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!

749 Comments
Rell
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 14:43

Hey I noticed that my upper body recovers a lot faster than my lower body. Is it possible for me to do the upper body Monday Wednesday and Friday and do the lower body work on tuesdays and saturdays

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:43

You certainly can. Rell. Please let us know how that works out for you because your info could help others here that have similar concerns. Thanks for reading M&S!

Rell
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 10:25

Will do. I’m starting Monday and I’ll be sure to post the results here

Eric
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 16:21

Is it fine to just stick to this workout and increase weights even after 12 weeks? A four day workout week is perfect for me schedule wise

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/22/2022 - 17:14

If this is still working for you, then roll with it, Eric. I think you could do it for up to another 12 weeks before needing to make a switch.

Nik
Posted on: Mon, 09/12/2022 - 03:36

Hello what should be the weight of dumbbell?

I'm male, 23 years old, 57kg of weight, height 170cm

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:09

Whatever you're strong enough to work with. The weight used is based on the individual.

Prashant Guragai
Posted on: Sat, 09/10/2022 - 23:10

I'm basically stuck with two 4 kg dumbbells, are they effective for this workout? should i add more reps since they are lighter?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:52

You can perform the reps slower and focus on contracting the muscles longer, but definitely try to get bigger dumbbells or get bands so you can add more exercises to the routine.

Cee
Posted on: Thu, 09/08/2022 - 23:33

Hello. For about 6 months I’ve been doing a simple full body routine found on YouTube. 8-10 reps of front squats, rdl, overhead press, bent over rows, bench press, bicep curls, skullcrushers, and planks. How do I decide when I’m ready to move on to do something like this. (Kinda bored). My goal is to lose about 10-15 pounds and lean out - pure aesthetics, no strength. I’m female and 58.

Also any exercise widens the back? My back is tighter and more muscle-y but not the aesthetic I want. Shirts are more tight!

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:40

Hey Cee, six months and getting bored are two indicators that it's time to make a switch.

This workout should help you meet those goals. The pullovers on this program will help with back width.

Tanna
Posted on: Sat, 09/03/2022 - 19:15

I just finished the 8-week 3x/week dumbbell workout plan, and I'm excited to move to this one. I'm 39F and this is the first training plan I've ever completed. Thank you for making these resources available! A couple of questions...

Can I replace SL deadlifts with regular deadlifts? My core/back muscles are still developing and despite being very careful with form, I get some back soreness and not enough leg activation- especially in the SL deadlifts. I'm going to try and find someone to check my form again.

Also, what are your thoughts on using pre-loaded barbells instead of dumbbells for deadlifts? I seem to get better leg activation with them, but they are kind of low to the ground.

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/03/2022 - 21:09

Hi, Tanna! Thanks for reading M&S, and congrats on completing a training plan!

Yes, you can replace SLD with regular deadlifts. They will still work the hamstrings, but the lower back will be used more as well.

If preloaded barbells work better for you, then use them. At the end of the day, what you feel working matters more than what the guide says.

Hope this helps!

Rachel
Posted on: Wed, 08/17/2022 - 15:39

Hi there! Loving this series and have been doing it for about a month now. I want to get stronger (not bulkier), but I am also trying to lose 10-15 pounds. Is this a good workout to assist with weight loss if I’m also doing a calorie deficit? Thank you!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/18/2022 - 18:58

It is, Rachel. Keep going with it, and please let us know how it works for you. Thank you for reading Muscle & Strength!

Nitin
Posted on: Tue, 08/09/2022 - 19:21

How long should we try to complete each of these workouts?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/15/2022 - 10:07

As it says at the top of the article, 45-60 minutes.

Martin
Posted on: Tue, 08/02/2022 - 16:21

Instead of doing monday upper, tuesday lower, wednesday rest, thuesday upper, friday lower, saturday and sunday rest. Since i have a little physical demanding job that involves sometimes heavy lifting. I work on monday, tuesday and friday. Can i instead do these days to work out? When i get home from work: Tuesday upper, wednesday lower, thursday rest day, friday lower, saturday upper, sunday rest, monday a little bit of rest becuase of my job that day. And continue like this? The reason i want to do this is because on tuesday is the day with the most lifting on my job compared to monday or friday, so if i do upper body on monday like your program, the next day with all that lifting on my job, i may increase injury because i need to recover

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/12/2022 - 09:01

Hey Martin, that works. Let us know how it goes for you. Your experience may help others. Thanks for reading M&S!

Martin
Posted on: Mon, 08/01/2022 - 17:27

Hi. Never lifted before and i can’t decide between 2 weights of some dumbells. One pair is 20kg each, a more expensive pair goes up to 32kg. Im 170 cm tall, 21 years old, 60kg, a little skinny. Which should i go for? Goal is hyperthrophy. Will first be using the 3 day full body program before moving on to the 4 day upper/lower

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/12/2022 - 08:55

Go with the pair that can go up to 32 kg, Martin. You're going to get stronger as you progress.

b.mohamed
Posted on: Mon, 08/01/2022 - 14:18

Hello, and thanks for this workout !

I have 2 questions:

Is the volume enough for biceps and triceps ?
I feel more chest activation with dumbbell flies, can I add them to one of the upper body days ?

For info, I have a set of adjustable dumbbells.

Thanks again !

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/12/2022 - 08:51

Thank you for reading, and here are your two answers.

1. Yes, this is enough for biceps and triceps because they will also be working when you train back (biceps) and chest (triceps). As you get more advanced, you can add more direct arm work.

2. Feel free to add the flyes. Just follow the same sets and rep scheme as the other exercises.

Hope this helps!

Martin
Posted on: Sat, 07/30/2022 - 19:59

Is this for hyperthrophy

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/08/2022 - 18:05

Yes.

Tyler
Posted on: Fri, 07/29/2022 - 13:54

Is 4 sets of bicep curls a week realy enoguh excercise, i always thought the optimal was between 10-20.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/08/2022 - 18:07

For beginners, four sets of direct bicep work will be good. The biceps are also working when you train the upper back. As a new trainee, you're going to see gains without the extra direct work. 10-20 sets would be for advanced lifters, and many of them lean closer to 10 than 20.

Hope this helps!

b.mohamed
Posted on: Wed, 07/27/2022 - 16:17

Hello and thank you for this workout !

Is the volume enough for biceps and triceps ?

Can I add dumbbell flies for chest ? I have weak pecs, and I feel good pecs activation with dumbbell flies.

FYI I have adjustable dumbbells.

Thanks again !

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/08/2022 - 18:07

Yes, the volume is enough for biceps and triceps. The biceps will be working when you train back, and the triceps will assist the chest. New lifters will see the gains without as much volume.

If you feel flyes will work the chest better for you, then add them.

unknown
Posted on: Wed, 07/27/2022 - 08:44

Asking for university students that goes to the gym. My current program is upper/lower split, but i'm entering university soon and it seems like there won't be enough time to train because i must go at 6 am and arrive home around 7 pm, and of course i must do homeworks, hence it is possible that i can't do workout after uni. So i am considering to workout in the morning, but if i do then i must work on empty stomach. Due to all circumstances above, which program will suit better for my conditions between upper/lower split and full body split? Is it better (given my circumstances) to train more days but less time per session or train less day but longer time per session? (I train at home)

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/01/2022 - 10:17

You didn't share what your goal is, but if it is to add size, then upper/lower would be better because of the individual attention you'll give all muscle groups. If fat loss or endurance is your priority, then go with a full-body split.

You don't have to necessarily train on an empty stomach. Either get up 15 minutes earlier and have a shake and piece of fruit, or have a casein shake in the evening. Casein digests slower, so it will help for those early morning workouts.

Martin
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 06:46

Hi. Can i use double progression with this? Like, start with 8 reps, and for each week add 1 more rep unntil i reach 12 reps. And at 12 reps i increase the weight by 2 kg and i start over at 8 reps again and keep it going like this? Will it be good for hyperthrophy?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/01/2022 - 10:14

Yes, feel free to do it, and let us know how it goes.

Martin
Posted on: Sun, 07/24/2022 - 18:59

Can i start with this upper/lower 4 day dumbell program instead of the 3 day full body dumbelll program? First time working out

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 07/31/2022 - 11:10

Yeah, you can do this one, Martin. Let us know how it goes for you, and thank you for reading M&S!

Martin
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 14:18

Is this the best days?: Monday upper, tuesday lower, wednesday rest, thursday upper, friday lower, saturday rest, sunday rest. And continue this pattern for fastest result? Or swap the order and do; Monday lower, tuesday upper, wednesday rest, thursday lower, friday upper, saturday rest, sunday rest?
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/dumbbell-only-upper-lower-wor...

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 19:52

Your first suggestion would be the best bet, Martin.

Martin
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 13:18

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/dumbbell-only-upper-lower-wor...

Day 4 number 3 is wrong. That is a barbell not dumbell

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 19:51

Thank you, Martin. I don't think they have photos of the dumbbell version . That may be why they used pics of the barbell version.

Scott
Posted on: Tue, 07/12/2022 - 23:04

Hey dude, just wanna say thank you so much for this. I'm doing this with my girlfriend and I was intimidated as to going back to the gym. I went from almost playing college baseball to getting severe depression and drinking a lot gaining like 60 lbs. I wanted something easy to follow, but effective with our limited gym equipment. I can't believe this content is free, we will definitely be buying M&S apparel.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 07/14/2022 - 08:14

Thanks so much, Scott. We're glad you're reading M&S, and hope you'll keep us updated with your progress!

Anthony
Posted on: Thu, 07/07/2022 - 14:35

I'm on week 6 of this routine and I'm consistently progressing on every exercise except bicep and hammer curls, I've been stuck at the same weight and reps for 4 weeks. Any suggestions?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 08:07

Hi, Anthony. Here's a tip that may help. For your first set, take a heavier weight and cheat it up to the top of the curl. Then, control the negative on the way down. Repeat this for as many reps as you can with both arms. Then, do the following sets as you would normally. This should help you break that plateau and help you get stronger in a few weeks. I hope this helps!

Andre
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 23:31

Do you increase the weight per set?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 07/05/2022 - 11:00

You can, or you can use the same weight for all sets. If you have multiple dumbbells or adjustable dumbbells, I would say try to go up each set from easiest to hardest.

SW
Posted on: Sat, 06/18/2022 - 05:50

The hip thrust section doesn’t link to a dumbell hip thrust

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 06/18/2022 - 11:21

They may need to add that version to the database. You place a dumbbell over your hips or if you have small weights, place one at the top of each hip so they line up like a barbell would. It requires a little more control, but it's very effective.

Tyler
Posted on: Fri, 06/17/2022 - 10:43

For the rear lunge, should I count after each leg (4 lunges per leg), or should each repetition include both legs?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/17/2022 - 14:05

What's Up, Tyler? It is actually 8 reps per leg. So 8 with the left, and 8 with the right, for a total of 16. Hope this helps!

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 08/30/2022 - 09:18

I suggest doing all the reps on one before switching, but you can alternate if you like.