Clicky

HomeFitnessFrankoman's Dumbbell Only Split Review

Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split Review

Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split Review


One of the most common questions I get asked, be it in emails, comments or tweets is what the best dumbbell workout routine is and whether it’s actually possible to transform your physique without anything other than a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a bench.

The truth is you certainly can.

Having access to a barbell, pin-loaded machines and the like would be ideal, but we don’t all have that luxury.

As long as you follow a well programmed routine and continue to apply progressive overload each workout a pair of dumbbells will do the job.

Now, when it comes to dumbbell workout routines there are hundreds out there, but one that’s always brought up is Frankoman’s dumbbell only split.

Let’s delve in and take a look at Frankoman’s dumbbell only split, review it and see if we’re able to optimize it further…

Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split

Frankoman’s dumbbell only split is a beginner to intermediate routine that’ll have you lifting for 45 minutes 3 times per week.
All you’ll need is an adjustable bench and a pair of dumbbells.

Here’s the routine:

Monday – Chest & Triceps

Chest

Incline dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Dumbbell flys – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Triceps

Dumbbell skullcrusher – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell triceps kickback – 3 sets 12 reps per set

One arm seated dumbbell extension – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Wednesday – Back & Biceps

Back

One arm dumbbell row – 5 sets 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 reps

Bent over dumbbell row – 5 sets 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 reps

Dumbbell pullover – 2 sets 12, 10 reps per set

Biceps

Incline dumbbell curl – 3 sets 10 reps per set

Standing dumbbell curl – 3 sets 10 reps per set

Cross body hammer curl – 2 sets 10 reps per set

Friday – Legs & Shoulders

Legs

Dumbbell lunge – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell step up – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell squat – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Seated dumbbell calf raise – 2 sets 15, 12 reps per set

Dumbbell standing calf raise – 2 sets 12, 10 reps per set

Shoulders

Standing dumbbell press – 4 sets 12. 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell lateral raise – 3 sets 12, 10, 10 reps per set

Bent over dumbbell reverse fly – 3 sets 12, 10, 10 reps per set

Dumbbell shrug – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split – Exercise Selection

As a whole the exercise selection is fantastic, with each workout beginning with the best dumbbell compound exercise for each muscle group, however in order to turn this into what I would deem as close to perfect for a dumbbell only workout regime there are a few small changes I’d make in terms of exercise selection for a beginner to build size and strength including…

Swapping out the dumbbell fly on chest day for an incline dumbbell fly

In order to build an impressive (and strong!) chest emphasis must be placed on the upper chest via the incline bench variation of your press and fly based movements, in its original form Frankoman’s dumbbell only split only has one upper chest focused exercise, the incline chest press – I believe over time you’d find your chest lagging behind if you continue to perform this routine as is.

The solution to this is simple, instead of performing your dumbbell fly, the third and final chest exercise during your Monday workout on a flat bench, opt to pop your bench up onto an incline and perform the same movement. A small change for a big increase in upper chest activation.

With this change reflected in your routine your chest workout would look like this…

Incline dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Incline dumbbell flys – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Swapping triceps kickbacks for close grip dumbbell bench press

When it comes to isolation of the triceps I’ve made it well known that the dumbbell triceps kickback is an extremely ineffective exercise.
For starters it’s an exercise that not only beginners but even seasoned gym-goers struggle to grasp the correct form of, not to mention it must be performed extremely lightly.

To force our triceps to grow big and strong we’re far better off using triceps based exercises that allow us to increase the load.
This is where the close grip dumbbell bench press comes into the equation.
I recommend if you perform this routine you swap the light weight/hard to perform triceps kickback out for relatively heavy close grip dumbbell bench presses.

With this change reflected in your routine your triceps workout would look like this…

Dumbbell skullcrusher – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell close grip bench press – 3 sets 8 reps per set

One arm seated dumbbell extension – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split – Programming

The programming in terms of sets, reps and order of exercises for your Monday (chest & triceps) and Wednesday (back & biceps) workouts are excellent in my eyes, however there are a couple of things I’d personally recommend changing on the Friday work (legs & shoulders).

Make dumbbell squats your first exercise on leg day

The squat, regardless of whether it’s a barbell squat, a dumbbell squat or a kettlebell squat is the #1 leg exercise and as such should be performed as the first exercise during your leg workout, as this is a beginner/intermediate routine there’s no reason to use advanced training techniques such as pre-fatiguing to fatigue our legs with lunges etc. prior to hitting squats.

The simple fix here is to swap the order of your lunges and dumbbell squats during your leg workout, with these changes it would look like this:
Dumbbell squat – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell step up – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell lunge – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Seated dumbbell calf raise – 2 sets 15, 12 reps per set

Dumbbell standing calf raise – 2 sets 12, 10 reps per set

Consider training 4 days a week to seperate your shoulder & leg workouts

Looking at the volume on the Friday leg/shoulder workout and it becomes quickly apparent that this is a BIG workout in comparison to the other two training days. You’re going from performing 20~ sets on Monday and 20~ sets on Wednesday to performing 34+ sets on Friday.

From my experience legs are the most taxing muscle group to train, so the intensity and effort going into your shoulder workout after your leg exercises isn’t likely going to be optimal…

The solution? Splitting this workout across two days.

The revised training regime would then look like:

  • Monday – Chest & triceps
  • Wednesday – Back & biceps
  • Friday – Legs
  • Saturday – Shoulders

In Summary…

dumbbell rack

Frankoman’s dumbbell only split is a very legitimate dumbbell only workout regime that even in it’s original form will drastically transform your physique in terms of size and strength. The exercise selection is great and the programming with the exception of the Friday (legs & shoulders) workout being quite long is fantastic.

Here’s a look at the Frankoman’s dumbbell only split with my suggested modifications incase you’d like to follow the regime with a few exercise improvements with the regime slit over 4 days to bring down the sheer volume of the Friday workout.

Monday – Chest & Triceps

Chest

Incline dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Dumbbell bench press – 4 sets – 12/10/10/8 reps

Incline dumbbell flys – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Triceps

Dumbbell skullcrusher – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell close grip bench press – 3 sets 8 reps per set

One arm seated dumbbell extension – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Wednesday – Back & Biceps

Back

One arm dumbbell row – 5 sets 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 reps

Bent over dumbbell row – 5 sets 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 reps

Dumbbell pullover – 2 sets 12, 10 reps per set

Biceps

Incline dumbbell curl – 3 sets 10 reps per set

Standing dumbbell curl – 3 sets 10 reps per set

Cross body hammer curl – 2 sets 10 reps per set

Friday – Legs

Legs

Dumbbell lunge – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell step up – 3 sets 12 reps per set

Dumbbell squat – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Seated dumbbell calf raise – 2 sets 15, 12 reps per set

Dumbbell standing calf raise – 2 sets 12, 10 reps per set

Saturday – Shoulders

Shoulders

Standing dumbbell press – 4 sets 12. 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Dumbbell lateral raise – 3 sets 12, 10, 10 reps per set

Bent over dumbbell reverse fly – 3 sets 12, 10, 10 reps per set

Dumbbell shrug – 4 sets 12, 10, 10, 8 reps per set

Here’s The Equipment I Recommend For Frankoman’s Dumbbell Only Split

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights

Instead of buying multiple sets of dumbbells or messing around screwing weight plates on and off your dumbbells between sets and exercises the Bowflex adjustable dumbbell make following this routine so much easier and efficient.

Adjustable in 2.5lb increments all the way up to 52.5lbs per dumbbell, ideal for the beginner or intermediate

You can check them out here.

Fitness Reality Adjustable Weight Bench

A no-nonsense adjustable weight bench that’ll work well for all exercises inclined within this regime.
Rated for up to 800lbs so you’ll never run into any durability issues.

You can check out this adjustable weight bench here.

 

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

Stay in Touch

To follow the best weight loss journeys, success stories and inspirational interviews with the industry's top coaches and specialists. Start changing your life today!

Related Articles