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

Josh England
Written By: Josh England
February 7th, 2018
Updated: April 12th, 2021
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

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!

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

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!

604 Comments
JD
Posted on: Wed, 09/15/2021 - 19:10

This seems to be lacking any exercise for the rear delts/rotator cuffs. is there any exercises you would recommend (either as an addition or in place of an existing one)?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:50

What's up, JD? Consider rear lateral raises in addition to the other exercises on the upper body workouts. Hope this helps!

Ahmed
Posted on: Tue, 09/14/2021 - 06:32

HI
HOPE YOU HAVING A GOOD DAY

I'M AN ABSOLUTE BEGINNER
DO I HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE 8 WEEKS PROGRAM FIRST
OR IS IT OKAY TO START WITH THIS 12 WEEK PROGRAM DIRECTLY

THANK YOU

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:49

Hi, Ahmed. You can start with this one as is. Give it the full 12 weeks and let us know how it works for you.

johnnie
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 23:27

Hello,
Are we supposed to increase dumbbell weight weekly? If so by how much should we increase weight?

thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:48

If you're able to increase the weight, then you should. Go by how you feel. If five pounds more is all you can do, then that is still progress.

Ilham Maulana
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 02:28

I don't have bench, can I change Incline Bench Press and Bench Press with Floor Press, but I heard that Floor Press works the triceps more than the chest, what should I do to compensate this? Sorry it's a bit long

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:40

Hi, Ilham. No worries at all. Floor press would work, and as long as you use a wide grip, you will train the chest as well as the triceps. Focus on lowering the bar close to your collarbone area to focus on the upper portion of the chest.

Andy
Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2021 - 04:20

Do you do a intermediate workout for this kind of workout??!! Cheers

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:28

Hello, Andy. Intermediates can use this workout by using challenging weights and resting for the minimal amount of time possible.

David
Posted on: Sat, 09/04/2021 - 13:30

Hi! Let's imagine I do a 3 or 4 or 5 days dumbell programm for a period of 8 weeks. In order to actually increase the muscle mass, I will need to eat more calories than I consume, with a ceartin amount of protein, that's clear... But
(1) do I need this calorie+ only on training days, or every day during the training period (8 weeks)?
(2) can I alternate between days with more calories and days with less calories within the same week (to gain muscle mass and lose fat), or does this just mess-up everything?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:26

Hi, David. If you want to pack on the most mass possible, eat the same calories every day. If you are concerned about fat gain, reduce the amount you eat by 20-25% on non-training days. Just make sure you don't reduce the protein you take in. Hope this helps!

David
Posted on: Sat, 09/04/2021 - 12:02

Hello! Shall I use the same dumbbell load for all the exercises (that would definitely make the training way easier), or does each exercise require its own load? Either way, what is the quickest way to determine this load/these loads? Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:25

Hi, David. Use the dumbbells that provide the necessary challenge for you. The best way to determine which to use is simply by trial and error. Grab a weight and go. if it is too light, go heavier. If it's too challenging reduce the weight.

Ranjan
Posted on: Wed, 09/01/2021 - 11:22

I noticed there is no exercise for forearm ........what can I do for forearm. And how can I do dumbbell pullover without a bench ( if I'm targetting chest )

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 09/10/2021 - 20:23

Hi, Ranjan. Perform reverse curls to train the forearms. You can also do pullovers on the floor. Pause the weight when it is behind you before you lift it up over your head.

Madhvi
Posted on: Tue, 08/31/2021 - 01:46

Hi, thank you so much for such a great routine! I just started this today. I don't have a bench and understand that I can do a floor press instead of a bench press. Are there any alternatives that you can recommend for the incline bench press, chest supported row and the dumbbell pullover? Thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 09/10/2021 - 20:22

Hi, Madhvi. You can perform pushups with your feet elevated to focus on the upper pecs until you get an incline bench. For the other two movements, try standing bent over dumbbell rows. You can also perform pullovers on the floor as well. Pause when the weight goes behind you to emphasize the stretch before lifting the weight back up.

SMART LYF
Posted on: Mon, 08/30/2021 - 02:52

Do i need to take rest days in between?..and how many reps should i take if i has 8kg dumbells

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 09/10/2021 - 20:19

Yes, rest days are important for your recovery. If the dumbbells you have are easy to use, slow down the reps to make each set more challenging. If it takes you three seconds to perform one rep, slow down so it takes you five seconds.

Addam
Posted on: Mon, 08/23/2021 - 04:16

Hi coach,can i do abs exercise at rest day? Example: upper-lower-abs-upper-lower-abs-rest

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2021 - 15:52

Hey there. Planks are involved in this workout for core stabilization, but if you feel the abs could use the extra work, then feel free to incorporate specific ab workouts. Check this article out for some great workout suggestions.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-ab-workouts-build-8-pack

Diego Ramirez
Posted on: Wed, 08/11/2021 - 20:55

The 30 to 60 seconds of rest are after each set or every 10 fepetitions of the exercise?

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Marina
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2021 - 09:53

Diego,

Rest for 30-60 seconds after each set of 8-10/8-12 reps.

George
Posted on: Tue, 08/03/2021 - 09:50

I don't have a bench so i there a way to replace bench press?

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Marina
Posted on: Wed, 08/04/2021 - 19:48

Hey George, you can perform a dumbbell floor press. Check out this video:
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-floor-press.html

Stian
Posted on: Sat, 07/24/2021 - 02:16

Hi. Quick one: If it says 4x12 I should do exactly that with the same weight on each set with only 30-60 sec rest between sets? Meaning the first few sets should be quite easy to make sure one can complete the next sets?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:51

Hey Stian - if the reps are consistent across all sets, the weight will be the same across all of the sets.

Stian
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 14:10

Thanks. What I meant was if the weight is too heavy to complete 4x12 with 30-60 sec rest, would it be ok to do ex. 12/10/9/9?

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 07/28/2021 - 08:42

If the weight is too heavy, you should lower the weight. You can lower the weight between sets. You want to use something that you can move safely and with proper form for the given number of reps.

JULIUS PAMFIL
Posted on: Sun, 07/18/2021 - 13:43

Could You send me picture descriptions of the exercises? I`m not quite sure how to do them correctly. How many kilos of dumbbels should I start the exercises with? Should I increase the kilos progressively? I´m not an absolute beginner, I´ve been working out for the last 6 months.

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/19/2021 - 09:50

Hey JULIUS - each exercise is linked to our exercise database. Check out those for more info on how to do each exercise. For weight, you should use one that is challenging but you can move safely and with proper form for the given number of reps.

April Lemons
Posted on: Fri, 07/16/2021 - 13:11

Just downloaded the free 4 day dumbbell only workout for my home gym. I've been doing P90X3 for several months and I'm ready to focus more on gaining muscle and definition. Wish me luck!

April

Duarte
Posted on: Mon, 07/12/2021 - 08:06

Can I do this every other day instead of day 1-2-rest-3-4-rest-rest?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:23

Hey Duarte - yes you can

Alek
Posted on: Sun, 07/11/2021 - 14:21

Is there any reason why the Upper body is done first or why the Lower body can't be done first? I feel starting my week with Leg day and ending on Upper body would flow better for me.

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:33

Hey Alek - lower body can be done first if that better fits with your schedule and training preferences

Liz
Posted on: Tue, 07/06/2021 - 09:49

This might be a dumb question, but do I run through all exercises for one set and then do them all over again from the top, or do I do one exercise for the number of sets for that exercise and then move onto the next exercise (e.g. do all 4 sets of bent over rows then all 4 sets of bench press, etc)?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 07/06/2021 - 09:52

Hey Liz - you'll do all sets of an exercise before moving onto the next.

Abhigyan
Posted on: Fri, 07/02/2021 - 08:18

Hey
Can I do this workout split like - upper/lower/abs/rest ?

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 07/02/2021 - 09:38

Hey Abhigyan - abs shouldn't need their own day. You can do upper/lower/rest/upper/lower/rest/rest.

Abhigyan
Posted on: Fri, 07/02/2021 - 11:01

So should I do my abs after the upper/lower workout is completed, on the same day?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 07/06/2021 - 09:23

Yep! You can do that.

Kostas
Posted on: Tue, 06/29/2021 - 12:21

Hey, how many times a week can I do cardio while using this program?

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:52

Hey Kostas - you can do cardio 2-4 times per week on this program. There's no set amount. Go with how your body feels and recovers.

davina
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 09:47

hi...is it okay if i do dynamic warmup before the workout(upper or lower) and not warmup sets

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 09:52

Hey davina - yes, you can do that.

Teddy
Posted on: Thu, 06/17/2021 - 15:57

Hello,

I've been doing this workout for about 3 months and it's been great. However I've been getting busy lately and don't have the time to do all 4 of them, is it okay to just do the first three days? Maybe incorportate some of the exercises from day 4 into day 2? I know these workouts are supposed to go with each other so I'd like to be sure I'm not messing it up too much by doing that. Thanks!

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 09:54

Hey Teddy - would you consider switching up the routine and trying a 3-day full body workout instead?

x1961x
Posted on: Sun, 06/13/2021 - 05:39

Hi, and thank you for your effort!

There's no abs workout except Planks. Are they enough to build abs? thanks!

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