The Dumbbell Stopgap

(2 reviews)
Simple beginner dumbbell only program from the r/Fitness wiki
Program Description

As the name implies, this program is a stopgap until you can gain access to a full gym with barbells and machines. If you are motivated to grow stronger and want to do so immediately, this program will get you started before your motivation dries up as you wait for equipment or books. The Dumbbell Stopgap is written by Redditor Cammorak and is featured on the r/fitness Wiki.

Dumbbell Stopgap is a 3x per week program that alternates between workout A and B. They will alternate with a one-day gap and have a 2-day gap every weekend. So on the first week, you will do Workout A on Monday, B on Wednesday, and A again on Friday (or whatever 3 days you have chosen). On the second week, you will do Workout B on Monday, A on Wednesday, and B again on Friday.

Workout A

  • Bulgarian split squat or Lunge

  • Floor press

  • Straight-legged deadlift

  • Plank

Workout B

  • Bulgarian split squat or Lunge

  • Seated shoulder press (If you don't have access to a seat, sit on the floor with your legs outstretched (also called a Savickas Press). The latter is actually preferable, but I can't find a good video guide to doing it.)

  • Standing two-dumbbell bent over row

  • Plank

This program requires that you have access to a set of dumbbells (meaning a progression of dumbbells, usually at 2.5 or 5 lb intervals) or a pair of adjustable dumbbells.

Progression

For each exercise but the plank, at the lightest weight available (or with empty hands), do as many repetitions (reps) as possible, up to 10. Do this three times (sets) before moving on to the next exercise. Rest for 1 minute between sets. When you can do an exercise for 3 sets of 10 reps each, increase the dumbbell weight by one step next time you do the exercise. You may progress very quickly using this method, but eventually it will take longer to increase the weight. This is okay. If you remain stuck at the same number of reps and the same dumbbell weight for 3 workouts, decrease the dumbbell weight by two steps and try progressing again.

For the plank, do 3 sets held as long as possible. If you can't do 3 sets when you start out, do as many sets as you can.

Extra exercises

If you have access to them, dips and pullups are used by both bodyweight strength trainees and weightlifters. They are excellent exercises and will greatly increase your strength. Do the same as above: 3 sets of as many reps as you can. These sets can go beyond 10 reps and still be effective, so do as many as you can 3 times. If you can do 3 sets of 10 reps, you will most likely be stronger than many people in your gym.

Program Overview
Coachr/Fitness
LevelBeginner, Novice
GoalBodybuilding, Muscle & Sculpting
EquipmentDumbbell Only
Time Per Workout30 minutes
Days Per Week3 days
Program Length8 weeks
Start the program
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Week 1
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 2
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 3
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 4
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 5
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 6
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 7
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Week 8
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Floor Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)3
10
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)3
10
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)3
10
Plank3
1mins
What People Are Saying
4.0/ 5
Alok Y.Man, 28
1 week complete
8 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
A great workout program to follow after a layoff I was not working out for about 8 months its been only 2 weeks since I have been working out again I think this simple work out routine has been great
22 days ago