Frankoman's Dumbbell Only Split

A dumbbell only workout for home or the gym that will pack on muscle mass. This routine was designed by Frankoman from team Muscle & Strength.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
10 weeks
45 minutes
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

Tired of looking for a dumbbell only routine to work out at home with? Don't want to buy any expensive equipment? Then here is a workout for you! All you need is an adjustable bench and some dumbbells. This is beginner - intermediate. If you have a pullup bar I highly suggest adding chinups or wide grip pullups to back day!

Daily Workout Schedule:

Monday - Chest and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Flys 3 12
Dumbbell Skullcrusher 3 12
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback 3 12
One Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 12

Tuesday - Rest Day

Wednesday - back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
One Arm Dumbbell Row 5 12,10,10,8,6
Bent Over Dumbbell Row 5 12,10,10,8,6
Dumbbell Pullover 2 12,10
Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 10
Standing Dumbbell Curl 3 10
Cross Body Hammer Curl 2 10

Thursday - Rest Day

Friday - Legs and Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lunge 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Step Up 3 12
Dumbbell Squat 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 12,10,10,8
Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise 2 15,12
Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise 2 12,10
Standing Dumbbell Press 4 12,10,10,8
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 12,10,10
Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly 3 12,10,10
Dumbbell Shrug 4 12,10,10,8

 Saturday and Sunday - Rest Days

1.1K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 10/20/2020 - 00:41

hey i just started this workout today, so far so good, but do you guys have a spreadsheet or something i can record my progress in? if not thats cool i can write it down. thanks!'

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Posted Tue, 10/20/2020 - 09:37

Hey khanh - we don't currently offer a spreadsheet or app to track programs.

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Posted Thu, 10/15/2020 - 08:13

this is a great workout for men that are starting out and have dumbbells and a bench at home.
can you guys link me to something similar for women? thanks

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Posted Thu, 10/15/2020 - 09:32

Hey johnd - this workout can be done by women as well

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Posted Wed, 09/09/2020 - 02:47

Hi. Finished the 3 day full body split for 8 weeks. Tried the 4 day split for 6 weeks but struggled with the frequency.
Would this be a good program to progress to ? Or any other 3 day/ week recommendations for dbell + pull-up bar at home ?
Thanks !

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Posted Mon, 08/31/2020 - 17:28
ryan coyne

I like these workouts, been a minute since I've hit the gym but let's say I dont have enough weight 55lbs is my highest Dumbbell. More reps ? More sets ?

Need 1" weight plates tall plz help

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Posted Tue, 09/01/2020 - 08:17

Ryan - you can increase difficulty but slowing down rep tempo, supersetting, adding more reps etc

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Posted Wed, 08/19/2020 - 16:57

Hey I have a question very confused how sets and reps are supposed to go.

I heard you’re supposed to increase the weight of the dumbbell as you go set to set per exercise that true?

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Posted Tue, 09/01/2020 - 08:18

Hey Anthony - if you have a few reps in the tank at the end of the prescribed reps, then add weight for the next set

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Posted Tue, 08/18/2020 - 11:06

I don’t have an Adjustable bench, what can I substitute it for?

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Posted Wed, 08/19/2020 - 09:22

Hey James

If you have an exercise ball you can use that to set your body up at an incline. I do recommend lowering the weight when you first try this so that you can find your balance.

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Posted Sat, 08/15/2020 - 12:59

What are the recommended dumbbell weights for the moves?

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Posted Wed, 08/19/2020 - 09:20

Hey Brad

The weight is going to be different for each person. You'll have to try out some weights and find what you can lift to hit the target reps safely (leaving 2-3 reps in the tank).

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Posted Thu, 06/18/2020 - 09:41

This is probably a silly question.....but what is the actual difference between the "One Arm Dumbell Row" and the "Bent Over Dumbell Row." From the videos, it looks like they are done with the exact same motion and would target the same muscles in the same way. The only difference I see is that one is one arm at a time and the other is both. Is there a nuiance that I'm missing and should focus on when performing these exercises?


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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 08:30

Hey David,

When you're performing both sides together, your CNS (central nervous system) is being taxed more. That causes you to use more energy and focus just to move the weight. Keeping this in mind, when you start with one side at a time you can overload that muscle a bit more, and focus more on the stretch and squeeze of each side individually. Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 03/22/2020 - 21:03

Can i split the shoulders on the chest/tri (here i put shoulder press and lateral raises) on and back/bi (i put the shrug and reverse fly) ?

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 08:32

Hey Bruno,

Your shoulders are getting a fair bit of indirect work on those two days already. I recommend following the program as it's written.

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Posted Fri, 01/31/2020 - 20:10

Dumb question from a beginner, when it says “4 sets, 12,10,10,8 reps” does that mean I’m picking up the weights 40 times and done or am I picking up the weights 40 times then repeating that 3 times?

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Posted Sun, 02/09/2020 - 09:39

Im not sure I understand your question correctly, but what it means is that on your 1st set, you do 12 reps, on 2nd set do 10 reps etc...

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Posted Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:25

Hello mate,

You are doing 4 sets of that one exercise. First set you are doing 12 reps, on 2'nd set you are doing 10 reps, 3'rd 10 and 4'th 8 reps.

Take care!

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Posted Wed, 01/08/2020 - 20:50

I can’t quite believe the author or an admin STILL hasn’t added that as the reps decrease in each set you’re supposed to increase the weight...

I’m pretty sure 90% of the people here are just using the same weight for each set 12,10,8 etc.

Why don’t you add it to the article? It’s pretty vital..

Also obviously makes this workout very difficult if you have to change the weights in between each set??

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Posted Wed, 01/15/2020 - 17:03

So how much weight should you add as the reps decrease?

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Posted Wed, 06/10/2020 - 07:52
Some Guy

Outside of warmup sets, if you can add weight as you're decreasing reps, you weren't using enough weight to begin with.

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Posted Sun, 08/09/2020 - 14:54
Brian Lussier

I’m going to respectfully disagree with you on this. If one is doing proper weight, one will get weaker with each set; therefore, no increase in weight is needed.

My background: 30 years of weightlifting and sporting activities.

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Posted Fri, 11/29/2019 - 17:03

Is it cool to do this program on a 4 day rotation? So I finish it twice every 8 days?

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Posted Mon, 11/04/2019 - 23:01

What is the recommended rest time between sets?

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Posted Sat, 07/20/2019 - 21:36

Will this build muscle/how long before I can see muscle growth? Also, how long can I use this workout for? Thank you!

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Posted Tue, 08/06/2019 - 18:14
E main

If you're a beginner it can take as little as 3 weeks to see great results if you work hard at it. And never do the same weightlifting routine for longer than 4 weeks, even if you just change some of the lifts it will greatly benefit you.

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Posted Wed, 10/09/2019 - 21:32

May you explain what you mean by "never doing the same routine for more than 4 weeks"? Though the program duration says 10 weeks.

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Posted Sat, 07/13/2019 - 05:16

This will sound dumb is it okay to do chest exercise after another chest exercise or triceps after triceps? Should it be like chest-triceps-chest-triceps?

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Posted Tue, 08/06/2019 - 18:18
E main

It's good to break down the muscle your working so chest chest chest then tricep tricep tricep does a better job! With the recommended reps and sets.

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 15:03

It may be explained elsewhere and I just missed it, but what is the rationale for decreasing the rep count per set and increasing the weight per set? Does this approach offer any advantages over doing the same weight for an equal number of reps per set?

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Posted Sun, 05/26/2019 - 12:16

Really enjoyed this for the last 10 weeks, now moving on to the 3 day full body routine. Big increases in weight that I'm moving and noticeable visual muscle gains.

Thanks Josh!

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Posted Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:45

With the different reps do we decrease in the weight?

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Posted Thu, 05/16/2019 - 10:34

I don’t see any core specific exercises in this split - does it exercise your core indirectly or should I add a core day in?

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Posted Tue, 04/23/2019 - 02:24

Could I do this workout 6 day's a week doing each workout twice a week with 1 rest day?

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Posted Tue, 04/23/2019 - 08:56

Hi Lee,

Yes, you could.

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Posted Mon, 03/18/2019 - 17:26

what percentage of my max should i be doing on these different exercises?

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Posted Tue, 01/15/2019 - 15:21

for the addition of pull ups on back day: how many sets and reps, and where should they be in the work out?

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Posted Mon, 12/17/2018 - 08:08

I won't have access to a bench until summer next year. What exercise should I use to substitute the ones that require an incline, such as the incline press and incline curl?

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Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 16:40

Hey, this is a bit of a stupid question:

I see this is a 'split' workout, meaning biceps for example are only worked once a week. How come this doesn't make it impossible to progress, given non-'split' workouts would be working each specifc muscle multiple times a week?

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Posted Fri, 11/30/2018 - 09:43

The key is Progressive Overload. If you're working at 85%-90% of your 1Rep Max, you will be pushing significant volume, which your muscles will need to rest from in order to grow. Muscles don't grow from the workout, they grow during the repairing rest process. Also, keep your rep ranges in the 4-6 range for that volume and follow the principle of: When you can do all sets for 6 reps, it's time to up the weight. If you're failing at 4 or 5 on any set, stay where you are until you get to 6 all sets, then up the weight. This is the progressive overload. This is where you get growth. Your muscles grow so to prepare you for handling more weight because you are telling your body through this process that you are going to be pushing more weight, and your body adapts.
Staying in this rep range is the Myofibrillar range where you are thickening the fibres of your muscles. Once you have hit the milestone of 135% of bod weight for bench, and 165% of body weight for Squat and Dead Lift, then you can add in some extra Sarcoplasmic reps in the 8-12 range to pump up the muscles more.
Don't get jacked up on the numbers. Do your best and forget the rest, as Tony Horton would say.
Try to jump too fast, and you risk injury and having to sit out for months which greatly impedes your growth. Don't let your ego write checks your body can't cash. Keep your ego out of it and focus on a healthy lifestyle that will have you turning heads at the beach.
Listen to your body and remember that this is a millimetre game. Gains happen slowly. Like a snail. But stay consistent and persistent and you will see the gains.
Remember too that nutrition contributes about 65% to your results. Not eating enough protein and carbs will impede gains. Too much fat and you'll look puffy. Not enough water or sleep and your body won't perform well. Track your food intake on apps like My Fitness Pal. Almost every jacked person you see knows their calories in and calories out numbers to some degree.
Every calorie you consume should also bring along a lot of friends; minerals, vitamins, etc.
And remember, alcohol inhibits fat oxidation. If your liver is too busy processing alcohol, it cant take care of the fat you're trying to burn, so it put it on hold. Nothing wrong with a couple now and then, but every day, or in great excess, you defeat your gains.
I'd say good luck, but the reality is that luck has nothing to do with it, other than some helpful genetics. So, instead I'll say: Good choices!

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Posted Thu, 11/01/2018 - 16:27
Taran Ainsley

When doing 1 muscle at a time exercises like 1 arm dumbbell row or dumbbell lunges, do you do the required sets for each muscle side (left/right) or spread the sets between the 2 sides?

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Posted Fri, 11/02/2018 - 11:33

Hi Taran,

Yep, the sets would be done on each side.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/21/2018 - 04:38

I love this workout, but I also train in mma 2-3 times a week, can I add some plyo/explosive stuff at the beginning of workouts? Something like box jumps before legs and clap push up before chest

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Posted Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:59

Is there another 3 day dumbbell workout that would be a good one to move onto AFTER completing this program? I enjoyed this program but would like to compound on it and improve in the future. Don't know where I should go to next after this one.

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Posted Fri, 09/14/2018 - 09:18
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Posted Sat, 09/01/2018 - 12:49

What weight should I use in each arm?

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Posted Wed, 08/22/2018 - 09:17

How can anyone finish these set groups in 45min?!

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Posted Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:31
Zachary G.

Hey M&S!

Love the article! Also have a quick question.

I was doing another dumbbell routine that I have gotten somewhat bored as it was lighter than this one. I loving what I’m seeing with this one and was just curious if this would be a good routine to continue my fat loss journey or if you’d recommend a different routine for that?

I walk about 8-10 miles a day at work and do moderate lifting throughout my shift. I also have a pretty solid diet with one decent cheat meal a week. Any advice would be much appreciated!