We all know why you are here. You are searching for dumbbell workouts to gain mass. Well I got a goood news for you. You have found what you’re looking for.
As you may know, adjustable dumbbells are incredibly versatile tools, allowing you to perform dozens of different exercises, targeting specific muscle groups with exercises designed to help you bulk up and stay bulked up.
Of course, exercise is only part of the equation—if you’re trying to bulk up, you need to balance your lifestyle around that goal, which includes plenty of protein, possibly as much as a gram per pound of bodyweight. But I won’t talk about nutrition today, I’ll go into that in a different article.
However, I will talk about how are your muscles built and how to train them properly.
So let’s get into our dumbbell workout for mass.
Each part of your body is different, and has a different composition of fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers.
Fast-twitch fibers benefit from low reps at high weights; they’re the ones you really want to target if you’re bulking up, because they have the greatest growth potential. They’re the fibers that help you with bursts of strength; they’re thicker, quicker to contract and wear out more rapidly than their slow-twitch counterparts.
Slow-twitch fibers are really more for endurance, and benefit from lighter weight and more reps. It’s highly beneficial to work out both muscle groups, but if you’re solely looking to get larger quickly, you’ll want to use plenty of low-rep training at the limits of what your body can stand; you’ll see results much quicker that way.
Low-rep, high-weight programs also helps boost your myofibrillar hypertrophy. Muscles can grow in a number of ways, and high-weight programs focus more on actual protein growth. That’s your end goal here—that muscle you build through myofibrillar hypertrophy will stay for a longer period of time, even if you’re forced to take a few weeks off or otherwise can’t keep up your routine.
Conversely, high-rep, low-weight programs increase your sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. That basically is the fluid stored in your muscles, and you’ll see very quick gains if you focus on that; that’s the sort of workout professional bodybuilders do. The problem is, those gains go away very quickly when you change your exercise routine; it’s not actually adding much muscle strength, but just temporary, fluid-induced swelling. This is why models often do a quick set of low-weight, high-rep exercises just before getting their pictures taken; it gives a temporary boost to muscle mass for show.
But you don’t want to gain just for show—you want permanent bulk. You want weightlifter-style muscles, not bodybuilder-style. For permanent gains, you’ll want to stick with a low-rep, high-weight program as the cornerstone of your workout.
How many reps and what weight to use all depends on the exact muscle group you’re targeting and exercise you’re performing. I’ve selected 8 great dumbbell exercises for building long-lasting mass—let’s run through them, looking at how many reps to do and what weight you should be looking at.
To perform a goblet squat, hold your dumbbell at your sternum, just in the center of your chest. Position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-length apart, and then squat until your hamstrings are on your calves. One you get to the bottom of the squat, pause and use your elbows to push your knees out, before returning to the starting position. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout! Your target should be in the neighborhood of 10-15 reps; it will really work your quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings.
Grab a dumbbell in each hand, holding them at the side of your body with your arms straight. Keep good posture, with your back straight and head up throughout the exercise. Step forward, until your front leg’s thigh is parallel with the ground, and your back knee is 1-2 inches above the floor.
Step back, return to your starting position, and repeat with the other leg. This entire process is one rep; don’t skip out by counting each individual leg as a full rep! Not only will this help your posture, but it will work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back. Your goal should be 8-12 reps.
A lateral raise is one of the best things you can do to work out your shoulders. Take a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing inwards. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, with your arms down by your sides.
Keeping your abdominals tight, your waist stationary and your arms straight, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold for a moment, and then lower the dumbbells back to your starting position. Repeat for a dozen reps.
If you want to focus on your traps, try the dumbbell shrug. Stand up straight, with a dumbbell in each hand. Have your palms face your torso, with your arms by your sides. Keep your arms fully extended at all times; do not use your biceps to help!
Raise the dumbbells by lifting just your shoulders as high as possible, again holding the position at the top for a moment. Bring the dumbbells back down to complete your rep, and repeat a dozen times.
One of the most basic dumbbell exercises is the curl, which works out both your biceps and forearms. My favorite variation is the incline curl. Straddle an incline bench, placing your back against the padding.
With a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms downward, palms facing in and the dumbbells themselves parallel to the floor. Keeping your elbows close to your waist and your upper arm steady, rotate one palm forward, curling the dumbbell upwards by bending your elbow, until the dumbbell nearly touches your shoulder. Hold for a moment, and then return to the starting position. 10-12 repetitions with each arm should be your goal.
Keep in mind that you also need weight bench to do this exercise. These are some of my favorite weight benches. Some of them are really affordable, others a little more expensive.
The hammer curl is a similar variation that works out the same muscle groups as your standard curl. To perform a hammer curl, stand up straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with the palms of your hand facing your torso. Do not rotate your palms or move your elbow; instead, curl the weight forward by contracting your biceps. Bring the dumbbell up to shoulder level and hold for a moment, before bringing the dumbbells back to a starting position. Again, 10-12 reps is a solid number for this workout.
I ‘ve actually created a whole article on dumbbell back exercises. Be sure to check it out to learn something new.
The one-arm dumbbell row is a fantastic workout. It not only helps you strengthen your lats, it has benefits to your shoulders, traps, biceps and forearms, as well. Focus on your back, however.
With a dumbbell on both sides of a flat bench, place your right hand and knee on the bench. Keeping your back straight and your stomach parallel to the bench, grab the left dumbbell with your left hand, palm facing you. Bring the dumbbell straight up to your chest, bending the elbow to a full 90-degree angle, and then lower it again. 8-10 reps with each arm should be enough to help you bulk up.
Hint* – you can use ironing board as weight lifting bench. I might do an article on how to make a weight lifting bench at home. Post a comment if you are interested in one. 🙂
Your chest, and to a lesser extent, shoulders, well benefit from the classic dumbbell fly. Lie down on a flat bench, with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them in front of you, shoulder-length apart, palms facing one another. Bend your elbows slightly and lower your arms using a wide arc. Keep lowering them until you feel a stretching sensation on your chest. Then, bring your arms back up in the same motion, returning to the starting position. 8-10 reps should be enough here.
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!
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