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!

Patrick CL
Posted on: Sat, 05/21/2022 - 11:01

Just wanted to say thanks for this program! I'm on my last day of the 12 weeks now (after doing your 3-day workout before it). I neglected to take before/after pictures, but I'm stoked on the results!

I used a set of Powerblocks so that I could increase the weight for each exercise throughout the program.

I'm taking a recovery week (just body weight training) before diving into your 5-day program. Cheers!

Posted on: Wed, 05/18/2022 - 17:34

Thanks for sharing this workout with us.

Can I repeat this workout 6 days per week and rest for one day only?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/23/2022 - 08:46

The recovery would be more beneficial than the extra training, Rost. However, if you're wanting to shock the body with a lot of volume for a short time, it would be ok.

Posted on: Sat, 04/30/2022 - 20:57

Would this 4 day workout be ok for someone over 50?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:30

As long as you're healthy, give it a full go, Scott! Let us know how it works for you.

Quandale Dingle
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 18:09

This workout is a godsend. I've been following it for a couple years now, on top of other regimens, and it has proved to be completely scalable and modifiable as I transitioned from a beginner to an experienced lifter. It has consistently produced great results, and I will continue to tailor it to my needs. I can't thank you enough, OP!

Posted on: Mon, 04/25/2022 - 07:04

As someone that does not have much time, I was thinking of doing this routine supersetting most of the exercises (basically doing the routine in doubles, supersetting the first two then supersetting the next two, etc...).

What are your thoughts about this and how would you do it yourself?? Would a circuit be a better approach?

Also I have access to a pull up bar I wanted to use. Which exercise do you think I could replace so that I can do pull ups instead?

One last question. I am aiming to bulk and so eat around 2600 calories which is slightly above my current maintenance. Do you have any suggestions here?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:29

Hi, Luis! I would suggest supersets instead of circuits if your goal is to grow. If time was an issue for me, that is how I would do it.

Replace any back workout with pullups if you like.

Make sure the calories you're taking in are quality. Not sure how much more above maintenance your 2,600 is, but I would say to go up to as high as 3,000 on your hardest day of the week if you feel you can use it. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 04/24/2022 - 10:14

Hi, can one do this in a three day split per week? As in do upper body 1, lower body 1, upper body 2 for the first week, then lower body 2, upper body 1, lower body 2 for the second week, etc? I have done your previous 3 day split (which is awesome!), but just want to switch things up. Muscle growth is the main goal! Bless, O

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:19

That would be okay, Ockert.

Posted on: Wed, 04/20/2022 - 06:06

Great workout! One question though: is it considered any more or less effective to do this (the 4 day) or the other dumbbell workouts from Josh England, in a circuit manner (one set of each and then repeat the exercises until all sets are complete). I believe rest times could be reduced this way. Thanks in advance for your input!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 21:23

It would decrease rest times, but strength levels may be affected with the latter exercises. If that is something you're ok with, then go for it, Greg. You could increase your endurance for sure by doing circuits.

Posted on: Wed, 04/13/2022 - 22:53

any alternatives for whey protein and protein bars?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/17/2022 - 08:08

Whole food sources are always the best play. If you want a protein supplement alternative, go with soy protein.

Posted on: Sun, 04/10/2022 - 09:07

can you suggest the rest days on this routine please?its kinda hard to understand on what days are upper and lower

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/17/2022 - 08:10

Hey Ezra. This would be a good schedule to follow. Day 1, Day 2, Rest Day, Day 3, Day 4, Rest Day, start over.

Posted on: Tue, 04/05/2022 - 15:37

Can you recommend the diet pattern to be followed with these workout plan to build muscle

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/17/2022 - 08:10

Everything you need to know should be here, Yadhu.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/17/2022 - 08:10

Everything you need to know should be here, Yadhu.


Jaskaran Singh
Posted on: Mon, 04/04/2022 - 23:43

how do we use this plan, should the 4 sets for an exercise before moving to the next or should we perform one set of each exercise then cycle

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/17/2022 - 08:12

Hi, Jaskaran. The suggested routine would be to do all sets in one exercise before moving on. If you ever feel like you need to change it up, you could try to perform them all in a circuit fashion, so long as your gym isn't too busy.

Posted on: Thu, 03/17/2022 - 07:55

morning..just getting ready to start working out. i'm just a kid at 68. the covid lockdown really put me in bad shape. wasn't sure where to go when it ended. either weight watchers or aa. i have a set of adjustable dimbbells, a bench, and a stationary bike on the way. just wondering if this is a good place to start ? i am 6 feet, 210 lbs....was always 185 to 190 before the shit hit the fan. i have started eating better to lose the weight, but i know i need more. thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2022 - 18:59

Hello, Jack! This is a great place to start for you. Covid was hard for a lot of folks, but props to you for trying to make the changes. This program will at least get you on the road back to where you used to be. Feel free to come on back if you have any other questions on your journey, and keep us posted!

Posted on: Wed, 03/16/2022 - 13:50

I have machines that let me do lat pulldowns and leg curls how would i incoprate those exercises as i think they are pretty effective workouts.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2022 - 18:49

Hi, Dani. Pulldowns after rows and leg curls before you start the calf workout. And I agree, if you have access to them, they are great movements.

Posted on: Tue, 03/15/2022 - 19:17

I've been bulking for a few months, lifting weights 5 days a week (Chest/back, shoulder/arm, leg, upper, lower), and I'm about to start my first ever cut. I'm planning on eating at a deficit with a macro ratio of 40% protein, 40% carb, and 20% fat. I came across this routine, do you think this will be a good routine for me to maintain the muscle from my bulk and trim the fat? Should I incorporate any cardio in this as well?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/20/2022 - 20:54

Hey Dylan, it would work well for you along with that nutrition plan. Add 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week first thing in the morning if you want to focus on fat loss.

Posted on: Sat, 03/12/2022 - 04:56

What can be an alternative for incline chess db press since I don't have bench at home?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/15/2022 - 18:09

Hi, Felix. Do pushups with your feet elevated on a step or bench. This shifts the focus towards the upper pecs.

Mohammad Bin Hussain
Posted on: Thu, 03/03/2022 - 13:13

Hey, good workout. Just wanted to know how much calories are burned in this workout. Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 03/11/2022 - 21:21

There is no way to answer that question accurately, Mohammad. I may burn more calories than you because of size differences, rest times, etc. The best thing you can do is wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch and test it on yourself.

Posted on: Sat, 02/26/2022 - 15:43

Hey! I just completed day 1 and 2 of this routine for the first time, I'm super excited to get this journey going, but I honestly found it way too easy and was wondering if that's a sign I need to up the weight I'm lifting? I currently only have a single-weight dumbbell at home and thought it would last me for a while longer (considering I'm a tiny woman to begin with) but apparently not. Do you have any tips for what to do until I can upgrade my dumbbells? Is doing more sets/reps than suggested here a good option? Thanks in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 02/26/2022 - 20:33

Hi, Carter. A few ways you could work on this until you get bigger weights.

1. Perform the reps slower. Take three seconds to lift and five seconds to lower.
2. Cut the rest time in half. This will keep your heart rate up as well.
3. Yes, you could up the reps and sets. Add five more reps to each set. After that, add another set.

Posted on: Sun, 02/20/2022 - 09:01

Hey! I am looking to start a new routine and this one caught my eyes. I would say I am at an intermediate level. Would this routine still be good? What would you suggest to change, if anything? I saw that there is a 5 day week routine suggested here that it fits at a more intermediate level. Although I do not have the possibilities to workout 5 days each week. Would it still be better with some changes to adapt to a 4 week routine?

I am trying to decide on which one of the routines to do. Any tips are appreciated :)

On another note, I see it does not have much focus on abs. What could I add/change to improve in that area?

Apologies for asking so many questions.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2022 - 20:03

The questions are why I'm here, Luis! Never apologize!

This routine would suit you as an intermediate trainee. I suggest no changes to this. Go with this one as is.

Regarding the abs, add this workout to it. Train them whenever your schedule permits.


Posted on: Mon, 02/14/2022 - 12:06

I just finished 12 weeks of this routine and I loved it! I'm happy with the growth I've made from this workout, but now I want to focus more on weight loss. Are there any workout routines on here that could help maintain my muscle growth while also helping with weight loss? Thanks! P.S. I only have dumbbells available right now

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/18/2022 - 19:24

Hey Myles, glad you liked this one. Give this next one a go. It's a five day program, and if you keep your nutrition consistent with weight loss, you should build upon the progress you've already made.


Posted on: Sat, 02/05/2022 - 01:32

Hi team, where would you recommend incorporating pullups/chinups in this routine? Would it replace one of the exercises? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/08/2022 - 18:26

Hi, Alan. This was meant for people that only had dumbbells. That's great that you can do pullups/chinups too. Add them to the first upper body workout of the week. Follow a similar sets and rep scheme as the other exercises.

Tommy C
Posted on: Mon, 01/24/2022 - 11:22

I've been working out since 1974 and was a physical trainer in the 70's. I've studied a lot about Kinesiology over the years.
I needed a change in my routine since COVID pushed everyone home for a while. Thank the Good Lord I live in Texas!
Anyway, this is a great routine. Mixes the muscle groups well over the 4 day routine.

Posted on: Sun, 01/23/2022 - 01:52

Which would you recommend - this program or https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/womens-3-day-glute-workout?

I'm a 33 yr old female, 135 lbs, and I started lifting 4 years ago... I haven't lifted in about a month because of some stress but now I have been trying hard to get back into lifting on a schedule.

I'm looking for a max of 4 days per week (but I do walk 8-10 miles per day)..


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/25/2022 - 18:43

Nadia, for the purpose of getting back into a schedule, this one would be better.

The glute one can be performed after you get back into the swing of gym life for a few weeks. I feel this one would better suit your particular goal of getting back on track.

Mark Steven Col...
Posted on: Fri, 01/21/2022 - 04:05

Hello. Does the split squat and rear lunge 8-10 reps 10 each side or 5 each side?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/24/2022 - 17:36

8-10 for each side, Mark!

Posted on: Tue, 01/18/2022 - 02:51

Hi, I only have one set of 15lb (6.8kg) dumbbells. Would this program be okay to do?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/18/2022 - 18:21

Yes it would, Aaron. On the exercises that you can do easily, slow the reps down to make it more challenging. You can also hold the contraction for longer periods of time. This should help until you're able to buy heavier dumbbells.

Posted on: Tue, 01/04/2022 - 23:54

Can you recommend an alternative to the hamstring curls? I have a set of adjustable dumbbells and I just cannot seem to hold it correctly between my feet.

Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/06/2022 - 17:49

Hi, GB. If you have bands, use those for single leg curls. If not, do lunges on a platform.

Posted on: Mon, 01/10/2022 - 13:58

Thanks for the reply Roger. When you say lunges on a platform, do you mean starting on the floor and stepping onto the platform, or starting on the platform and stepping to the floor?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/11/2022 - 18:54

I do. You can place the working foot up on a step or bench.