Last summer I didn't have a job and had a lot of free time so I often was at the gym and achieved some results there. But in March things changed and I am waking up at 5:45 am and coming home at 8 pm or so. And I just gain more fat etc.

Whatever, I decided to buy dumbbells - I don't have a lot of space in my room so that's why I thinking about it.

I understand how I can make some exercises for hands (in the gym I never was doing exercises for hands only btw), some chess exercises and abs.

But is there a good base exercise for legs and back?

  • 2
    Here you go. Not exactly the same question as yours, but should have enough carryover to at least get started.
    – user8119
    Jul 24, 2014 at 5:48
  • @LarissaGodzilla oh thx. Deadlift with the dumbbells? Oh wow Jul 24, 2014 at 5:57
  • 1
    You would probably find more success in a calisthenics routine in your situation. With a limited amount of dumbbells its hard to progressively overload unlike with a calisthenics routine where you can do harder variations of certain exercises when they become too easy. Ex: pullups to wide grip pullups, leg raises to front levers etc. Jul 24, 2014 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


Of course there is. You can do bodybuilding at home while working with dumbbells.
Is it the best way? No.
Simply because it is hard to progressively overload yourself while working with them. They do not come with little increments, and it would be really expensive to get a such a set of dumbbells.

For legs, you can do air squats, goblet squats, and squats with weights in your hand. You can also do dumbbell deadlifts for your back and your hamstrings as well.

Also, rowing is a great exercise for your back which you can do easily with a set of dumbbell. Here is an example for it;

As I recall, there is a good book written by Bryzcki; let me look for it;
Well, I cannot post links yet; but the name is as follows:
Dumbbell Training for Strength And Fitness

Good luck and stay strong :)

  • 1
    Gr8 :) Haha and actually i came back to the gym again. Jan 28, 2015 at 11:06
  • I always found GYM's have extra motivation. Good luck :)
    – Michael C.
    Jan 29, 2015 at 9:02

Unless you're ready to buy serious dumbbells, you won't find an exercise that would make holding a couple of extra 1-4kg toys provide growth stimuli anyhow comparable to your previous gym workouts. Your legs are already strong enough to lift 60-90kg of the body for many reps — extra little is only better than nothing, it does not really count as lifting weights and can not provide same muscle growth.

Today one can buy dumbbells adjustable up to 40-50kg each, and perform deadlifts which are similar to trap-bar lifts. Those will allow to maintain the principle of progressive overload for many months while staying in rep range that is still sensible for building muscle (less than 20-25 repetitions in one set). Using only one leg will extend that for even longer, so one pair of such dumbbells may serve an average-weight male for a year of simple lifts.

It is also possible to perform Snatch, Clean and Jerk with dumbbells. Explosiveness makes each kg count as more than two, and makes exercise overall harder and lot more exhaustive. 20 reps of 80kg clean&jerk is challenging goal which will take average-weight person few years of consistent effort to accomplish.

  • Several years to a 80kg C&J? A year to get a 100kg trap-bar-style deadlift? Those sound like reasonable timeframes for a small man or average woman, but the median adult male should he hitting those easily within a few months. Oct 26, 2014 at 13:55
  • @DaveLiepmann A year before 100kg will stop being useful for building muscle, i.e. he exceeds 20-25 reps in one set. Oct 26, 2014 at 16:51
  • I'm saying that it a 100kg deadlift for a set of 5 or 10 should only take maybe three months for a reasonably healthy adult male. Staying at 100kg for a year doesn't sound productive. Are we saying the same thing? Oct 26, 2014 at 20:40
  • @DaveLiepmann And after those three months, what's next if 100kg all there is in the room? Surely increasing reps to 20 and above is not the most productive, but it still works well and what other choice there is anyway. One year comes from recalculation using 75kg line of Deadlift Standards onto 20 reps. Oct 26, 2014 at 22:26
  • 1) that's not "progressive overload and optimal rep range", like in your answer. 2) After achieving 100kg DL with dumbbells the options are "get access a barbell so you can lift more weight", or suboptimal strategies like stiff-leg DLs, one-leg DLs, cleans, snatches, and swings. But those shouldn't take "a few years"--maxing out a pair of 50kg dumbbells for a C&J should take a year at most. For muscle mass, which the OP is after, maybe there are other options involving isolation movements. Oct 26, 2014 at 22:33

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