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  1. #1
    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    A dumbbell routine for the long term/foreseeable future?

    I'd like to build a lot of muscle mass as my main focus. Get as big as possible. Mostly focused on back/lats/traps, shoulders, chest, and arms. But most programs I find for that require a full gym, or at least a barbell. Every dumbbell program I find is a stopgap where they specify "You cannot do this long term, this is only to fill time until you have access to a barbell and/or full gym."

    I can't go to a full gym and I can't buy a barbell and plates. I have nowhere to store them. And the kind of weight these barbell plans want me to throw around will disturb my neighbors and get me in trouble with my landlord. Some people have suggested body weight. I do have a pull-up bar, but looking at the results of bodyweight programs they don't seem to get people very big. My guess is because in order to successfully get big with bodyweight, you have to pull off movements that are very hard to do with proper form. And I don't have a trainer to check my movements. I have nowhere to store one. But it works for gymnasts, they have the most aesthetic biceps in the game.

    I know alternatives must exist out there, I just can't find any. I'm thinking maybe an "every other day" split with a rest on the weekends?
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  2. #2
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    It's possible to use DBs exlusively for a number of lifts. The problem is that it's difficult to effectively train lower body with just DBs.

    I can see you believe you don't need to do that. However, most experienced people here would disagree with that point of view, it's important to train the whole body in balanced.

    Also, most novices don't properly understand their body composition - believing you don't need to train lower body is just an extension of this misunderstanding. If anything, lower body training will have more impact on having a lean torso (especially the much sought after 6 pack) than upper body training will.
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    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It's possible to use DBs exlusively for a number of lifts. The problem is that it's difficult to effectively train lower body with just DBs.

    I can see you believe you don't need to do that. However, most experienced people here would disagree with that point of view, it's important to train the whole body in balanced.

    Also, most novices don't properly understand their body composition - believing you don't need to train lower body is just an extension of this misunderstanding. If anything, lower body training will have more impact on having a lean torso (especially the much sought after 6 pack) than upper body training will.
    I wanna train the whole body, core, legs, everything. It's just that it's important that my upper body is really really big.
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    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    It's just that it's important that my upper body is really really big.
    It's prob not important at all for your upper body to be really big compared to your legs.

    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I can't go to a full gym and I can't buy a barbell and plates. I have nowhere to store them. And the kind of weight these barbell plans want me to throw around will disturb my neighbors and get me in trouble with my landlord.
    You can train upper body pretty well with dbs, but you're going to run into similar probs. To get really big, you'll still need to lift and store heavy dbs - so you'll need to either buy many dbs to cover the wide range of weights you'll need for a variety of exercises and progressively heavier weights, or one or two pairs of adjustable dbs (e.g., SelectTech) to cover the same ranges. But they're still going to make noise and in some cases will make more since a bar will often rest up on your bench rack for heavy lifts.

    That being said, it sounds like you haven't started lifting yet so you'll prob won't need to go too heavy at the start.

    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I do have a pull-up bar, but looking at the results of bodyweight programs they don't seem to get people very big.
    You're limited to your own bodyweight for lifts, so can only progress so much. But if you're not currently weightlifting, do you really find proper pull-ups that easy? It's a great exercise, and you can wear or hang weight off of yourself if you need to add resistance.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I wanna train the whole body, core, legs, everything. It's just that it's important that my upper body is really really big.
    I can understand why.....

    My Log - https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=170367151&page=50

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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    but looking at the results of bodyweight programs they don't seem to get people very big. My guess is because in order to successfully get big with bodyweight, you have to pull off movements that are very hard to do with proper form.
    No. You need continued progressive overload to get big - and it's more difficult to do this with only bodyweight lifting.
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    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    You can train upper body pretty well with dbs, but you're going to run into similar probs. To get really big, you'll still need to lift and store heavy dbs - so you'll need to either buy many dbs to cover the wide range of weights you'll need for a variety of exercises and progressively heavier weights, or one or two pairs of adjustable dbs (e.g., SelectTech) to cover the same ranges. But they're still going to make noise and in some cases will make more since a bar will often rest up on your bench rack for heavy lifts.

    That being said, it sounds like you haven't started lifting yet so you'll prob won't need to go too heavy at the start.
    I was worried more about deadlifts making noise.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I wanna train the whole body, core, legs, everything. It's just that it's important that my upper body is really really big.
    If its that important find a gym you can join with barbells.
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    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I was worried more about deadlifts making noise.
    DB deadlifts are quieter?
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  11. #11
    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    DB deadlifts are quieter?
    Dumbbell deadlifts are impossible, I think? Dumbbells don't come heavy enough to deadlift and provide results. Probably why I've never seen a routine with dumbbell deadlifts in it. But maybe there's a dumbbell routine that doesn't have deadlifts, but has some alternative that can be done with dumbbells and/or a pull up bar.
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    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    Your complaint makes no sense. Barbells are no go because deadlifts are too noisy. Dumbbells are no go because progression is more difficult. You don't have to do deadlifts just because you have a barbell. You can do deadlifts with dumbbells. You're just making up excuses.
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    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    Your complaint makes no sense. Barbells are no go because deadlifts are too noisy. Dumbbells are no go because progression is more difficult. You don't have to do deadlifts just because you have a barbell. You can do deadlifts with dumbbells. You're just making up excuses.
    I didn't know that you could do deadlifts with dumbbells, I thought progression was too difficult. But where would I find dumbbells heavy enough to lift? Dick's and Wal-Mart only go so heavy.

    EDIT: Also, if I don't have to do deadlifts, what's an alternative? That's why I need a routine for dumbbells that says "Hey you don't have a barbell so we're not gonna do any exercises that involve barbells, but here's a bunch of dumbbell alternatives that work just as well. "
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    temporary illusion supramax's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I didn't know that you could do deadlifts with dumbbells, I thought progression was too difficult. But where would I find dumbbells heavy enough to lift? Dick's and Wal-Mart only go so heavy.
    A pair of loadable kettlebell handles do the job. You won't be able to lift as much weight as you can with a barbell, though.


    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    EDIT: Also, if I don't have to do deadlifts, what's an alternative? That's why I need a routine for dumbbells that says "Hey you don't have a barbell so we're not gonna do any exercises that involve barbells, but here's a bunch of dumbbell alternatives that work just as well. "
    A great alternative is hard style heavy kettlebell swings. Ideally, though, the swings precede the deadlifts.
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    Registered User WhatifI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by supramax View Post
    A great alternative is hard style heavy kettlebell swings. Ideally, though, the swings precede the deadlifts.
    Can you tell me what the equivalent weight on a kettlebell swing is to a deadlift? I just watched a video of a hardstyle kettlebell swing, and the motion is different from a deadlift. So I imagine the weight would be different too.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Can you tell me what the equivalent weight on a kettlebell swing is to a deadlift? I just watched a video of a hardstyle kettlebell swing, and the motion is different from a deadlift. So I imagine the weight would be different too.
    kb swings and deadlifts are completely different exercises. The former works the hip hinge, the latter works the lower back. There is some carry over but not as much as you would think.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Probably why I've never seen a routine with dumbbell deadlifts in it. But maybe there's a dumbbell routine that doesn't have deadlifts, but has some alternative that can be done with dumbbells and/or a pull up bar.
    Fierce 5 full body db program (with romanian DL or single-leg DL):
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...post1266579671

    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    But where would I find dumbbells heavy enough to lift?
    As I mentioned above, get some adjustable dbs.



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    temporary illusion supramax's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Can you tell me what the equivalent weight on a kettlebell swing is to a deadlift? I just watched a video of a hardstyle kettlebell swing, and the motion is different from a deadlift. So I imagine the weight would be different too.
    I have no idea about equivalent weight. Just like deadlifting, you have to overload progressively with correct technique. Make absolutely no mistake about it, though: the deadlift IS a hip hinge.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    EDIT: Also, if I don't have to do deadlifts, what's an alternative? That's why I need a routine for dumbbells that says "Hey you don't have a barbell so we're not gonna do any exercises that involve barbells, but here's a bunch of dumbbell alternatives that work just as well. "
    Again with the backwards thinking. Because you're not doing deadlifts, you're also arbitrarily excluding barbell bench, squat, rdl, overhead press, etc. That's asinine.
    Last edited by TolerantLactose; 01-04-2020 at 01:55 PM.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Fierce 5 full body db program

    As I mentioned above, get some adjustable dbs.
    Those only go up to 45-50 pounds each, I can already split squat that for a few reps, so I'm gonna be running into a wall soon.

    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    Again with the backwards thinking. Because you're not doing deadlifts, you're also arbitrarily excluding barbell bench, squat, rdl, overhead press, etc. That's asinine.
    I can't do barbell deadlifts. I don't have a barbell and can't get one. But you said I don't have to do deadlifts.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Those only go up to 45-50 pounds each, I can already split squat that for a few reps, so I'm gonna be running into a wall soon.
    Actually Powerblocks go up to 175 lbs each and SelectTech goes up to 90 lbs each. If that's not heavy enough for you, then just get individual pairs of dbs as you need them. They go up to 420 lbs each. If that's not enough for your split squats, then join a gym or buy a barbell.

    The best way to not get really really big is to come up with one wall after another as to why it's not possible.

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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I can't do barbell deadlifts. I don't have a barbell and can't get one. But you said I don't have to do deadlifts.
    For the umpteenth time, you also can't do barbell bench, barbell squats, barbell presses.

    And you understand how most lifters end their sets of DB bench presses, don't you?
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    For the umpteenth time, you also can't do barbell bench, barbell squats, barbell presses.

    And you understand how most lifters end their sets of DB bench presses, don't you?
    Yeah, I can't do "barbell" anything. But is there a program like that for dumbbells that I can do long term? Where all of the barbell stuff is replaced with dumbbell stuff? When you said "You don't have to do deadlifts just because you have a barbell," I took that to mean "There are alternatives to deadlifts."

    And I don't know how most lifters end their dumbbell bench presses, do they end them in some way that makes them not a good replacement for barbell bench presses?

    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Actually Powerblocks go up to 175 lbs each and SelectTech goes up to 90 lbs each. If that's not heavy enough for you, then just get individual pairs of dbs as you need them. They go up to 420 lbs each. If that's not enough for your split squats, then join a gym or buy a barbell.
    I didn't know they made dumbbells that heavy, how are you even supposed to hold those with one hand? I'm not looking for excuses, I'm looking for the opposite. I'm looking for a way to do this despite my limitation of not being able to go to a gym or buy plates and a bar and a rack and stuff.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    But is there a program like that for dumbbells that I can do long term? Where all of the barbell stuff is replaced with dumbbell stuff?
    You may want to re-read this thread incl. posts you've already replied back to.

    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    I didn't know they made dumbbells that heavy, how are you even supposed to hold those with one hand?
    I dunno, but you felt adjustable dbs were beneath your capabilities and bbs are a no-go, so figured the 420-pounders should have you covered.
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    And I don't know how most lifters end their dumbbell bench presses, do they end them in some way that makes them not a good replacement for barbell bench presses?
    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    But they're still going to make noise and in some cases will make more since a bar will often rest up on your bench rack for heavy lifts.
    Where do you think those dbs go once you're done BPing a heavy set?
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    And I don't know how most lifters end their dumbbell bench presses, do they end them in some way that makes them not a good replacement for barbell bench presses?
    They have to drop the DBs on the floor in order to be able to get up.
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    They have to drop the DBs on the floor in order to be able to get up.
    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Where do you think those dbs go once you're done BPing a heavy set?
    That's not what I do. Any dumbbell I have to drop is too heavy to press. I press my dumbbells, and then I gently lower them.

    Also, I'm looking into this Fierce 5, it says I'll eventually need a barbell/full gym. Which is what I thought, it's another "stopgap" like every other dumbbell program. But suppose I just keep doing it and never join a gym? Just buying heavier dumbbells? Would it still work?
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Any dumbbell I have to drop is too heavy to press. I press my dumbbells, and then I gently lower them.
    This becomes harder once your dbs don't come in neon colors.

    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Also, I'm looking into this Fierce 5, it says I'll eventually need a barbell/full gym. Which is what I thought, it's another "stopgap" like every other dumbbell program. But suppose I just keep doing it and never join a gym? Just buying heavier dumbbells? Would it still work?
    F5 prob doesn't take the 420 lb db set into consideration, which as you noted may be difficult to lift with one hand. Theoretically though, if you could lift such dbs with one hand and do the lifts for a good db program, you could continue it or an adjusted more advanced version indefinitely. In reality though, the no-gym, no-barbell, no-noise rule makes it difficult to become really really big.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    F5 prob doesn't take the 420 lb db set into consideration, which as you noted may be difficult to lift with one hand. Theoretically though, if you could lift such dbs with one hand and do the lifts for a good db program, you could continue it or an adjusted more advanced version indefinitely. In reality though, the no-gym, no-barbell, no-noise rule makes it difficult to become really really big.
    Why would it be difficult with the "No gym, no barbell, no noise" rule, if I can get progressively heavier dumbbells?
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    Originally Posted by WhatifI View Post
    Why would it be difficult with the "No gym, no barbell, no noise" rule, if I can get progressively heavier dumbbells?
    Spoken like someone who's never handled a heavy dumbbell.
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