Help Designing Dumbbell Workout?

Hi Christian,

In my country, Italy, has been closed all the gyms, facilities, and spaces for public sport events because Coronavirus.

We can’t move from our city to another, or between long distance neighborhoods. The government is applying some rules restricting leave from our houses.

As all the gyms and sports centers are closed, I was able to get a set of dumbbells ( from 5 up to 50kg), bands, bar for chin ups and pull ups and an adjustable bench for my house.

I’m trying to get a barbell and discs for deadlifting and rowing, and the a small rack to squat. But It will be in the next days.

Meanwhile, I really appreciate if you can help to design a template to train only with dumbbells, chin up bar, bands and adjustable bench.

It’s really a chaotic situation here, and this sudden change in our lives (and gym habits) has changed drastically our days.

I feel lost to design a workout to size and strength, I even feel encouraged myself because such changes could be very positive for improving and keep putting good mass.

Could you give me an advice how to design a workout? Now I was able to train without stress and high frequency, maybe push pull legs, or upper lower. I really don’t know how to do it to keep improving and keep my gains. I’m overthinking too much.

Next days, if I get a barbell and support it will be easier.

Thanks Christian.

Those might help.

Just do what you said, P/P/L or whatever works. Could look like:

Push: DB bench (incline, flat, decline, floor), flyes, DB press, lateral raises, tricep movements

Pull: DB rows, rear delt raises, rear delt rows, shrugs, curls

Legs: goblet squats, lunges, RDL’s, calf raises, farmers walk, hip thrusts

All the same movements you could do with barbells (or machines), just done with dumbbells. Don’t worry too much about it.

Good luck with your government’s rules. I’m in America but the corona virus just reached my state yesterday. We were one of the last ones! There’s another Italian poster on here, @samul, who will be dealing with the same restrictions as you.


Are you serious??? How crazy is that?!

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Well honestly, with DBs going up to 50kg you can pretty much do everything you would normally do with a bar, at least for the upper body.

As for the lower body, it could be a good time to include eccentric and isometric emphasis work.

For example you can use these methods on either DB squats (DBs held on your shoulders much like a front squat, or to your side like a trap bar) and DB RDLs.

  • Slow eccentrics (5-8 seconds per rep)
  • Iso pre-fatigue (hold the mid range position for 15-20 seconds then immediately perform your reps)
  • Iso contrast (hold mid range 15 seconds, do 3 reps, hold 10 sec, do 3 reps, hold 5 sec, do 3 reps)
  • Stato-dynamic intraset (use 1-3 holds during the eccentric phase of the lift on each rep, each pause can be 3-5 seconds).

You can also do DB split squats, bulgarian split squat, lunges (you should have enough weight for that)

If you are into power training you can do DB power clean and press and DB power snatches

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For lower, there was a method that I had read about or adapted from something I read (I can’t remember). But the principle is: slow, hold, explode. It is hard but works great.

Slow: For 1 minute do very slow (eccentric and concentric) of goblet squats. You should only get in no more than 8 reps in that minute.
Hold: Do a 1 minute wall sit. Your upper legs should be parallel to the ground.
Explode: Do vertical jumps with just a quick squat down between each. Do as many as you can until your performance really suffers (which should be no more than 10).

Do these in succession. Set a timer to go off at the minute. If possible, do 3 rounds.

Other variations I have done that work well:

For upper body push: Ultra slow pushups for 1 minute; plank hold for 1 minute, as many fast push ups as possible before failure.

I have played around with other pull/core variations, but the two above work the best.

Really crazy…I wasn’t kidding

Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate Christian. Lower body it was my concern too.

Shit! Actually this affects me because I was planned to do a seminar in Poland next weekend and we might have to cancel/postpone it. We already had I cancel two seminars so far (Hong Kong / Shanghai).

I don’t hate it. I actually did something similar, put not in the same order, for lateral raises yesterday:

  1. Overcoming isometrics laterals (standing in a door and trying t spread the walls appart) 6 seconds efforts x 6 sets with 10 sec of rest between sets.

10 sec rest

  1. Slow lateral raises x 10 reps

10 sec rest

  1. 10 explosive reps on lateral raises with resistance bands

I am from Czech rep. Everything must be closed where could be more than 30 people. SO gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, the highest leagues of sport canceled…We cant travel to Italy, GB, France etc. And it getting worse…

Yeah I know, I had to cancel a seminar I was set to give in Poland.

Même problèmes en France , tout les commerces fermés sauf : alimentaire , et bureau de /tabacs , pharmacie , garagistes (maintenance des véhicules d’urgences).

On devrait passer en confinement totale (45 jours) après le discours du Président ce soir 20h.

toutes les salles de gym fermés .Beaucoup de mes amis en salle vont achéter des bandes de résistances pour maintenir la forme a la maison.

Moi je suis en home gym heureusement .

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@SWAT06 Content d’avoir anticiper la chose ! A un jour près :wink:

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@jibb , en plus j’ai prowler , battle rope , tapis de course , sac de box , TRX , etc…

Impossible de s’ennuyer :smiley: :smiley:


Hi coach and everyone,

Well, it happened here in Philly.
Gyms are closed until further notice… I’ve got dumbbells ranging to 100 lbs, a single kettlebell, a full set of powerlifting bands, hand grippers, a sit-up bench, and a pull-up bar

Any ideas on a routine until gyms are open?

Check this thread out:

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Coach - do you have any ideas for maybe new workouts / simulus now with gyms offline (for many weeks / maybe months to come).

Rings / bands / calisthenics etc. Could we try to use some of your principles (quasi/yielding isometrics, weighted pushups etc., density clusters / rest pause, hill sprints/jumps) out of the gym?

Maybe spark some growth from trying a new stimulus and also unintentional deload…

Many thanks!

I actually just wrote an article on that topic; should be up shortly


For some reason, I didn’t get a notification for this tag and I’m only seeing it now. Anyway, I don’t think I can add much as other people have chimed in by now.

(Edit: looks like I did get a notification, but for some reason I failed to open it so yeah, I’m only swing this a week after)

@OP, you’re definitely in a better situation than me with a bench and dbs going up to 50 kg. I hope you have found a good plan to make it work. It’s a bit of a sucky situation, but we are all in this and we gotta make do with whatever’s available.