When you begin working with dumbbells, it can be difficult to figure out when and how often you should be working with dumbbells. Creating a schedule for yourself can help. Everyone progresses at different rates. In general, a good rule is to do strength training three times a week, leaving at least one day of rest between each day of work. About every month you should be mixing up your routine, so you can continue improving your body. Your progress will plateau if you are consistently doing the same exercises over and over.
Here is a dumbbell workout schedule you can follow for 3 months. Remember that everyone progresses at different rates so this timing may not be exact. You will want to start adding heavier weights when you can easily do 15 reps of an exercise.
Month 1 Weekly Schedule
Alternating Bicep Curl: 8 Reps Each Arm, 3 sets
Just like the name would imply, bicep curls are a great exercise for gaining mass in the biceps and can be done by weight lifters of any experience level.
Shoulder Press: 20 reps, 2 sets
Shoulder presses are important to include in your workout routine so you can maintain a healthy shoulder joint as well as gain mass and width.
Tricep Kickback: 20 reps, 2 sets
Thrusters: 15 reps, 3 sets
If you want a full body calorie torching workout that will help you see real changes in your body, you should be doing thrusters. They will leave you sweating and get your heart pumping while also providing the benefits of strength training.
Dumbbell Front Raise: 10 reps, 3 sets
Dumbbell Squats: 25 reps, 3 sets
Not only will the dumbbell squat engage your core muscle region, but the addition of dumbbells will add the resistance giving you a cardio workout that shapes your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
Walking Lunge: 24 reps, 2 sets
Walking lunges will help to build your hamstrings and quads while also allowing you to work on stabilizer muscles. Walking lunges are great for engaging the whole core and increasing your balance while strengthening your lower body.
Incline Bench Press: 15 reps, 3 sets
For defined upper chest, you should be considering incline bench presses during your chest exercise days. The use of dumbbells requires extra stabilization helping to define the upper pectoral while engaging the shoulders.
Hammer Curl: 8 reps each arm, 2 sets
For definition in your biceps, look to do slow alternating reps of hammer curls. Controlled movements will surely help in increasing your arm strength while defining the shape of the overall bicep.
Dumbbell Pull Over: 8 reps, 3 sets
Pull overs are another great chest exercise that will fit right in to your dumbbell workout routine.
Dumbbell Deadlift: 10 reps, 3 sets
Dumbbell deadlifts are a great warm up for your legs and lower back. The weight will allow you to stretch your hamstrings and build muscle in this region. Proper form and steady reps will build muscle in your lower back and hamstrings.
Seated Dumbbell Curl: 12 reps, 3 sets
This alternative to hammer curls will ensure that you are isolating your biceps. The seated dumbbell curl ensures that no momentum is being used to lift the weights thus helping to build muscle in your biceps.
Reverse Lunge with Dumbbells: 12 reps each leg, 2 sets
Doing reverse lunges are a good way to work the hamstrings and glutes with a bigger range of motion than squats.
Single Arm Plank Rows: 15 reps each arm, 2 sets
Overhead Tricep Extension: 20 reps, 2 sets
This simple, one dumbbell exercise allows you to isolate your both triceps simultaneously. Slow controlled motions will help to define the tricep, making your arms look larger and more defined.
Kettlebells are the next best thing next to dumbbells! If you’re considering purchasing one, check our comprehensive review on the best adjustable kettlebell on the market.
Month 2 Weekly Schedule
Single Leg Deadlift: 15 reps each leg, 2 sets
This alternative to deadlifts will allow you to not only reap the benefits of the deadlift, but will also incorporate your core. The balance needed for this exercise increases your strength in your core, hamstrings, and lower back.
Dumbbell Chest Flys: 8 reps each arm, 3 sets
Bent Over Row: 15 reps, 2 sets
Rows are a tried and true back workout that will help sculpt your muscles. It is especially important to work your back regularly to help avoid back injuries and maintain your functional fitness.
Dumbbell Step Up: 12 reps each leg, 2 sets
If you are looking for great cardio and leg exercises, look toward doing this exercise. With some increased speed you will break a sweat, increase your heart rate, and begin to feel the burn in your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.
Chest Press: 10 reps, 3 sets
The chest press will work the middle region of your pectorals. Keep on going and increase weight as you can.
Preacher Curls: 12 reps, 3 sets
Preacher curls are another great bicep workout for gaining mass and strength.
Walking Lunge with Pass Through: 12 reps each leg, 2 sets
This modification of the walking lunges will slow the movement down in order to define the main muscles in your legs.
Lateral Raises: 10 reps, 3 sets
This exercise is meant to work out your lateral shoulder muscles. You may notice some additional muscles activating in the upper back region as you stabilize the muscles when you are fully extended during the exercise.
Sit ups with Dumbbells: 15 reps, 2 sets
For an added strength training core exercise, utilize weights. The weights will create a cardio workout for the already difficult core workout provided by sit ups.
Alternating Bicep Curl: 10 reps, 3 sets
This exercise serves to build strength in the bicep while also defining your forearms. The alternating movements allows you to isolate the muscle and really focus on getting the most of the workout. Make sure you use good quality workout gloves and wristguards to protect your hands from ripping or drying.
Shoulder Shrugs: 18 reps, 2 sets
Shoulder shrugs help to define the upper back and deltoids. Although a simple exercise, ensure that you use slow controlled movements in order to really see the effects of the movements.
Decline Chest Press: 10 reps, 3 sets
For the hard to get lower chest muscles, utilize this exercise. This exercise is meant to define and strengthen the lower pectorals.
Calf Raises: 20 reps, 3 sets
Using a dumbbell you can either have both feet on the ground or balance on one leg as you do this exercise. The results will define your calves.
Single Arm Row on a Bench: 12 reps each side, 3 sets
Single arm rows workout the muscles in the mid back adjacent to the spine. The controlled motion will additionally utilize your triceps and shoulders.
Tricep Kickback: 20 reps, 2 sets
Kickbacks are an easy way to continue to build up your triceps. Try adding more weight as you come back to this workout in month 2, or adjust as appropriate for your age and fitness level. This is a good strength training workout that doesn’t need a bench.
Month 3 Weekly Schedule
Incline Bench Press: 8 reps each side, 3 sets
This exercise is really great for your chest. Make sure you keep pushing yourself to increase weights as you can.
Dumbbell Pull Over: 10 reps, 3 sets
As you work pullovers back into your routine try to mix it up by doing them on the floor so you don’t get to use the bench for support. This will work a whole different set of muscles.
Double Bicep Curl: 12 reps, 3 sets
To do a double bicep curl you follow the same steps as an alternating bicep curl, except you curl both arms at the same time.
Sumo Squat with Dumbbell: 15 reps, 3 sets
Sumo Squats are an excellent exercise for strengthening the inner thighs. The movement will boast definition in the glutes, quads, and inner thighs.
Single Arm Plank Row: 8 reps each side, 3 sets
This exercise is really great for your mid back and core. Make sure you keep pushing yourself to increase weights as you can.
Walking Lunge: 12 reps each side, 2 sets
This exercise helps to build stabilizer muscles and hamstrings. Make sure you keep pushing yourself to increase weights as you can. Alternatively, you can also work on this exercise with a kettlebell.
Hammer Curls: 10 reps, 3 sets
These alternative bicep curls build and shape biceps. Keep pushing yourself to increase weights as you continue to do this exercise.
Shoulder Press: 8 reps, 4 sets
The movement of this exercise builds mass in your shoulders, and more of a toning exercise for women. Continue to increase weight as you are able.
Deadlifts: 15 reps, 3 sets
This exercise works out your lower back and hamstrings. Keep pushing yourself to increase the weights with this exercise.
Russsian Twist: 30 reps, 2 sets
Twists will give the lateral parts of your core much needed attention. The movement will solidify your obliques.
Bench Press: 12 reps, 3 sets
Continue to increase the weights during this exercise to build and define your pectoral muscles.
Arm Circles: 30 seconds, 2 sets
Arm circles with dumbbells increases strength in your entire arm. The strength needed to stabilize and control the movement will place particular attention on the shoulders, forearms, biceps, and triceps.
Wood Choppers: 8 reps each side, 3 sets
Bent Over Row: 12 reps, 3 sets
A bent over row will help you continue to work your entire upper body. It is a good exercise to without a bench if you are working out in your home gym.
Thrusters: 30 reps, 2 sets
Keep pushing yourself to increase weights as you continue to do this exercise.