Fullbody Home Workout: Build Muscle With Limited Equipment

I receive quite a number of questions each month regarding how to build muscle at home using limited equipment. Because of this, I decided to build a sample workout and guide.

Let me start off by stating the obvious: muscle building requires you to get a lot stronger than you currently are. It doesn’t matter what equipment you have, as long as that equipment is challenging enough to allow for progressive resistance.

I will start off with an assumption: that you have access to the following pieces of equipment:

  • Dumbbells – A set of adjustable dumbbells.
  • Pull Up Bar – A pull up bar that either hangs on the back of a door, or in the door jamb.
  • Chairs – 2 sturdy folding, or dinner chairs.
  • Stairs – A set of stairs, or an aerobics step – something that is sturdy and allows you to step up onto it.
  • Back Pack – A sturdy back pack.
  • 50 Pound Bag of Softener Salt – Yes, you read that correctly – a 50 pound bag of water softener salt.

Now, if you don’t have any of these items then I suggest you get them. They are inexpensive and will help you quite a bit. A pull ups bar can be purchased at Wal-mart or Target for a few dollars, and a 50 pound bag of softener salt should run you no more than $10.

I also suggest than if you don’t have “spin lock” dumbbell handles, that you pick a pair up. These can be purchased virtually anywhere, and are cost-effective as well.

Over time you will want to start purchasing more 10 pound plates for these dumbbell handles. If you are using a limited budget, search around on Craig’s List. You can often find plates being sold for pennies on the dollar.

What if I can’t afford this minimum level of equipment?

If you don’t have dumbbells with “some” weight, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to build muscle. Find  a way to secure some spin lock dumbbell handles, by hook or by crook. Sell something – DVDs,  old video games, etc. Find a way! You need some resistance to build muscle.

Home Fullbody Workout

  • Monday – Fullbody Workout A
  • Wednesday – Fullbody Workout B
  • Friday – Fullbody Workout C
Fullbody Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
 Dumbbell Lunges w/Back Pack  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Bench Press  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Rows  3  8-12
 Seated Dumbbell Press  3  8-12
 Dips Between Chairs w/Back Pack  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Curls  3  8-12
 Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Shrugs or Calf Raises  3  8-12 or 10-20
 Weighted Sit Ups  3  10-25
Fullbody Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
 Dumbbell Step Ups w/Back Pack  3  25 ea
 Dumbbell Flyes  3  10-15
 Single Arm Dumbbell Clean  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Lateral Raise  3  10-15
 Diamond Push Ups w/ Elevated Feet  3  AMAP
 Chin Ups w/Back Pack  3  8-12
 Leg Curl, Dumbbell Between Feet  3  10-15
 Dumbbell Shrugs or Calf Raises  3  8-12 or 10-20
 Dumbbell Side Bends  3  10-15
Fullbody Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
 Goblet Squats w/Back Pack  3  10-15
 Back Pack Push Ups  3  AMAP
 Pull Ups w/Back Pack  3  8-12
 One Arm Salt Bag Push Press  3  8-12
 One Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension  3  8-12
 Hammer Curls  3  8-12
 Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift  3  8-12
 Dumbbell Shrugs or Calf Raises  3  8-12 or 10-20
 Plank or Ab Wheel Roll Outs  3  60 sec or 10-20

Workout Notes

Back Pack Exercises. You can load up your back pack with virtually anything, from books to washers to bags of rocks. For exercises that recommend using a back pack, only use it if you are able to perform the stated number of reps per set and need extra resistance.

When you do add weight, jump up in small increments of 2.5 to 5 pounds at a time.

Dumbbell Exercises. Add weight when you are able to perform at least the minimum number of reps for each of the 3 sets. Again, make small jumps in weight – preferably 5 pounds – rather than larger jumps.

Chair Dips. Place two chairs side by side, resting your hands on the seats of the chairs. Now with your feet either on the floor, or elevated, lower your body towards the floor and begin performing dips.

Shrugs and Calf Raises. Alternate between these two lifts, performing shrugs one day and calf raises the next. Calf raises are performed as single leg dumbbell calf raises. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, while balancing yourself by holding the wall with the other. Proceed to perform calf raise reps, either off the floor, of off of a stable wooden board.

Sit Ups. These can be performed either by holding a 10 pound plate on your chest, or with a dumbbell if you need more resistance.

Diamond Push Ups. Perform as many reps as possible. Once you are able to hit over 20 reps per set, it may be wise to add weight via the back pack.

Leg Curls with a Dumbbell. These can be tricky. Lie face down on a bench, or on the floor, and place a dumbbell securely between your feet. Raise the dumbbell to a safe height. Be very careful with this exercise, as it’s very easy to lift the dumbbell too high, or lose control, and drop it on the back of your legs. Use smooth and controlled reps.

You may also be able to perform these using an exercise band if you have one handy.

Chin Ups and Pull Ups. Chin ups are performed with your hands towards your face. Pull ups are performed with your palms facing away from your face.

Push Ups. Add weight via the use of a back pack if you can easily perform over 20 reps per set.

One Arm Salt Bag Push Press. Raise the bag of softener salt to your chest. Next, with your hand in the center of the bag, and the bag positioned near one of your shoulders, proceed to perform single arm push presses. This is a difficult exercise to master, so take your time and learn solid form.

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Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw | Writer

Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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