How To Build Muscle With Dumbbells At Home?

Build Muscle With Dumbbells

You know how sometimes you’ll be on your way to the gym, your bag slung over your shoulder, and you’ll think – I wish there was a way to do this at home.

It’s not necessarily that you don’t enjoy going to the gym, but really, nothing can beat exercising in the comfort of your own home.

Plus, think of all the money you’ll save up on your gym membership.

In this article, we are going to show you just how you can build muscle fast by working out with dumbbells at home.

See, a lot of people make the mistake of assuming that in order to get really, properly ripped, you have to hit the gym every day and work out heavily.

But, that is simply not true. The truth is you can just as easily build muscle at home with your own dumbbells.

No heavy, expensive equipment needed. Hey, you can even do it in your pajamas if you want!

Below, we’ve listed three simple steps that will help you get started.

  • Step One: Choosing your Dumbbells

You probably read the intro and thought: “Oh no, I’m gonna have to get some really heavy dumbbells for this”.

The popular assumption is that when choosing dumbbells for at home workouts, you want them to equate the big, bulky barbell weights at your gym, so obviously, you’ll need heavy dumbbells.

But in fact, what works best for them at home exercises we’ll be talking about is a light to medium weight dumbbell.

Ideally, you could purchase a set of adjustable dumbbells (available online and no doubt, at your local sports store) with a few different free weights to attach to them, so that you can vary the intensity of your training.

While not mandatory, many people also purchase an exercise bench. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive (in fact, you can find some pretty decent-priced ones online), just something simple to hold you while you train.

While the bench will add to the cost of your training, it will allow you to tackle a lot more exercises and boost your performance.

Of course, you can try doing some of these exercises lying on a fitness mat of some kind, but it’s generally not as effective.

When setting up your home workout space, make sure it’s a good distance from any valuable or breakable objects.

  • Step two: The Warm-Up Session

When training at home, you want to make sure you don’t skip over the warm-up, otherwise, you seriously risk injuring yourself.

A good warm-up session will loosen your body, and especially your muscles and joints.

It will make you more flexible and it will also improve blood circulation.

The warm-up doesn’t need to take long, just 10-15 minutes of moderate stretches and cardio training should do the trick.

You can do some running, jumping Jacks or burpees to get that blood going. 

If it’s available to you, you can even go for a short run down the street and back to get your heart rate up.

  • Step Three: Choosing Your Exercises

Once you’ve finished your warm-up session, you’re ready to begin building muscle at home with those dumbbells.

As you’re starting out, make sure you saddle the dumbbells with the lightest set of free weight.

You might be tempted to go all out from your very first session, but this can actually be counterproductive, as you risk hurting yourself.

So, start out small and work your way up from there.

When you’re training, one thing you don’t want to do is hurry. We know you’ll want to get as many reps in as short a time as possible, but once again, hurrying is not the way to go.

Exercise #1: The Goblet Squat

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This is definitely among the simplest exercises available to you.

Simply stand with your feet wide apart (more than shoulder-width, though not too wide) and squat down, while holding one dumbbell with both your hands.

The dumbbell should come up somewhere to the middle of your pelvis/abdomen. You don’t want to lean to one side too much.

Squat down as far as you can go, without putting too much pressure on the knees, then bring it up and repeat. 

Do this for at least one set of fifteen reps.

Exercise #2: The Dumbbell Alternate Reverse Lunge

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Bring your feet together and stand up straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand, either by your sides or with your elbows bent (palms facing forward). 

Shift your weight to one foot, for example, the left, and step back with your right into a lunge position (aka a reverse lunge), lowering your body until the knee touches the floor.

Stand back up and repeat. Once you’ve finished with one leg, move on to the other.

You can do as many of these as you like, but try to start with at least 10 lunges on each leg and go up from there. 

Exercise #3: Dumbbell Standing (or Seated) Press

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Remain standing, but bring your feet shoulder-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand.

Bring the dumbbells to about head level, so that your elbows are forming 90-degree angles.

Then, slowly push the dumbbells up past your head until your arms are stretched. Make sure, that your elbows don’t lock.

Hold for one breath, then bring your hands down to head-level and repeat for at least 15 presses.

Alternatively, as you probably guessed from the name, you can also perform this exercise while seated (ideally on a backless chair).

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Exercise #4: The Two Arm Triceps Extension

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Still standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold one dumbbell behind your head with both arms.

You want your elbows facing up and your upper arms facing forward. Curl your elbows and raise the dumbbell up over your head gently.

Hold it for one breath, and then bring it back down in a controlled movement.

This is an exercise for the lower arm area, and so your upper arms (the area between your shoulders and elbows) should be as still as possible during this exercise.

Repeat for one set of 15 reps at least. Alternatively, you can also do this exercise seated or with only one hand.

Exercise #5: The Dumbbell Deadlift

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This is perhaps the most common, well-known dumbbell exercise, but it’s also one of the most effective.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand, with the palms facing you.

Slowly, bring the dumbbells to the floor. Make sure you keep your back straight, head up, and push your hips back (a little like a squat). 

But remember you are not doing squats, but bringing your body forward.

Push through your feet, slowly bring your hips back to their normal position and stand back up. Repeat for at least 15 reps.

This exercise is particularly effective because it works your legs, back, and arms all at once.

Exercise #6: The Dumbbell Press-ups

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We’re sure you know how press-ups work by now and are probably aware of what an excellent exercise they are for the entire body.

Well, dumbbell press-ups are the same, only even more intense.

What you want to do is basically you get into press-up position (also known as a plank).

But, instead of having your palms flat on the ground, you are keeping your fingers wrapped around the dumbbell.

The dumbbells can either be lying next to each other or forming a V-shape, by only touching at one end.

This works because the dumbbells add an instability factor to the press-up, not to mention they are more challenging on the arms.

You can also try other vartiation such as rotations where your core will work out harder to maintain balance. Do at least one set of 10 press-ups.

Now, we’re moving on to exercises to build muscle with dumbbells at home that you can do on or with the aid of a bench.

Exercise #7: The Bulgarian Split Squat

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Like in the previous exercises, hold one dumbbell in each hand with your arms fully extended by your sides (and palms facing you).

Make sure you’re standing in front of the bench. Balance your weight into one leg and lift the other, bringing the instep of your rear leg up on the bench.

This is similar to a reverse lunge but more intense on the legs.

Lower yourself down, as if in a lunge, until your rear knee comes close to touching the floor.

Pause here for one breath, then slowly make your way back up. Repeat for at least 10 reps on each side.

Exercise #8: The Lying Dumbbell Curl*

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The next exercise on how to build muscle with dumbbells at home is Lying Dumbbell Curl.

Lie down with your back on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang by the sides of the bench.

Extend your arms so that they form a 45-degree angle with the bench and make sure your palms are facing up.

Slowly curl your arms to bring the dumbbells close to your shoulders.

Remember that you are working your forearms in this exercise and your elbow should stay pretty level throughout.

Slowly lower the dumbbells down and repeat for at least one set of 15 reps.

Exercise #9: The Dumbbell One-Arm Row

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First, place a dumbbell next to the bench. Then kneel with your left leg on the bench and prop yourself up by laying your left-hand flat against the bench.

You should be bent over by now and your back should be parallel with the ground.

Reach down and pick up the dumbbell with your right hand, keeping the arm extended fully and the back straight.

Slowly, bring the dumbbell up to your chest, then lower. That’s one rep. You want to make sure you do at least one set of 15 reps for each arm.

Once you’ve finished with your right, switch it over to your left side.

Exercise #10: The Close Grip Bench Press*

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This one is quite similar to exercise 7, in that you do it lying on the bench. 

With a dumbbell in each hand (your palms facing toward you/the bench), you want to keep the dumbbells hovering over your chest.

Slowly, extend your arms until they’re straight and hold the dumbbells together, right above your chest, for one breath.

Slowly bring back down, not setting the dumbbells down on the chest, but letting them hover about 1 cm above. Do one set of 15 reps. 

* – The exercises marked with this can alternatively be performed by lying on the floor and can be quite effective, though not as much as when done on a traditional bench.

You will have noticed that we only suggest one set of each exercise.

That’s because when you do them all in a row, it can be quite an intense workout, especially following a cardio session and if you’re not accustomed to working with dumbbells.

Of course, feel free to increase the number of sets you do, as you go.

How To Maximize My Gains While Exercising With Dumbbells At Home?

While working out is the most important factor, there are a few other rules you should keep in mind for the best results.

Diet plays an important role in how you put muscles.

For example, you will want to eat more once you start training, and you will especially want to focus on eating meat, cutting down carbs after your workout, and drinking plenty of fluids.

We will talk at length about the best muscle-building diet in another article.

One last thing you’ll want to keep in mind is to take a break and give your body a chance to rest.

Though many recommend working out every day to maximize the effects, this is not always the best approach for building muscles.

Sometimes, taking a break and allowing your body to relax can be more beneficial than going through an intense workout.

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