Dumbbell Only Workout: 4 Day Upper/Lower Dumbbell Workout Routine

This dumbbell only upper/lower workout program only requires dumbbells and is perfect for those looking to build lean muscle mass at home or on the go!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
12 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

The following workout is for those who only have access to a set of dumbbells.

It can be performed by those who work out at home, have to travel frequently and want to get a good workout in with limited equipment at a hotel gym, or as a progression from my 3 day dumbbell only routine.

This workout can be performed as a full workout routine for up to 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks you may want to consider altering the volume, weight you use (i.e. invest in a new pair of dumbbells), or even venture out and join a local gym that will have more of a variety of equipment for you to use.

The program calls for you to work out 4 days per week. What days you decide to workout is completely up to you. With that being said, it’s best to have 48-72 hours of rest in between your two upper body workouts and 48-72 hours of rest in between your two lower body workouts.

An example would be to perform the workouts in the order they are listed and take your rest days on Wednesdays and the weekends. Your rest days are the perfect opportunity to incorporate cardio training, flexibility training, foam rolling, or a combination of the three.

The goal of this workout is to help you build muscle. However, it can also help you with your fat loss goals depending on your calorie intake.

Rest periods for this workout program should be limited to 30-60 seconds.

If you have any other questions regarding this upper/lower dumbbell only workout program, please be sure to leave them in the comments section below!

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Day 1: Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Bent Over Dumbbell Row 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8-12
4. Dumbbell Pullover 3 8-12
5. Dumbbell Bicep Curl 2 8-12
6. Dumbbell Tricep Extension 2 8-12
7. Dumbbell Shrug 2 12-15

Day 2: Dumbbell Lower Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Goblet Squat 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Plie Squat 3 8-12
4. Dumbbell Hamstring Curl 3 8-12
5. Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 8-12
6. Plank 3 20 Secs

Day 3: Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 8-10
3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
4. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 3 8-12
5. Dumbbell Hammer Curl 2 8-12
6. Dumbbell Floor Press 2 8-12
7. Seated Dumbbell Shrug 2 12-15

Day 4: Dumbbell Lower Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Rear Lunge 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Hip Thrust 4 8-10
4. Dumbbell Split Squat 3 8-12
5. Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 8-12
6. Planks 3 20 Secs

If you give this program a try, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

254 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 10/10/2019 - 16:38
Samantha

Hi is this workout recommended for women please. I’ve recently completed a 4 week programme and really noticed a difference. I’m not looking to build noticeable muscle just keep toned strong and hopefully trim. I prefer to work out 4 days a week but it can be a struggle sometimes with work so not sure if the full body over the 3 days would be better ? As a female I’ve really noticed a difference incorporating weights in to my workouts. I’m in my 40’s so think weights are necessary now. Is it true that lifting weights is better for your body than cardio sessions?

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Posted Fri, 10/11/2019 - 09:49
JoshEngland

Hi Samantha,

Either this one or the full body workout would be great for your goals.

Weight training is extremely important for everyone and does have a lot of positive effects on your overall body shape.

You can still do cardio sessions if you deem them necessary or find them enjoyable. A mixture of both is usually a good combo for most people pursuing health benefits and maintaining/improving their body composition.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 10/10/2019 - 05:59
John

How many calories on average does this workout burn ?

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Posted Thu, 10/10/2019 - 09:51
JoshEngland

Hi John,

Very tough to calculate. If you're really concerned about the calorie burn from your workout, most calorie counter apps have weightlifting as an activity. Simply enter the total amount of time you're lifting. Although, this won't necessarily adequately represent the increase in your bmr that occurs as you develop lean body mass.

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Posted Sun, 10/06/2019 - 09:00
Marius Reger

Hi, I'm working out every 2nd day at home. I only have a pair of interchangeable dumbbells. Would you rather recommend this routine or push-pull legs or full-body workouts? I want to keep the workouts under 45 min. Thanks

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Posted Mon, 10/07/2019 - 11:23
JoshEngland

Hi Marius,

Either works. I'd probably go with the full body workout if you're doing every other day.

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Posted Sun, 09/29/2019 - 09:33
Hoang

Can I ask some question. What can I do when warm up before workout and stretches after ?
I mean I already know and have some warm up sets like 30%, 50%, 70%.But what can I do before and after them?

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Posted Mon, 09/30/2019 - 10:01
JoshEngland
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Posted Mon, 09/23/2019 - 09:32
Daniel N

Good afternoon.
I am finding this workout very useful.
The 4 days work well for me because I also do rugby training. So I do monday wednesday thursday and friday with Rugby on tuesday and a weekend off.
I feel this doesn't give much scope to move to a 5 or 6 day workout ( which I dont mind).
Is there a more intensive 4 day workout or could i just keep upping weight and reps on this one.

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Posted Mon, 09/23/2019 - 14:09
JoshEngland

Hi Daniel,

I'd recommend sticking to this one and progressing by methodically upping the weight and/or reps when possible.

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Posted Mon, 09/23/2019 - 14:26
Daniel N

Thank you very much.

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Posted Mon, 09/23/2019 - 14:29
JoshEngland

You're welcome! Thank you for using the workout!

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Posted Wed, 09/18/2019 - 15:27
Toni

Hi, can i add 2-3 more exercises, 2 more for sholders and 1 for chest?

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Posted Wed, 09/18/2019 - 16:18
JoshEngland

Hi Toni,

You can, but I wouldn't recommend it personally.

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Posted Sat, 09/28/2019 - 13:44
Kyle Sentient

Hey there! Thanks for this workout routine. I've been following a different program since the end of July and have decided to change my routine to spice things up a tad. I've stumbled upon this program recently and decided to adopt it.

I have a few questions, though. on upper body days, there are only 2 chest exercises on each. Is that enough to build muscle in the chest or should i incorporate one or two more exercises? This also applies to arms/shoulders. I am no professional as far as weight lifting goes, and I don't even think I qualify as an amateur, yet. Forgive me if my questions have been asked before, but I'd really like to know.

Also, I do not have access to a bench, so Incline bench presses and chest-supported rows are a no-go for me. Are there any alternatives? Dumbbell flyes, maybe? on a bench or bent over?

Another question: are dumbbell shrugs really that effective? I've been doing those for the last month and a half and I never feel a challenge during my reps. If anything, I can do up to 30 reps without breaking a sweat. I'm guessing that's either due to poor form or improper dumbbell weights. Same thing for pullovers; I have a pair of adjustable dumbbells, and once, in order to challenge myself a bit, I took all the weights I had and stacked them up on a single dumbbell, totaling 20Kgs (44 pounds?). I tried to do pullovers then, but even with that I never really felt a challenge. Are pullovers the kind of exercise that doesn't really tire you out or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 09/30/2019 - 10:24
JoshEngland

Hi Kyle,

Oh yea, this program has plenty of volume and frequency to build all those muscle groups, especially if you are training hard and progressing the weight you use.

I'd recommend more dumbbell presses or feet elevated push ups for the incline, and more bent over rows for the rows.

Dumbbell shrugs - might want to increase the weight you are using.

Pullovers are more of a feel exercise, make sure you are feeling the muscle activate, don't just perform the movement. Once you have a good connection with the muscle, you'll be able to make it challenging and can then increase the weight used.

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Posted Tue, 10/01/2019 - 17:57
Kyle Sentient

Alright, I'll make sure to keep these pointers in mind for my next sessions. Thanks a lot, Josh!

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Posted Sat, 08/24/2019 - 11:30
Hitesh Khanna

I have recently bought barbells. Please tell me that whether I should continue with this workout or start dumbbell and barbell workout.

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Posted Tue, 09/03/2019 - 13:59
JoshEngland

Hi Hitesh,

Having a barbell simply adds variety. You can do either or, whichever your heart desired. Barbells might allow you to progress in weight faster on compounds. Dumbbells might be better for isolating unilaterally.

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Posted Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:12
John

Hi,

I’ve been doing the 4 day workout for about 5 weeks and already starting to notice gains, so thanks! Next week, I’ll have a lot more time on my hands so would like to do more. Would it be OK to transfer to the 6 day workout immediately, or do I have to complete 12 weeks of the 4 day first? The reason I’d like to switch is that I’m going away travelling in around 6 weeks so won’t be able to work out, and would like to make as much progress as possible before I leave. Let me know. Thanks again.

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:46
JoshEngland

Hi John,

I'd recommend completing the 4 day program first and increasing the weight you use as opposed to jumping to the 6 day. But if you're ready for some progression and don't have the option of using heavier weight, you could certainly move to the 6 day if you feel you are ready for that increase in frequency, reps and exercises.

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Posted Mon, 08/19/2019 - 15:28
Cameron

I have just come off a random 3 day week program and have just started this one, just wanted to say the
plan is very well put together feels like each exercise is well suited to each other, cheers for posting it!

Can I ask what plan is best after this 12-week one is finished?

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Posted Tue, 08/20/2019 - 13:54
JoshEngland

Hi Cameron,

Thanks! Glad you like the program. There should be a 5 day dumbbell only and 6 day dumbbell only workout linked on the page. They are the next workouts in the series. If they aren't listed, you should be able to find them pretty easily in our search bar.

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Posted Fri, 08/09/2019 - 20:47
Mikhail

How did a barbell hip thrust exercise end up in this program?

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Posted Mon, 08/12/2019 - 13:40
JoshEngland

It's a demonstration for those who need one for the dumbbell variation. We don't have a dumbbell video at the moment so I thought it was the most useful one to link to.

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 11:22
adam

Will this workout program help me lose weight?

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 16:08
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

Yes, it can help create a calorie deficit needed to lose weight.

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 11:54
Tsering Wangyal...

Hi josh.
What toitine do you suggest for people who work and go to school?

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 08:42
Harry

Hey Josh
I’m 62 years old and just finished your 3 day full body workout, with the help of your plan I went from 257lbs in January to 216lbs and can actually see muscle gains. I started your 4 day split yesterday. I also do a beginners HIIT 2 times a week. I just wanted to thank you, and to let everyone know that you are never to old. Just go for it!!

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 16:15
JoshEngland

Hi Harry,

You are AWESOME! Keep it up!

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:09
Dermot O'Sullivan

I have had stress fractures in my lower back and extremely tight hamstrings (in general). Any other exercises you recommend instead of the stiff legged dead lifts? Thanks

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:12
BIll

Hi Josh
What would you recommend doing with the exercises such as the Incline Dumbell Bench Press if you do not have access to an incline bench.

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:29
JoshEngland

Hi Bill,

Feet elevated push ups would do the trick for that particular exercise.

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Posted Sun, 07/28/2019 - 12:30
Tsering Wangyal...

Is 3 days good good between upper body workout? Please check if my schedule is good.
Sunday(UP), monday(rest), tuesday(LB), wednesday(rest), thursday(up), friday(rest), saturday(LB)

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:38
JoshEngland

Hi Tsering,

That's fine, however a full body approach may be a more optimal choice: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-dumbbell-workout

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 11:40
Tsering Wangyal...

hi Josh. I meant 3 days rest between upperbody workout. Please ovserve the routine.
Sunday upperbody
Monday rest
Tuesday - Lower body
Wednesday rest
Thursday upperbody
Friday rest
Saturday lower body.
I did the 3 days full body split for a month.

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Posted Sun, 07/28/2019 - 01:36
John

I've just started this program and I would like to know my legs let's really sore from the lower body workouts but my upper body is not sure at all from the upper body workouts. Is this normal ?

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:43
JoshEngland

Hi John,

Sounds like your upper body is more conditioned than your lower body :)

That's probably pretty normal for most people.

It also sounds as though you may need to utilize heavier weight on upper body sessions if your form is on point.

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Posted Wed, 07/24/2019 - 12:09
Adam

Is it a problem if I don't sweat much after following these workouts

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Posted Wed, 07/24/2019 - 16:22
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

That's no problem at all. Sweating isn't a good indicator of an effective workout.

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Posted Mon, 07/15/2019 - 16:23
Gab

Hi Josh,
I was hoping to gain muscle through this workout. I was worried about getting too bulky but want a muscular but lean physique. This workout won’t make a bulkier body? Also, for abs, how many times a week do you recommend incorporating with this workout? Thanks so much :),
Gab

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Posted Tue, 07/16/2019 - 10:45
JoshEngland

Hi Gab,

It shouldn't, but that'll honestly depend on your genetics and nutrition. For most, it will help you attain that muscular lean physique you have mentioned.

For abs, 2-3 times per week on your days of choice should be plenty.

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:38
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hi Josh.
Now I ahve start on this program and wonder if I do same weight in 12 weeks or rise sometimes to heaweyer weight? I think its a great program

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2019 - 12:18
JoshEngland

Hi Lars-Erik,

If you have access to heavier weight, try to increase the weight used when able.

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 13:28
Juan Dela Cruz

Can i do 3 sets of Bicep and tricep exercises instead of just 2 sets?

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 14:39
JoshEngland

Hi Juan,

Yes, that'll be fine.

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Posted Thu, 07/04/2019 - 21:42
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hi Josh
I am almost 69 years old man or young! I just have one week with this 4 days program and my body like it much but have some pain in my muscles but I am not worried now it,s friday and I can relax a litte but next week it,s star on Monday again.
Thank,s for a nice workout

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Posted Mon, 06/24/2019 - 18:27
Joe

Can you go straight into this workout plan or do you have to complete the 3 day dumbbell only workout plan first?Thanks.

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Posted Wed, 06/26/2019 - 15:29
JoshEngland

Hi Joe,

You can go straight into this one depending on your work capacity and experience with weight training.

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 21:15
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hello Joe.
I have practice lifting for a time now and I have doing the base lifting,:Starting Strength in a couple of years so i want to try this program, I think it,s a good program