun, 12/05/2010 - 14:21
andy

if i play football wednesday thursday and sundays. will this effect this workout? will it still work with muscle gain?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 13:14
Steven

Hi Andy,

It won't impact muscle gain unless you're not eating enough.

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Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 23:42
Tony Valentino

Hi, I started doing this work-out 2 weeks ago and after some initial soreness, I'm going to stick with this for at least 4-6 months. I'm 5'10", 160 lbs and looking at taking in 2500-2700 calories a day using whey protein to account for 150g of my daily protein. From what I've read in the comments so far, this sounds like a decent plan.

My question is:
I like to do Wii fitness yoga & stretching daily to maintain balance and flexibility, I've been doing this daily for a couple months now. When should I do my Wii fitness to best optimize muscle building?

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

Hi Tony,

I would either do this after lifting, or on off days...or both. it won't impact muscle building, so you can perform it when it's most convenient.

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Posted Wed, 12/01/2010 - 07:14
Mike

is it better to target for 3 x 12 reps on slightly lighter weights or 3 x 6 on heavier? or maybe if your comfortable for 12 first set and then just manage 6 to 10 for the next 2? its a brilliant workout by the way!

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:30
Steven

Hi Mike,

Rep range isn't the important thing to focus on. For most compound exercises a rep rage of 5 to 12 will serve you well. The most important thing to focus on 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 Tue, 11/30/2010 - 17:31
hector Acevedo

Hey Steve,
Im a 20 yr, ive been small my entire life. Got big into running, I was upwards of 100 miles a week. I weigh 115lbs and im trying to gain weight/muscle, maybe 10-15lbs. Any advice on supplements or routines?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:29
Steven

Hi Hector,

Really any muscle building workout will serve you well. Pick one that fits your schedule and motivates you to train.

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.

As far as supplements, check out this article:

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

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Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 12:07
Kaj

Is it ok to do it more then 3 days a weak ?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 15:44
Steven

Hi Kaj,

No. Fullbody workouts should only be performed 3 days per week on nonconsecutive days.

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Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 16:20
Kaj

Ok.

thanks for advice i wil tell friends off this side.
it realy helps me out with exercises :)
Thanks for that to

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Posted Sat, 11/27/2010 - 17:56
Steven

Hey Steve,

I believe I am a "hardgainer" as I've always been stick thin - would this workout actually be effective for me to work on my whole body?

Are there any tips you could give to a "hardgainer" such as myself, that you think would benefit me as much as other people?

What types of foods/supplements do you think I should include in my diet?

Finally, do you think it's best to drink a protein shake before or after workout?

Thanks

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.