One of the more popular workouts of 2020 here on M&S was our 4 Day Upper/Lower Women's Dumbbell Only Workout. This program offered a solution for the ladies out there that wanted to train the entire body effectively but were limited to using dumbbells.
If you were someone who followed and completed that eight-week program, you may be wondering what to do next. Wonder no more because we now have a more advanced program to take your training and results to a new level.
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Introducing the 5 Day Program
The workout routine that follows is another dumbbell only program, but this one is for five days a week. The split breaks up the bodyparts into different groups, and extra emphasis will be placed on the lower body, which has been split up into two groups. One day focuses on the quadriceps and calves. The second day, which is three days later, emphasizes the hamstrings and glutes.
The other muscle groups are paired up so that you can train each area with greater attention to detail than the four-day per week version. There are days for chest and shoulders, back and abs, and biceps and triceps.
5 Day Women’s Dumbbell Only Workout Split
- Day 1 – Chest and Shoulders
- Day 2 – Quadriceps and Calves
- Day 3 – Off
- Day 4 – Back and Abs
- Day 5 – Hamstrings and Glutes
- Day 6 – Biceps and Triceps
- Day 7 – Off
Before You Begin
If you’ve finished our 4 Day Upper/Lower Women's Dumbbell Only Workout or any other program for that matter, don’t jump straight into this one. Take a deload week that focuses on you working with less volume and intensity before starting this one. If you want to take a full week off, that would work as well.
Also, a word about the sets and reps. The prescribed workout below calls for you to perform the reps for both sides. So if you see an exercise that starts with “single”, that means you should do the recommended reps on each side.
There are some exercises that may require a bench. If you have one, then you should use it. If not, make the best accommodations you can. If you need to use the floor or a mat, go for it.
Benefits of Dumbbells
The dumbbells may not appear to be much, but they are a very versatile tool for training. You can isolate areas specifically, they require you to work harder to stabilize the weight, and you don’t need a big area to use them. You can hold one with both arms or work with one in each hand.
If you have adjustable dumbbells or enough pairs that you can challenge yourself effectively, use what you need to push yourself for each set. If you only have one or two pairs, then do the best you can to challenge yourself. Try using longer negatives and contracting the muscles for longer periods of time. This should help until you’re able to get your hands on some bigger weights.
Cardio and When to Do It
Aside from these workouts, cardio activity is also important. Fortunately, you don’t need to commit to hours of running. 20-30 minutes of activity a day would suffice nicely. You can do these sessions first thing in the morning so it is behind you, or you can opt to do your cardio after your workout when your glycogen levels are decreased. Moderate level intensity can be beneficial if it will help you stay consistent. You may also try a HIIT workout (alternating brief bursts of high effort with periods of lower effort) if endurance and serious fat burning is the goal.
Chest and Shoulders
The chest and shoulders are paired up because the delts are involved in a lot of your chest work anyway, especially the anterior head of the deltoid. The goal with the rep schemes should be to reach failure within that range. If you’re able to perform three sets of 15 during your first workout, attempt to get at least 16 next time. Once you reach three sets of 20, go heavier if possible, or increase the time under tension of each rep.
There are some people that may not like doing upright rows because of shoulder issues they have. If this applies to you, then opt for the rear delt fly instead.
Day 1: Chest and Shoulders
|Dumbbell Fly||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Push Up||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Arnold Press||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Single Arm Lateral Raise||3||20 each arm||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Upright Row||3||20||60 seconds|
Quadriceps and Calves
The legs are split up into two days so you can focus on different portions with greater effort. Give yourself a little extra time to warm up before starting these workouts because you want to be fully prepared to go on your first work set. You also don’t want to risk an injury.
One exercise you may need to work on for a little longer is the dumbbell leg extension. Sit on the edge of a bench with your knees bent and a dumbbell between your feet. Keep your feet pressed together tightly. Slightly lean back on the bench, and hold on to the sides so you can stay on the bench. Straighten your legs while keeping your feet tight. Contract the quads when your legs are straight. Return to the starting position slowly. This is one rep. Repeat for the recommended rep range.
Day 2: Quadriceps and Calves
|Dumbbell Jump Squat||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat||3||15-20 each leg||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Leg Extension||3||20||60 seconds|
|Standing Single Leg Calf Raise||3||20||60 seconds|
|Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise||3||20||60 seconds|
Upper Back and Abs
For the upper back workout, you can individualize portions of the workout to benefit your individual needs. For example, if you think your upper back can benefit from isolation, then do the dumbbell rows one side at a time. Just remember to reach the rep ranges for each side here if you do so.
The Knee In exercise is a simple one to perform, but the dumbbell will make it more challenging. Position yourself on the end of a bench with a dumbbell between your feet. Your legs should be straight. Slightly lean back while maintaining balance on the bench. Hold the sides if you need to. Bring your knees into your chest without dropping the dumbbell. Contract the abdominals when you do so. Lower your legs back to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for the recommended rep range.
Day 4: Upper Back and Abs
|Two Arm Dumbbell Row||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Pullover||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Bent Over Rear Delt Fly||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Shrug||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Weighted Crunch||3||20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Knee-In||3||20||60 seconds|
Hamstrings and Glutes
As you go into your hamstrings and glutes workout, give yourself more time to stretch the hamstrings out and prepare your hips. This will be very beneficial in feeling the muscles working. Try to flex them occasionally between sets as well, so you can maintain the mind-muscle connection with this area.
The dumbbell sumo squat is similar to a goblet squat, except with a wider stance. The focus should be on contracting the glutes as you come up from the bottom position. Yes, the quads are involved. However, the benefits for the glutes are too good to not add this exercise to the program.
Related: Courtney King's Full Glute Workout
Day 5: Hamstrings and Glutes
|Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Hamstring Curl||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Walking Lunge||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Glute Bridge||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Sumo Squat||3||15-20||60 seconds|
Biceps and Triceps
Training the biceps and triceps together can help make the entire upper arm look stronger and better developed. You can notice an increase in size, but don’t be concerned about your arms getting too big on a program like this.
If you start to fatigue before the end of the set, concentrate on working one arm at a time. You can also take 3-5 second pauses before continuing until you reach the end of the set.
Day 6: Biceps and Triceps
|One Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension||3||15-20 each arm||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks||3||15-20 each arm||60 seconds|
|Neutral Grip Dumbbell Press||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Standing Hammer Curl||3||15-20||60 seconds|
|Zottman Curl||3||15-20||60 seconds|
Having minimal equipment and space may not be optimal, but that doesn’t mean your progress has to be. You can make great improvements with the right program and consistent dedication. Go all-in with this program and measure your results each week for the next couple of months. You’ll be sure to see improvements that you will be proud of and can motivate you to propel forward.