5 Day Women’s Dumbbell Only Workout

Build muscle at home or in the gym with this 8-week workout routine! This program is designed with extra emphasis on the lower body and can be done in as little as 30 minutes.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
8 weeks
30-60 minutes
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Workout Description

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.

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

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.

Related: How to Make Muscle Gains Using Isometric Training

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.

Related: Lower Body Alternatives to Your Favorite Gym Machines (Plus Free Workout!)

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.

Woman doing dumbbell squats in studio gym with wall ball on the ground in front of her.

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

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
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

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
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

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
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

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
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

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
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.

4 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 04/16/2021 - 06:05

Been doing this workout for 2 weeks now. How long should I keep this routine? Also, what's next set should I do next after?

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Posted Fri, 04/16/2021 - 10:21

Hey Pb - this is an 8 week program. You can repeat this program if you enjoy it and have seen positive results from it.

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Posted Mon, 04/05/2021 - 21:34

Can this workout be done as circuit training - doing one set if each exercise after another with a rest between sets?

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Posted Tue, 04/06/2021 - 10:01

Hey Libby - it's best to follow the program as written, but you can do it in a circuit style.