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!

Editor Note: Ready to progress from this workout? Try the 5 Day Dumbbell Only Workout Program

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!

204 Comments+ Post Comment

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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.

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Posted Sat, 06/01/2019 - 16:04
michael

hi josh

once again i must say i love this workout for when my body gets used to this workout in about 6months can you send me a similar workout that i can do at home please and thank you i really appreciate it

from 16kg dumbells raised it today to 18's.

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Posted Mon, 06/03/2019 - 09:32
JoshEngland

Hi Michael,

That's awesome! Sure, there are all sorts of dumbbell only programs I've written on M&S. Any of those would be solid to use after this one.

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 08:40
Steve

I am a 17 year old who is slightly overweight, nonathletic and has never stepped foot in a gym and I was wondering what dumbbell weight should I start with.

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 14:34
JoshEngland

Hi Steve,

Picking a weight is highly individualized and tough to recommend. Pick a weight you think you can use for the prescribed reps. If too heavy, move down. If too light, move up. You should finish each set feeling as though you have 1-2 reps left in the tank. A good rule of thumb is 75-85% of your working max for the prescribed rep ranges.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 05/27/2019 - 14:42
Sahib Singh

So will the 4 day workout help me build Visible Muscle ?

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 14:37
JoshEngland

Hi Sahib,

Yes, absolutely!

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 15:35
michael

it will take months

they say 1 month to feel it , 2months for you to see it , 3months for people to see it.

but you will never be as big as you see in magazines unless you go on roids

or train everyday for 2,3 hours and eat clean as hell and use alot of natural supplements which is costly like protein,creatine,amino acids, multivitamin,cod liver oil etc and like i said 2,3 hours daily in the gym and a very strict diet fish nothing fried etc...

just train hard be you and feel and notice the difference but dont expect to become hulk in 2months

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Posted Wed, 05/08/2019 - 12:45
michael

hi ive started doing this workout
1 upper
2lower
3cardio
1upper
2lower
3cardio
2days off(mainly as i need to remove some wisdom teeth and was told not to train)

would this continued pattern work for your workout i must say i have been doing it for a week now and i feel great.
and great in a sore way am currently doing all the sets recommended at 10 reps with 16kg dumbells.(starting back after 6months of no workout.)

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Posted Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:00
JoshEngland

Hi Michael,

That is awesome! Thank you for sharing!

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Posted Thu, 04/25/2019 - 06:03
VIJAY HARIBHAU ...

can we do alternate day workout. i.e. mon-wed-fri-sun

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Posted Thu, 04/25/2019 - 09:09
JoshEngland

Hi Vijay,

Yes, that would be fine.

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Posted Mon, 04/15/2019 - 12:31
Jason Green

I completed your 3 day dumbbell and 3 weeks of 4 Day and I just wanted to thank you for publishing. I'm 48 years old and have struggled with back pain since playing college football. I stopped doing triathlons 4 years ago, after an Achilles rupture incurred while trying to climb the warped wall on a ninja warrior course. I went through rehab and even did a couple of triathlons, but the leg never felt right. I decided to follow your program to the letter, no matter how much I thought I knew about lifting weights or cardio training, just running a mile on the treadmill before each workout to get my heart rate up.

I'm pleased with body tone and overall increase in strength, but man... my back feels so much better! I never knew how much I was hurting myself by skipping out on deadlifts (worried about hurting my back). I'm also finding that the lower body exercises are helping me to rebuild mass and tone in the calf that was wiped out after the Achilles rupture. I recently moved to an office with a small gym and this has been an excellent, sustainable plan for me to follow by putting in an hour at lunch or after work each day.

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Posted Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:37
JoshEngland

Hi Jason,

I love hearing stories like this! So happy I could help you on your journey to health.

Thank you for sharing and keep it up!

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Posted Wed, 04/10/2019 - 05:20
Jeff

Hello
Does this train the rear delts too? Im no expert but I cant see an exercise that does.

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Posted Wed, 04/10/2019 - 11:22
JoshEngland

Hi Jeff,

The rear delts will be activated indirectly in a number of press and pull movements. If you wish to isolate your rear delts in addition to the program, you are more than welcome to do so.

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Posted Fri, 04/05/2019 - 16:56
James

New to all this, my lower body is already muscular and toned, just natural no training. I do however want to work on upper body only. Is there a 3 or 4 day upper body programe you could recommend for me to follow.

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Posted Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:37
JoshEngland

Hi James,

I'd recommend training the lower body even if you are naturally built.

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Posted Tue, 04/09/2019 - 09:54
JoshEngland

Hi James,

Absolutely. You can build muscle at any age. It does get more difficult as you get older. But, give yourself some time and be consistent and you'll get where you want to go.

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Posted Mon, 04/08/2019 - 11:51
James

Thanks Josh. As I said new to all this so I will just follow the full 3 day program upper and lower then advance to the 4 day. At age 41 can I expect to see muscle gain and shape or just strength?

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Posted Fri, 04/05/2019 - 09:46
Alex

Hi Josh
I changed from at home to going to a fully equipped gym.
Any suggestions what i should change or what program would be good for me.
Still in the beginner level. I do like the upper lower split.
Thanks

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Posted Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:39
JoshEngland

Hi Alex,

You can still utilize this program. If you'd like to venture out and utilize other pieces of equipment in the gym, this one is also pretty solid: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/shul-workout

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Posted Wed, 03/27/2019 - 14:17
Nick

Hey i dont have an incline bench at home and i was wondering if i could substitue the incline bench press with dumbbell reverse grip press? Also what could i do instead of the incline chest dumbbell row? Thanks

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Posted Wed, 03/27/2019 - 16:33
JoshEngland

Hi Nick,

That'd be a fine substitution. Any row variation should do the trick.

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Posted Tue, 03/26/2019 - 11:52
Alex

Hi,
If i add a +-10 min abs workout on my upper-body days will this in any way negatively influence my progress for the upper-body?
I have added a 30-45 mn cardio workout Wednesday and Saturday.
Is it ok to stay on a cal surplus meal-plan for the full 3 months? (6/7 days - Sunday little cheat-day)

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Posted Wed, 03/27/2019 - 16:43
JoshEngland

Hi Alex,

That all sounds fine to me.

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Posted Sun, 03/24/2019 - 23:02
Bob

For someone who's interested in the upperbody, what do you recommend replacing day 2 and 4 with

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Posted Mon, 03/25/2019 - 09:48
JoshEngland

Hi Bob,

2 upper body days is plenty to grow your upper body. I'd recommend sticking to the lower body days as this will help you grow your entire body over time.

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Posted Sun, 03/17/2019 - 15:59
Kimberly

Just found your workouts through a Google search. I have been in my weight lose journey for about 2.5 years now. I have been able to lose 50 pounds by trying to restrict carbs and also doing exercise (that I just came up with, so probably not very effective) I am trying to find a workout that will actually help build muscle especially on my arms and inner thighs... I can do a workout mon-thursday and some Fridays. Currently I run a mile everyday on the treadmill then on some days do an upper body lifting and others do lower body workout. (Dumbells) Then I play on an indoor women's soccer league Thursday nights.
I see that on this workout it suggests taking a break an wed, and then sat, sun. With me being able to only workout mon-thurs would you suggest doing your 3 day workout?

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Posted Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:31
JoshEngland

Hi Kimberly,

You could still work this program into your schedule if you like the look of it. If you prefer to do 3 days a week, you could give this one a shot: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-dumbbell-workout