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!

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!

75 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 08/21/2018 - 08:48
Killian

Hi there Josh,
Been out of the game for a bit and I’ve let myself go a bit, mostly in terms of belly fat and elsewhere on my torso. Have always been big built since i started maturing in school and I’m 23 now, going to give your workout a blast as I want to build my muscle back too. Are there any tips you could give me to help me get back in shape?? I’m also cutting down on my calories and getting in plenty of veggies and good proteins, and was thinking of adding some light morning cardio on a couple of my rest days. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/21/2018 - 08:54
JoshEngland

Hi Killian,

All of those sound like solid additions back into your lifestyle. My best piece of advice is to be consistent. You'll get there. For tips on consistency, check out this piece:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/7-habits-highly-motivated-and...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:22
Mohammed Kamal

Hi Josh
Thanks for stuff you are sharing.
Actually i have two questions :-

1- Should i use only fixed weight for dumbbell in my 12 weeks or i can chnage it every fixed period ?

2- for the days, should i performed them day after day without rest ? And if so, what should i do in rest day? Like ab workout, cardio, running,.....etc.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/20/2018 - 08:59
JoshEngland

Hi Mohammed,

1. You can change the weight used if you wish - either during the 12 weeks or after depending on your ability to build strength and access to different weighted dumbbells. Both will get you results over time.

2. Perform them 4 days per week. On your rest days, rest. Or, perform some low intensity cardio if you feel it will be beneficial towards your goals.

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Posted Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:13
Steve

Josh, how many calories over my BMR should I be consuming to be sure my muscles have the necessary fuel to grow? Thanks in advance!

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Posted Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:18
JoshEngland

Hi Steve,

~250-500 calories should do the trick.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/11/2018 - 16:36
Gcy

Hello, can I sub chinups and pullups for dumbbell pullovers on day 1 and chest supported dumbbell row on day 3?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:19
JoshEngland

Hi Gcy,

Sure, that would be a fine substitution.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 03:43
Kevin

Is it okay to swap the hamstring curl with a romanian deadlift? If not, is there something else that works? The curl is difficult solo.

Also. Would combining something like 6-minute abs with this be good for your core? Or is this too much/unnecessary. Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 09:06
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

Yes that is fine to do. And sure, you can add in additional core training into this program.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 07/27/2018 - 00:10
Dave

For the weight of the sets, should i got max weight every set or start low and add weight per set?

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Posted Fri, 07/27/2018 - 15:18
JoshEngland

Hi Dave,

Use 75-85% of your working max for that rep range.

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Posted Thu, 07/26/2018 - 11:02
Scott

for the rest days on the 4 day work out basically you do day one and day two then take a rest day. The wording just threw me off because it talks about the upper body and two lower body but the schedule alternates upper and lower

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/26/2018 - 13:50
JoshEngland

Hi Scott,

Yes, that is correct.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/17/2018 - 21:28
Jose Ian Allado

I've been doing this for over a week now and from 105 kgs, I am now 89 kgs! I feel a lot stronger too because they become easier to do after a month that I had to increase the weights. Day 4 has to be the hardest thing on here. Looking forward to how I look by the end of the year! Thanks for this! :)

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Posted Wed, 07/18/2018 - 08:33
JoshEngland

Hi Jose,

That's awesome! Keep it up!

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Posted Fri, 07/06/2018 - 06:41
Kyry

Hello!
First of all thank you very much for the workouts,im just about to finish the 3 day 8 week dumbbell only workout routine.I recently acquired a pull up bar and the problem is that i want to pick this workout routine but i have no idea if i should replace some of the existing exercises,add new ones and tinker with the volume or switch to a completely different routine.Any ideas?

Thank you in advance :D.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/06/2018 - 09:16
JoshEngland

Hi Kyry,

That's awesome! Feel free to add pull ups in to replace either bicep work or rows on upper days.

You can also add them in addition to what is listed.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/09/2018 - 13:54
Blake

Hey Kyry, did the 3 day 8 week program work for you? Did you see ant results? I'm thinking about starting it.

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Posted Tue, 07/10/2018 - 06:26
Kyry

Yeah,it worked great.
I started at 150 lbs/67 kg and around 20% bf so i had 55 kg lean mass and 12 kg of fat
I did the routine every other day without caring about what day is it so i had around 7 workouts every 14 days.
In the first month i gained aprox 5-6 lbs (2 kg ) of muscle and fat with aprox 2000 calories/day with my normal diet and started seeing some definition.
After that i started cutting and lost around 3.5 kg of fat and some muscle with around 1300-1600 (depending how tired i was) calories/day in 3 weeks and got to around 16% bf and i started seeing my abs somewhat.
Now in my last week im still cutting and hoping to get to 15% bf before it ends so i can start eating 2000 again and gain muscle with this 4 day one. (As a fyi i did not care what i ate as long as i got to my calorie goal and had a little bit of everything carbs protein etc etc.)
In the days im eating 1600 calories i do some HIIT after working out 5-10 min max so i compensate.
In my rest days i may go running in the morning but it happens rarely and other than that i stay at a desk 12 hours per day :D
Hope it helps,gl!

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Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 22:14
Armand

I have a few questions... on the rest days can I do other workouts and can I replace the dumbbell bench press with Barbell as well with the squats ?
And also use a curl bar for the dumbbell curls?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2018 - 08:41
JoshEngland

Hi Armand,

No, take your rest days. Yes, those substitutions are fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:14
M

I'm looking to gain strenth and lose fat, but I don't necessarily want to gain mass. I know protein is commonly recommended, but is there a way to use nutrition to nourish my muscles without the typical "bulking" many use to build muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:44
JoshEngland

Hi M,

Sure, eat at a maintenance level caloric intake.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 19:06
Pop

Hello. I’m a little overweight and wanted to start doing this. Will this help me burn fat while also building muscle? Can i do my own form of cardio like playing basketball or soccer?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 08:49
JoshEngland

Hi Pop,

Yes, it is perfect for someone with those goals. Absolutely, incorporate whatever forms of cardio you enjoy doing the most.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 08:47
GMAN

As a substitute for Dumbbell Hamstring Curl, can i do walking lunges?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/29/2018 - 09:05
JoshEngland

Hi Gman,

The alternatives I've provided you in the past are better options.

If those aren't doable, I'd recommend a dumbbell RDL or something more hamstring focused.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/27/2018 - 10:42
Jonathan

Would it be possible/advisable to swap the goblet squat out for a dumbbell front squat?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/27/2018 - 16:47
JoshEngland

Hi Jonathan,

Yes, that is completely find to do.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/24/2018 - 03:59
Saif

Hi Josh,

Should the weight of dumbbells be the same for each exercise? Or can I use 3kg DBs for lateral raise, 10kg DBs for curls, 20kg DBs for bench?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:10
JoshEngland

Hi Saif,

If you have different dumbbells to select from, choose the appropriate weight for each exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/24/2018 - 03:47
Saif

Hi Josh,

I don't have a bench at home and want to know if I can perform them on the floor instead for the exercises mentioned which would require a bench?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:09
JoshEngland

Hi Saif,

Yes, that'll work. However, if you plan on training at home - it might be worth while to invest in a bench as it will give you more variety in your workouts.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/21/2018 - 08:30
GMAN

Any substitutions for the Dumbbell Hamstring Curl? the dumbbells i have doesnt have a good handle for my feet to grip.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/21/2018 - 10:22
JoshEngland

Hi GMAN,

If you have an exercise ball or valslides, I'd recommend bodyweight hamstring curls. If not, those would be great additions to your home gym.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:01
GMAN

Did this yesterday and it was awesome. Looking forward to see the results. Question though

on off days, you said you can do cardio training. How long cardio training should a person do on the off days to not mess with the gains?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/21/2018 - 10:22
JoshEngland

Hi GMAN,

As long as you're not doing super long distances, whatever cardio you plan on doing shouldn't affect your gains too much provided your calorie intake and sleep are on point.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 06/13/2018 - 13:54
Michael

Hey Josh, I’m new to weightlifting. Previously I was cutting lost about 150lbs went from 300 to 150lb I’m 6”1 23 yes old. I’m thinking of purchasing a pair of adjustable dumbbells aswell as a adjustable weight bench. I was wondering if I should start with 20lbs first for my whole body ? And how long should I wait to add more weight on the dumbbells ? Do you think with proper nutrition, adequate rest, and overall strict diet I can build a phenomenal physique within 1 year following your 4 Day Dumbbell workout plan ?

Cheers,
Mike

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:30
JoshEngland

Hi Michael,

WOW! Congratulations on all of your progress!

Yes, I think it's worth a shot! It's tough to recommend when to increase the weight used as everyone progresses differently. So long as you are increasing the weight used over the course of the program - you'll see results.

That being said, don't be concerned if the scale starts to trend upward. With the added weight lifting, you should start to build some nice lean muscle mass.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

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Posted Sat, 06/09/2018 - 10:21
mouad kin

Hi Josh, thanks for this amazing workout routine.
i have 2 questions: can i do Total Body Warm Up Cardio about 5 Minute before this Workout ,& is Hip Thrust suitable for me as a man ,cause i don't want to walk in the streets with a big booty like a chick?
excuse my poor english.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/11/2018 - 08:58
JoshEngland

Hi Mouad,

Sure you can perform the 5 min total body warm up. Yes, hip thrusts are necessary for men as well. Glute health is very important for everyone.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 06/05/2018 - 06:09
Kale

Loving the routine mate! Just a quick question.
I Cant seem to target my Lower pecs. Still getting a sort of flabby look when tensing. Any tips?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 06/05/2018 - 08:39
JoshEngland

Hi Kale,

It'll likely just take time and consistency to resolve. If you'd like an exercise that focuses more on the bottom portion of your chest and that you can do at home, you can perform push ups with your hands elevated on a bench or something.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 05/22/2018 - 04:24
Mert

Hi Josh, thanks for this amazing workout routine. There are few questions i would like to ask you about this routine. It's second week of the workout and here is what i think for progressive overload; let's say i did bench press with comfortable weight 8 reps 4 sets. Next time same workout i increase rep range by 1 for every set without adding weight. When i reach 12 reps i will add more weights and continue to do so. Adding 10 minutes of hiit cardio after lifting. 20 min yoga session for the off days. What is your opinion on my progressive overload scheme, cardio and yoga part?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 05/29/2018 - 11:54
JoshEngland

Hi Mert,

That all looks very solid to me! Should result in some quality gains if you keep it up!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 05/13/2018 - 10:38
Lance

Hi Josh. I just finished the 8 week dumbbell full body workout, and I'm pleased with the results. I'm looking to kick things up a notch. I'd like to tackle this 4 days a week program. However, I'm concerned about having the time to put in 4 days a week. Would you ever recommend combining 2 days into 1 (both upper and lower) to save on time? Or should I just stick with my previous regiment (3x times a week) while upping reps and weight? Also, my job keeps me seriously active. I walk an average of 25,000 - 30,000 steps a day during the week. With so much walking, I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on how I might best approach my leg workouts without overdoing it, if it matters. Thanks.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/14/2018 - 09:08
JoshEngland

Hi Lance,

I'd recommend sticking with the 3x per week workout and increasing the weight used. You can utilize that program for however long you wish, so long as you still enjoy doing it.

The walking shouldn't have much effect on your workouts. I wouldn't recommend performing additional cardio :)

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 05/12/2018 - 10:52
Siddhant

can I replace dumbell squat with barbell squat?. I like to use dumbells on all other excercises as I love working with dumbells.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/14/2018 - 09:06
JoshEngland

Hi Siddhant,

Yes, that is fine.

Hope this helps!