T Nation

DB's Only...


I am currently working ABBH I right now. The strength gains and size gains are coming around nicely, so I think I'll continue using CW's programs for a while.

In the summer, I am leaving on yet another Navy deployment toward the Persian Gulf... Training has always been an issue underway due to crowded gyms and limited equipment. The crowd factor is such that it's difficult to superset or complete circuits with any sort of reliability.

They just revamped the gyms on the ship to be outfitted with mostly dumbbells, a few cable towers, chin/dip stand, some benches, various machines, a smith machine and cardio equipment. If I'm lucky they'll have left the oly bar behind so I can do DL's, clean pulls, front squats, etc. when it's not too crowded.

Has anyone had any experience on doing programs with dumbbells only? If this is such a limiting factor, what facet of training is this best geared toward (i.e. cutting, bulking, strength, strength endurance, etc.)?

I know that both CT and CW advocate the use of heavy weights to induce size, but I don't know if this arsenal will be sufficient enough in that realm. Also, I'm a little lost on what I would do for lower body developement.

I was thinking about digging up King's old "limping into ..." series, but I just don't know. I haven't ever really used a smith machine until now, but I'm not sure I like them. I tried doing a smith good morning... Horrible idea. Back squats were o.k. with them, and I assume front squats will be about the same.

Last deployment I brought a couple k-bells with me and worked out in the hangar bay for at least half of my workouts. I didn't really get stronger from it, but I upped my conditioning significantly and lost a ton of fat.

Anyone have some suggestions? I'm kinda at a loss...


Any takers?


Are the DBS heavy enough if so then sure you can go far with DBs.

If you feel you can’t do the program properly with just DBs. Use a non-circuit method instead.

Edit : I think the fact you say your making good progress and want to stick to it. Is the key factor so I’d say just do what you gotta do ~ just push yourself harder and raise the intensity!


The DB’s go up to 100, but I’m at a loss when you see things like squats, deads, sumo deads, front squats, etc. in programs. I know I can use DB’s for SOME of these, but an 80-90% of 1RM for a set???

I guess a few things I can think of to substitute in are:

1 legged DL’s
Ski Squats
Pick up from ground (don’t really know if this is more akin to the squat or the standard dl… I think the latter)
Place on shoulders
Romanian DLs
Bulgarian Squats

Any more variety or techniques for strength?


are you just talking about legs or everything?


Well everything, but it’s a lot easier for me to come up with exercises for upper body using dumbbells…

I guess it’s usually more common for people (me at least) to use heavier loads for lower body type exercises (squats, DL, etc.), so that’s where most of my confusion lies.


It may not be as ideal as having a BB and more weight. But if you have DB’s up to 100lbs you can still work the hell out of your legs. Just doing the exercises you have already mentioned wouldn’t be bad. I would also do more compounded movements i.e. Squat Presses, Clean Presses, etc…

And Also if you are using less weight than you are used to you can work different “Zones” and sticking points of your movements. Also work your explosiveness so that Hopefully when you can hit it heavy again, you will come back better than ever and maybe even be able to break some of your old PR’s


It also may not hurt to go to EliteFTS and look into buying some Power lifting bands and a manual. Those can make DB exercises hard as hell