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
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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!

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!

89 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 09/20/2018 - 06:00
dannyboy

Hi, I had minor Knee surgery 3 days ago and am looking at 2 weeks before I see the physio and 6-9 weeks before I can get back into serious training, my question is can I use the upper workouts only? I am stuck at home unable to get to the gym and I want to minimise muscle loss, I have a bench and a dumbbell set at home to tide me over.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:16
JoshEngland

Hi Dannyboy,

I'd recommend consulting with your physio when you meet with them. You don't want to risk further injury.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/18/2018 - 21:15
Chris M

I've nearly completed this and would love to either add a 5th day or increase the intensity of the exercise. Since there hasn't been a progression past this written yet, do you have a recommendation? I like that it's dumbbell only as I use an apartment complex gym and outside of a few basic machines the main item I have is dumbbells.

Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/19/2018 - 14:08
JoshEngland

Hi Chris,

You can make this a 5 day program by cycling through them. Below is an example:

Day 1: Upper
Day 2: Lower
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Upper
Day 5: Lower
Day 6: Upper
Day 7: Off

Day 8: Lower
Day 9: Upper
Day 10: Off
Day 11: Lower
Day 12: Upper
Day 13: Lower
etc

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 09/17/2018 - 16:13
Kaleigh

Hi Josh, I am wanting to tone up and I was just wondering with this workout do I need to be doing the exact reps and sets that it is telling me to do? Or what do you recommend for someone who wants to become more toned and lean?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/17/2018 - 16:55
JoshEngland

Hi Kaleigh,

This workout as written can help with those goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/11/2018 - 18:23
Isaac

I only have access to my complex gym Thursday through Sunday so could I do this workout 4 days in a row? So for example I would do the upper body one on Thursday and Saturday and the lower body one on Friday and Sunday

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/12/2018 - 08:33
JoshEngland

Hi Isaac,

Sure, you could set up your weekly schedule that way.

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Posted Tue, 09/11/2018 - 04:31
Rama

Where is abs exercise ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/11/2018 - 11:02
JoshEngland

Hi Rama,

If you'd like to add in ab isolation work to this program, you are more than welcome to.

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Posted Sat, 09/08/2018 - 23:33
Jose Ian Allado

Okay, so now my friends are starting to notice how I lost my belly fat. But my scale still says I'm 89 kgs. This is concerning. Any advice? :O

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/10/2018 - 08:56
JoshEngland

Hi Jose,

Scale weight isn't always a good indicator of progress. Muscle tissue is denser than fat. So while you get leaner (and build more muscle), the scale may remain the same even tho you're dropping inches from your waist.

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Posted Tue, 08/28/2018 - 06:10
Richard w

Hiya iv been this workout on my third week, I can notice a little change in my body but was wondering when will I see it properly working

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/28/2018 - 08:35
JoshEngland

Hi Richard,

Little changes add up over time. Be consistent and you'll get there.

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Posted Tue, 08/21/2018 - 08:48
Killian

Hi there Josh,
Been out of the game for a bit and I’ve let myself go a bit, mostly in terms of belly fat and elsewhere on my torso. Have always been big built since i started maturing in school and I’m 23 now, going to give your workout a blast as I want to build my muscle back too. Are there any tips you could give me to help me get back in shape?? I’m also cutting down on my calories and getting in plenty of veggies and good proteins, and was thinking of adding some light morning cardio on a couple of my rest days. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/21/2018 - 08:54
JoshEngland

Hi Killian,

All of those sound like solid additions back into your lifestyle. My best piece of advice is to be consistent. You'll get there. For tips on consistency, check out this piece:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/7-habits-highly-motivated-and...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:22
Mohammed Kamal

Hi Josh
Thanks for stuff you are sharing.
Actually i have two questions :-

1- Should i use only fixed weight for dumbbell in my 12 weeks or i can chnage it every fixed period ?

2- for the days, should i performed them day after day without rest ? And if so, what should i do in rest day? Like ab workout, cardio, running,.....etc.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/20/2018 - 08:59
JoshEngland

Hi Mohammed,

1. You can change the weight used if you wish - either during the 12 weeks or after depending on your ability to build strength and access to different weighted dumbbells. Both will get you results over time.

2. Perform them 4 days per week. On your rest days, rest. Or, perform some low intensity cardio if you feel it will be beneficial towards your goals.

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Posted Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:13
Steve

Josh, how many calories over my BMR should I be consuming to be sure my muscles have the necessary fuel to grow? Thanks in advance!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:18
JoshEngland

Hi Steve,

~250-500 calories should do the trick.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/11/2018 - 16:36
Gcy

Hello, can I sub chinups and pullups for dumbbell pullovers on day 1 and chest supported dumbbell row on day 3?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:19
JoshEngland

Hi Gcy,

Sure, that would be a fine substitution.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 03:43
Kevin

Is it okay to swap the hamstring curl with a romanian deadlift? If not, is there something else that works? The curl is difficult solo.

Also. Would combining something like 6-minute abs with this be good for your core? Or is this too much/unnecessary. Thanks.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 09:06
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

Yes that is fine to do. And sure, you can add in additional core training into this program.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 07/27/2018 - 00:10
Dave

For the weight of the sets, should i got max weight every set or start low and add weight per set?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/27/2018 - 15:18
JoshEngland

Hi Dave,

Use 75-85% of your working max for that rep range.

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Posted Thu, 07/26/2018 - 11:02
Scott

for the rest days on the 4 day work out basically you do day one and day two then take a rest day. The wording just threw me off because it talks about the upper body and two lower body but the schedule alternates upper and lower

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/26/2018 - 13:50
JoshEngland

Hi Scott,

Yes, that is correct.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/17/2018 - 21:28
Jose Ian Allado

I've been doing this for over a week now and from 105 kgs, I am now 89 kgs! I feel a lot stronger too because they become easier to do after a month that I had to increase the weights. Day 4 has to be the hardest thing on here. Looking forward to how I look by the end of the year! Thanks for this! :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/18/2018 - 08:33
JoshEngland

Hi Jose,

That's awesome! Keep it up!

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Posted Fri, 07/06/2018 - 06:41
Kyry

Hello!
First of all thank you very much for the workouts,im just about to finish the 3 day 8 week dumbbell only workout routine.I recently acquired a pull up bar and the problem is that i want to pick this workout routine but i have no idea if i should replace some of the existing exercises,add new ones and tinker with the volume or switch to a completely different routine.Any ideas?

Thank you in advance :D.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/06/2018 - 09:16
JoshEngland

Hi Kyry,

That's awesome! Feel free to add pull ups in to replace either bicep work or rows on upper days.

You can also add them in addition to what is listed.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/09/2018 - 13:54
Blake

Hey Kyry, did the 3 day 8 week program work for you? Did you see ant results? I'm thinking about starting it.

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Posted Tue, 07/10/2018 - 06:26
Kyry

Yeah,it worked great.
I started at 150 lbs/67 kg and around 20% bf so i had 55 kg lean mass and 12 kg of fat
I did the routine every other day without caring about what day is it so i had around 7 workouts every 14 days.
In the first month i gained aprox 5-6 lbs (2 kg ) of muscle and fat with aprox 2000 calories/day with my normal diet and started seeing some definition.
After that i started cutting and lost around 3.5 kg of fat and some muscle with around 1300-1600 (depending how tired i was) calories/day in 3 weeks and got to around 16% bf and i started seeing my abs somewhat.
Now in my last week im still cutting and hoping to get to 15% bf before it ends so i can start eating 2000 again and gain muscle with this 4 day one. (As a fyi i did not care what i ate as long as i got to my calorie goal and had a little bit of everything carbs protein etc etc.)
In the days im eating 1600 calories i do some HIIT after working out 5-10 min max so i compensate.
In my rest days i may go running in the morning but it happens rarely and other than that i stay at a desk 12 hours per day :D
Hope it helps,gl!

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Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 22:14
Armand

I have a few questions... on the rest days can I do other workouts and can I replace the dumbbell bench press with Barbell as well with the squats ?
And also use a curl bar for the dumbbell curls?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2018 - 08:41
JoshEngland

Hi Armand,

No, take your rest days. Yes, those substitutions are fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:14
M

I'm looking to gain strenth and lose fat, but I don't necessarily want to gain mass. I know protein is commonly recommended, but is there a way to use nutrition to nourish my muscles without the typical "bulking" many use to build muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:44
JoshEngland

Hi M,

Sure, eat at a maintenance level caloric intake.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 19:06
Pop

Hello. I’m a little overweight and wanted to start doing this. Will this help me burn fat while also building muscle? Can i do my own form of cardio like playing basketball or soccer?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 08:49
JoshEngland

Hi Pop,

Yes, it is perfect for someone with those goals. Absolutely, incorporate whatever forms of cardio you enjoy doing the most.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 08:47
GMAN

As a substitute for Dumbbell Hamstring Curl, can i do walking lunges?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 09:05
JoshEngland

Hi Gman,

The alternatives I've provided you in the past are better options.

If those aren't doable, I'd recommend a dumbbell RDL or something more hamstring focused.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/27/2018 - 10:42
Jonathan

Would it be possible/advisable to swap the goblet squat out for a dumbbell front squat?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/27/2018 - 16:47
JoshEngland

Hi Jonathan,

Yes, that is completely find to do.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/24/2018 - 03:59
Saif

Hi Josh,

Should the weight of dumbbells be the same for each exercise? Or can I use 3kg DBs for lateral raise, 10kg DBs for curls, 20kg DBs for bench?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:10
JoshEngland

Hi Saif,

If you have different dumbbells to select from, choose the appropriate weight for each exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/24/2018 - 03:47
Saif

Hi Josh,

I don't have a bench at home and want to know if I can perform them on the floor instead for the exercises mentioned which would require a bench?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:09
JoshEngland

Hi Saif,

Yes, that'll work. However, if you plan on training at home - it might be worth while to invest in a bench as it will give you more variety in your workouts.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/21/2018 - 08:30
GMAN

Any substitutions for the Dumbbell Hamstring Curl? the dumbbells i have doesnt have a good handle for my feet to grip.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/21/2018 - 10:22
JoshEngland

Hi GMAN,

If you have an exercise ball or valslides, I'd recommend bodyweight hamstring curls. If not, those would be great additions to your home gym.

Hope this helps!