5-Day Dumbbell Workout Plan for Muscle Growth

Get fit and toned with this challenging 5 day dumbbell workout plan. Each day features a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups, ensuring a full-body workout.

5 day dumbbell workout plan

For some of us, we may struggle with finding motivation to get moving or we just don’t know how to create a workout plan by ourselves. It gets even more confusing when there are many exercises with different variations and different workout splits.

Well, the great news is that getting your workouts in doesn’t always have to be difficult!

Our 5-day dumbbell workout plan is designed to help you to get in shape. Each day will be focused on targeting the different body parts and will feature different sets of exercises. This will ensure that you get a full-body workout and build those muscles!

Top 5 Benefits of Dumbbell Training

dumbbell workout benefits

If you stepped into a gym, you would probably notice a lot of people using flashy workout machines or those ever-intimidating huge barbells. Look past these things and you will discover that a rack of dumbbells stands behind, waiting for people to use them.

Dumbbells offer not just convenience but are also proven to be highly effective, especially for those who are new to fitness. Weight training essentially helps to decrease body fat and increase metabolism and strength.

Those who are looking to shed some weight or work on their strength can incorporate dumbbell workouts into their fitness routine. These are the top 5 benefits that dumbbell training provides:

Weight Loss

People often think that in order to lose weight, you must do cardio and only cardio. In reality, cardio can only help you so much in your weight loss journey. To effectively lose weight, you need to focus on building lean muscle mass and burn fat. The best way to do it is to include strength training in your workout routine for optimal results.

Increases muscle activation and stability

Using dumbbells can offer greater muscle growth. In a 2016 research that compared the use of barbell and dumbbells for a series of exercises, it was found that there was greater activity when a dumbbell are being used. Dumbbells needs more stabilisation in comparison to barbells. This in turn, results in the higher activation of muscle fibers.

Improves bone density

Stronger muscles can lead to stronger bones. Having stronger bones is essential in preventing the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects an estimated number of 8 million women and 2 million men in America [2].

Dumbbell training places stress onto the bones, signalling the bone-forming cells to work. This results in stronger and denser bone.

Offers greater range of motion

Dumbbells offers a greater range of motion as they are considered to be “free weights”. This means that they are not attached to any machines and you are able to adjust the dumbbell to fit your body movements comfortably. It allows you to lift according to what suits your body best, making movement patterns more effective.

Convenient and beginner-friendly

One of the best things about dumbbells is that they are convenient. Dumbbells are portable and can easily use it in the comforts of your own home if you are uncomfortable stepping foot in a gym. They make an excellent option if you are looking to purchase something that is low-cost.

A major bonus is that they are also beginner-friendly. Dumbbells come in different weight ranges so if you are new to fitness and have yet to develop strength, you can start off with a light 1 to 2 kg dumbbells.

Best exercises with dumbbells

There are a number of dumbbell exercises that are highly effective in strengthening the upper body, lower body or full body. Incorporating these versatile weights into your workout routine can potentially elevate your fitness routine. Some of the best dumbbell exercises include:

Dumbbell bench press

How to do it:

Lie on a flat bench with two dumbbells placed in an overhead grip, over the chest. Exhale as you push up, ensuring that your arms are fully straightened. As you are at the top, you want to squeeze your pecs together to recruit the muscle fibers. Inhale as you lower your arms back down in a controlled manner.

Target muscle group: Pecs, shoulders, triceps, forearms, lats, traps, rhomboids

Doing dumbbell bench press exercises will help you to build a bigger and stronger chest. Other variations includes doing an incline dumbbell bench press.

Dumbbell leg curl

dumbbell workout dumbbell leg curl

How to do it:

Start by setting the bench to an elevated level. This will give you a better range of motion. Lie face down against the bench and make sure that your knees are aligned with the sides of the bench. Pick the dumbbell off the floor with your feet, securing it in between. With your legs fully extended, bend your knees and slowly bring the dumbbell up towards your buttock. Pause for a moment before bringing it back down to starting position.

Target muscle group: Hamstrings

The dumbbell leg curl is an isolation exercise that helps to strength the hamstrings and building stronger thighs.

Bent over dumbbell row

How to do it:

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Bend over at a 45-degree angle and inhale. Exhale as you pull the dumbbell towards the side of your chest. Pause for a moment before bringing your arms back down to starting position.

Target muscle group: Lats, rhomboids, posterior deltoids, traps, biceps


Bent over dumbbell rows helps to improve your spine and targets the upper body, building well-defined shoulders. Other variations of this exercise includes doing a single arm dumbbell row.

Goblet squat

How to do it:

Start by standing with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Hold a single dumbbell with both hands and in front of your chest. Brace your abs and push your hips back into a squat. Inhale as you are in this position. Exhale and press through your heels to stand back up into the starting position.

Target muscle group: Quads, calves, glutes, abs, forearm, biceps, shoulder

The goblet squat targets the major muscle groups of the lower body and the upper body such as the forearm, biceps and shoulders to an extent. Essentially, goblet squat are great for a full body impact.

Dumbbell overhead press

How to do it:

Start by standing upright and keeping the back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place it at the shoulders, in an overhead grip. Exhale as you raise the weights above your head until your arms are fully extended. Pause for a moment. Inhale as you bring the dumbbells back to starting position.

Target muscle group: Shoulders

The dumbbell overhead press helps to increase shoulder strength by activating the front deltoid muscle of the shoulders. Other variations of this exercise includes arnold press and lateral raise.

5-Day Dumbbell Workout Plan

Here is a sample 5-day dumbbell workout plan that is suitable for beginner level. For this workout, you are required to have dumbbells. If you don’t have any dumbbells laying around, try out our HIIT workout plan instead which doesn’t require any equipment.

Workout split overview

The workout plan will follow an upper and lower body split, ensuring that you are training the muscle group twice per week for maximum muscle growth.

Day 1: Upper Body

Day 2: Lower Body

Day 3: Active Recovery

Day 4: Upper Body

Day 5: Lower Body

Workout schedule

Day 1: Upper Body

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Bent-over Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Arnold Press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

  • Dumbbell Skull-crushers : 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Day 2: Lower Body

  • Goblet Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Dumbbell Leg Extension: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

  • Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Day 3: Active recovery

Day 4: Upper Body

  • Close-grip Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

  • Renegade Row: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Overhead Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

  • Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 10-12 reps (per side)

Day 5: Low Body

  • Dumbbell Squats: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Dumbbell Reverse Lunge: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

  • Step Ups: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Dumbbell Thrusters: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

You may adjust the exercises or the active recovery days according to your fitness level and comfort.

The Ultimate Dumbbell Workout Guide

Besides the sample workout plan above, here are some other workout guides that incorporate free weight exercises for a comprehensive fitness routine. These workout are designed to target all the muscles in the body for maximum results.

ultimate dumbbell workout

Full Body Dumbbell Workout Plan For Beginners

This full body dumbbell workout plan is designed specifically for beginners who are looking to build muscle and strength. It includes a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups and is designed to be easy to follow and understand.

60 minute full body dumbbell workout

The Best 5-Day Dumbbell Workout Split

This is another 5-day split workout plan that is ideal for those that prefer to work out at home or in a garage gym and prefer using dumbbells over barbells or exercise machines.

5 day dumbbell workout plan


Be sure to warm up by doing some dynamic stretches before exercising. If you just started working out, you may experience some delayed onset muscle soreness from the first day. Be sure to include enough active recovery days and not over-exert yourself.

5-Day Dumbbell Workout Plan: FAQs

Definitely! Dumbbells are highly effective for building muscle as they allow for a wide range of exercises and offers wider range of motion. It can sometimes be more effective than using barbells or machines. 

It depends. Five days a week can be sufficient for some but insufficient for those that are used to exercising frequently. It is important to balance intensity with adequate recovery.

It can be effective if you focus on compound exercise with high intensity!

5 pound dumbbells may not be enough to get “ripped”. However, 5 pound dumbbells can help with toning, definition and endurance. Consider increasing the weights progressively if that is your goal.

Yes! A full-body dumbbell workout can contribute to overall strength development and muscle growth. At the same time, be mindful of your diet and focus on consuming food that is high in protein for muscle building.


[1] Farias, D. A., Willardson, J. M., Paz, G. A., Bezerra, E. S., Miranda, H. (2017) Maximal Strength Performance and Muscle Activation for the Bench Press and Triceps Extension Exercises Adopting Dumbbell, Barbell, and Machine Modalities Over Multiple Sets [online]. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31(7):p 1879-1887. Available at: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2017/07000/maximal_strength_performance_and_muscle_activation.15.aspx [Accessed 7 Mar 2024].

[2] Harvard Health Publishing (2024) Strength training builds more than muscles [online]. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles [Accessed 7 Mar 2024].

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Follow this 12 Week Dumbbell Workout Plan if you are looking for a comprehensive workout plan that targets all the muscle groups.



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