Connect
To Top


Dumbbell-Only Mass Workouts


Q: I want to work out with dumbbells three times a week, like on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Can you show me a three-day-split routine that I can do with only dumbbells? Please include exercises for forearms, abs and calves. Thanks!

A: That’s a great question because many people who train on a regular basis perform their workouts at home, not in a gym. Some prefer it because it’s more convenient, or they may feel uncomfortable training around others. Many advanced trainees like training at home because they feel that they can concentrate better and are not as distracted as they might be in a large, commercial gym.

If you don’t have the finances and space in your home to build a full-sized gym, you will be limited to using a barbell or dumbbells and a bench. I’ve trained many of my clients with similar equipment. You, too, can get a good workout with either of them.

If you’re training the whole body in one workout, here’s an example of a good routine using only dumbbells:

 

Crunches on a bench 3 x 30

Seated knee raises 3 x 20

Dumbbell bench presses 3 x 8-10

One-arm dumbbell rows 3 x 8-10

Seated dumbbell presses 3 x 8-10

Lying dumbbell extensions 3 x 8-10

Seated dumbbell curls 3 x 8-10

Dumbbell squats 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 10-12

One-leg calf raises 3 x 12-15

 

For an advanced three-day split, you can obviously add more exercises to work each muscle group more thoroughly. That will enable you to train every area of the muscle to develop more size.

You can split the body up several ways, depending on which areas you want to work the most. For example, you can train chest and back in the same workout, but if your chest is a weak point, you would be better off training it with a smaller muscle group—like triceps—so you can focus all your energy on improving your weak point.

One good routine that you could use would have you training chest, triceps, biceps and forearms on day one; abs, calves and thighs on day two; and shoulders, back and calves on day three. Here’s an example of the exercises you could use for that workout:

 

Day 1: Chest, triceps, biceps, forearms

Dumbbell bench

presses 3 x 6-10

Incline dumbbell

presses 3 x 6-10

Flyes 3 x 8-10

Lying dumbbell

extensions

3 x 10-12

Seated one-arm

extensions

3 x 8-10

Bench dips

3 x 10-12

Seated alternate

dumbbell curls

3 x 8-10

One-arm preacher

curls 3 x 8-10

One-arm dumbbell wrist curls 3 x 10-12

 

Day 2: Abs, thighs, calves

Superset

Crunches on a bench 3 x 30

Lying leg raises 3 x 30

Dumbbell squats (dumbbells at shoulders) 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell lunges (alternating legs) 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell leg curls (dumbbell in between feet) 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 8-10

Seated calf raises (dumbbells on knees) 3 x 15-20

Standing one-leg calf raises

(holding a dumbbell in one hand) 3 x 10-12

 

Day 3: Shoulders, back, calves

Seated dumbbell presses 3 x 8-10

Lateral raises 3 x 8-10

Rear-delt raises (facedown on a bench) 3 x 8-10

Dumbbell shrugs 3 x 8-10

Dumbbell pullovers 3 x 12-15

One-arm dumbbell rows 3 x 8-10

Two-arm dumbbell rows

(facedown on a bench, elbows wide) 3 x 10

Standing one-leg calf raises

(holding a dumbbell in one hand) 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell reverse wrist curls

(forearms on thighs) 3 x 10-12

You will need to purchase a full set of dumbbells in order to work out at home with these programs. What weights you purchase will depend on how strong you are. For exercises such as dumbbell bench presses and one-arm dumbbell rows, you can use heavier weights; however, you will also need lighter dumbbells for exercises such as lateral raises and wrist curls. [Note: You can also get selectorized dumbbells like the PowerBlock, available at Home-Gym.com. Also available is the “The All-Dumbbell Workout,” a DVD that contains a number of unique dumbbell workout programs that build muscle.]

I  remember reading a funny story about Robby Robinson in an old Muscle Builder/Power. Robby said that the first place he ever worked out at had only two sets of dumbbells, 30-pounders and 90-pounders. Even though Robby had just started training, he was forced to use the 90-pound dumbbells for some of the basic exercises because he only had two choices. That forced him to get strong quick.

Remember to record all of your workouts, and always try to make each session progressive. Try to outdo your last workout by pumping out more reps or using a heavier weight than you did in your last workout. It’s important to push yourself when you’re training at home in order to motivate yourself to keep improving. Good Luck!

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at www.NaturalOlympia.com, or send questions or comments to John@NaturalOlympia.com or at P.O. Box 320264, Tampa, FL 33679. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse, www.Home-Gym.com. Listen to John’s new radio show, “Natural Bodybuilding Radio,” at www.NaturalBodybuildingRadio.com.  IM

 


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Bodypart

  • Going To Waist

    Do heavy squats and deadlifts make you thick through the middle? By Tucker Loken   I’ve heard this question from a...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 14, 2017
  • The Raw Story

    An argument for ditching all of that cool weight-room gear. By Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex LBC   PQ: The word...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 8, 2017
  • Front Versus Back

    Which squat is the best one for you? By Vince Del Monte The majority of people train with minimal thought or...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 4, 2017
  • Falling For Traps

    Shoulder pain is a common companion if you’ve been lifting for years. A recent study published in The Journal of Strength...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 2, 2017
  • Test Your Chest

    If you’re looking for the rush you get from an amazing pump in your pecs, try this workout now. By Redmann...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 1, 2017
  • Pump And Circumstance

    Build strength and size in your upper arms with this burner of a triceps workout. Jay Ashman   The triceps are...

    Sharon OrtigasJuly 31, 2017
  • Legend Training

    An industry veteran pays homage to an IFBB Hall of Famer with this timeless shoulder workout. By Tony Estrada   In...

    Sharon OrtigasJuly 10, 2017
  • Metabolic Chest

    This rapid-fire finisher will pump up your pecs like nothing else. By Team Iron Man   Chest development doesn’t have to...

    Sharon OrtigasJune 28, 2017
  • Do More Work

    Initiate growth by jamming more reps into fewer minutes in the gym. By Team Iron Man   PQ: This program takes...

    Sharon OrtigasJune 14, 2017