If you’re short on time, traveling, or limited on training equipment, but still want to build muscle, lose fat, and build the ultimate physique, this article is for you.
When it comes to building muscle, increasing strength, and generally making gains, barbell training is frequently viewed as the “only” way to train. And, while it’s true that barbell training provides an easy way to progressively overload the muscles, and it’s been the foundation of the bodybuilding greats, barbell training isn’t for everyone.
On top of that, not everyone has access or space to accommodate a barbell, full set of plates, bench, and rack.
However, just about everyone has space or access to some heavy dumbbells. And while dumbbells are often viewed as only good for ancillary work towards the end of the workout, the truth is that dumbbells are perhaps the ideal training tool for building muscle and strength.When training with dumbbells, you can address imbalances between two sides of your body. You can also use a greater range of motion during exercises too, especially movement like the bench press, which provide a greater stretch on the muscle, leading to bigger, better gains.
Dumbbells also limit any sort of spinal compression, which is a common drawback to heavy barbell work, and generally speaking, training with dumbbells also spares your low back and is more joint friendly.
Suffice it to say, we’re big fans of dumbbell training, and with the right program, you can still make great gains too!
Ahead, we’ve got a total body dumbbell workout to help you build muscle whether you’re at home, on the road, or just looking to mix things up!Dumbbell Only Workout Training Tips
Dumbbell workouts are ideal because basically no matter where you are, whether it be at home, an apartment gym, or hotel fitness center, there’s always at least some dumbbells to train with. While some may scoff at not having barbells, kettlebells, or rows of machines to use, the simple truth of the matter is that you build muscle and strength using dumbbells.
And we’re going to show you how you can get in an amazing workout and make gains with just a bench and a set of heavy dumbbells. By using compound movements and some intensification techniques, we’ll teach you how to get a maximum training effect from a minimal amount of equipment.
This dumbbell workout is great if you’re stuck in rut, need a break from barbell training that’s left you mentally and physically beaten up, or trying to bust through a plateau.
You can even use it for those times when you’re traveling for business or on vacation and don’t have access to a “real” gym.Here are some key pointers to keep in mind when using this dumbbell only workout to maximize your gains:
Make Every Set Count
Just because you don’t have your precious barbell doesn’t mean you can’t push your muscles to their limit. Your muscles don’t know you’re not using a barbell, all they sense as tension.
As such, you can create an incredible amount of fatigue and metabolic stress with dumbbells by making every set count. Push each set for as many quality reps as possible and stop the set when you feel you can no longer complete another rep with good form.
There’s no need to train to failure, but at the same time, you do need to push your muscles so that last 1-2 reps are a struggle.
If you’re able to complete all reps for a given exercise for all sets, increase the weight. And, if you’ve maxed out your weight, either add a set or add reps.
The key to making gains with any training program is progressive overload, and you do that by forcing your muscles to constantly perform more work than they previously have.Eat Enough Calories
If you’re serious about building muscle and strength, you need to be in a calorie surplus (i.e. eating more calories than you burn). While it’s possible to increase strength at maintenance or even a slight deficity, it’s considerably easier to increase both size and strength when you’re consuming an excess of calories.
The surplus doesn’t have to be massive, but a slight (~10% above maintenance) surplus will do wonders for improving growth, strength, and recovery.
If you need help calculating your caloric needs, we’ve got a handy calculator right here that can help.Dumbbell Only Home or Gym Workout
You will be training 3 non-consecutive days per week using total body workouts.
While these workouts may seem straightforward, don’t make the mistake of thinking simple is easy. These workouts are far from easy, especially if you make every set count.
If you’re using this dumbbell only workout to build mass, you can keep cardio to a minimum, or perform short, high-intensity interval training such as tabatas immediately following your total body workouts.
Now, let’s get to the workout!
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||6-12/leg||90 sec|
|Dumbbell Low Incline Bench Press||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Chest Supported Incline Row||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Incline Overhead Tricep Extension||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Plank||3||Max Time||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Front Squat||3||6-12||90 sec|
|Dumbbell Dead Row||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Standing Overhead Press||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Spider Curl||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Lying Tricep Extension||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Standing One Leg Calf Raise||3||10-15/leg||30 sec|
|Russian Twists (with Dumbbell)||3||10-15/leg||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Reverse Lunge||3||6-12/side||90 sec|
|Goblet Squat||3||6-15||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Squeeze Press to Fly||3||6-12||60 sec|
|1 Arm Dumbbell Row (1-1/2 rep style)*||3||6-12/arm||60 sec|
|Tate Press||3||6-12||60 sec|
|Dumbbell Curls (21s)||3||21||30 sec|
|Toes Elevated Standing Calf Raises||3||10-15/side||45 sec|