Ready for the dumbbell upper-lower workout that will kick your ass?

The singular series, will be dedicated to structured workouts based around one thing. In this case, we are going to see how effective we can be using just dumbbells. This is going to put your fitness as well as creativity to the test!

Whether you have only access to dumbbells, or dumbbells is the only piece of equipment you feel comfortable using, I have good news for you.

In this post, we are going to go over all the different exercises available using nothing more than dumbbells.

We will see the exercises that can be done for each muscle group and then divide them into a few different splits. You can make your own workout using these exercises, you can also use various formats.

Especially for martial artists or people into Cross-fit, a dumbbell upper-lower workout will allow for maximum diversity in formats as well as tempo!


Dumbbell Upper-Lower workout: The exercises

There is almost no exercise that can be done with a barbell and not with a dumbbell, keep that in mind when you have to get a bit more creative with your workouts.

Upper Exercises:

Floor PressShoulder PressRomanian DeadliftBicep curls
Bench PressFront RaisesDB RowsPreacher Curl
Incline PressSide Lateral RaiseIncline Bench RowsHammer Curls
DB FlyesBent Over RaisesAlternating RowsTricep Kick Back
Squeeze PressUpright RowsPull OversLying Extensions
Upward Chest FlyShrugsReverse Grip RowsOverhead extensions
DB Push UpsArnold PressPendlay RowsReverse Curl

If you want to absolutely blast your back, I would add Pulls Ups in every session. If you don’t have a pull up bar though, this workout will suffice!

As with any short of exercise, a warm up will be your best friend!

It is better to skip an entire workout than a warm up. Always make sure that your muscles are ready before you start hitting the weights. Not only will you avoid injuries, but you will improve your performance overall!

When you are building your workout, I would recommend that you train back before training chest. Having done that, your back is warmed up and will offer a better base for training chest.

Lower Exercises:

To complete the dumbbell upper-lower workout, I have the meanest exercises kept for last. If you thought leg day was hard with a barbell, have a try at this!

DB Squats
Bulgarian Split Squat
Side Lunges
Goblet Squat
DB Dead-lift
DB Sumo Squat
Hip Thrusts
DB Hamstring Curl
Farmers Walk
Calf Raises

If you feel limited using only dumbbells for a leg workout, don’t!

There is a lot of work that can be done using only a pair of dumbbells. You do lack the stability of a barbell, but you can use that to your advantage. In order to perform some heavy DB Squats, you will have to do a Power Clean first.

Every obstacle can be an opportunity here. By using dumbbells you have the opportunity to improve on core stability and grip strength. You will have to use a lot more muscles to do the same exercises.

Dumbbell Upper-Lower workout examples:

Bellow I am going to list a few different ways you can utilize the exercises above to build a killer programme. You can always build your own with different rep ranges.

The rep ranges bellow, will be focused on a combination of strength training and hypertrophy.

For a more hypertrophy based workout, shorten the breaks and increase the reps. For a strength based workout, increase the break time and decrease the reps. The weight you use should also fluctuate accordingly.

Days 1 & 2

Before getting into it, make sure to warm up each muscle group individually. Start with mobility exercises for the shoulders and wrists.

Then move to a more dynamic warm up and try to perform as many reps as possible with as little weight as possible to get the blood flowing in the muscles.

When working on your chest, make sure to do some rotator cuff prep with some bands and very light weight. Scapula push ups, will also help with stabilizing your back when lifting.

Upper 1SetsReps
Romanian Dead Lift4-58-10
Reverse Grip Rows410-12
Pull Overs410-12
Incline Press48-10
DB Push Ups5-610-12
DB Flyes410-12
Arnold Press410-12
Lateral Raises410-12
Bicep Curls3-410-12
Tricep Kick Backs3-410-12

For training legs, warming up will be equally important. Cycling, running and body-weight exercises will do just that.

For body weight exercises, try and get in as many different positions as possible with as many reps possible. Wehn you go hard on your leg training, make sure to stretch afterwards as well.

Your legs consist of many large muscles and letting them stiffen up is not going to be fun!

Lower 1SetsReps
DB Squats46-8
Goblet Squat4-58-10
Bulgarian Split Squat48-10
Walking Lunges4-58-10
Calf Raises4-510-12
Lots of stretching after!10-15 min.

Day 3 & 4

For days 3 & 4 I like to focus my workouts on strength training to diversify the weeks routine.

Upper 2SetsReps
Romanian Dead Lift5-63-6
DB Rows4-53-6
Pendlay Rows5-63-6
Floor Press53-6
Bench Press46-8
Squeeze Press53-6
Shoulder Press4-56-8
Bent-Over Raises410-12
Hammer Curls3-410-12
Lying Extensions3-410-12
Lower 2SetsReps
Dead Lift5-63-6
Sumo Squats5-63-6
Hip Thrusts5-63-6
DB Hamstring Curl3-48-10
Farmers Walk3-425-45 sec.
Calf Raises410-12

Dumbbell Upper-Lower workout: Mods and Execution

The above workout is a good example of an upper lower split. You can follow the exact plan I have set above or you can modify it according to your goals.

As per generally with any workout split, I would advise you to keep it interesting. Switch between exercises and make sure to incorporate progressive overload. Always keep in mind that your form and your safety is above how much weight you lift!

The singular series, where we choose one aspect and focus on it, is going to include as many variables as possible. The point of that is to enable as many people as possible to use whatever tools they have available. You can truly go along way with some knowledge and the urge to get better!

See you on part 2!

Bellow I am going to list some similar posts I have used that might offer you some further guidance.


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