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Dumbbells Routine for Strength

Hello all,
I am 16 years old and 5’11" and weigh about 170lbs. I have about a year of experience. My main goal is strength. My secondary goal is being cut. I have been trying and trying to make a routine based around dumbbells only, but its harder than it seems, mostly because i have low experience.

I dont know what kinda routine to do or how many rep/sets? Any help would be nice. If any website is know that only does dumbbells that would be nice.
Thanks McHeezy!!!

well you can adjust any program really to DB work. Id pick a good program here if strength is the goal maybe Look at West Side For Skinny Bastards.

read up on it or other programs and come on back with more direct ?'s we can help with


If you can’t use a barbell to do squats, dead lifts, good-mornings, and all sorts of other stuff that pretty much demands a bar then make sure you include single leg squats and lunges in your workout. Maybe even overhead squats.


This website has pretty much every legitimate weight training exercise you can conceive of for machines, barbells, and of course dumbbells. Use a workout template from this website or the west side for skinny bastards template to build a dumbbell based workout.

Oh, and one more thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that because you’re a teenager asking for a workout based totally on dumbbells that you purchased the bowflex select-tech dumbbells or have a tiny rack of dumbbells at your house that doesn’t go over 65. Make it your goal to outgrow those weights by the time you’re out of high school.

Thanks yall for the replys!!!

I dont have the blowflex things ur talking about but my weight set goes all the way up to atleast 110lbs it should be more cause it like 1 full set and then a bunch of sets added together. The reason i base it only around dumbbells is because i used to keep my weights outside but then one day my dad got mad and told me to take them inside cause i wouldnt keep the put away and my barbell is rusty and dirty. Pretty soon ill be moving back outside cause my brother is movin out of the guest house and me and my dad are turning it in to my wreck room but that wont be until the summer. well back to the point.

Can someone describe different splits to me?
And also describe how reps and sets work?

Is one of my favorite sites, i had forgot all about it.

well thanks!!!

Well I did some reading I think im gonna go with a Fullbody split- Legs, Back, Chest, Arms.

Would that be 4 different days or 2?
When do i do abs and cardio?

I learned about reps/sets today. I should go with 4x10 because the most strength will be gained. Im gonna have a high protein diet, way more water.

Well when i get home later im gonna fill in my template. Well tell me anything i left out or should add in my routine.

Thanks Mcheezy!!!

There are all kinds of exercises you can do with dumbells. To help out here are a few:

Legs: Deadlift (Dumbells will be beside your legs rather than in front like a barbell deadlift). Squat (You rest the dumbells on your shoulders. Lifting the weight onto your shoulders is a little awkward, so you won’t get anywhere near the weight of a BB Squat, but it is better than not including the exercise). Stepup, and Lunges. Single Leg Squats and Pistols are also great options. Others have already mentioned internet sites where you can check out these exercises.

Chest: Bench Press. You could also do flyes, but in my opinion Bench Press are better strength builders. They also work the triceps and shoulders. If you have the equipment to add dips they are a great exercise. You could also throw in some different variations of pushups.

Back: Rows are the basic back-builder if you are just using dumbells. If you have a place to do pullups adding pullup and chins will really work the back. You can also do Shrugs, which help build the upper back (a muscle group called the trapezius which gives one that big mound of muscles on the back of the neck that runs from the ears to the shoulder as well as the top middle part of the back).

Shoulders: Shoulder Presses and Arnold Presses are two really good exercises. Also hits the triceps nicely.

Triceps: French Presses, Skull Crushers, and Close Grip Bench Presses are all viable options.

Biceps: Bicep Curls work great with dumbells.

Just some thoughts to get you started. Good luck.

I would try and include some bodyweight work.

both narrow grip and wide grip pull-ups, dips, push-ups even.

Well here is what i came up with:

2 Day Split Workout
Upper Body / Lower Body

Workout A: Upper Body
Chest (General)
1. Bench Press

Back (General)
2. Dumbbell Bent-over Row

Chest (Upper)
3. Incline Bench Press

Back (Lats)
4. shrugs

Deltoid (Front)
5. Shoulder Press

Deltoid (Side)
6. Upright Row

7. Kickback

8. Curls

Workout B: Lower Body
1. squat

2. Straight-leg Deadlift

3. lunges

Calves (General)
4. calf raise

5. decline situp

6. Side Bend

4 days a week
2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off

Tell me what you think of it.

When do i do cardio?


Just a couple of things, shrugs don’t work your lats, but your traps, and if looking to build your delts, how about some power db delt raises? I personally use military presses as a way of generally building my shoulders, not just my delts.

Judging from the routine you posted you have access to basically everything required to follow most programs. Why don’t you follow a program made by a professional.

I’m actually a bit perplexed by your upper body days, while the lower body days seem a bit better.

Also having one exercise for abs and one for obliques is pretty simplistic. If you want to build a good functional natural physique, you should provide these muscles with a much wider form of stimulus.

Planks, leg raises, hanging leg raises, regular situps, decline situps (you can focus on obliques on a number of these by twisting to one side while contracting your core), whatever you can think of. And I like to superset (or circuit) them at the end of workouts.

Regarding cardio, I would try and do cardio as far away from training as possible. There was a good thread on that recently over at the supps and nutrition forum, and what I learned from there was basically to isolate my cardio to reduce it’s catabolic effects, and that for shedding fat fasted or semi-fasted morning cardio is the shit.

Good luck!

  1. Chest
  • Incline, flat, decline - flies & presses - theres different start and finish positions if you want even more variation

** even the neutral hammer grip and just push upwards and squeeze together at the top for inner chest.

  1. Biceps
  • seated concentrations - various positions will stimulate either the long head or short head
  • hammers
  • hammer straight into a one armed shoulder press
  • reverse curl ( lower weight til you get comfortable with this move )
  • incline seated curl
  • seated curl
  • over a bench, chair, whatever concentration curl for peak and lower end of bicep
  • remember if your bouncing at the bottom your losing muscle stimulation for the lower part of your bicep, bouncing like that just loses muscle gains unless your going heavy for a special set to induce hypertrophy… generally I don’t promote massive amounts of cheating unless it’s controlled…
  • triceps - seated, lying down extensions, one armed, 2 armed based on weight, behind the neck, kickbacks … standing ( when you stand you involve more of your core for stabilization ).

  • back - one armed rows with bench/chair, or without, can even use your opposing knee or anything firm change the degree of tilt of your frame. from parallel to the ground to 45 degrees. remember to keep your core tight and get that mind muscle connection going… you don’t always need dumbells… also building strength via pullups, chinups, chestup, many variations to this and grips…

  • legs - there are many type of lunges, can induce something similar to a barbell deadlift, remember fluid and smooth don’t curve your back… when doing lunges keep your body up right chest out… don’t lean forward… if your leaning forward it’s too heavy already. formmmmmm ~ contract positive and eccentric portions… There’s a jumping lunge type of movement with dumbells held at shoulder press position…

please start light…

Jump straight up and press and when you land your in the opposing lunge position as you come down… try this without weights and stick to light til you really get a feel for it and you build some basic foundational muscle…


Farmer’s walk or power walk… I’ve found I get a different stimulus with a dumbell in each hand versus going a bit heavier and using 2 hands to grip it in front of myself…

You can figure out how to do calf work holding dumbells at your side.

That’s about it. Master all of that without hurting yourself -_-

hi there,

As someone who trains regularly at home with a bench, barbell & dumbbells I thought I’d just add in some stuff. (Most stuff you needed to know has probably been said)

But just quickly on what I are probably considered the best mass builders with db’s or bodyweight stuff you have the means.

chest - db press (& variations)
shoulders - military press
(med / rear delt stuff - raises)
traps - shrugs (& variations)
back - bent-over rows, one-arm rows, pull-ups if available
quads - bulgarian split squats
hams - (one-leg) romanian deadlifts
calves - calf raise variations etc

If I were working out with dumbbells exclusively I would be modeling my workouts around those major lifts.

hope this helps.

My advice would be get a gym membership, as i was in the same position as you and found the gym could cater better for my needs and gave me more motivation to work harder etc