Dumbbell Only Workout: 4 Day Upper/Lower Dumbbell Workout Routine

This dumbbell only upper/lower workout program only requires dumbbells and is perfect for those looking to build lean muscle mass at home or on the go!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
12 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

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

It can be performed by those who work out at home, have to travel frequently and want to get a good workout in with limited equipment at a hotel gym, or as a progression from my 3 day dumbbell only routine.

This workout can be performed as a full workout routine for up to 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks you may want to consider altering the volume, weight you use (i.e. invest in a new pair of dumbbells), or even venture out and join a local gym that will have more of a variety of equipment for you to use.

The program calls for you to work out 4 days per week. What days you decide to workout is completely up to you. With that being said, it’s best to have 48-72 hours of rest in between your two upper body workouts and 48-72 hours of rest in between your two lower body workouts.

An example would be to perform the workouts in the order they are listed and take your rest days on Wednesdays and the weekends. Your rest days are the perfect opportunity to incorporate cardio training, flexibility training, foam rolling, or a combination of the three.

The goal of this workout is to help you build muscle. However, it can also help you with your fat loss goals depending on your calorie intake.

Rest periods for this workout program should be limited to 30-60 seconds.

If you have any other questions regarding this upper/lower dumbbell only workout program, please be sure to leave them in the comments section below!

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The course will teach you how your body builds muscle, how to utilize workout plans on our website to maximize muscle growth, how to eat to build muscle, how to supplement to build muscle and how to track your progress.

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Day 1: Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Bent Over Dumbbell Row 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8-12
4. Dumbbell Pullover 3 8-12
5. Dumbbell Bicep Curl 2 8-12
6. Dumbbell Tricep Extension 2 8-12
7. Dumbbell Shrug 2 12-15

Day 2: Dumbbell Lower Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Goblet Squat 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Plie Squat 3 8-12
4. Dumbbell Hamstring Curl 3 8-12
5. Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 8-12
6. Plank 3 20 Secs

Day 3: Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 8-10
3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
4. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 3 8-12
5. Dumbbell Hammer Curl 2 8-12
6. Dumbbell Floor Press 2 8-12
7. Seated Dumbbell Shrug 2 12-15

Day 4: Dumbbell Lower Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 8-10
2. Dumbbell Rear Lunge 4 8-10
3. Dumbbell Hip Thrust 4 8-10
4. Dumbbell Split Squat 3 8-12
5. Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise 3 8-12
6. Planks 3 20 Secs

If you give this program a try, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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!

233 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 08/19/2019 - 15:28
Cameron

I have just come off a random 3 day week program and have just started this one, just wanted to say the
plan is very well put together feels like each exercise is well suited to each other, cheers for posting it!

Can I ask what plan is best after this 12-week one is finished?

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Posted Tue, 08/20/2019 - 13:54
JoshEngland

Hi Cameron,

Thanks! Glad you like the program. There should be a 5 day dumbbell only and 6 day dumbbell only workout linked on the page. They are the next workouts in the series. If they aren't listed, you should be able to find them pretty easily in our search bar.

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Posted Fri, 08/09/2019 - 20:47
Mikhail

How did a barbell hip thrust exercise end up in this program?

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Posted Mon, 08/12/2019 - 13:40
JoshEngland

It's a demonstration for those who need one for the dumbbell variation. We don't have a dumbbell video at the moment so I thought it was the most useful one to link to.

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 11:22
adam

Will this workout program help me lose weight?

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 16:08
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

Yes, it can help create a calorie deficit needed to lose weight.

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 11:54
Tsering Wangyal...

Hi josh.
What toitine do you suggest for people who work and go to school?

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 08:42
Harry

Hey Josh
I’m 62 years old and just finished your 3 day full body workout, with the help of your plan I went from 257lbs in January to 216lbs and can actually see muscle gains. I started your 4 day split yesterday. I also do a beginners HIIT 2 times a week. I just wanted to thank you, and to let everyone know that you are never to old. Just go for it!!

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Posted Thu, 08/01/2019 - 16:15
JoshEngland

Hi Harry,

You are AWESOME! Keep it up!

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:09
Dermot O'Sullivan

I have had stress fractures in my lower back and extremely tight hamstrings (in general). Any other exercises you recommend instead of the stiff legged dead lifts? Thanks

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:12
BIll

Hi Josh
What would you recommend doing with the exercises such as the Incline Dumbell Bench Press if you do not have access to an incline bench.

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:29
JoshEngland

Hi Bill,

Feet elevated push ups would do the trick for that particular exercise.

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Posted Sun, 07/28/2019 - 12:30
Tsering Wangyal...

Is 3 days good good between upper body workout? Please check if my schedule is good.
Sunday(UP), monday(rest), tuesday(LB), wednesday(rest), thursday(up), friday(rest), saturday(LB)

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:38
JoshEngland

Hi Tsering,

That's fine, however a full body approach may be a more optimal choice: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-dumbbell-workout

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Posted Tue, 07/30/2019 - 11:40
Tsering Wangyal...

hi Josh. I meant 3 days rest between upperbody workout. Please ovserve the routine.
Sunday upperbody
Monday rest
Tuesday - Lower body
Wednesday rest
Thursday upperbody
Friday rest
Saturday lower body.
I did the 3 days full body split for a month.

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Posted Sun, 07/28/2019 - 01:36
John

I've just started this program and I would like to know my legs let's really sore from the lower body workouts but my upper body is not sure at all from the upper body workouts. Is this normal ?

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Posted Mon, 07/29/2019 - 15:43
JoshEngland

Hi John,

Sounds like your upper body is more conditioned than your lower body :)

That's probably pretty normal for most people.

It also sounds as though you may need to utilize heavier weight on upper body sessions if your form is on point.

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Posted Wed, 07/24/2019 - 12:09
Adam

Is it a problem if I don't sweat much after following these workouts

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Posted Wed, 07/24/2019 - 16:22
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

That's no problem at all. Sweating isn't a good indicator of an effective workout.

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Posted Mon, 07/15/2019 - 16:23
Gab

Hi Josh,
I was hoping to gain muscle through this workout. I was worried about getting too bulky but want a muscular but lean physique. This workout won’t make a bulkier body? Also, for abs, how many times a week do you recommend incorporating with this workout? Thanks so much :),
Gab

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Posted Tue, 07/16/2019 - 10:45
JoshEngland

Hi Gab,

It shouldn't, but that'll honestly depend on your genetics and nutrition. For most, it will help you attain that muscular lean physique you have mentioned.

For abs, 2-3 times per week on your days of choice should be plenty.

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:38
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hi Josh.
Now I ahve start on this program and wonder if I do same weight in 12 weeks or rise sometimes to heaweyer weight? I think its a great program

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2019 - 12:18
JoshEngland

Hi Lars-Erik,

If you have access to heavier weight, try to increase the weight used when able.

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 13:28
Juan Dela Cruz

Can i do 3 sets of Bicep and tricep exercises instead of just 2 sets?

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 14:39
JoshEngland

Hi Juan,

Yes, that'll be fine.

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Posted Thu, 07/04/2019 - 21:42
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hi Josh
I am almost 69 years old man or young! I just have one week with this 4 days program and my body like it much but have some pain in my muscles but I am not worried now it,s friday and I can relax a litte but next week it,s star on Monday again.
Thank,s for a nice workout

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Posted Mon, 06/24/2019 - 18:27
Joe

Can you go straight into this workout plan or do you have to complete the 3 day dumbbell only workout plan first?Thanks.

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Posted Wed, 06/26/2019 - 15:29
JoshEngland

Hi Joe,

You can go straight into this one depending on your work capacity and experience with weight training.

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2019 - 21:15
Lars-Erik Norgren

Hello Joe.
I have practice lifting for a time now and I have doing the base lifting,:Starting Strength in a couple of years so i want to try this program, I think it,s a good program

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Posted Sat, 06/15/2019 - 13:34
Jakub

I've completed 8 weeks 3 day dumbbell workout and was very strict on my diet. Cannot thank enough for this! From 64kg I gone to 70.5 I actually have muscles now! Its been a real challenge for me but damn it was worth it. I know there is a long way for me as I'm aiming now at 80kg but this workouts are a godsent for skinny guy like me who was never confident about himself to show up in the gym! Thank you for this.

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Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 08:46
JoshEngland

Hi Jakub,

Thank YOU for giving my programs a try! So happy to hear you're seeing great results from them - keep up the great effort! You're crushing it!

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Posted Fri, 06/14/2019 - 15:33
Luca Iannino

HI Josh, Since doing your 3 day per week dumbbell only program Ive lost over 20 pounds (along with some strict calorie intake watching of course). So first and foremost thank you for that. My issues and concerns moving onto the 4 day exercises are that I only have access to a stationary flat utility bench so I cannot do any of the incline bench exercises, I also do not have anything that I can do the step up workouts on as my bench is way too high for this and my head would hit the ceiling. are there any substitutes I can do for those? also what do you suggest for a form of cardio that can be done in the home that does not require any extra equipment.Thanks

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Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 08:55
JoshEngland

Hi Luca,

Thank you so much for giving my programs a try! Glad to hear they are working well for you!

For the incline work, I'd recommend potentially some bodyweight work instead. If you feel up to it, feet elevated push ups, push ups, or push ups with your hands on the bench (depending on your ability) would be a good substitution.

For the step up, additional split squats and/or lunges would be a good substitution,.

As far as cardio goes, if it is safe for you to do so, getting outside and walking during the day would allow you to get some much-needed vitamin D (via sun exposure) and cardio in at the same time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/14/2019 - 14:48
Robert Davies

Hi do I do the 10 reps them move to next excersize and so on . Or 10 reps rest 10 reps rest . On each exercise individually . Thanks

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Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 08:49
JoshEngland

Hi Robert,

Each exercise individually.

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Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:18
Robert Davies

Ok thanks josh

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Posted Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:49
Chelsea

Hi Josh,

This program is awesome! I had to take a year off working out while working full time/going to nursing school full time, and now that I'm not doing both simultaneously I decided to get back into weightlifting.

I feel like I'm going through the workouts too quickly, I'm usually done after about 30 minutes. I use a gym so sometimes I'll do about 10 minutes on the machines if I'm up for it. I take about 30 seconds between each rep and I've gone from 10lb dumbbells to 15-25lb dumbbells depending on the workout. Is 30-40 minutes enough to see results? I'm a 28y/o female, 5'5" and 132lbs so my goal is to tone up and build muscle rather than lose weight.

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Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 08:50
JoshEngland

Hi Chelsea,

Thank you! Glad you're enjoying the program so far.

In my opinion, yes. 30-40 min workouts 4ish times a week is plenty to see great results. 30 second rest periods is pretty solid with this particular program. Personally, I think you're doing all the right things with your workout - keep it up!

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Posted Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:52
Neer malhotra

Can women perform these workouts

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Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:59
JoshEngland

Hi Neer,

Yes, absolutely!

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Posted Tue, 06/11/2019 - 10:36
Jonsey

Hey josh thank you for the great free workouts.Im just about to finish the 3 day program, I was wondering if i could add two sets of chin ups on day one and two sets of pullups on day 3, as i dont have a incline bench, and switch the incline bench press for reverse grip press.

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Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 15:00
JoshEngland

Hi Jonsey,

All fine additions and substitutions! Hope you enjoy the new routine!

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Posted Tue, 06/11/2019 - 10:10
Hitesh Khanna

Can u suggest me a 3 day
abs workout with this workout.

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Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:59
JoshEngland

Hi Hitesh,

You can find some solid ones here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

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Posted Fri, 06/07/2019 - 07:53
Zach

Is there any reason there is only one bicep exercise for both upper body workout days? and low set count too? is it cause they are trained indirectly?

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Posted Fri, 06/07/2019 - 13:52
JoshEngland

Hi Zach,

You got it, they're trained indirectly and other muscle groups are prioritized for time and effectiveness sake.

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Posted Tue, 06/04/2019 - 15:47
Michelle

Thank you for this workout and the wonderful site! I am two weeks into this workout and love the way I feel and the way i can already see my body changing. I just want to encourage women to give this a try. I don't want to join a gym and am a busy mom of 7 children. All I have access to is my husband's set of dumbells, so this is perfect for me. I am 37 and have noticed that i am losing muscle mass even though I am doing cardio and conditioning work regularly. I am hoping strength training is the answer to my problem. So far so good. I feel stronger and look thinner already!

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Posted Tue, 06/04/2019 - 16:29
JoshEngland

Hi Michelle,

Thank you for the awesome feedback! I hope it encourages other women to give the program a shot.

I'm fairly confident that weight training will help you retain more lean muscle tissue. Thank you for giving it a chance and I hope you continue to see the results you are hoping for.

Thanks again!

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Posted Mon, 06/03/2019 - 07:48
Peter

Does this workout train forearms? Or is there a need for me to add some exercises?

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Posted Mon, 06/03/2019 - 09:19
JoshEngland

Hi Peter,

Indirectly, yes. However, if you feel you need more work for your forearms, you can certainly add in some isolation work.