Free Dumbbell Workout Plan – A Total Body Workout to Gain Muscle
Workouts at home are a great way to stay in shape when you can’t get to the gym or life just gets in the way. However, many people find setting up a home gym a daunting challenge, as they may think they don’t have the space, knowledge or the thought it will cost more than the arm or the leg they are trying to tone. In this article, I aim to show you that doesn’t have to be the case and you can get a great workout from the comfort of your own home.
This workout will be organised into four sections, with there being multiple exercises for different muscles groups, such as chest or arms etc.
Also, I’ll recommend a number of repetitions and sets for each exercise that I tend to do, but this of course can be modified for you fitness levels and goals. Try and use this workout to fit your own personal preferences as different things work better for different people.
As a general rule, volume is one of the most important stimuli behind muscle growth, which on the face of it means that the more sets you do a week the better. However, it is equally important for you to give yourself rest days to allow your muscles to recover and prevent injury.
Rest days can include resting the area you worked out the day before for example resting your arms by doing a leg day or taking a day off from working out. One day off won’t lose all your progress.
These exercises are designed to target the key muscles involved in pushing (pectorals, deltoids and triceps). The number of sets and reps can be modified to your fitness level, but these ranges are ideal for muscle growth. These exercises should be performed in this order with a 30 second to 1-minute break between each set.
Push Ups – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Overhead Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
Chest Push Together – 1 set until failure.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Close Grip Press Ups – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Dumbbell Triceps Extension – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
These exercises are designed to target the key muscles involved in pulling (lats, rhomboids, biceps) and strengthen the lower back with minimal equipment. These exercises should be performed in this order with a 1-minute break between sets.
Pull ups and chin ups can be made easier by looping a resistance band around the bar and placing some of your weight on it. Alternatively, a ‘negative’ pull up can be performed, where you start at the top with your chin over the bar (you can either jump up or use a chair) and lower yourself down.
This allows you to only perform the eccentric portion of the movement where your body is stronger, and therefore allows you to build up the strength meaning you can eventually do full pull ups.
Pull Ups – 3 sets of as many reps as possible.
Dorsal Raises – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Bent Over Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
Chin Ups – 3 sets of as many reps as possible.
Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
These exercises are designed to target the key muscles in the legs (quadriceps, hamstrings and gastrocnemius) and should be performed in this order with a 1-minute break between sets. For the Nordic curl you can either secure your feet under a sofa or something similarly heavy, or you can get a partner to hold your feet.
For the Romanian deadlift it is vital that you try and keep your back straight to protect yourself from injury and maximise hamstring contraction.
Kettlebell or Goblet Squats – 3 sets of 20 reps.
Dumbbell Lunges – 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.
Nordic Hamstring Curl – 3 sets of as many repetitions as possible.
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
These exercises are designed to target the key muscles of the core (rectus abdominus and obliques) and should be performed in this order with a 30 second to 1-minute break between each set. For those who want even more of a challenge, there are multiple tougher variations of the standard plank such as the superman plank.
Ab Roll Outs – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
V-sits – 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Plank – 1 set for as long as possible.
Dumbbells are of course a key piece of equipment for this and any home workout. I would recommend buying dumbbells with individual plates as it makes it easier to achieve progressive overload, as you can gradually add weight to them and provide a flexible workout. The Opti Cast Iron or Vinyl dumbbells are a really good set and come in various different weights so you can get the ones that suit you.
I would recommend that you get a set slightly on the heavier side, as it will allow room for improvement.
Kettlebells are excellent for squats as they are often easier and more comfortable to hold. However, you cannot alter the weight of them usually, so you would have to rely on simply increasing reps rather than weight. Alternatively, dumbbells can be utilised for goblet squats. If you wanted to invest in kettlebells I’d recommend the Men’s Health cast iron Kettlebell, they have a range of weights so choose the one you think is going to work best for you.
If you find that push-ups can put too much strain on your wrists, then I recommend using push up bars to counteract this. The ProForm Triceps and Push up stand are ideal for this and can really help build up a bigger chest.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, weight Vests can be excellent for making push ups more difficult. I would once again recommend getting a heavier vest and then removing weight from it as you see fit to make your purchase last, but it’s entirely up to you and with what you see fit. For a lighter one, there’s the New image weighted vest at 5kg, or for one with more weight the RDX is a very good vest for more of a challenge at 18kg.
A doorway mounted pull up bar is an easier and often cheaper option than installing a bracket mounted outdoor bar. Depending on your door frame there are multiple options available, but the ones that sit between doorways are often the most versatile. For this type I’d recommend the Opti pull up bar as it doesn’t require brackets and can be easily fitted.
Also, other good investments to bring out the most from your workout include mats so when doing the floor exercises you are protected such as the Men’s Health exercise mat, an ab roller such as the Opti ab wheel and resistance bands like the WonderCore resistance bands.
With just a few bits of equipment, which can easily be stored, you too can get a great at home workout and achieve your fitness goals.