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!

Posted on: Fri, 12/01/2023 - 13:51

First week of this program down. I moved from 3 full body workouts a week. This split saves time and hits everything! Day 4 slaughtered my quads, hamstrings, and glutes! Thank you!

Alex Van Heeswijk
Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2023 - 02:16

I just read i need to do 4 sets then move to the next
Why is that? I do 1 set and move to the next to work all of trhem. Is this not ok?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/30/2023 - 20:47

Hi, Alex. Doing all the sets of one exercise before moving on to the next is how traditional workouts go because you don't have to worry about going from station to station so many times. You also are challenging the muscle from that angle or movement thoroughly.

There's nothing wrong with your approach, and if that is working for you, I would suggest you keep doing it. Either way, good luck and I hope you'll share your results!

Alex Van Heeswijk
Posted on: Sun, 12/03/2023 - 11:47

Great thx.

Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2023 - 08:07

Is it okay to do this 4 days in a row then 3 days off? I really want to start this routine, but I kind of have a weird work schedule.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/16/2023 - 21:08

If you've been training for a while and know how your recovery should be, then yes. If you're a beginner, then training that many days in a row may not be best for you.

Posted on: Fri, 10/20/2023 - 04:58

I have only 50kg of dumbbells (total) at home. Is it enough to build muscle mass. I don't have bench, so what are alternative exercises to incline bench press and chest supported row?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:49

Hey Jack, it would be enough to get you started for sure. Once you get stronger, you will need to buy more weights.

For the bench, place a couple of pillows or blankets on the floor and rest your head and shoulders on them. This will help make a small incline. Best recommendation I got for that. Simply do a bent-over row in place of the chest supported row.

Posted on: Wed, 09/27/2023 - 18:13

Did the first week of this, and have been using the same weight for almost everything because it's all I currently have. I've noticed some exercises are almost too easy while others are either just right or almost too hard. I guess my question is how do I know the amount of weight I should be using given the exercise? I know it's a thing you get a feel for, but is there a general rule of thumb that you should use lighter weights for (x) exercise vs. a different one? Do I just test different weights until the exercise feels like a challenge? I feel like that would break the flow of doing an exercise.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 10:56

Hi, Matt. There aren't any hard rules on this, but I have suggested to clients that lighter weight is best for isolation movements (those that require one muscle group) and the challenging weight is best for compound movements (multi joint or multiple muscle groups working). That should help you until you feel more comfortable choosing your own weights. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 09/02/2023 - 21:25

Just finished the 8weeks of the 3 day dumbell workout and I'm looking over the 4 day program before starting it next week.
On day 4, for the split squat the link goes to instructions for a one-legged split squat. Is that a link error or is that what we are supposed to be doing?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 09/17/2023 - 09:34

That is what you're supposed to do.

Posted on: Mon, 08/21/2023 - 22:15

Is the rest recommendation for between sets or between reps?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:27

Hi, Sarah. Rest is between sets.

Posted on: Wed, 08/23/2023 - 06:01

Thanks! Is there a recommended rest time between reps or should I just generally wait to catch my breath?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2023 - 12:33

45-60 seconds is a good range for rest.

Posted on: Sat, 08/12/2023 - 20:40

Thanks for this program. I’m Just starting out. When doing this program am I to do all 4 sets of the first exercise and then move on to the next one.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:28

That is correct, Kim. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Fri, 08/11/2023 - 12:58

What are your thoughts on incorporating Intermittent Fasting with this workout? Is it beneficial to the program or would I be sabotaging myself by doing both?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:27

If you have experience with IF and you know how it feels to train with it, then you should be fine. If you're new to IF, then I suggest trying it without workouts at first until you get used to it.

Robin Curtis
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 07:15

Thanks for this workout, it's been great so far. How long do you suggest we stay with this? I have trained in the past though not much, and sometimes this feels easy and sometimes it feels like I'm really working. How long do you stay with this before switching the program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:25

Shoot for six to eight weeks, then make a change based on what your new goals are. Hope this helps, Robin!

Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 20:47

what should I do next after I completed the 12 week program? Can I continue the same program and just add weight to it?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:04

You can do that, or we have this article with many recommendations based on new goals you may have.


Brandon Ortiz
Posted on: Wed, 07/26/2023 - 07:30

Hello! And thank you for making these progra s.

I started to try and workout once again with what I have at home and am currently on your 3 day workout that's supposed to go for 8 weeks.
I was wondering if a deload week should be incorporated between the end of this routine and the 4 day routine and, if so, should it be a light workout of the 3 day or 4 day routine? Also, I'm assuming this would apply to when I make it to the 5 and 6 day routines.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2023 - 12:47

You should be able to do right into the four-day, Brandon. But if you feel the need to de-load, do it. Same with the 5-6 day programs.

Posted on: Wed, 07/26/2023 - 07:03

Hello, I wanted to buy some of these dumbbells that you can add discs according to the desired weight. To do this routine or any other dumbbell routine that you suggest, what range of weights should I consider, so that they will work for me now that I am a newbie, but also in the future?
I see that you could reach a maximum of 67lbs per dumbbell. Most of all I am concerned about the legs, I understand that it will be difficult to build muscle only with dumbbells.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2023 - 12:46

The range of weights is up to you and how strong you think you can get. I would suggest going heavy as possible so you can train those legs effectively. You will see good results in the legs to start, but eventually you will need to level up to a bar or machines.

Posted on: Thu, 07/13/2023 - 21:08

Any variations for the hamstring curl? I kicked my dumbell over like 3 times and its not a great thing to do when you have downstairs neighbors lol

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 07/23/2023 - 09:42

Not with dumbbells, I'm afraid. You can do leg curls with ankle weights or use furniture sliders and place your feet on them. Slide your feet back and forth while lying back down on the floor. I know this isn't the best description, but you can find demos on YouTube.

Maan Ashgar
Posted on: Wed, 08/16/2023 - 05:35

I replaced the "Hamstring Curls" with "Seated Banded Hamstring Curls", which uses resistance bands instead of dumbbells.

Much safer, but since this is a dumbbell only guide, understandably the dumbbell version was used.

Javeria Habib
Posted on: Thu, 07/06/2023 - 08:26

Hi. I was looking into PHUL but wanted to try home alternatives with dumbells. Is this program similar to PHUL?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/13/2023 - 08:26

It is close enough that I think you can do it, Javeria. If you run it, please let us know how you do. We love hearing about results and progress around here. Thanks for reading M&S!

Javeria Habib
Posted on: Mon, 07/24/2023 - 06:31

I have been doing it for 2 weeks now. It's amazing and manageable. I am progressively overloading and my muscles feel the burn even after days of the workout.

I am in a cut and I believe this combination will help me retain muscles. Do I need to switch to something else after 12 weeks? I am assuming I can do this forever and it will still benefit me.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2023 - 08:54

You won't be able to do it forever, but if you're still seeing results after 12 weeks, feel free to keep going.

Posted on: Fri, 06/30/2023 - 10:42

Been doing this for a few weeks now. Liking it so far. Anyone here near the end, or has finished this seen any noticeable results? If so, what have you seen?

Posted on: Sat, 08/19/2023 - 14:56

How’s it going Ajel? See any results?

Posted on: Fri, 06/23/2023 - 14:26

This routine has helped a lot over the last month! Not too difficult for a beginner but also not too easy for an intermediate lifter!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/23/2023 - 21:48

Glad you like it, Ethan. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sun, 06/18/2023 - 16:21

Hi, I realized after I sent my last question that you are not on YouTube but I had a YT page open on my computer. Sorry for the confusion! My original question still stands though.
Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/19/2023 - 06:42

M&S actually does have a YouTube channel, and you can find it by going to YouTube and searching for "Muscle and Strength." Unfortunately, I can't post a direct link, but you'll know us when you see us.

Posted on: Sun, 06/18/2023 - 16:14

I recently found your YT channel and have a question regarding the # of sets for each exercise. Why are some exercises done for 4 sets vs 3 sets vs 2 sets? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/19/2023 - 06:41

Depends on the person and their own personal reasoning. Some people prefer higher volume while others prefer less sets but more intensity.

Posted on: Wed, 06/14/2023 - 06:19

Why is it that rest is limited to 60 sec tops? I'm no expert, and only thing I've seen is a youtube video of Jeff Nippard pulling up some study. The study claimed people who rest 3 min reached same hypertrophy levels as individuals who only rested 1 min.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 06:35

Can't answer for the author on this one, Aaron, but the shorter rest periods can help keep the heart rate up, which can help you burn more calories while training. It also helps save time in the weight room if you need to get out in a hurry. I don't argue about the 3-minute periods, and if you want to use that, by all means do so. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Mon, 06/12/2023 - 03:03

Hi I am really enjoying these workouts but I have one question. I like to work out in the morning before going to work. I usually just have a coffee and then start the work out. But I was wondering. If it’s better to eat something to give me energy for the workout. Do you have any tips on what I should eat and how long before starting?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/12/2023 - 06:51

Hi, Steve. I always suggest having at least a protein shake and some form of fruit before training early in the morning. Protein and a simple carb can provide the amino acids for your muscles and energy for you to push yourself. That said, if you're seeing results from what you're doing now, and you don't notice any changes after trying the shake and fruit, do what you feel works best for you. Just make sure you definitely have something after you train.

Paul Campbell
Posted on: Fri, 06/09/2023 - 13:32

When doing one of these exercises, at what point should I be pressing to failure or close to it? I'm always worried that if I take the early exercises too close to failure, the later ones will be much more difficult to perform, even if they are technically using different muscle groups.

Like for example on day 1, exercise 1, bent over dumbell row. 4 sets of 8-10. On my first set, if I can do 10 and I feel like I have a lot more in me, should I increase the weight or is it normal for the first set of an exercise to feel like that?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 06/10/2023 - 06:43

You shouldn't feel like you have a lot more in you, but finishing with 2-3 reps to spare is good. The last set of each exercise should be the failure set. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Wed, 06/07/2023 - 11:25

Hi is this program suitable for an ectomorph like me? Thanks in advance