While many people have switched to home workouts in recent years, some are still put off by things like a lack of equipment or a personal trainer. Thing is, you don’t actually need either of those things to start building muscle at home though, you just need a set of dumbbells and a workout routine.
With that in mind, as an experienced personal trainer myself, I want to outline for you what I feel to be the ultimate full body 5 day dumbbell workout.
This will hit every muscle and help you achieve any goals you may have, with barely any equipment, from the comfort of your own home.
Benefits Of Dumbbell Exercises
Dumbbells are a great all round piece of fitness equipment. Being a piece of resistance training equipment means they can be used to build muscle, while the strain and exertion they place your body under will help you to burn calories and lose weight.
As they are so diverse and have such a wide range of exercises, they can be used to train every muscle in the body, making them ideal for a well rounded workout. They can even be used for all different types of training, from powerlifting and bodybuilding to functional training and CrossFit.
Finally, their size makes them ideal for people training from home or mobile personal trainers. They don’t take up much room to use, can usually have their weight switched quickly and easily between sets or exercises, and can then be conveniently tucked away for storage or transport after use.
The Ultimate 5 Day Dumbbell Workout
Our ultimate 5 day dumbbell workout will guide you through a 5 day routine that uses nothing but dumbbells. It targets all the different parts of every major muscle in the body, helping you to achieve a well-rounded workout that utilises the benefits of dumbbells to improve your entire physique.
The number of sets and reps you perform of each exercise has been left blank, as this will vary based on what you are hoping to achieve.
You always want to warm a muscle up before training it to get the blood flowing, boost mobility, and reduce the risk of injuries. Performing a few sets of exercises for the muscle you will be working with light dumbbells is a great option, as it perfectly prepares the muscle for what is to come.
Dynamic stretches are another option that can be used to get the working muscles ready. However, it is important not to confuse these moving, dynamic stretches with static stretches, as static stretches have been proven to be counterproductive and can actually increase the risk of injury.
Day 1 – Back
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keep your toes and heels firmly planted on the floor, and lower your buttocks towards the ground by bending at the knees, until your hamstrings are parallel with the floor. Grip the dumbbells just outside your legs.
Keeping your back straight, squeeze your glutes and drive them and your hips forward, pushing you upwards, keeping your arms fully extended throughout. At the top, squeeze your traps and contract your abs for a second, before returning to the starting position and completing the target reps.
Stand with your legs almost completely straight, with just a small bend in the back of the knees, and feet shoulder width apart. Hold two dumbbells with arms fully extended downwards, so they rest on your thighs. Now bend forward at the waist 90 degrees and keep your back straight throughout.
Once your torso reaches parallel with the floor, pause for a second then stand back up in exactly the same manner, before repeating for the desired number of reps.
Single Arm Bent Over Row
Put one knee on a bench, bend over until your upper body is parallel with the floor, then place your hand on the end of the bench. Take a dumbbell with your free hand at full extension, with it pointed at the floor.
Use your lats and bend your elbow to raise your arm until your elbow is higher than your back. Really squeeze the lats for a second before lowering the weight back down. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then match it with the other arm.
Bent Over Bench Rows
Set the backrest on a bench to roughly 45 degrees and lay with your chest on it, holding a dumbbell in either hand. You will now perform the same steps seen in the single arm bent over row above, only this time you will do it with both arms simultaneously.
Wide Grip Pull Overs
Lay flat on your back on a bench and hold two dumbbells out behind your head, with arms fully extended, wider than shoulder width apart.
Tense your lats and raise the weights upward until they are pointing straight at the ceiling, keeping them the same distance apart at all times.
Squeeze your lats as hard as you can for a second and then lower the weights back down. Keep going until you feel a deep stretch in your lats, then repeat for the desired number of reps.
Bent Over Raises
Take a dumbbell in each hand and bend over until your upper body is parallel with the floor, and your arms straight and pointing at the ground. Keep your arms as straight as possible and use your rear delts to raise your arms out to your sides, until they are parallel with the ground as well.
Hold the contraction and squeeze for a second before repeating for the desired number of reps.
Day 2 – Chest & Abs
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Set your bench so the backrest has an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees and lay back on it. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest height, shoulder width apart. Contract your chest and use it to drive the weights upwards, bringing them together at the top over your body, and really squeeze.
Slowly lower the weights back down, going as low as you can to put a deep stretch in the chest. Pause for a second at the bottom before repeating for the desired number of reps.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Performed in exactly the same way as an incline dumbbell bench press, only this time the bench is completely horizontal.
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
Performed in the same way as both other types of bench press, only this time you will be laid back at around 30 degrees, with your head being the lowest part of your body.
Lay on your back on a bench and hold two dumbbells straight up above you. Keeping your arms as straight as possible, slowly lower them out to the sides, until you feel a deep stretch in your chest. Now, squeeze your pecs and use them to pull the weights back up to the starting position.
Hold the contraction at the top for a second before repeating for the desired number of reps.
Dumbbell pullovers are performed in the same manner as the wide grip dumbbell pullovers on day 1. The only differences are that you now hold a single dumbbell with both hands, by placing your palms under the upper weight plate, and squeeze your pecs instead of your lats.
Weighted Decline Crunches With A Twist
Lie on your back on a decline bench with your legs secured in the holds and hold a dumbbell on your chest. Flex your abs and try to bring your upper body towards the ceiling. You should be bending across the middle of your abs, not at the waist.
When you reach your limit, twist your toros to one side, aiming to twist as close to 90 degrees as possible, then lower yourself back down. Repeat the process for the desired number of reps, changing which side you twist to on each alternate rep.
Weighted Incline Crunches
Again, lie on you back on a decline bench, this time with your head at the highest point and grip the handle behind your head. Hold a light dumbbell between your feet and use your abs to raise the weight, along with your legs and hips, into the air as high as possible.
Try to drive your hips towards the ceiling at the top of the rep, then slowly begin to lower your legs back down until they are just shy of touching the ground. Immediately repeat the process and carry on until you hit the target number of reps.
Day 3 – Legs
Dumbbell Goblet Squat
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell at chest height, with the heels of your hands supporting the underside of the top weight. Keep your heels flat on the floor and back straight and slowly begin to lower yourself down by bending your knees.
Keep squatting down until your thighs are just lower than parallel with the floor and hold the contraction for a second. Stand up in one flowing motion by tensing the quads, never bending forward at the waist, and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
A stiff leg deadlift is performed almost identically to the Romanian deadlift we did on day 1. The only difference is that this time the legs will be completely straight, with no bend in the knees, which shifts most of the tension from the lower back to the hamstrings.
Dumbbell Rear Lunge
Stand holding a dumbbell in either hand with your feet side by side. Take one foot and move it back, placing it on the ground on your toes a few feet behind you. As you move your foot, slowly bend your front knee and lower yourself down. You should end with a 90 degree bend in both knees.
Stand back up following the same pattern and do the same on the opposite leg. Repeat for the desired number of reps, making sure to change which leg goes backwards each time.
The execution of walking lunges is very similar to the dumbbell rear lunge, with two differences.
Firstly, you will be moving forwards instead of backwards. Secondly, each time you stand back up, you will now step through, instead of returning to the starting position, allowing you to move forwards as if you were walking.
Single Leg Calf Raise
Stand on one leg with your toes on the edge of a box or step, with your heel hanging off. Hold a dumbbell in the hand on the side you are balancing on and place the opposite one on something around you for support.
Now, proceed to lower your heel as low as you can go, before tensing your calf to push you up onto your tiptoes. Squeeze as hard as you can for a second, before lowering yourself back down and repeating for the desired number of reps.
Dumbbell Calf Raise
This is performed in an identical fashion to the one legged version, only you will have both feet on the ground and a weight in either hand. Also, for safety reasons, stand with your toes on the edge of a weight plate, rather than a step or box.
Day 4 – Shoulders & Traps
Seated Dumbbell Press
Sit with a straight back and hold two dumbbells at shoulder height with an overhand grip, just wider than shoulder width. With your palms facing forwards, use the delts and triceps to drive the weights up in an arcing motion, bringing them together over your head as your arms reach full extension.
Tilt your hands so your little fingers rise and your thumbs lower and squeeze the deltoids hard for a few seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Stand with your back straight and two dumbbells at shoulder height, with your palms facing you. Drive the weights straight upwards and twist your hands as you go, continuing until your arms are fully extended, you have rotated your hands 180 degrees, and your palms face away from you.
Raise your little fingers and tilt your thumbs down towards your head to maximise the tension. Hold the tension and really squeeze for a second, before returning to the starting position and repeating for the desired number of reps.
With your back straight, take a dumbbell in each hand and let them to hang at your waist, with arms fully extended. Keep your arms completely straight and, using just your delts, raise the weights up and out to the sides, until your arms are parallel with the floor.
At the top, try and slightly tilt your hands, so that your little fingers rise and your thumbs get closer to the floor. When you have twisted your wrists as far as you can, hold the tension and squeeze for a second, before slowly returning to the starting position and completing the desired number of reps.
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended, and the weights resting on your thighs. Keep your arms straight and use the front delts to raise the weights up in front of you, until your arms are parallel with the floor. Hold at the top of the movement for a second and squeeze.
Slowly lower the weights back down and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Stand with a straight back and hold two dumbbells with the ends toughing in front of you by your waist, with arms at full extension. Raise the weights up in a straight line, squeezing your traps and flaring your elbows out to the sides to keep the weights toughing.
At the top, your elbows should be higher than shoulder height. When you can’t move the weight any higher, pause for a second and squeeze, then slowly lower the weight and repeat for the desired number of reps. This can also be done with a wider grip to add extra stress to the traps.
Hold as heavy a weight as you can manage in each hand and grip it as hard as possible. Now, tense the traps as hard as you can to raise the weights, bringing your shoulders up towards your ears.
When you have raised your shoulders as high as you can manage, hold the tension and squeeze hard for a few seconds, before lowering them back down and repeating for the target number of reps.
Hold as heavy a weight as you can manage in each hand and grip it as hard as possible. Now, squeeze the traps as hard as you can and walk a predetermined distance while holding the weights.
Day 5 – Biceps, Triceps & Forearms
Dumbbell Skull Crusher
Lay flat on a bench on your back, raise the dumbbells up over your chest with straight arms and tilt them back towards your head just a few inches, to ensure there is tension at all times.
Keeping your upper arms completely still, bend your elbows to slowly lower the weight towards your head.
Go as deep as you can, until the weights are roughly the same height as your head. Use only your triceps to extend the elbows until they are completely straight, while keeping the upper arms still. Pause and squeeze for a second, before repeating for the desired number of reps.
Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension
With a straight back, raise a dumbbell into the air, until it is above your head with your arms straight. Your palms should be flat on the underside of the dumbbell’s top weight, with your thumb and forefinger creating a diamond shape around the bar.
Keeping your upper arms still and your elbows close together, bend your elbows to lower the weight down behind your back. When you hit your limit, squeeze the triceps to extend the elbows and drive the weight back up. Hold and squeeze for a few seconds then repeat until you hit your target reps.
Cross Body Tricep Extension
Lay on a bench on your back and hold a light dumbbell with an overhand grip. Keep your arm straight and point it at the ceiling, with your palm facing your feet. Keep your upper arm and wrist still and slowly bend your elbow, lowering the weight towards the opposite shoulder.
Just before the dumbbell reaches your shoulder, squeeze your tricep to extend your arm and lift the weight back up until your arm is almost totally straight. Hold the tension and squeeze for a few seconds, then complete the desired number of reps, before matching it with the other arm.
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback
Place one knee on a bench, bend forward until your torso is parallel with the floor, then put your hand on the end of the bench. Take a light dumbbell with your free hand and lift your arm until your elbow is higher than your back, while keeping your forearm completely vertical.
Keeping your upper arm still, extend your elbow to straighten your arm and lift the weight. When it is fully extended, hold and squeeze for a second before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch sides and match it with the other arm.
Take a dumbbell in each hand and hold them at full extension at your sides, with your palms facing your body. Keeping the upper arms still, contract the biceps to begin raising the weights. Twist your wrists as you go, until your palms face forwards, and the weights are almost at your shoulders.
Squeeze the muscles and hold the tension at the top for a second, before lowering the weight back down in a slow and controlled manner, twisting your palms back to face your body as you go. Just before your arms are fully extended, start the process again and repeat for the goal number of reps.
Stand up straight and take a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms fully extended at your sides and palms facing your body. Curl the weight up towards your shoulders using only your biceps, while ensuring your palms remain facing your body and your wrists are still the entire time.
Squeeze and hold the contraction at the top for a second, before slowly returning to the starting position and repeating for the desired number of reps.
From either a seated or standing position, bend over and support yourself with a hand on one knee. With your other hand, take a dumbbell and position your arm so that your elbow and lower part of your tricep are near the inside of your thigh, but not touching it.
Focus on your bicep and contract only it to curl the weight up until you reach full contraction. Hold the tension and squeeze for a few seconds before slowly lowering the weight back down. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then match that number with the other arm.
Dumbbell Preacher Curls
Sit on a preacher bench or at a weight bench with the back set to 45 degrees and rest your arm on it out in front of you holding a weight. Put your free hand on the top of the pad for support and focus on contracting the bicep to curl the weight, keeping your tricep in constant contact with the pad.
When you reach full contraction, when the weight is near your shoulder, pause and squeeze as hard as you can for a second before slowly lowering the weight back down. Immediately repeat for the target number of reps, then match it on the other side.
Superset: Rear & Front Forearm Curls
Take a pair of dumbbells and sit on a bench with the backs of your forearms resting on your things and the backs of your hands bent over your knees. Using just your wrists, curl the weights as high as you can, raising your palms. Hold the tension for a second then repeat for the target number of reps.
Now flip your forearms over so the insides are resting on your things, with your hands bent forward and your fingers touching your knees. Again, use only your wrists to raise the weights back up, pausing for a second between each rep to maximise the contraction.
Resting & Nutrition
While training is extremely important for muscular development, it won’t be successful on its own. We will now look at some of the finer points of resting and nutrition that you need to adhere to if you are going to achieve the results you desire.
Rest & Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Rest is vital for development, as this is when your muscles repair the damage you do to them during a session and actually grow. To get sufficient rest, you need to ensure you are getting enough sleep of a high quality and are adhering to your scheduled rest days.
Getting sufficient rest will also help to reduce both the regularity and severity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is muscle pain that begins after you’ve worked out and normally starts a day or two after a session.
If you do experience DOMS, it is recommended you give the sore muscles 1 to 2 days of rest before exercising them hard again, to ensure they can fully recover and heal.
Keeping your fluid levels high improves muscular flexibility, builds strength, and prevents muscle soreness. It also helps to give you energy and plays a vital role in keeping your body operating as healthily and efficiently as possible.
To ensure you are properly hydrated, make sure you drink at least 16 ounces of water each day. If you are particularly averse to drinking plain water, you can substitute some of those 16 ounces for healthy drinks, such as coconut water or green or black tea.
Protein For Maximum Muscle Growth
Consuming enough protein is essential if you are going to make your muscles grow big and strong. It is also especially important after a workout, as it gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild the muscle proteins that have been damaged during training.
It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue. Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise and help you build muscle as efficiently as possible.
Calories & Nutrients
No matter what else you do, you won’t see the physical results you desire if you aren’t consuming the right balance of nutrients and calories.
Many recommend the optimal nutritional breakdown is 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. However, as we have already established, protein is particularly important for muscular growth. As a result, you may want to try 50% protein, 30% carbs, and 20% fat.
As everyone is different, you’ll need to do a bit of experimenting to find out what works best for you.
As for your calorie intake, the first step is to work out your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight, based on your level of activity, and there are plenty of free calculators online available to help you work yours out.
Those looking to build muscle should aim to consume around 600 calories more than their BMR each day, while those looking to drop weight will want to target 600 calories less than their BMR daily.
Before we conclude our guide to the ultimate full body 5 day workout plan, I want to go over a few of the most frequently asked questions people have about training with dumbbells. This will hopefully ensure nobody is left with any lingering questions.
What Is A Dumbbell Workout Plan?
A dumbbell workout plan is a weight training routine designed to develop either strength, size, or a combination of the two in the entire body, using only a pair of dumbbells.
It is a great option for a workout at home, with a PT, or for beginners looking for an easy entrance point to weight training.
Can I Get Ripped With Just dumbbells?
While there is no overnight solution to getting ripped, the right fitness plan will enable you to build, strengthen, and tighten every muscle in your body using nothing but dumbbells.
Is 5 Days Of Weight Training Enough?
Five training days per week is considered by many to be the optimum number for muscular development. It gives you long enough to sufficiently train each muscle, while still leaving plenty of time for recovery.
Is A 5 Day Split Good For Building Muscle?
A 5 day split allows you plenty of time to dedicate yourself to each muscle, to ensure you can fully develop it, without spreading yourself too thin or limiting the amount of time you spend recovering.
Can You Build Muscle With 5lb Dumbbells?
5 pound dumbbells are best described as a great starting point. They allow you to get your muscles used to resistance training and practice proper form, without putting yourself at any real risk. That said, you should aim to progress to a higher weight as soon as you are able if you hope to develop.
Dumbbells are a great way to work your entire body. They can target every muscle, be used to develop strength, size, and tone, have a wide range of different exercises you can perform with them, and are suitable for almost everyone, no matter how much space or money you have.
Our guide will hopefully have given you everything you need to start seeing incredible results from your dumbbell workouts.
All you have left to do now is purchase your preferred dumbbells and start enjoying all the benefits they can offer for yourself.