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

Josh England
Written By: Josh England
February 7th, 2018
Updated: April 12th, 2021
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

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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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!

Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 01:54

I have been at it for a couple of weeks. Done no lifting in the past, by the last rep I can start to feel it and my form is dropping, so I’m using the right weight. But the day after I don’t feel sore (apart from legs) does that mean I’m not exerting enough.

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Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:31

Not everyone gets what is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), Roys. Don't gauge that as your success measurement. If you leave the gym feeling like you did your best, then the job is done.

Posted on: Sun, 01/08/2023 - 20:52

Does this 4 day split have guaranteed results for toning and mass gaining?

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Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:30

You should see improvement by doing this program, Gabriel. Your effort, nutrition, recovery, and commitment determines how much progress you will see.

Posted on: Sun, 01/08/2023 - 11:01

This 4 day schedule looks perfect for me. If I have a day with more time and I’ve got more energy would it be advisable to start the session over till I tap out of energy or time? …or would it be better to just strictly stick with suggested session and stop at the end. I don’t want to overdo it, but if I can I’d be tempted to go further.

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Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:29

If you feel you can handle an extra set of each exercise, then go ahead and do it, Mat. Just don't go too crazy. Push yourself until you feel you did the job, then get out and eat/recover.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sat, 01/07/2023 - 13:11

After I finished the 8 week program, how long do I have to wait to move on the the 4 day split 12 week program? Like do I start after 2 days off after finishing the 8 week program or wait a week to start?

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Posted on: Wed, 01/18/2023 - 21:42

Waiting a week is best, but if you feel great after a few days, go for it! Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Fri, 01/06/2023 - 07:07

Hey! Any pointers on how to find what weight I should be working with? What program could I switch to after this one when I work up the nerve to sign up at a gym haha? Thanks!

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Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 13:53

Simple trial and error is the best way to find your weights, Vincent. I wish there was a shortcut, but this is the most reliable. As long as you're challenged without sacrificing form, you're good.

For your next program, check this out. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 07:56

Does this is works for fat loss?

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Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 19:13

If your diet and cardio routines support weight loss, then yes, this would work well for that goal.

Posted on: Sat, 12/24/2022 - 02:28

Does this works on my abs too?

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Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 18:27

There is no direct ab work, but this should help.


Posted on: Fri, 12/16/2022 - 06:20

What are some alternatives for the exercises with a bench targeting the same muscle groups? I do it at home and don't have a bench. For the chest supported dumbell row and the pullovers/incline benchpresses? Appreciate yall

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Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 06:25

Chest supported row - standard bent-over row with two dumbbells
Pullovers - pullovers on the floor. You won't get as deep of a stretch, but it can beat nothing.
Incline - Shoulders against a wall while sitting on the floor or sit on a big chair with butt near edge and shoulders against back.

When possible, get an adjustable bench. Well worth the money

Posted on: Wed, 12/14/2022 - 05:52

Is incline bench press , dumbell floor press , dumbell bech press are same ? I have no bench therefore i am doing this bench exercise on floor

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Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 06:24

DB Bench Press and DB Floor Press are very similar, so you can swap the floor press in for the bench.

Incline focuses more on the upper pecs. If you have a chair, you can sit on the chair with your butt near the edge and your shoulders against the back of the chair and do presses that way, or you can rest your shoulders against a wall while sitting on the floor and do them that way as well. That said, order an adjustable bench when you can. They aren't that expensive, and will take your workouts to a new level.

Posted on: Wed, 12/14/2022 - 05:49

Which exercise can i do instead of chest supported row ? Because i have no bench.

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Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 06:18

Standard bent over dumbbell row would work, Adith.

Also for future reference, posting the question multiple times isn't necessary. It has to be approved before it gets answered. You can post once and be assured we will see it.

Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2022 - 01:26

Am doing workout at home so i don t have a bench for doing dumbell bench press and dumbell pull over . which exercise can i do other than these two exercises ?

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Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2022 - 19:44

Dumbbell bench press can be done from the floor. The range of motion will be slightly less, but it will still work.

As for pullovers, you can simply stick with dumbbell rows until you get a bench, or you can lie on pillows or cushions on the floor to improve the range of motion if you want to try to do pullovers that way.

Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2022 - 01:18

how much time can i rest between each set and when moving to next exercise ?

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Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2022 - 19:43

Shoot for 60 seconds between sets and 90 between exercises, Adith.

Posted on: Thu, 12/08/2022 - 18:17

"Dumbbell only" and then telling me to do barbell hip thrusts

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Posted on: Fri, 12/09/2022 - 21:37

The barbell version was linked because they don't have a dumbbell page for hip thrusts. You would place dumbbells on your hips as you would the bar.

Posted on: Wed, 12/07/2022 - 10:51

Can i do running in the workout days ?

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Posted on: Thu, 12/08/2022 - 07:17

Answered this on another article, Adith. Yes, as long as it isn't for a long distance like a marathon, you should be fine.

Posted on: Mon, 11/07/2022 - 13:17

Thank you Josh! I just graduated today from your 3 day routine to this 4 day. I wanted to let you know your work is appreciated :)

Posted on: Mon, 10/31/2022 - 06:17

Approximately how many calories are burned during each workout day?

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Posted on: Wed, 11/02/2022 - 08:24

That is up to the person, their current shape, how hard they are working, and your fitness level. Your best bet would be to get a calorie tracker and track that yourself to get the most accurate information.

Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2022 - 05:47

I’m on week 8 of this workout, and am really loving it! I’ve just moved onto 10kg dumbbells in the last week, and it’s like week 1 again haha. Lateral raises I’ve had to keep to 8kg for now to preserve form.

My goal is body recomposition, as I weigh 88kg and have been quite out of shape in the past (I weighed 130kg five years ago). I’ve been having lots of protein and have stayed at 88kg over the last eight weeks. I’m not looking to lose weight, but to reduce body fat %. Just the last eight weeks has made a difference to my body shape.

Id like to introduce cardio to further help with fat loss - what would you recommend? I was thinking a 20 minute HIIT workout straight after strength training - would this be better than simply running on rest days? Or should I just continue with what I’m doing?

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Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2022 - 09:35

20 minute HIIT workouts would be a wise way to add cardio. Save the rest days for recovery. Good luck.

Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2022 - 11:33

I do this workout Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday - would you recommend adding the HIIT sessions all four days, or on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday?

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Posted on: Wed, 10/26/2022 - 21:23

Do them on the four training days as well. The 3 days off should be completely off.

Posted on: Tue, 10/18/2022 - 12:33

I'm on week 11 of this workout and it's really great! I did have a question, I'm thinking about extending this plan by 8 weeks, and I just wondered if it was worthwhile to change up the exercise order and what would the benefits be exactly. I already have 45 second rest period.

After the twenty weeks are up, I'm going to move over to the 5 days a week, had a quick question about that as well, does it matter too much when you take the rest days?

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Posted on: Wed, 10/19/2022 - 08:14

Hey Ashley!

Extending the program by 8 weeks would be fine. You can also change up the exercise order as well. Just keep in mind that you may not be as strong on some exercises you did early in the workout before if you put them towards the end.

As long as the days off are complete rest days, it doesn't matter too much. You could even train five days in a row as long as you make the most out of those two recovery days off.

Posted on: Fri, 10/21/2022 - 07:47

Thank you for answering, so if I change up the exercise order, should I also change how many sets? Let's say for instance I want to do pullovers first, should I do four sets instead of three? Or will simply changing the order be a sufficient change?

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Posted on: Sat, 10/22/2022 - 08:10

You can change the sets if you like, but I don't believe it is absolutely necessary. If you do choose to, let us know how it goes for you. Your experience may help others here.

Posted on: Sun, 10/16/2022 - 22:04

Hello! I’m intermediate and starting this program this week after being on/off in the gym for the last six months. Is it better to pick weights that are heavier and I can get 8 reps out of or lighter and get 12 reps? Should I aim to change reps from week to week? The rep range has me a bit confused’

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Posted on: Mon, 10/17/2022 - 11:55

If strength is a priority, shoot for heavier weights for 8 reps. If not, then lighter for 12 reps. The range is because you may get 12 reps on the first set when you're fresh, but you may fatigue and struggle for 8 or more on the last set. It also can offer variety based on your goals. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 14:43

Hey I noticed that my upper body recovers a lot faster than my lower body. Is it possible for me to do the upper body Monday Wednesday and Friday and do the lower body work on tuesdays and saturdays

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Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:43

You certainly can. Rell. Please let us know how that works out for you because your info could help others here that have similar concerns. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 10:25

Will do. I’m starting Monday and I’ll be sure to post the results here

Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 16:21

Is it fine to just stick to this workout and increase weights even after 12 weeks? A four day workout week is perfect for me schedule wise

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Posted on: Thu, 09/22/2022 - 17:14

If this is still working for you, then roll with it, Eric. I think you could do it for up to another 12 weeks before needing to make a switch.

Posted on: Mon, 09/12/2022 - 03:36

Hello what should be the weight of dumbbell?

I'm male, 23 years old, 57kg of weight, height 170cm

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Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:09

Whatever you're strong enough to work with. The weight used is based on the individual.

Prashant Guragai
Posted on: Sat, 09/10/2022 - 23:10

I'm basically stuck with two 4 kg dumbbells, are they effective for this workout? should i add more reps since they are lighter?

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Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:52

You can perform the reps slower and focus on contracting the muscles longer, but definitely try to get bigger dumbbells or get bands so you can add more exercises to the routine.