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!

Tonya Bower
Posted on: Sat, 07/06/2024 - 00:05

Is it okay to do one set of every exercise, rest 60 seconds and then do the next set of every exercise or should I complete all three sets of an exercise before moving on to the next? Thank you for your time.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2024 - 05:00

Hi Tonya, the way you described is known as circuits, and if you are capable of doing them that way, it's fine to do so. You will notice it challenges your endurance, but that is a good thing. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 06/29/2024 - 10:19

Hello, first of all, thank you very much for the program. I just started, I want to gain weight and build muscle. First of all, I realize that I need to fix my nutrition. Besides that, will the program be enough for me?

Can we also add a chest movement, and if so, which one should we add? For example, body weight exercises such as push-ups?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2024 - 07:53

Hi Yusuf, this would be a solid program for you. And yes, pushups would be a great addition to this. Do them after your chest work with the dumbbells is finished. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2024 - 01:25

How do I know what weight to use for each exercise? Thanks in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2024 - 20:02

Hi CJ, unfortunately, the only tried and true method is trial and error. Start with a weight that you would bet money you could perform a set with, then go up or down from there. Once you find a weight that you can keep within 1-2 reps of the recommended rep range, you are good to go. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2024 - 22:25

Should the ideal weight be enough to make each set be within 1-2 reps or with 1-2 reps of all sets.

Forexample, would it be 8-10 reps for 3 sets or 10, 10 ,then 8-10 reps

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/27/2024 - 15:36

I would go 10, 10, then 8-10. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Tue, 06/25/2024 - 09:37

Much obliged for this wonderful program, Josh. If you will, please advise if it is advisable to also do bodyweight training (2 -3 sets of pushups, squats, pull ups) on the rest days coupled with cardio.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2024 - 19:45

Hi Sam, Josh has moved on, but I can tell you that as long as you take one complete day off a week from training, then bodyweight movements with cardio will be fine.

Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2024 - 19:08

I'm trying to lose weight and build muscle will the 3day dumbell plan work

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/24/2024 - 06:07

Hi Stephen, I am not sure how long you have been training, but if you are relatively new to working out, then yes, this will help you. If you have been at this for a couple years or more, then you might need something a little more intense or ways to make this more challenging.

I hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2024 - 19:27

Hi thanks for your program
Is there any higher level of this program after 8 weeks finished?
Like "intermediate" or"advanced"

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/20/2024 - 08:44

Hi Mani, we have plenty of options here at this link. If none of these work for you, let me know and I will see what I can come up with. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2024 - 08:34

Wanted to say thanks for this workout plan. I have a bad habit in the past of overtraining and burning myself out. This program is great to ensure I push myself but dont overtrain. I am already seeing results! Really appreciate this is free and the amount of interaction in the comments section. Really cant thank you enough.

Arman Hunanyan
Posted on: Sun, 06/16/2024 - 20:50

I do 30 minutes of exercise on the elliptical before my strength workout. I follow a cardio program that keeps my heart rate at approximately 140. Can this be considered a full-body warmup

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/18/2024 - 08:32

Hi Arman, you actually may be doing too much cardio to warmup. Your body uses glycogen for energy when it is doing significant activity. If you burn it up doing cardio, your strength workout can be affected negatively. Whereas if you do weights first, your body will resort to excess calories and fat storages for the cardio, which is what you want.

So, I would say 10-15 minutes max would be all you need before the weights. Then, do 15-20 more after for your cardio session.

Either way, yes, elliptical counts as a warm-up, especially if it has the moving arms.

Posted on: Fri, 06/14/2024 - 04:25

Can I do this twice a day? Say morning once and evening once. Or do you recommend full rest after one workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2024 - 07:44

Hi Sai, full rest is definitely recommended.

Richard markos
Posted on: Wed, 06/12/2024 - 19:54

I just started the 3 day workout and i’m stuck on day 2, dumbbell hamstring curl and I can’t pick up the weight like you show. You use your feet. I’ve tried umptten pounds even with a 5 pound dumbbell. It just doesn’t work like you show. Is there another exercise I can do to substitute that out. My feet are not like hands, I cannot pick up a weight with them. I really think it’s actually silly, but you guys will tell me to find a different program or something. So do I skip any exercise that requires me using my feet as hands or do you have a substitute for those exercises…

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2024 - 07:37

Hi Richard, please don't assume what we are going to tell you. We are here to help, and I do my best for each reader that asks a question.

If you can get your hands on ankle weights, you can use those for this. If not, then you can do dumbbell Romanian deadlifts with the knees slightly bent to hit the hamstrings. You could also consider Nordic curls, which will also hit the back of the thighs well.

Jimmy Hat
Posted on: Fri, 06/07/2024 - 06:37

Not a 'dumbbell only' workout though, is it.

Clearly shows benches in more than one of the linked exercises. So prospective candidates need to haev access to a gym bench.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2024 - 06:59

You are correct. The floor would be a solid option. Lie on blankets or a thick mat for extra range of motion. This would be a suitable substitution.

Posted on: Wed, 06/05/2024 - 13:56

Alternative for the dumbbell hamstring curl?

I have big adjustable dumbbells and its hard to get a decent grip on them without dropping them.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2024 - 06:42

Hi Rob, I understand that. Let me know if you have access to any other equipment or not so I can provide the best options possible.

Posted on: Mon, 06/03/2024 - 20:24

How can I do warm up with this workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2024 - 06:55

Hi Vic, this guide can help. I would suggest that you find the exercises you can do on these lists and make your own custom routine to help you warmup before the training begins. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 05/31/2024 - 22:38

You said that you recommend HIIT after the workouts. Instead could I just do lower intensity form of cardio, for around a hour, would that be fine? I been bike Riding everyday for a hour while doing these workouts 3 times a week. Is that good or not, or should I do HIIT? Hopefully you can reply, thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/07/2024 - 13:29

Hi Kosho. Most of the time readers don't have the hour to do cardio, which is why HIIT is recommended in some cases. If you do have the time and prefer to do what you've been doing, then by all means go for it. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 05/30/2024 - 04:15

hi there, ive just gotten into exercising and i wanna start with this plan. will this help build muscle and make me stronger as im skinny and tall and not that strong (16 yrs old 6'2 and around 72 kg) thanks for the workout!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/30/2024 - 08:47

Hi Aksh, yes this can help you get bigger and stronger as a beginner. It would be a good one for you to learn the ropes of training as well.

Donna Neylon
Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2024 - 22:54

Firstly, I cannot thank you enough for these free workouts.
I have just purchased my first complete dumbbell set!
I plan on doing the 3 day full body workout. This may some dumb, but do I do each exercise x 3 or 2 and then go onto the next, or do I do all 7 and then start again?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/23/2024 - 08:39

Hi Donna, thank you for supporting M&S!

Not a dumb question at all. You would do each set of an exercise before moving on to the next. Now, once you get advanced and need a serious challenge, you could do all seven in a row (called a circuit), rest, then repeat. For now, stick with the two or three of each exercise, then do the next one. Remember to rest briefly between sets as well.

Hope this helps!

Donna Neylon
Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2024 - 22:26

Thank you Roger, this is very helpful.

Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2024 - 20:13

Is this workout good for losing fat?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/23/2024 - 08:37

If your diet and cardio support fat loss, then yes.

Posted on: Tue, 06/04/2024 - 11:26

How to do warm up with this exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2024 - 06:37
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 23:26

Hi! Would this be a good place to start as far as focusing on lowering overall body fat percentage / putting on lean muscle? Haven’t properly worked out in a few years due to a back injury. Primary concern is obviously not injuring myself but I’ve already lost 40 pounds through diet and don’t want to be “skinny fat.” Or perhaps this to focus on overall body fat and then you have a suggestion for putting on some muscle? I know diet will play a big factor in those of course. Just trying to figure out the exercise aspect of it. Much appreciated.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/23/2024 - 08:37

I believe this is a solid one for you to use while you get back into the groove of training, and it can help you get closer to your goals. If you run it, let us know how it goes.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 05/11/2024 - 07:46

Hello, thanks alot for the workout. I have two questions though

1) can I change the order of the exercise?
I use adjustable dumbbells so I have to screw off and on the weights when I switch between exercises that I use a different weight on and sometimes I would pass the recommended rest time of 60 seconds so is it ok to put exercises that use a similar weight beside each other to limit that from happening?

2)is it ok that there's no calf exercises?
It's just my calves are one of the muscles I really want to grow since I am quite skinny right now.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/23/2024 - 08:36

Hi Elias, yes, you can change the order of exercises. I get that reasoning as I used to train with just adjustable dumbbells myself.

You can do standing dumbbell calf raises and seated dumbbell calf raises for similar reps and sets with any of the workouts you like.

Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2024 - 09:05

I haven’t lifted in years so I’m starting over. I’m still really sore after the day off in between. Should I still lift when I’m still sore or should I take an extra day in between?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:15

Hi Giovanni, if you can fulfill the full range of motion and it is only soreness, then yes you should train. If you feel like you are injured or can't fully complete a rep properly, then you should not train yet.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2024 - 07:02

I’ve finished this workout program but I still only have 3 days a week available and do not have access to heavier weights - what is recommended for me moving forward?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:14

Hi Pete, this link will help you find another three-day workout.

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2024 - 13:27

Is there a way to this if I have dumbbells but don't have access to a bench?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:13

Hi Paul, there is. Shoulder presses can be done standing, and flat movements can be done on the floor. If you want to extend the range of motion, lie on pillows or folded blankets to help you lower your arms a little further.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2024 - 02:46

Hi, just started this since I no longer have access to a gym.
I like the range of exercises and it's quite a convenient short routine.
However, I'd previously been using your total package full body, and the obvious difference is the volume.
Would the intention of this one to up the weight/intensity?
Is the idea of this one that the lower volume suits beginners more? If I'm used to higher volume would I be better upping the volume/sets for this one, or is there benefits giving the lower volume a try for a bit?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:12

Hi Phil, thank you for reading M&S!

The goal of this is to up the intensity and weight when you can. It also provides a different change into the routine, which can help break plateaus or sticking points. It would be better suited for beginners or those that are limited on time, but you could add a set to each movement or do more reps if you max out on weight.

Hope this helps!