This workout program only requires dumbbells, has just the right amount of volume to promote muscle growth, and is perfect to do at home or on the go.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

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

It’s perfect for those who work out at home, travel and are on the road a lot, or beginners who are new to weight lifting.

It can be performed as a complete workout program for up to 8 weeks. At that point you may want to consider increasing the volume of the workouts or change up your routine to include more of a variety of equipment.

This program calls for you to work out 3 times a week. Since these workouts are full body workouts, it is best to have a rest day in between your work out days.

For example, you could perform this program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This will give your body enough rest to recover in between workouts.

Be sure to track your rest periods during your workouts. The rest time in between sets for this program should be between 30-60 seconds.

Feel free to add cardio and ab specific training as you see fit. I’d recommend HIIT after your workouts on your work out days and a lower intensity form of cardio on your off/recovery days.

If you have any questions about this program, please feel free to ask in the comments section below!

After you've finished this workout program, move on to this 4 day dumbbell only workout program.

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

3 Day Full Body Dumbbell Workout

Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Squat 3 10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 10
3. Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 10
4. Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
5. Lateral Raises 2 8
6. Standing Dumbbell Curl 2 8
7. Lying Dumbbell Extension 2 8

Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Lunge 3 10
2. Dumbbell Hamstring Curl 3 10
3. Dumbbell Deadlift 3 10
4. Dumbbell Military Press 3 10
5. Dumbbell Flys 2 8
6. Hammer Curl 2 8
7. Seated Dumbbell Extension 2 8

Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Step Up 3 10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 10
3. One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10
4. Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press 3 10
5. Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly 2 8
6. Zottman Curl 2 8
7. Close Grip Dumbbell Press 2 8

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Posted on: Mon, 09/11/2023 - 11:40

Would it be okay to swap rows or some other exercise with pull-ups?

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Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:12

I would suggest keeping one version of a row in, but you can certainly add the pullups if you like. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sat, 08/19/2023 - 11:18

Hello just wondering the time frame to see results I'm really trying to bulk up my biceps shoulders and back

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:54

Completely dependent on the individual's training experience and commitment. If you do everything right and follow a sound nutrition plan, you should see positive changes within a few weeks.

Posted on: Fri, 08/11/2023 - 08:50

Do you do sets for the same exercise back to back to back? Or do you do one set of each exercise and go back to the top to do the second set per exercise, etc?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:54

Do the first set of an exercise, rest, do the second set, rest, do the remaining sets in that same pattern. Once you finish the first exercise, move on to the second.

Posted on: Thu, 08/10/2023 - 07:33

Hi, I got a few questions. I got a workout routine consisting of 7 leg exercises, 3 deadlifts, 5 chests, 5 shoulder, 3 bent over row variations, 4 biceps and 4 tricep. Now I want to know If It's better to rest 30–60 secs between each set, or should I rest 30-60 for each Isolation exercise and 2-4 min for compound ones? I've been seeing few videos on YouTube saying that I'ts better to have different rest time for Isolation and compound exercises, Which one is better?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:53

Hi, Max. Go with the 2-4 for compound and 30-60 for isolation. The body is working harder and with more muscle groups with the compound exercises. So, the extra rest time would be necessary, especially for beginners. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 08/31/2023 - 17:01

Thanks for answering.

Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 14:45


I've been doing this plan for 6 weeks, with a small difference (I do all exercises for 3 set 10 rep). This is my first time doing exercises with dumbbells, also not been working out for couple of years. So we can say I started to exercise with this program.

I am planning to move on to 4-day plan you provided here in 2 weeks but the issue is, I am still having difficulties finishing each day. I am in my 7th week but still, daily workout feels hard. Is it normal to feel this way because of my lack of exercise history, or am I doing something wrong?
Personal info: 6ft1, 220 lbs, 31y, male. I only have 11lbs dumbbells(fixed weight), don't have bench so doing some exercises on ground and/or in modified way. Rest between reps are about 30 sec, between exercises are about 50 sec.

What would you recommend? Stick to the plan, finish 8 weeks and transition to 4-day 12-week plan; or keep doing this for more? Or something else?


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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:52

Hi, Curtis. Thanks for reading M&S.

I would suggest finishing the eight weeks, then transition to the 4-day plan. If after that first week on the new plan, you feel overwhelmed, simply go back to the three-day plan.

Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 12:44

Can you elaborate a bit on how I would determine how heavy the weights should be for the various exercises?

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Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:51

Hi, Rocky. If you grab a weight and you feel like you could do more than two reps over the recommended reps, then it's too light. If you would struggle to get two less than the reps called for, then it's too heavy. You should feel challenged but be able to finish the set with the weight you use without sacrificing form. I hope this helps!

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Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:12

Yep, too heavy. Go lighter on all three sets so you can meet the rep ranges. Then, gradually work so you get stronger and can go back up.

Posted on: Sat, 09/02/2023 - 02:07

Thank you! Quick question: for some of the exercises (e.g. Standing Dumbbell Press), for the first set I can do 10, then for the second and third I can 5 and 4 (respectively). Are my weights too heavy? Many thanks!

Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 10:24


I really need help and guidance, so please bear with me and my long post. I am 40 years old and have not exercised since I was in my teens. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and am on the autism spectrum (I have high-functioning autism). I have a wife and three children and need to turn my life around.

Due to my mental state and having severe social anxiety, I am somewhat of a hermit who stays to himself, with the exception of my family whom with I enjoy every moment with. I am unable to join a gym because of my social anxiety; I end up panicking and breaking down in public if I'm alone and need to do something that is out of the ordinary for me. Therefore, I need to workout at home, but due to limited space, I really only have room for dumbbells and a bench.

As for my body type, I am 6'3" and about 200lbs. I have always been skinny, but in the last few years I've put on weight and have fat predominantly in my belly area, but I don't seem to gain weight anywhere else. As for my diet, I generally eat well, but I do falter a lot when the weekend comes. I used to drink quite a bit of beer, but have recently cut that out, but don't drink anything else. I am okay with eating clean and healthy, as it's not a problem for me.

As for my goals, I simply want to reduce my body fat, become lean and "ripped", and improve my energy and endurance. I don't want to get "jacked" or anything of that nature.

So here are my questions:

- Are adjustable dumbbells okay to use?
- Is it okay to start with this 3 day plan and then slowly progress to your 4 day and 5 day plans?
- What other factors should I take into consideration?
- How much cardio should I implement? We do have an elliptical and treadmill at home.

I want to thank you in advance to whomever reads and replies to this post. Again, I am sorry that it was long, I just really need help. I have thought about going to a personal trainer, but money is very tight and so it is more feasible for me to buy a dumbell set and bench and workout at home.

Lastly, I understand that this will all take time, I am not looking to rush anything. I have given myself a time-frame of one year, so that by the time I'm 41, I will be in better shape. If it comes quicker than that, that's just a bonus, but I understand this is going to be a difficult road, but I need to do it for my mental and physical state, which in turn is all for my children and wife.

Thank you again!

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:31

Hi, Luke. Thanks for reading M&S.

1. Yes, adjustables are ok.
2. You can start with the 3 and work up.
3. Keep it as simple as possible until you get in better shape.
4. Go with 20-30 minutes a day either in the morning or after you train.

Take it a day at a time and do what you gotta do to move forward. We're here for you if you got more questions along the way. Props for finding positive solutions and focusing on getting better.

Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2023 - 17:18

when doing the squats, my forearms and grip tire out before my legs, as well as my balance. I hear Bulgarian split squats are more effective than squats, so would it be alright to do the split squats instead of the dumbbell squats?

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:20

How effective they are is dependent on the person doing them, but you can make the switch if you like, Malga. If grip is an issue for the split squats, use lifting straps to hold onto the dumbbell.

Posted on: Tue, 08/01/2023 - 16:31

Thanks for the reply! Also, one more question: my apartment gym has a leg extension and curl machine and I was wondering if that’s effective at all and how does it fare against dumbbell squats?

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Posted on: Thu, 08/17/2023 - 22:12

They would be great to do in addition to the squats, but if you have to choose one over the others, do the squats.

Posted on: Mon, 07/03/2023 - 12:36

I'm a beginner, is the last set of each exercise supposed to be done to failure or to failure on each set? Thanks!

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Posted on: Mon, 07/10/2023 - 07:51

Last set to failure, especially since you're a beginner.

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:01

It means you can't perform another rep with proper form, even if you tried your hardest.

Posted on: Sun, 07/16/2023 - 11:14

I'm a complete beginner but what does doing an exercise to failure mean?

Posted on: Fri, 07/28/2023 - 20:42

It means to do the reps until you absolutely can't anymore.

Posted on: Sat, 07/01/2023 - 07:26


I'm new in the fitness world. I will start with this program and will do all of the only dumbells workouts from this website. How many weeks do I have to do this program and then start to the 4-days week program?

Thanks in advance,

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Posted on: Thu, 07/06/2023 - 08:45

Hi, Stijn. Glad you're starting your fitness journey with us. Work with the 3-day for at least four weeks, maybe six if you feel you need it. Then, you should be able to move up to the 4-day plan. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 17:24

Newbie Question: I’ve read to use the highest weight your comfortable with. Should this be one weight across all exercises or can you alternate weight depending on the exercise. For example I can do a lot more weight on bicep curl sets than I can with lateral raises. So should I lower my dumbbell weight across the board or only for lateral raises?

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Posted on: Tue, 06/27/2023 - 08:05

We always welcome the newbie questions, Brody. Thanks for being a part of the M&S community.

It means to use the weight on the particular exercise. If you can do 25's on curls, use 25's. If all you can do is 10's for lateral raises, go with that. I don't know how strong you are so those numbers were made up, but hopefully this helps. Alternate weight depending on the exercise.

Posted on: Mon, 07/03/2023 - 12:21

Your weights will probably be very different between exercises. Almost every exercise will be done with a different amount of weight. If you compare what most people can squat vs fly, for example, the gap is absolutely enormous. So, to answer your question, use the most weight you can for each individual exercise, the weight does not have to (nor should it) be the same between all exercises.

Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 15:50

Hi! I'm considering starting one of these workout programs but having trouble deciding which is the most effective. Here are the options I'm considering:

1. This program

I only have access to dumbbells and a pull-up bar, so I'm looking for a workout program that preferably utilizes this equipment. Which one do you think would be the best option in terms of effectiveness and hypertrophy? Thanks.

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Posted on: Tue, 06/27/2023 - 07:58

Any of the three would help, but if it was me in your position, I would go with number three and add pullups into it since you have the pull-up bar. The volume on the third workout will be beneficial, and you can do more direct work to more muscle groups. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 13:41

Hi. Do I need to do a warmup set for each exercise, as in, should I actually be doing 4 sets when it says to do 3?

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Posted on: Tue, 06/27/2023 - 07:56

You can do a warm-up set for each if you like, but after the first exercise or two, you should be good to go and not need them.

Posted on: Sat, 06/24/2023 - 09:58

Hi im overweight and i want to lose weight can i lose weight with this exercise?

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Posted on: Sun, 06/25/2023 - 09:23

This combined with cardio and a sound nutrition plan can help you lose weight. This guide can help you as well.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2023 - 14:56

Could you tell me something that I could replace the hamstring curls with? I'm using adjustable dumbbells and because of their weird shape (they're the PowerBlock brand) I don't think I could reliably do those without risking dropping one on my girlfriend's cat.

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Posted on: Thu, 06/22/2023 - 06:55

Hi, Rick. If you have furniture sliders, you can do leg curls by lying on the floor, placing those under your heels, raising your hips, and curling in that way. I can't share an external link here, but there are videos on YouTube demonstrating this. If that doesn't work, let me know what you have access to, and I'll do my best to make other suggestions.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2023 - 12:03


I have been following this program for about 4 weeks and absolutely love it. It’s helped me fall in love with resistance training all over again! I just had a burning question. Why are the isolation movements limited to 2 sets? I just wanted to know if there was something in the thought process that I was missing about that. Thank you!

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Posted on: Thu, 06/22/2023 - 06:53

Hi, Ahmed. I can't speak for the author, but my guess is they wanted to control the volume and consider time of training. If you like them and want to do the third set, feel free.

Posted on: Tue, 06/13/2023 - 05:02

Hi, I get a bit of bother with my knee(Patella I suspect)is there an alternative exercise I can do instead of step ups? Thanks for the free content and support. :)

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Posted on: Tue, 06/13/2023 - 07:00

Thanks for reading M&S, James. First and foremost, talk to your doctor about that knee so you know it isn't anything more serious.

In the meantime, single leg press would be a solid substitution. You can still work one leg at a time, but you also have the machine to provide that extra support. Hope this helps.

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Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 06:26

I apologize, but I had realized that and changed that answer, but it didn't show. Let me try this again here.

You can either do dumbbell squats a second time if they don't bother you, or you can do split squats. One foot in the front with the back leg on a bench or chair behind you.

James Mclean
Posted on: Tue, 06/13/2023 - 15:24

Thanks for the reply, but I don't have a machine, I'm doinging the 3 day full body dumbbell workout at home. Thanks

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Posted on: Tue, 06/13/2023 - 07:00

Thanks for reading M&S, James. First and foremost, talk to your doctor about that knee so you know it isn't anything more serious.

In the meantime, single leg press would be a solid substitution if you have access to a gym. You can still work one leg at a time, but you also have the machine to provide that extra support. If not, then I would say simply skip the exercise and do more sets with the others. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Wed, 06/07/2023 - 17:25

Roger, had a question regarding the off days. I am an active runner putting in around 6 miles every other day. Is this program comparable with this - I.e alternating days between running and lifting? Thanks

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Posted on: Thu, 06/08/2023 - 09:11

Got an answer for you, Dave. It is. You can certainly do that, and I hope you'll share your results with it once you reach your goals. Thanks for reading M&S!

Ken Locke
Posted on: Mon, 05/29/2023 - 05:01

I am underweight (5"11 and 69kg). Do you recommend anything to help me with gaining weight while I do this workout plan?

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Posted on: Sat, 06/03/2023 - 15:22

I would suggest this, Ken. Good luck, and check back if you got more questions.