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
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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!

158 Comments+ Post Comment

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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

JoshEngland's picture
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?

JoshEngland's picture
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

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Posted Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:47
Alex

Hi just started this program after doing the 3 day program. Got 2 small questions.
I need to replace Dumbbell Hamstring curl with an other exercise. Wen alone to hard to get dumbbell in position.
What other exercise would be suitable without use of any machine?
I am 49 now so i will be little harder to build any new muscle. For supplements i only use 5gr of creatine a day and 2*30gr of isolate whey.
Any suggestions on if I should add something or use different whey?
Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:44
JoshEngland

Hi Alex,

You could do bodyweight hamstring curls - very unique if you have hardwood floors - simply wear socks and pull your heels in towards your butt.

Those supplements seem perfect for someone with your goals. The only recommendations would be to ensure you're getting plenty of carbs post workout as well. Maybe add a banana or some other fruit to your shake/smoothie.

Hope this helps!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:37
JoshEngland

Hi Alex,

The full intake of the day is the most important. From the sounds of things, you're doing all the right things.

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Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:05
Alex

Yes that works for the hamstring.
I added a banana to my post-workout shake.
Im on a calorie surplus meal plan. P282 C338 F106. After my evening training i have my post shake and one meal left.
Should i switch things around in my meal plan so i get more carbs in after workout or is the full intake of the day most important?
Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 02/25/2019 - 00:33
Jebs

Hi Josh, stumbled upon your page while looking for dumbbell workouts. I am 41, female struggling to lose body fat, 34% now. I am not bothered about weight, but I would really like to bring down my body fat. Will only weight training help me? I am not a big fan cardio and hiit, it only tires me and doesn't give me a sense of accomplishment and every time I have tried dumbbells, I love it. But never been able to stick long enough or was discouraged by some 'fitness guru' for suggesting weights only will not work. So my question is will this workout alone help losing body fat? Thanks in advance.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/25/2019 - 09:17
JoshEngland

Hi Jebs,

This workout can help aid in reducing your bodyfat percentage. To be truthful though, no single workout alone will help someone lose bodyfat.

It needs to be paired with a nutritious diet that puts the individual in a calorie deficit, as well as other positive lifestyle choices (more sleep, less stress, etc)

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Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 14:26
Anthony Ibbitson

Hi Josh. We been weightlifting since November and I'm now using 13kg dumbbells and doing full body workouts 3 days per week doing 3x8 sets for each exercise. I am doing 16 exercises every other day. Is this bad, should I change to the splits advised above?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 15:44
JoshEngland

Hi Anthony,

16 exercises a day is quite a lot. I'd recommend switching to the split outlined above, yes.

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Posted Sun, 02/24/2019 - 03:42
Anthony Ibbitson

Thanks, I have now split to upper and lower body workouts with planks, leg raises and crunches in the lower body group. I now do 6-8 exercises each day now, rather than 16.

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Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 13:49
Joe

So I'm 14, almost 15 and I need to increase my muscle mass, I have practice 3 days a week, and the 3-day workout allowed me to gain 15 pounds. I'm gonna increase it to 4 days a week, but is there a day that I can knock off? Because I need more upper body focused workouts, and not as much lower body. I'm a freshman varsity lacrosse player, so I really need to be in top physical from.

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Posted Sun, 02/17/2019 - 14:25
Sean

Josh,

I just stumbled upon this workout and am looking to get back in shape as kids and work have helped me lose my way the last few years. That being said, I’m about 180 and want to get down to 160 (I’m almost 5’7”). Would it be helpful to incorporate my peloton bike with this workout, say a 20 minute ride on workout days and maybe 45-60 on rest days? Can’t wait to see how this workout works for me!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 10:03
JoshEngland

Hi Sean,

Absolutely! You can pair cardio via your peleton with this program.

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Posted Mon, 02/11/2019 - 22:48
Dallas

Hi Josh, I just started this program and love it so far. The only issue I'm having is that the time mentioned is 45-60 mins. I find that I finish in about 30. Am I just moving too fast? Thanks in advance!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/12/2019 - 08:54
JoshEngland

Hi Dallas,

That is completely ok! The time durations are just guestimates. The time will depend on the tempo of the reps and rest periods during the exercises. You're doing great!

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Posted Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:13
Tim

Josh, I do a lot of HIIT workouts, but would like to add some more lifting to my routines. Could I combine upper 1 and lower 1 into one day and do it twice a week? My goal is more fat loss driven than muscle gain, but want to maintain muscle mass.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 02/07/2019 - 13:46
JoshEngland

Hi Tim,

You could do that, but you might be better off with one of these full body workouts: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-dumbbell-workout

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Posted Tue, 02/05/2019 - 23:58
Cody

Hey Josh,

Which of these workouts, if any, are advisable to superset?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:16
JoshEngland

Hi Cody,

You could honestly superset any of the exercises listed if you wish.

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Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 17:06
Cody

Thanks for the response. I’m following up the upper body workouts with a HIIT (~12-15mins) workout. Is this advisable?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/19/2019 - 10:26
JoshEngland

Hi Cody,

Yes, that is completely ok to do.

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Posted Tue, 02/05/2019 - 08:13
Jodi

What does it means for 4sets x 8-10 reps?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:29
JoshEngland

Hi Jodi,

You perform the exercise for 4 "rounds" while doing it 8-10 times per round.

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Posted Wed, 02/06/2019 - 00:24
Jodi

So it means 40 repetitions in total for 4 times? Thanks a lot :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:15
JoshEngland

Hi Jodi,

Yep! By the time you finish your last set you will have done 40 total reps.

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Posted Sat, 01/26/2019 - 12:19
Shana

For each day would I go through all of the moves and then repeat OR do each set the prescribed amount of times and then move on?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/28/2019 - 09:51
JoshEngland

Hi Shana,

As written, you'd perform each set the prescribed amount of times prior to moving on to the next exercise.

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Posted Wed, 01/16/2019 - 15:09
Logan

I started out following the excellent 3-Day dumbbell work out posted by Mr (Josh) England's mid August of 2018. Prior to that I had been using a well known calorie counting app. The combination of Mr England's strength and muscle exercises and calorie counting have led to a drastic and massive change, not only in my body but also in my mental well being.

I am stronger, in significantly better shape (night and day people!), I feel absolutely fantastic all of the time and I am now able to constantly push myself.

Thank you Strength and Muscle and thank you Josh! As a father, getting in shape was incredibly important to it. You fine folks provided the road map and I can't thank you enough.

I will send some photos when I am ready, which hopefully will be soon. My goal is to be in amazing shape by August and I am well on my way to it (217lbs -> 150~ (fluctuates due to muscle gain, what little fat I have melting away)).

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 01/16/2019 - 16:54
JoshEngland

Hi Logan,

That is AWESOME! So happy to be a part of your fitness journey. Great to hear about your great results!

Keep it up!

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Posted Mon, 01/14/2019 - 07:49
Gabriel

I want to give this program a try but I was wondering how often I should increase the weight and the amount of weight I should increase them in order to build muscle. My apartment gym has weights that range from 1 kg to 50 kg so I feel like I could do this routine for a while progressively overloading.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/14/2019 - 13:44
JoshEngland

Hi Gabriel,

I'd suggest increasing weight whenever you feel it is necessary. It'll be different for everyone. As long as you are moving up in weight you could do this program for the foreseeable future.

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Posted Tue, 01/08/2019 - 14:55
Gigi

The whole week you're only doing one bicep exercise and one tricep exercise ? Am I missing something ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 01/09/2019 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi Gigi,

Nope! Your bis and tris are indirectly targeted on a lot of the compound movements within this program. You should be fine.

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Posted Sat, 01/05/2019 - 12:15
Mike

Is this a good workout for my wife also? We want to start a program together and just have dumbbells.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:56
JoshEngland

Hi Mike,

Sure! This program can be performed by both men and women.

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Posted Sat, 01/05/2019 - 09:40
Schmitty

Hi Josh, I have been using the 4 day program for a period of about 4 weeks now and I’m enjoying the workout and results. Can you share any insight or perspective on how I can further alter the workout to accelerate results? I’m 54 and just looking for any ideas to accelerate results give my age. Thanks, Schmitty

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:57
JoshEngland

Hi Schmitty,

Results take time. And long-lasting results take sustainability. Personally, acceleration tactics don't hold up well in my book because a lot of them follow strategies that aren't sustainable.

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Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 23:03
Steffano

Hello Josh! I’m going to start this Monday. I’m new to working out so forgive me for my ignorance.

Should I stick to one weight like 10 pounds for every single exercise until I need to increase it or do I do separate lbs for different workouts? It adds more time having to change out the weights and I don’t know if that takes away from the 44-60 minutes I have to do it.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:59
JoshEngland

Hi Steffano,

I'd recommend using different weights for each exercise based on your own personal ability. Even so, it shouldn't make the workout any longer than 45-60 mins.

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Posted Tue, 03/12/2019 - 22:15
Chris

Get the PowerBlocks or similar. They let you adjust the weight in a couple of seconds.

C

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Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 17:00
Chris

As I am relatively new to working out I have been doing this routine for about a month now and the only problem area I currently have is the thighs. This may be a nonsensical question but when you put 4 reps for rear lunges and 3 for split squats I assume it is that amount for each leg or was I reading that wrong?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 13:00
JoshEngland

Hi Chris,

Yes, that would be for each leg.

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Posted Tue, 12/18/2018 - 09:05
Ryan

Since I really only have time to squeeze in workouts at my company gym during a 1hr lunch, I was going to superset some of this program. Would that still be as a effective, and what advice do you have on workouts I should and shouldn’t superset? Thank you,

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:27
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Sure - you could superset some of these exercises no problem. I'd recommend pairing antagonist muscle groups so like a row with a press and a squat with a deadlift.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:40
Fintan

Hi Josh,

First off, thanks a lot for the great workout routine, seems very complete!
As I'd like to learn how to to do the deadlift properly first, could you recommend another exercise for the same muscle group? Also I don't have a proper bench for the hamstring curl, what else could I replace this with?

Once again thanks for the workout, looking forward to more!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:43
JoshEngland

Hi Fintan,

You should get plenty of work in if you start off light and learn the deadlift movement pattern. No need to add in additional work.

For the hamstring curl, it depends on what you have available to use. You can do bodyweight hamstring curls or add in additional deadlift variations once you get the hang of it.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 11/28/2018 - 09:35
Matt

Hi Josh,

If our apartment gym only has dumbells going up to 50lbs, and this is too light to do 8-10 reps with, can we just increase the rep range for the exercise?