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
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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

1.9K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 22:55
Fred

Thanks for saving me the time of planning. today, 6/27/11 was day 1. Took about 45 min not counting a 5 min warm up. I am excited to continue. I know consistency is key. Simple routine. Thanks

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 20:35
Matt

I do have a bar and weights as long as dumbbells. Should I substitute any of these with a dumbbell version for better results?

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Posted Sun, 06/26/2011 - 22:40
Lynn

Thanks for posting this great routine online. I was considering hiring a trainer - but have started this routine instead. The videos really help with getting to know the form - as do the instructions and tips. I have been doing this routine and then running for a half hour afterwards. I also run for 30 minutes on the opposite days. I have three questions: first, is the running after the routine too much or does it rob the routine at all so that I should stop? and on a different note - I can't do a pull up or even a decent pushup - do you have a suggestion for women instead of the wide grip pull up? Finally, if I want to try to do push ups and also add some minor ab stuff, should I add them at the end of this routine or on the opposite days when I am running only - and then should I do them before I run or after?

I am 45 years old and using only a 15 pound dumb bell - but I have just started your routine. Prior to this, I was going to Curves and running on my own. I stalemated and am now at a regular gym running and doing your routine.

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Posted Fri, 06/24/2011 - 09:28
John

Hi Steve,

Thank you for taking the time to pass on your expertise.

I am a 51 year old diabetic, 6'185lbs. and have been following this routine for 7 weeks now. I find it fits my needs in time, schedule, and will not create an atmosphere where I will start to dislike working out. I can see myself following this for years. An excellent beginner workout that will go much further.

This workout allows me to do all routines in an area of about 8'x 8'. In that area I have an incline/decline bench with lat pull-down attachment, leg curl attachment, Power Blocks, weights for lat/leg, exercise ball, and mat. Nice and compact. But still not cramped.

Questions.

On the dumb bell lunge. What is a rep? Is it lunging one side, or once on each side? So 12 reps total? or 12 left and right for 24?

Can the leg attachment fit in this routine in a beneficial way or just subtract from removal of exercises like the lung,squat? Better leaving it just to collect dust.

Having the bench I do, would it be better if I rotated the bench press through a 3 week cycle of flat, incline, decline? Stay with just the flat or any variance of the three?

Thank you in advance.

John

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Posted Fri, 06/24/2011 - 09:20
Adam

Thanks for the routine. i started it last week and i am loving it (although finding it hard!)would you recommend any routines in oarticular for a 16yr old that plays football 5 times a week. I'm looking to build up muscle and strength, but obviously remain agile and quick for the football! thanks!

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Posted Thu, 06/23/2011 - 14:28
Diego G

Hey Steve ... im 14 years old , i was just wondering if there is any exercise that will affect my growth ???

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Posted Tue, 06/21/2011 - 15:11
Sam

Hi Steve,
Im 15 years old and Im trying to build muscle/strength and cut a bit of fat, and I was wondering if this is a good workout for me? I was also wanted to know what to do for the pull ups because I dont have a pull up bar, and if Im supposed to complete the three sets in one workout or do it in a circuit?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/14/2011 - 15:28
Steven

Hi Sam,

This workout is a solid choice.

You can get an inexpensive pull up bar at Wal-mart.

Do all sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.

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Posted Mon, 06/20/2011 - 18:42
Param

I've been following this routine for 2 months now. And I have to say, Steve Shaw, you're awesome.

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Posted Sun, 06/19/2011 - 19:37
Sam

Hi Steve,
Im 15 years old and im trying to build muscle/strength and lose a bit of fat, but I was wondering if this a good workout for me? Also I dont have a pull up bar nor can I do that many. So, I was wondering what I should do?

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Posted Sun, 06/19/2011 - 07:18
ash

hey ... Is it possible to devote a day for 2 muscles . like monday for chest and biceps ???

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Posted Thu, 06/16/2011 - 12:18
Jay

Hi Steve,

I've been doing this routine for 2 weeks now as an initial means to burn fat (I'm a big dude!). It's a great routine that I can knock out before I go to work in the morning and I can already feel results in just feeling better and being less sluggish and generally less stiff. But my question is, due to my size and my belly I'm finding it extremely difficult to do the sit-ups and leg lifts at least in the capacity to do them properly and at the reps listed. I'm wondering should I just keep trying until eventually I get it or could I be doing myself harm and reducing benefit by doing them improperly and doing not enough. Do you recommend a different exercise(s) to substitute for the sit ups and leg lifts, at least until I can get to a level where I can do them properly? Thanks

-Jay

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Posted Mon, 06/13/2011 - 10:47
Saxo

Hi Steve, first of all thanks for writing the workout! I just started following it last week and I have a quick question...

I'm working out at home so I can't do the wide-grip pullups but I do have a bench, so is the incline bench two-arm row a good alternative? I tried the bent over dumbbell row like you suggested to someone else but I can't seem to get the right posture and I'm worried about hurting my back.

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Posted Sun, 06/12/2011 - 13:01
Jake L.

Hello,
I am a fifteen year-old male. I am extremely skinny, as I've been told, and I am 5'-9". Although I am called a "weakling" (due to my skinniness), I do not think of myself as all that weak. I have maintained a regular routine for some time, but I've been wondering if I could improve upon it and perhaps actually write out a plan. I currently do about 25 push-ups, 30-50 sit-ups, 20 20 lb curls, 20 20 lb two-hand dumbbell extensions. I also try to run regularly, and, when I do, I manage about 3 miles/27 minutes. I also have a pretty healthy diet. The only equipment I currently have available are a set of 15 lb dumbbells, a set of 20 lb dumbbells, a set of 35 lb dumbbells, and a curl bar w/ 25, 10, 5, 2 1/2 lb weights. Any help? Much appreciated.

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Posted Thu, 06/09/2011 - 18:20
Melvin

2 questions:
Within a month, do you think results will show doing this workout??
And would you suggest doing anything on tuesday and thursday or even the weekends??

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Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 19:03
Stuart

i have never really worked out much or worried about my weight but im starting to get up there im 18 and 280 pounds, how much protein and calories should i be taking in and be able to gain muscle and lose weight

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Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 12:42
reena

is there an alternative to the wide grip pullup if i don't have a pullup bar at home?

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Posted Sun, 06/05/2011 - 14:43
Nick

Hey Steve,
Ive been looking into to this workout but trying to figure out what to to do with an injured knee. I tore the meniscus and was wondering if this will damage it more or maybe strengthen it and help it out!

Im 25 5'11 and 180lbs out of shape but strong upper body from work.

Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/07/2011 - 14:08
Steven

Hi Nick,

I would recommend asking this question on the forum. I might not be the best person to answer it.

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Posted Sun, 06/05/2011 - 09:59
Steven Perry

Could I preform this M-W-F and cycle on T-Th?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/07/2011 - 14:05
Steven

Absolutely.

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Posted Wed, 06/01/2011 - 17:08
jay

Hey y'all. Im a super skinny 15 year old who is starting to lift for first time. I got adjustable dumbells from 5-55 pounds, a pull up bar, and an adjustable bench. Is this a good program?? How much can i expect to gain in about 6 months if I keep it up along with a good diet. I am 6 feet and 137 pounds. Thanks for your help.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/06/2011 - 13:44
Steven

Hi Jay,

This program is a good choice. If you eat right and focus on progression of weight, you could gain 5+ pounds of muscle during the next 6 months. 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) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

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

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Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:16
Jonathan

Thank you for this awesome workout.
But I got one question:
Sometimes when I play soccer, my calf gets twitched(Usually when I sprint, or kick the ball) which hurts ALOT.
I am afraid this will happen while performing the "Standing One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise" as I try to high as I can.
So my question is, DO I need to worry about it?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/06/2011 - 13:43
Steven

Hi Jonathan,

This cramp you experiencing sounds like you are pulling a muscle. It's hard to say whether direct calf exercises will cause this.

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Posted Mon, 05/30/2011 - 22:42
teresa

Hi
I am 46 years old and need to burn through my menopausal fat, in my younger years I was heavily into weight lifting.
But now I am yuk
I need to burn through some fat, I run 5 miles a day and lift weights three days a week, this program won't make me have muscle under fat will it, I just need a better weight program than the one I am doing, its not getting me anywhere.
I eat about 1800 cal a day and loads of protein, no candy, cake or soda.
I want to lose 20lbs.
Thx

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/06/2011 - 13:41
Steven

Hi Teresa,

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 Sun, 05/29/2011 - 08:01
marty

I'm 43 6'3"240 my son is 13 5'9"225 will this get rid of our man boobs

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/01/2011 - 14:34
Steven

Hi Marty,

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 Wed, 05/25/2011 - 21:47
Logan

Is it ok to start the program on a Wednesday. But still begin with the Monday program? Just making sure it is ok to do.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:07
Steven

Absolutely.

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2011 - 21:43
Nolan

i am 16 out of shape quite over weight and just sick of it i am trying the one suggested at very start about the 16 year old but, i am not very strong any advice i would like to get my self up to par

plz it would help out a lot :] (male)

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:07
Steven

Hi Nolan,

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 Wed, 05/25/2011 - 21:33
smertz

This is a great workout, I've been following it for about 1.5 months now.

I'm struggling though with my hand strength not keeping up with the rest of my muscles. Any way to help work on getting my hand strength up, so that I can keep building on the weights for the rest of my body?

thanks!
-- Steve

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:06
Steven

First thing I would recommend are lifting straps. Secondly, try doing 3-6 sets of static holds each week. Simply load up a barbell with weight and hold it for 60 seconds. Add weight when you can.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/06/2011 - 13:40
Steven

Static holds don't take very long, I would use them at least after your back training day, or possibly also on a second training day a few days later.

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Posted Wed, 06/01/2011 - 18:53
smertz

Thanks for the advice! I will give that a go.

How often should I do the static holds? Doing this plan Mon/Wed/Fri Doesn't really give much down time to do the static holds. Or should I add them to the routine days?

Thanks again!
-- Steve

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2011 - 17:25
Solomon

Hi there im 17 y.o. and i am 5ft 5inches i weight about 248pounds can u tell me any tips on how to begin to lose weight and build muscles. I hate running and i dont have a gym membership yet. Ty

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:05
Steven

Hi Solomon,

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 Wed, 05/25/2011 - 12:24
ryan

hi steve, i was wondering if you could help me. im 16 and i want to become more muscular in my arms, abs, chest and back. ive been looking into routines but im not entirely sure which one would suit me. i have got a bench with upto 75kg weights, bars for bench pressing and bars to curl weights. what would be a good routine with this equipment to improve my body?

many thanks, ryan

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/25/2011 - 13:21
Steven

Hi Ryan,

This 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) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

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

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2011 - 05:19
noni

Cant wait to get started on this new plan getting bored of current training but I work 12.5 hour night shifts so only have limited time after work to workout (1.5 hours max in AM)and I enjoy my cardio, is it ok to continue my pre lift cardio workout (usually a mile or two on tredmill alternateing HIIT on certain days. Thanks

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Posted Sun, 05/22/2011 - 10:49
eric

hey steve can i work out my abbs separately from this work
out routine???

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 05/23/2011 - 13:17
Steven

Absolutely.

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Posted Fri, 05/20/2011 - 19:54
danny

hi i have i am pritty lost iv tryed lots of workouts i dont see eny change i havent got time to go to the gym and i dont no what i should be eating im skinny so does that mean i have to put weight on to biuld muscle

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 05/23/2011 - 13:16
Steven

Hi Danny,

You aren't gaining for two reasons:

1) You aren't pushing for progression of weight.
2) You aren't eating properly.

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) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

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

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Posted Fri, 05/20/2011 - 08:36
Leevo

I started using this routine this week, I bought a bar for the door, but it turns out the frame is too thick. I can't hang the bar there.

I've seen different kinds of dumbell rows listed as suggestions as alternatives, but I'm told that nothing quite works as well as actually doing chin ups/pull ups.

I'm currently renting so finding and installing one that hangs from the wall is out of the question.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2011 - 13:04
Travis

Hello,

I love this work out it give me a great burn, but there is one work out I am unable to do at the gym, and was wondering if there was an alternative. The Dumbbell Step Up is the one I need an alternative to. Thanks for any help!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/18/2011 - 13:09
Steven

Hi Travis,

You could try the dumbbell goblet squat. Hold a dumbbell with two hands around chest level and squat.

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Posted Sun, 05/15/2011 - 18:16
Liam

Hey,

I am just starting out and stumbled across this routine and it certainly looks good. I am 20, 6'1" and 170lbs. I recently spent 3 months doing a lot of tennis and cutting my diet and have lost 30lb. I am concerned that if I increase my calorie intake to over 2500 I will put fat back on... is this likely?

Also using as heavy a weight as I can manage will this produce visible gains in terms of muscle growth? Or is this more of a routine to get form practice?

Thanks in advance :)