The Muscle-Building Dumbbell Workout Plan

Adding Size to the Legs, Chest, Shoulders, and Arms

Dumbbells are an excellent piece of resistance equipment for developing full-body strength and size. A range of compound and isolation exercises can be performed using dumbbells.

As well as effectively building strength and size, dumbbells also challenge your proprioceptive abilities such as stability, coordination, and balance.

One of the best features of dumbbells is that they are portable and versatile which makes them the perfect option for home-based workouts.

This article will provide a 4-week dumbbell workout plan that can be performed at home to effectively develop full-body strength and size.

dumbbell workout3 Key Features of the Dumbbell Workout Plan

The following program has been designed to stimulate muscle length and breadth of the body to bring about optimal changes in muscle size.

This section highlights 3 features of the program that make it such an effective muscle builder.

1) Split Program

The program requires you to complete 4 workouts per week with each workout dedicated to specific body parts.

Workout one focuses on chest & back, workout two on arms, workout three on legs & abs and workout four on shoulders.

The benefit of using a split program is that it allows for more work to be performed per body part and a greater training volume has been found to optimize the rate of muscle growth (1).

Because each workout hits different muscle groups, fatigue should not interfere with training as while one muscle group is working, the others are recovering.

Keeping fatigue at bay allows you to lift the heaviest loads possible with good technique which will cause the muscles to optimally grow.

workout bodybuiding

2) Workout Structure

All of the workouts follow the same structure. There are 6 exercises in total which are divided into 3 supersets.

Supersets are an advanced training method where you perform two exercises back to back without any rest in between. Only once both exercises have been completed do you rest.

This method has been found to be effective in the muscle-building process (2) which explains why it plays a large role in the program.

Using supersets increases the quality and intensity of your sets which applies a greater amount of mechanical tension to the muscles to bring about significant adaptations.

Not only does supersetting promote muscle growth, supersetting also allows you to get more work done in a shorter time frame.

In the program, you will find the superset exercises labeled A and B.

3) Workout Variables

When it comes to strength training, it is imperative that progressive overload is applied. This simply involves making your training more challenging over the weeks.

Gradually overloading your training will continually apply adequate stress to the muscles and ensure that adaptation continues at a steady rate (3).

In the program, you will see that there are two variables that are manipulated as the weeks progress – volume (sets x reps) and the tempo.

Adding more volume and manipulating the tempo places additional stress on the working muscles which forces them to continue to adapt.

Shoulder Exercises

The Dumbbell Workout Plan

Workout 1 – Chest & Back

Week 1
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Floor Press
B. Hammer Bent-Over Row
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010
A. Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Reverse Flye
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010
A. Wide Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Renegade Row
4 x 10
4 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010

Week 2
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest Tempo
A. Floor Press
B. Hammer Bent-Over Row
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010
A. Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Reverse Flye
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010
A. Wide Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Renegade Row
4 x 12
4 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010

Week 3
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest Tempo
A. Floor Press
B. Hammer Bent-Over Row
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
2010
2011
A. Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Reverse Flye
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
3010
2011
A. Wide Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Renegade Row
5 x 10
5 x 10 (per side)
0
60
3010
2011

Week 4
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest Tempo
A. Floor Press
B. Hammer Bent-Over Row
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
2010
2011
A. Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Reverse Flye
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
3010
2011
A. Wide Dumbbell Press-Up
B. Renegade Row
5 x 12
5 x 12 (per side)
0
60
3010
2011


Workout 2 – Arms

Week 1
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Bicep Curl
B. Triceps Extension
4 x 10
4 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Hammer Curl
B. Tricep Kickbacks
4 x 10
4 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Spider Curl
B. Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010

Week 2
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Bicep Curl
B. Triceps Extension
4 x 12
4 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Hammer Curl
B. Tricep Kickbacks
4 x 12
4 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Spider Curl
B. Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010

 

Week 3
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Bicep Curl
B. Triceps Extension
5 x 10
5 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2011
2011
A. Hammer Curl
B. Tricep Kickbacks
5 x 10
5 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2011
2011
A. Spider Curl
B. Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
2011
2010

 

Week 4
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Bicep Curl
B. Triceps Extension
5 x 12
5 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2011
2011
A. Hammer Curl
B. Tricep Kickbacks
5 x 12
5 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2011
2011
A. Spider Curl
B. Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
2011
2010


Workout 3 – Leg & Abs

Week 1
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Squat
B. Woodchop
4 x 10
4 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Lunge
B. Halo
4 x 10 (per side)
4 x 10 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Goblet Squat
B. Crunch
4 x 10 (per side)
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010

 

Week 2
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Squat
B. Woodchop
4 x 12
4 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Lunge
B. Halo
4 x 12 (per side)
4 x 12 (per side)
0
60
2010
2010
A. Goblet Squat
B. Crunch
4 x 12 (per side)
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010

 

Week 3
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Squat
B. Woodchop
5 x 10
5 x 10 (per side)
0
60
3010
1111
A. Lunge
B. Halo
5 x 10 (per side)
5 x 10 (per side)
0
60
3010
1111
A. Goblet Squat
B. Crunch
5 x 10 (per side)
5 x 10
0
60
3010
2011


Week 4

Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Squat
B. Woodchop
5 x 12
5 x 12 (per side)
0
60
3010
1111
A. Lunge
B. Halo
5 x 12 (per side)
5 x 12 (per side)
0
60
3010
1111
A. Goblet Squat
B. Crunch
5 x 12 (per side)
5 x 12
0
60
3010
2011

shoulder press
Workout 4 – Shoulders

Week 1
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Overhead Press
B. Lateral Raise
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010
A. Arnold Press
B. Upright Row
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010
A. Front Raise
B. Shrug
4 x 10
4 x 10
0
60
2010
2010

 

Week 2
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Overhead Press
B. Lateral Raise
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010
A. Arnold Press
B. Upright Row
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010
A. Front Raise
B. Shrug
4 x 12
4 x 12
0
60
2010
2010

 

Week 3
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Overhead Press
B. Lateral Raise
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
3010
2011
A. Arnold Press
B. Upright Row
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
3010
2011
A. Front Raise
B. Shrug
5 x 10
5 x 10
0
60
2011
2111

 

Week 4
Exercise Sets x Reps Rest (s) Tempo
A. Overhead Press
B. Lateral Raise
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
3010
2011
A. Arnold Press
B. Upright Row
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
3010
2011
A. Front Raise
B. Shrug
5 x 12
5 x 12
0
60
2011
2111

 

Final Word

On completion of this 4-week plan, you should have significantly built size and strength throughout the body. If you wish, it is possible to cycle the plan again and perform another 4 weeks, however, this time use heavier loads from week 1 this time round.

References:

1 – SCHOENFELD, BRAD J.; CONTRERAS, BRET; KRIEGER, JAMES; GRGIC, JOZO; DELCASTILLO, KENNETH; BELLIARD, RAMON; ALTO, ANDREW (2019-1). “Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 51 (1): 94–103. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764. ISSN 0195-9131. PMC 6303131. PMID 30153194.

2 – Weakley, Jonathon J. S.; Till, Kevin; Read, Dale B.; Roe, Gregory A. B.; Darrall-Jones, Joshua; Phibbs, Padraic J.; Jones, Ben (2017). “The effects of traditional, superset, and tri-set resistance training structures on perceived intensity and physiological responses”. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 117 (9): 1877–1889. doi:10.1007/s00421-017-3680-3. ISSN 1439-6319. PMC 5556132. PMID 28698987.

3 -Peterson, Mark D.; Pistilli, Emidio; Haff, G. Gregory; Hoffman, Eric P.; Gordon, Paul M. (2011-6). “Progression of volume load and muscular adaptation during resistance exercise”. European journal of applied physiology. 111 (6): 1063–1071. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1735-9. ISSN 1439-6319. PMC 4215195. PMID 21113614.

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Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.