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3-Day Dumbbell Workout To Bulk Up And Tone Your Muscles

We all know bodyweight workouts that we love. They are good as they help meet several fitness goals without using any equipment. However, you may need to increase your workout’s intensity for solid results down the line. The best strategy is to utilize simple equipment like the dumbbell before progressing to more intense machines. A 3-day dumbbell workout is very effective in helping pave the way to such a goal. Check out this functional 3 day a week dumbbell workout program that paves the way to more intense workouts with equipment.

Why A Dumbbell Workout Routine?

Before we look at the dumbbell workout routine, let us first evaluate two crucial aspects. The first one looks at the importance of a dumbbell routine. Some people may argue that there are other simple tools that one can use to increase a routine’s intensity instead of the dumbbell. For us, dumbbells are suitable for this program for various reasons.

First, dumbbells boost your resting metabolic rate, which helps you burn more calories (3). You might, therefore, want to include them in a weight loss workout plan. Additionally, dumbbells help in activating several muscles and stimulating their growth (3).

This is one of the primary reasons we have included them in this routine, as it aims to promote muscle development. Another reason dumbbells are included in any workout plan is that they help improve muscle force and flexibility (3).

You can also use dumbbells in a wide range of activities, unlike other machines. Last but not least, dumbbells help improve the coordination and stability of your muscles and joints (3). These are some of the solid reasons why you should consider taking up a dumbbell routine.

Can You Get In Shape Doing A Dumbbell Routine Only?

Yes, you can. There is a notion that you have to use a wide array of machines or equipment to build muscle and get in shape. Fortunately, this is not the case. The only thing that matters is using equipment that gives you a great and thorough full-body workout. 

Luckily, dumbbells do this and are the most preferred tools for particular exercises. There are loads of dumbbell movements you can perform, each targeting different muscle groups. Again, this is another aspect that makes dumbbell workouts effective in building muscle.

Read More: 4-Day Dumbbell Workout For Beginners Who Don’t Know What To Do With Dumbbells

The 3-Day Full Body Dumbbell Workout

Let us begin by specifying the aim of this workout. We have specifically designed this workout for individuals looking to get fit with a simple training workout. It also best suits individuals with access to a limited amount of equipment, in this case, the dumbbells.  

Luckily, this routine can be done anywhere as it does not tie you to the gym. So, even if you are traveling for vacation or work, all you have to do is pack your dumbbells, and you are good to go. It is also an excellent routine for beginners learning how to incorporate free weights in their exercise programs. Here are other key aspects to note about this workout:

  • Equipment

All you need is an adjustable bench and some dumbbells. Make sure you get comfortable weights that will not become strenuous down the line. If you want a challenge, start with comfortable weights and then increase the loads as you progress.

  • Target

As mentioned earlier, this routine is best for any individual looking for an easy weight routine. Even so, it is primarily beneficial for beginners and individuals in the intermediate fitness level as well.

  • Age Limit

We have not specified the age limit for individuals performing this routine because it may apply even to seniors. However, you are advised to chat with your doctor and trainer before adding this routine to your workout schedule. 

  • Benefits

The following routine is bringing a lot to the table. For one, it can help promote weight loss as it will help you burn calories. Do you need help building muscle? Then this routine is for you as it also helps in muscle development. The other benefit of performing this workout is body transformation. It will help tone your entire body, ultimately transforming your physique.

  • Rest Periods

The rest periods for the exercises have been included beside each activity you are performing or where applicable. We have set the maximum resting period, which you will notice does not exceed one minute. However, if possible, we urge you to keep the breaks or resting periods shorter than indicated in the workout plan. Nevertheless, if you do need a more extended break for reasons such as shortness of breath, stop immediately and get one.

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  • Additional Workout

Some people may want to incorporate some extra high-intensity interval training or a lower intensity form of cardio, perhaps for faster results. There is no harm in this. We suggest you again talk to your trainer and have them recommend a suitable activity that blends this routine. Once they provide you with one, go ahead and perform it on one of the recovery days.

  • Duration

Aim at performing each exercise until you complete the reps. We may provide a time limit and end up making you rush through various exercises, fearing time will catch up with you. We all know that rushing through an exercise increases your risk of injury, which is the last thing we want to do.

  • Intensity

We have designed a flexible program that allows you to increase or decrease the intensity of the workouts. This is done by altering the reps and sets of the movements.

Read More: Dumbbell Arm Workout: Adding Some Weights Might Just Be The Game-Changer You Need!

Workout Schedule

As seen from the title, this is a 3-day workout program that incorporates dumbbells. It does not mean that you will exercise continuously through the three days. No, that is not the case. Instead, you will have at least one rest day between the workout days.

The reason for the rest days is to help your muscles recover. During this recovery period, your muscles will repair themselves if damaged, and your sore muscles will be engaged for relaxation purposes (4).

It is also termed rest day for a purpose because you are supposed to rest during such days. Do not skimp on sleep because you will become sluggish the next day and will have little to zero mood for exercising. So, get optimal rest when you can. 

Besides including rest days, this workout is also targeting different muscle groups through the three days. Our idea is to target all muscle groups individually for a thorough workout that will help them build muscle. Here is the workout schedule:

  • Monday (Day 1) – Chest and Triceps
  • Tuesday – Rest
  • Wednesday (Day 2) – Back and Biceps
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – (Day 3) Legs and Shoulders
  • Saturday – Rest
  • Sunday – Rest

Day 1 Circuit

  • Dumbbell bench press (Reps 12-15, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Dumbbell floor press (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 45 secs)
  • Single-arm dumbbell bench press (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)
  • Flat dumbbell chest presses (Reps 12-15, Sets 26, Rest 45 secs)
  • Incline dumbbell bench press (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Dumbbell skull crushers (Reps 8-10, Sets 3, Rest 60 secs)
  • Incline dumbbell fly (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 45 secs)
  • Overhead dumbbell triceps extension (Reps 8-10, Sets 3, Rest 60 secs)
  • Standing dumbbell curl (Reps 8-10, Sets 3, Rest 30 secs)

Day 2 Circuit

  • Dumbbell incline rear fly (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Two arm dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift (Reps 15, Sets 1, No Rest)
  • Incline bicep curl (Reps 10-12, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)
  • Dumbbell bent-over row (Reps 10, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Reverse grip bicep curl (Reps 10-12, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)
  • Crossbody hammer curl (Reps 12-15, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Twisting bicep curl (Reps 12-15, Sets 2, Rest 45 secs)
  • Middle back shrug (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)

Day 3 Circuit

  • Dumbbell front squat (Reps 10-12, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Dumbbell walking lunges (Reps 12-15, Sets 2, Rest 45 secs)
  • Dumbbell hamstring curl (Reps 12-15, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)
  • Dumbbell step-up (Reps 15-20, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)
  • Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 60 secs)
  • Dumbbell clean and squat (Reps 12-15, Sets 3, Rest 45 secs)
  • Dumbbell plie squat (Reps 8-10, Sets 2, Rest 30 secs)

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What Is The Right Dumbbell For This Routine?

Dumbbells come in different weights, materials, shapes, and sizes. There is also an option of buying either individual dumbbells, a set, or adjustable weight dumbbells (3). When it comes to weight, there are heavy dumbbells, and there are lighter ones.

In such a case, you need to go back to the drawing board and evaluate the goal of your dumbbell workout. For example, this 3-day split dumbbell workout aims to build muscle by increasing the resistance of simple exercises like the regular squat.

Now, this is where most people go wrong. Most people have the notion that increasing resistance is only possible if one uses heavier weights. Sorry, but that is far from the truth. When you use heavier weights than your body can handle, you strain your muscles and increase your chances of getting injured.

Now, this does not mean you opt to use excessively lightweights. But, on the flip side, using dumbbells that are excessively light lead to no difference between performing these exercises with or without dumbbells. 

What we are driving at is that the right dumbbell is the weight that you can comfortably work with without any strain. It should not control how you handle it, but instead, you should be the boss and control it. What this means is that you must test out your ability to control the weights you think you can handle before purchasing them. This is straightforward if you are purchasing the weights from a physical shop. However, if you purchase online, first test out different weights offline, preferably with your trainer.

How You Can Gain The Most From The Dumbbell Workout

Performing this 3-day dumbbell workout routine religiously for one month does not guarantee you will see the optimal results. There are some aspects you may overlook, like the correct form that may affect the results. So, with that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips that will help you gain the most from this routine. They are as follows:

  • Maintaining The Correct Exercise Form

We cannot emphasize this enough. You must perform each exercise in the proper technique. Otherwise, you will injure yourself. Exercises incorporating weights may be tricky to master because you also have to learn proper coordination of the weights and muscles. Talk to your trainer and let them guide you through each exercise. 

  • Using Comfortable Loads

Some beginners may be over excited to start incorporating weights into their routine that they forget they have to take it slow. Suddenly, some want to work out with heavier weights, perhaps to prove something to themselves or for bragging rights. Sadly this could come at an expense which is not pleasant. It would help if you started with comfortable loads, and as you progress, you add more weight if you so desire a challenge.

  • Stopping The Exercise When You Experience Pain

There is a saying that no pain results in no gain. Most people interpret the saying that they have to experience pain for the workout program to bear fruits. Sadly, that is not what the saying acclaims. 

You must listen to your body and stop exercising whenever you experience pain. Stop performing that exercise immediately and assess the area where you are experiencing pain. Retreat to home interventions like compressing the area using an ice pack. If the pain persists, seek medical advice.


  • Warming Up

You must always start this routine after having performed warm-up exercises. Warming up is essential for a couple of reasons. According to WebMD, for one, it helps reduce muscle stiffness and loosens up the joints, making it easy for them to move during the routine (2). 

Similarly, these exercises help your blood vessels increase blood supply to the muscles, which is important during a workout (2). Try to look for a warm-up routine that pumps you up for the main activity without leaving you out of breath.

Again, remember to stretch and perform cool-down exercises after you complete the routine. They are significant as they help in relaxing your muscles after such an intense workout. 

  • Eating Right

You are always advised to match your exercise program with your diet. So, since this dumbbell workout aims at muscle building, it would help if you followed a muscle building diet plan. The diet plan must contain muscle-building foods that will fuel your goals. The foods must contain all the food groups and in the necessary amounts to help promote muscle growth. Some of these foods, according to Medical News Today, include (1):

  • Eggs. They contain the B vitamins that help in energy production during such a workout.
  • Greek yogurt. It is one of the best post-workout snacks to have after this routine.
  • Cottage cheese. It is rich in calcium that helps with the development of healthy bones.
  • Tuna. Medical News Today states that research indicates tuna contains essential omega-3 fatty acids that help improve muscle size and strength.
  • Milk. Milk is essentially important as it helps boost protein and also hydrates you after you are done exercising.
  • Lean beef. It contains essential vitamins and nutrients like zinc, selenium, and iron that are crucial for energy and recovery.

The Bottom Line

Exercising is one of the most effective ways of building muscle mass and strength and improving health. First, however, you need to pick a practical workout plan that helps you reap these benefits. Additionally, the plan must contain exercises that target all body muscles so that you gain muscle equally and proportionally.

The following 3-day dumbbell workout plan can help in beefing up your entire body muscles. We have carefully selected the exercises we have put together here and how we have structured the routine for optimal results.

Even so, we urge you to talk to your doctor before you start working out using this program. Similarly, talk to your trainer and doctor if you need to make any adjustment to this routine. That said, we wish you the best of luck as you give this routine a try!


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 30 muscle-building foods to fuel your goals (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Benefits of Warm-Up Exercises (2021, webmd.com)
  3. Some of the top dumbbells to consider (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  4. The best ways to bounce back after a tough workout (2018, mayoclinic.org)
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