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

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: Wed, 04/17/2024 - 21:40

Hi, first of all thank you for this free workout program. I just want to ask if what exercise can I change or add to improve this 3 days program using a barbell? I Just want to maximize what equipment I have. Thank you again!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2024 - 05:36

Hi Menard, do you have a rack and bench as well or just the barbell and plates? I want to provide the best answers possible for you.

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2024 - 00:55

Hi Josh,

Thank you for sharing this workout plan. It has been really helpful for a sedentary beginner like myself.

I just have a couple of questions:

1) Can I change the Dumbbell Squat for a Goblet Squat? I find better stability and form with the later.

2) Can I change the Dumbbell Curl for a Barbel Curl? I find it easier for weight adjustment.

Thanks again, and I hope you are well.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:10

Hi Alex, answering this one for Josh.

You can absolutely swap in the Goblet Squat. Go for it.

You can do the BB curl if you like. Since this was a DB only workout, no barbell movements were included, but if you got one, swap it in wherever you like. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 23:19

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for your response!

Have a nice rest of the week.

Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 12:15

Hi mate,

Appreciate the article - really clear and concise.

I was hoping you could help me with the following -

I play football twice per week (Wednesday, Saturday) and may potentially increase this to thrice (Monday) as I step up my rehab from an ankle ligament injury...

Wondered which days you'd recommend doing the exercises if that were the case?

I am more concerned by the leg specific exercises (Quads + Hammys) of course. I wondered whether it is more optimal to group the excercises by muscle group ie 2x Days w/ Chest, Shoulders, Arms, Back... then the other 1 x Day exclusively of Legs?

Really appreciate your input :)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 06:11

What's good, LR? I would go with the latter suggestion of group them by muscle groups, myself. Make sure you have enough time to recover from that leg workout before you play again. Hope this helps, and thanks for reading M&S!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 04/06/2024 - 06:04

If you bump up to three times a week, make sure you get extra recovery in (extra calories, stretching, sleep, massage, etc.) because that is going to be a LOT of work. But you obviously love football and want to find a way to train, so I don't want to deter that.

Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 10:58

Thank you.

My current thinking is the following -

Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Arms / Chest / Back
Wednesday - Football
Thursday - REST
Friday - Arms / Chest / Back
Saturday - Football
Sunday - REST

Does that sound about right?

Likewise, if I increase the football to 3x week -

Monday - Football
Tuesday - REST
Wednesday - Football & Arms / Chest / Back (AM Session)
Thursday - Legs
Friday - REST
Saturday - Football
Sunday - Arms / Chest / Back

Appreciate your input :)

Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 10:18

Hi there - loving this routine. Combined with good nutrition that has worked wonders for me. A question - I have been going 2 months and was thinking about upgrading to "Frankoman's Dumbbell Only Split".

I prefer to stick with this one because:
1. I don't want to spend any more time on the exercise as I'm busy
2. I'm not looking to get super big, just more toned and then I see it more as maintenance. I am naturally slim and have already lost lots of my "skinnyfat".
3. Don't want to risk injury to my back 1x weekly whole session on it (I'm 40)

- Can I just stick with this program and up the weights every now and then when it becomes too easy?
- What are the disadvantages of doing that?
- If I do stick with this one, would you recommend any small additional activity to go with it?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 20:08

Hi Aidan,

1. Yes
2. Outside of complacency, there is no real disadvantage.
3. Cut rest time briefly and find ways to make the last set more challenging (drop set, rest-pause, etc.)

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 04/01/2024 - 08:28

Thanks Roger!

Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2024 - 13:27

I'm thinking about starting the beginner 3 day dumbbell workout. I was wondering if there were any benefits to doing that routine in the morning to start my day and then again when I got home about 10 hours later?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2024 - 19:48

If you're a beginner yourself, then I would suggest sticking to doing it once. If you've been in the game for a while but are looking for something you can do at home, you could get away with doing it twice.

Posted on: Sat, 03/16/2024 - 14:32

Hello,I've been doing the beginner 3day dumbbell workout for a month or so. Do you have another recommendation for the prone hamstring exercise? I can't position the weight between soles of feet...thx!

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Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:12

Do you have anything else besides dumbbells you can work with? I want to give you as many alternatives as possible.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2024 - 19:47

Then, any hamstring exercise would work as an option. Leg curls (standing or lying) would be beneficial. Since you would be doing a machine, go with single leg curl, even if you do it lying.

Posted on: Thu, 03/21/2024 - 19:20

Yes, I go to to local Y. They have most circuit machines
Etc. Thank you.

Posted on: Sat, 03/16/2024 - 12:27

Hi Roger, thanks for replying to my comment, yes I think that would be very nice that you would provide a sample band workout, it doesn’t have to be exactly like this one but yeah that would be cool, M& has been my go to workout website for a very long time, it has helped me on weight loss journey (lost 117 lbs) and love that it has workouts for many situations, and someday I hope this website will have its own three day full body resistance band workout, thank you Roger, you and M& are awesome

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:11

We do what we can, Mark. I don't know if you have looped bands or handled, but I used handled bands for my training. So, you're getting this one straight out of my personal log.

Standing Military Press - 3 sets of 15 reps - Go slower with the reps each set if you can't go heavier.
Band Pull-Apart - 3 sets of 15 reps
Pulldown - 3 sets of 15 reps. Hold the folded band over your head. Pull down and apart as if you were doing a pulldown.
Chest Press - 3 sets of 15 reps. Wrap the band around you and do presses. Squeeze and hold at the top of each rep.
Band Curl - 3 sets of 15 reps.
Band Squat - 3 sets of 20 reps. Hold ends at shoulder height while standing in the middle and squat. Pause at the bottom.
Good morning - 3 sets of 20 reps. Hold ends at shoulder height and perform good mornings as if you have a bar on your back.

Start with upper body on Day 1 and go in reverse order on Day 2.

Also, love that story and I really appreciate you sharing it. 117 pounds is Insane! We're gonna get that band one up. May take a bit, but it's coming.

Posted on: Wed, 03/27/2024 - 07:44

I will definitely keep an eye out for for that article when it comes out…by the way…are the Roger from WV if so I’m from Fairmont WV …have a good day Roger and take care and thank you for everything you’ve done

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/27/2024 - 07:47

It is indeed me from WV! Love Fairmont, great town. Have a great one and thanks for being a part of the M&S community!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/25/2024 - 20:29

My pleasure, Mark. I also have an update. May take a couple months, but the larger article has been green lighted. Watch for it later this year. I plan on making it a good one!

Posted on: Thu, 03/21/2024 - 05:47

OMG Roger, thank you for the band workout, that was awesome of you to do that and I will implement this workout into my routine right away, thanks again and take care Roger

Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 18:25

Ive been doing this workout for about a month. Unfortunately
aghravated elbow, forearm tendinitis. Also hand bothers me at times. Any suggestions about what I can do? Thx

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:04

Hi Carol, I hate taking this easy way out of it, but it's the best answer I can give you. Talk to your doctor about these issues. Outside of extra warming up, it would be hard for me to give options without knowing that is causing the aggravation of the elbow and hands.

Jude larsen
Posted on: Mon, 03/11/2024 - 20:30

Hi, I’m 22 and 6ft 0.
How many calories should I eat, and would hockey once a week be okay with this routine and mean I’d have to consume more calories to bulk up which is harder to do and do I eat excess of calories every day or only training days.
Would Thursday, Saturday and Monday be good training days with rest being rest days.

I’m doing the workouts at home so what would be a good substitute for a bench??

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/20/2024 - 21:03

Hey Jude, this guide should help you with the calories question.

Hockey once a week would be fine while you're doing this.

If you don't have an adjustable bench, use the floor and do floor versions instead of incline or seated. You could also use a chair for seated exercises.

Posted on: Sun, 03/10/2024 - 19:15

Hi Roger I was reading an earlier comment on resistance band training similar to this dumbbell workout and I was wondering if it’s going to happen, it would be great to see

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:55

What is good, Mark? Yeah, the people have been asking about this one, and I intend to deliver. No idea on a publishing date yet, but we're working on it. In the meantime, you want a sample to go with for now?

Posted on: Thu, 03/07/2024 - 15:48

Hello, I have a few questions I wanted to ask about my workout. (using dumbbells)

Q1: If my workout has 6 to 7 exercise per muscle group, Is full body better or upper/lower split? Also If I choose either of the two Is It better to split those exercises for each workout day?

Q2: Is resting 1min for Isolation and 3 min for compound exercises good?

Q3: Do sets per muscle per week matter that much?

Q4: Am I missing out on building muscle and strength If I exclude exercises that hit other parts of a muscle? (only doing military press and not front raise or rear delt fly)

Sorry for this many questions.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:53

Hey Mario, first of all, never apologize for the questions here. Literally what I am here to do.

A1: Upper lower split would be better if you have that many exercises per muscle group. If you choose to go full body, then definitely split the movements up.

A2: I would go 2 minutes on compound to save time, but if you need 3, take it.

A3: Depends on the experience. Beginners need to do a certain number to know they got the work in. Advanced trainees that know how to push themselves may not need as many.

A4: Don't neglect those isolation movements. You don't need as many sets of them, but they shouldn't be ignored. When it comes to muscle and strength, the whole matters as much as the sum of the parts.

El Blanco
Posted on: Wed, 03/06/2024 - 10:42

Should I do all 3 sets in a row of each exercise or perform one set, then next exercise, etc.?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:49

You would do all three sets of an exercise with small breaks in between, then move on to the next exercise. Hope this helps.

El Blanco
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 20:35

Awesome. I appreciate the response. Thanks.

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 15:17

Hi, can I superset any of the exercises in these 3 days ? Thanks !

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 19:06

You sure can, Sébastien. Let us know how you plan to do it or if you need suggestions.

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 19:23

Sorry I wasnt clear. I totally need suggestions for the 3 days. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 19:33

No problem. Keep it simple, pair them up in order. Superset the first two, then the next two, and so on. They actually work well together, I believe.

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 02:50

Hi, I'm a 16 year old girl, 5'2 weighing 51kg. I've been doing about 30 minutes of HIIT with weights (growingannanas youtube channel) for over a month now with 2kg dumbbells (which seems embarrassing now after reading about the weights other people are talking about haha). I do it about 5 days per week. While my main goal is to just be in good health, I want to try to gain a bit of muscle. If I do this workout at home with 2 kg dumbbells (and replace the bench exercise with something else due to lack of equipment), for 3-4 days, do you think I will see progress or should I start with heavier weights to actually see progress?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2024 - 19:03

Hi Lily! Thank you for reading M&S. You may need to eventually get some bigger weights or resistance bands, but you can still build muscle with the right nutrition and recovery with the ones you got. You can do more reps, slower reps, and pair exercises together as supersets to make this more challenging so you can get stronger and increase muscle mass.

As for the bench, do flat movements on the floor and seated movements with a chair until you can get a bench if you want one. I hope this helps.

Garrett C
Posted on: Sun, 02/25/2024 - 13:45

How do I determine my starting weight for each exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 02/26/2024 - 18:30

Hey Garrett, the only way is through trial and error. Start with a weight that you would bet money you could get with good form, and gradually increase until you feel challenged.

Posted on: Fri, 02/23/2024 - 17:01

Hi there, can I do HIIT on the same day as one of these? At the moment I’m doing the strength training on Sunday,Monday,Thursday Afternoon (while also doing light-medium intensity cardio in the morning). I do HIIT on Wednesdays and Fridays, is this routine okay? Or would you recommend changing my Sunday strength training to Friday Afternoon (while I also do HIIT in the morning)? My rest days are Tuesday and Saturday. Thanks in advance I’m abit unsure as I don’t know if my rest days should be in between the weight training days.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 02/25/2024 - 07:26

You can do HIIT on the same day. I don't think you need to make any changes. As long as you feel recovered for the next session, you should be fine.

Posted on: Tue, 02/20/2024 - 21:23

Hi there, I wanted to know if this workout plan is good for 17 year old. I'm 17 and weighs 120kg. Is this workout good for me too lose weight . And also does this work out effect my height?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/22/2024 - 10:24

This workout will have no correlation to your height. As long as you eat healthy, perform regular cardio, and recovery properly, you can lose weight on this program. Hope this helps!

Umar Rizwan
Posted on: Sun, 02/18/2024 - 11:57

Hey by following this workout plan consistantly and gradually increasing the reps and weights will i be able to see a difference in my body and gain a v shape, because I have heard from many people that home workouts are not effective and it will not change your body shape, is this correct ? pleasew guide me as this is very demotivating and going to gym rerquires a lot of time which i dont have due to my high school, im a 16 years old teenager 80kg, and 6,1 height

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/22/2024 - 10:23

Hey Umar, this will be a great starting workout for you to improve at training and get you on the way to building that V-taper. It won't be the ultimate solution, but you will make progress. "Many people" say a lot of things, but these at home workouts have helped hundreds of thousands of people reach their goals. Focus on doing the best you can with this workout while eating healthy and I think you will find that this workout is a good one. Thank you for reading M&S!

Posted on: Fri, 02/09/2024 - 09:45

Finally unlazy'd my mid-30's self and got into resistance training with this as my first program. I have an adjustable bench, a pair of adjustable dumbbells, and a pull-up bar, and functionally no background in weight training prior to this. As of now, I'm finishing up week 5.

Generally, I like the program, but each day takes twice as long as the program description indicates. The only possible way to make the half-hour mark is by dramatically cutting down the intensity. It's just not possible to push progressive overload with these exercises and keep the sessions at a half hour or less. This is not a bad thing and I doubt the program was written with adjustable dumbbells and progressive overload in mind, but it's worth noting.

For the actual exercises, I follow the program mostly as-is with minimal but noteworthy changes. 1st, any time I have lateral raises, I superset with rear delt fly and vice versa. It takes very little extra time and I want to make sure both parts of the shoulder are hit a little more often. 2nd, D2's dumbbell hamstring curl is subbed out for pullups because a: I have the pullup bar, b: I'm already hitting hamstrings pretty well with the deadlifts, c: it's hard to do with my adjustable dumbbells, and d: I wanted a third back pulling exercise for the week (bent over rows on D1, single arm rows on D3). Lastly, on D3 I subbed Zottman curl for standard reverse grip curl.

At 5 weeks in, my form is getting pretty dialed in and I'm getting closer to the limits of the 80lb/dumbbell for some of the leg exercises. My wife is starting to notice the work, but at least some of that will be diet-related too as I've been trying to figure out what my real-world tdee is and I've been accidentally eating at deficit for the last 5 weeks. I know gains don't come quickly so I'm not looking for (or expecting) to see them yet, but I do think this program has been good for me to get into a weight training program for the first time with limited equipment available. Once this program ends I'll have a deload week and then step up into the 4day program linked in the description.