This dumbbell-only workout was developed by Frankoman from Team Muscle and Strength. It is designed as a full-body workout that can be completed with nothing but dumbbells!
Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for me (and the whole world I suppose), I’ve been stuck inside the last 9 months due to the coronavirus. I’ve got a bench, two 90lb powerblock dumbbells, and some resistance bands to keep me sane.
So I tried out Frankoman’s program for the last 10 weeks and found it to be a well-rounded workout plan that doesn’t take up too much of your time.
What Is The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split?
The program is designed for beginner lifters, but as an intermediate lifter, I felt it worked well for me with only a few modifications. It uses dumbbell exercises to hit all muscle groups in a 3 times/week workout schedule.
This program allows for a lot of rest, so make sure you’re committing fully to the exercises on the days you are working out!
What Is The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Workout Schedule?
To see the program in full, you can visit the Muscle and Strength page that it is hosted on. But we’ll break it down for you here in more detail.
Monday – Chest And Triceps
On Monday, you’ll be focusing on chest and triceps.
Chest exercise 1: Incline dumbbell bench press – 4 sets / 12,10,10, 8 reps
The incline dumbbell bench press requires you to have an adjustable bench that allows for an incline position. Set your bench to 15-30 degrees to ensure the focus remains on the chest as opposed to your shoulders.
Start with a weight you know you can get 12 reps with, and adjust from there for the following sets. This is a drop set program, so each set will have fewer reps than the set before it.
Chest Exercise 2: Flat Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
The regular flat dumbbell bench press is a bodybuilding staple and helps build your stabilizer muscles and your core in addition to your chest. I found that I was able to use similar weight to the incline press due to the fact that I can bench more flat than incline.
You’ll be slightly tired out from the first 4 sets of incline, and the flat bench uses similar muscle groups.
Chest Exercise 3: Dumbbell Flys – 3 Sets / 12 reps
To finish off your chest exercises, Frankoman suggests 3 sets of dumbbell flys. Drop your weight down to a comfortable level, and perform your dumbbell flys so that you are struggling with the last 2 reps.
Tricep Exercise 1: Dumbbell Skullcrusher – 3 Sets / 12 Reps
The dumbbell skullcrushers are a great tricep exercise to do when you don’t have access to a cable machine. Keep your bench in the flat position, and perform your skullcrushers with a weight that is challenging to get back up by the 12th rep.
Tricep Exercise 2: Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks – 3 sets / 12 Reps
Tricep kickbacks are a good addition to your tricep-burning exercise repertoire. When performing this exercise, don’t use the momentum of the weight to help you lift it. At the end of each rep, pause for a moment so that you are not tempted to use the momentum to your benefit.
Tricep Exercise 3: One Arm Seated Dumbbell Extensions – 3 Sets / 12 Reps
The third tricep exercise rounds out the chest and tricep day. This exercise hits all three heads of the tricep and requires a small amount of weight for it to be effective. This makes it a great choice for a dumbbell-only workout.
Tuesday – Rest Day
Sit back and relax/recover. Take a look at Wednesday’s workout and study the exercises involved.
Wednesday – Back And Biceps
On Wednesday, you’ll be hitting back and biceps with a total of 6 exercises.
Back Exercise 1: One Arm Dumbbell Row – 5 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 Reps
The one-arm dumbbell row is an all-encompassing exercise that hits your lats heavily. It also requires strong stabilizer muscles and core to be done effectively. Try to keep your body rigid and still, and only move your arm up and down during this exercise.
This helps isolate the lats/biceps and ensures you’re not cheating yourself by using momentum to swing the weight up to you.
Back Exercise 2: Bent Over Dumbbell Row – 5 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 Reps
The bent-over dumbbell row requires more lower back strength than the one-armed row as you will not have a bench or arm to support yourself with. Brace your back while keeping a neutral spine, and perform your exercise without compromising on form. Poor form can lead to lower back injuries during this exercise.
Back Exercise 3: Dumbbell Pullover – 2 sets / 12, 10 Reps
The last back exercise is the dumbbell pullover which works your lats along with your core and rear delts. Use a weight that you’re comfortable with to avoid injury, and be sure to check out a guide on proper form before trying this exercise out.
Bicep Exercise 1: Incline Dumbbell Curl – 3 Sets / 10 Reps
While seated on your incline bench, use a controlled motion to rep out incline dumbbell curls. Take your time and focus on form to get the most out of each rep. Avoid using momentum to swing the weights up and down, as this can cause shoulder injuries.
Bicep Exercise 2: Standing Dumbbell Curl – 3 Sets / 10 Reps
A true classic. The standing bicep curl is probably one of the first exercises I did when I started working out, and one that I still include in all my bicep workouts to this day. Keep your back straight, and your upper arms locked in place to ensure your biceps are doing all the work.
Bicep exercise 3: Cross Body Hammer Curl – 2 Sets / 10 Reps
Hammer curls in general target the long head (outside) of your bicep, and are a worthy addition to any bicep workout. Again, keep swinging your arms to a minimum to increase bicep engagement.
Thursday – Rest Day
Relax and take a look at the next day’s programming!
Friday – Legs And Shoulders
Friday is the most intense day of this workout program and has the most energy-intensive exercises.
Quads Exercise 1: Dumbbell Lunges – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
The dumbbell lunge is a great way to ensure both of your legs are at similar strength levels. It requires strong stabilizer muscles, along with good body control to avoid toppling over. Start with a lighter weight if you’re having trouble performing this exercise.
Quads Exercise 2: Dumbbell Step-up – 3 Sets / 12 Reps
The dumbbell step-up simulates a deep squat for each leg without having to have the required flexibility for a full-on squat. Make sure you return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner to avoid injuries.
Quads Exercise 3: Dumbbell Squat – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
Rounding off the quad workouts is the dumbbell squat. If you’re used to barbell squats, dumbbell squats are a nice way to change things up. You can keep the weights at your side, or, for a challenge, lift them up to shoulder height for a dumbbell front squat that uses more core and stabilizer muscles.
Hamstring Exercise 1: Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
The stiff leg deadlift will do a great job of activating your quads and tiring them out. Try to feel your quads working during the exercise, and if you feel one leg is doing most of the work, you can alternate with the single-legged version of this exercise.
Calves Exercise 1: Dumbbell Calf Raise – 2
Sets / 15, 12 Reps
Place your dumbbells on your knees, and perform standard calf raises. If your calves aren’t tired after these two sets, or if you don’t have a heavy enough weight, I’d recommend adding in a few extra sets to tire them out.
Calves Exercise 2: DumbbellStanding Calf Raises – 2 Sets / 12, 10 Reps
Standing dumbbell calf raises will supplement your seated raises, and hit the heads of the calf not hit in the last exercise.
Shoulder Exercise 1: Standing Dumbbell Press – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
The standing shoulder press is harder than the seated shoulder press as it requires your core to maintain your balance while lifting weights over your head. Start out with a lower weight and work your way up to an appropriate weight with this one. Try around 60% of your seated overhead press weight to get started.
Shoulder Exercise 2: Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3 Sets / 12, 10, 10 Reps
The lateral raise targets your lateral deltoid, which is a tiny muscle group. Don’t worry if you’re only using 10lbs to start out. Slow and deliberate movements are key to this exercise. You’ll feel the burn for sure.
Shoulder Exercise 3: Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly – 3 Sets / 12, 10, 10 Reps
The bent-over reverse fly targets your rear deltoids, which are, again, a small muscle group. Keep your back in a neutral position, and your movements slow and steady.
Shoulder exercise 4: Dumbbell Shrugs – 4 Sets / 12, 10, 10, 8 Reps
For the dumbbell shrugs, you can up your weight quite a bit. Shrugs target both your delts and your traps, and are a simple and straightforward exercise.
Saturday And Sunday – Rest Days
Take the weekend off and recoup. You’re all done for this week.
Diet Needed To Get The Most Out Of The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Workout
The diet recommendations for this workout will be the same as for any other workout program. If you’re looking to build muscle, the most important thing is to ensure you’re eating enough and getting enough protein.
To do this, you’ll want to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), and eat 200-500 calories above your maintenance levels while ensuring that you get .8 grams of protein per pound of lean mass that you have on your body.
This all sounds very complicated, I know. Unfortunately, it kind of is. Everyone is different, and TDEE calculators are not always accurate. They’re meant to be used as a starting point. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to record what you eat, and pay attention to weight gain or loss week to week.
If your weight is staying the same, increase calories by 200 and weigh yourself for 2 weeks taking the average of the 7 days. If your weight is increasing too quickly, decrease calories by 200 and weigh yourself for two weeks.
This article by Nerd Fitness does a great job of explaining the ins and outs of diet relating to muscle building.
My Review Of The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split Workout
Overall, I found the Frankoman dumbbell only workout to be a good split of exercises for a dumbbell only workout. As I mentioned, I’ve been working out at home for a while now and wanted to change things up. I got really bored just doing my routine which included things like 100 jumping jacks a day, squats, and single-arm french presses.
Each day has the core exercises needed to get someone started on their journey to building muscle and strength for the main muscle groups. They focus on 2 primary exercises and then add in several supporting exercises to ensure you hit all of the muscle groups.
My only complaint about this workout program is that it did not have enough volume for me personally. The program is for beginners, however, and I think this is a great amount of volume for that demographic.
If you’re just starting out, or have been working out for a few months and are looking for a program to do at home with only dumbbells, it’s a great choice.
Is The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split Workout Hard?
I’d say that this workout is as hard as you make it on yourself. While it doesn’t have quite the same amount of volume I was used to, I was definitely pushing my own limits with each exercise by making sure I was tired at the end of each set.
So basically, it’s as hard as you make it. Try to really hold yourself accountable and aim to complete each set with a weight that is challenging for yourself.
If you find this workout hard then maybe you should work on making your shoulders and arms stronger, you can try exercises like overhead cable curls and ring rows (or its alternatives), these are somewhat easier to do and can make your upper body stronger in general
Is The Frankoman Only Dumbbell Split A Good Workout for Building Muscle And Getting ripped?
In combination with a proper diet, yes, this workout can definitely get you ripped and generate strength increases that you’ll be happy with. The key is pushing yourself with each set and exercise, and maintaining a muscle-building diet.
You’ll see the results if you stick with it. For intermediate lifters and above, I’d recommend increasing the volume by adding in a few extra sets/exercises each workout day.
What Challenges Did I Face When Completing These Workouts?
Since this workout is meant to be done at home, we’re all going to be limited by the equipment available to us. My adjustable dumbbells go to 90lbs each, which wasn’t quite enough for squats or one-armed rows.
You’ll always face these limitations with home workout programs, however, so I can’t really pin this one on the workout program itself!
Common Beginner Mistakes With The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split Workout
This workout program is for beginners, so the main mistakes I can see people making are mostly related to having proper form. Since you won’t be in the gym, and can’t rely on others to help correct your form, you’ll have to teach yourself some of the exercises.
If you feel as though your form is off, try recording yourself doing the exercise, and getting feedback from a forum or a friend who’s been working out for some time.
The other mistake I can see people making is forgetting to stretch since it is not listed in the workout program. Take 10 minutes before each workout to get a good stretch routine going each day.
Stretching may not seem necessary if you are a younger lifter, but it becomes more and more important as you age. It goes so far to prevent injuries that I’d say it’s almost a requirement.
So get into good habits now, and try out this stretching routine to get started! Form good habits now, and avoid injuries later!
Benefits Of The Frankoman Dumbbell Only Split Workout
The benefits of this workout are plentiful. It gives you a full-body workout that you can do at home with minimal equipment and time invested.
3 days a week is all you need to start developing a well-rounded physique with your dumbbells and a bench. If you complete this program and want to get into something more advanced, you can simply remove the rest days, and make this a 6-day a week program with one rest day instead of 4.
Even though you don’t have as many rest days, your muscle groups will have time to recover since they are not being used each day. It becomes a standard 6 day Push/Pull/Legs program at that point, which is a favorite among intermediate to advanced gym-goers.