T Nation

Advice on Dumbbell-Only Upper Body Program


#1

Im new to the forum and I’m looking for honest advice about what is the best workouts for total upper body and all I have to work with is a bench press and a few sets of dumbells…


#2

I like using the West Side for Skinny Bastards (ws4sb) template from Joe deFranco. I am in a similar situation working out at home. I use that template for three days and supplement db’s with a 150# sandbag for “max effort” lifts.


#3

You can do pretty much anything with DBs that you can with a bar. Usually you’ll just be able to handle less weight is all (there are a few exceptions).


#4

Intensity techniques:

Pausing, rest/pausing, superset/giant sets, partials, bands/chains, etc.

Basically, make the lift as difficult as you can so you can find a method of progression.

Need to have progression…


#5

My problem is finding a good routine that I can stick with. Keep wanting to just go with whatever my body is comfortable doing that day but I also have 4 kids so it’s hard to find the time so I find myself working out at 2-3 am and seems to be working just starting to see results after 4wks.


#6

Totally understand that. If your goal is just to be more fit than the day before, or you just enjoy moving some weight and staying active, focus on hitting a few movement patterns everyday. So instead of a routine, try hitting an upper body press, upper body pull, lower body, and then a carry.
This is something that Dan John uses for his athletes. He also throws in hinge and squat, but I consolidated​ that into lower body.


#7

It’s going to be as good, you just have to have heavy and good enough dumbells (not wonkey and shaky, etc).

Your flat bench needs to be low, large and stable.

You need to have a whole set of DB in increment up to however heavy you need.


#8

Thanks for the advice guys…been trying out different things and keeping track of what I like best and make multiple mini sets and going thru with 3-4 rounds everyday.


#9

Keep at it mate! An awesome dumbbell movement that you may or may not have heard about is the DB Pullover. Great exercise that hits lats, chest, triceps, serratus and others. It may feel awkward to begin with but the stretch and large ROM make it feel really unique once you get used to it.


#10

Gonna check them out today… right now I’m facing the issues of what protein powders and supplements I should add to my cycle. Anyone with suggestions?


#11

I’ve had great results with the P90X program, which requires just dumbbells and body weight (for pushups). (There are also pullups but I did rows with a resistance band for that and still had good results).

I started lifting Jan. 23 and have only a bench and dumbbells. I’ve lost 25 lbs so far (down to 195) and plan on adding more muscle June-July-August before cutting for the rest of the year. Eventually I’ll want to do some more barbell work but for now I am getting great workouts with just dumbbells, body weight, and resistance bands.


#12

I’m naturally very lean. Have been all my life so I don’t carry a lot of body fat to begin with plus I have the tall and kinda lanky look but I’m Startin to really see some differences in size and tone. I definitely need to increase my protein but there’s times I have to sacrifice cause I have 4 kids that’s home for the summer and all eat like grown men. Really focused on upper body at the moment. Really looking better than it did before I started. Rocking a good six pack and finally have defined chest after I suffered a chest injury 15 years ago. Any and all advice or tips and tricks are greatly appreciated…!!!


#13

Making great gains on upperbody. Increased my weight almost 25 lb in 2 weeks… and finally have a noticeable chest after 15 years of not have one. But all bullshit aside I’m about to invest in a weider pro 4900… what’s a good price on one and what’s ya’lls opinions on the machine itself. Remind u I’m not in this for any competition or anything. Just trying to look good and feel good. Plus being stronger and toned up for the wife always helps. Put on about 12 pounds of muscle in 2 months.


#14

I’ve had a bit of experience on using machines like this at home (not this specific one though) and found it got ‘easy’ and a bit boring.

I’d be more inclined to get a power rack and a barbell. That’s just me and my love affair with free weights shining through though :stuck_out_tongue:


#15

I have a bench set and dumbells just adding this for exercises I can’t achieve without it. Plus the wife likes it too. Only pay in 120.00 for it and it’s been kept inside since purchased.