3 Day Powerlifting Dumbbell Routine

3 Day Powerlifting Dumbbell Routine

Whether you train at a home gym that doesn’t have a lot of equipment, or you just simply don’t want to train with barbells, this routine will give you a well-rounded approach to training like a powerlifter.

Before anyone says “Cutty, you can’t learn how to deadlift properly without using a barbell” and while I agree, this routine is designed for someone who doesn’t really want to compete (yet) or just trying out something new. With that in mind, this routine will still focus on the squat, bench, and deadlift and bringing up any weakness you have.

Equipment needed:

If you are at a commercial gym, you will have more than enough equipment – may not have the heavier dumbbells but we’ll work around that.

  •  Dumbbells
    • Run of dumbbells – Hands down the best way to train with dumbbells but takes up space and investment.
    • Adjustable dumbbells – great for home gyms and a cheap alternative
  • Adjustable bench – Adjustable adds quite a bit more variety to your workouts. A flat bench will work but not optimal.

Optional accessories:

  • Wrist wraps – Definitely great for pressing.
  • Knee sleeves/wraps – I’ve never trained with them using dumbbells but some good sleeves would help with knee safety.
  • Straps – For when grip is gone, straps are great to hang onto the dumbbells or to do rows.
  • Chalk – Why not?


You can beat your muscles down in the gym but the only way to recover (build) muscle is to fuel your body with quality food.

I try to stick to an 80/20 rule when I look at nutrition. This means that 80% of my meals are prepared by me and I make sure to get the best quality food that I can.

No, this doesn’t mean you have to get natural grass-fed free roaming cows who get messages every day and free range chickens who get to walk the beaches to benefit from eating whole foods.

Learn to Cook

Cooking isn’t as hard as you may think. I never was allowed in the kitchen as a child so trust me when I say anyone can do this with some patience. The trick is learning technique and then going after the complex meals.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know how to cook 5 course gourmet meals, but I have no problem eating enough varieties of a protein and vegetable to keep me happy. I made a pretty good meatloaf and lasagna once.

Long story short here is the sooner you learn to cook, the sooner you will notice changes in your performance and physique.

Recommended Supplements

Note: If you cannot get good foods into your mouth, this section is irrelevant. You really can’t out train and out supplement a crap diet.


MTS Nutrition Clash

I personally like apple mango, but all flavors are good.

This is a great blend without too many stimulants.


MTS Machine Whey Protein: 5lbs

This is in my opinion the best tasting protein on the market. Period.

Great blend with no secrets, no amino spiking, and it is some of the best in the industry.

So far I’ve had Red Velvet and Cookies and Cream. Both are A+.


MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel

Marc Lobliner has his sweetening on point with these supplements.

I’ve used mixed berry and grape and I love them both.


Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men

Once you get your diet on point, taking a multi-vitamin is important as a strength athlete.

Get the most of your gains and life with this multi-vitamin.

Cardio and Conditioning Tips

I would recommend doing a short 20-30 minute cardio session post workout at least twice a week for optimum muscle growth and recovery.

If you are running low on time, a short 5-10 minute high intensity interval session at least twice per week will help with maximizing your progress.

Note: Some low intensity walking, hiking, bicycling, etc is helpful to improve your quality of life and recovery from your workouts.

Workout Schedule

Here is a sample schedule:

  • Day 1: Workout A
  • Day 2: OFF
  • Day 3: Workout B
  • Day 4: OFF
  • Day 5: Workout C
  • Day 6: OFF
  • Day 7: OFF

Ideally have at least 1 day of rest in between your days, I would highly recommend running the schedule like this.

3 Day Powerlifting Dumbbell Routine

Workout A
DB Squat58
DB Romanian Deadlifts312
DB Goblet Squats38
Bent Over 1 Arm DB Rows412
Cross Body Hammer Curls320
Weighted Decline Sit Up2AMAP
Workout B
Flat DB Bench58
Incline DB Bench48
Incline DB Flys315
DB Overhead Tricep Extension312
DB Pull Over48
Push Ups2AMAP
Workout C
DB Deadlift58
Stiff Leg DB Deadlift312
Seated DB OHP58
Bent Over Rear Delt Flys315
DB Shrugs412
Walking Lunges420

Workout Tips

  • Strive for progression – try to add more weight or do at least 1 more rep than last time.
  • Keep good form – developing bad habits won’t do anything for progression.
  • AMAP – As many as possible; go until failure
  • ALAP – As long as possible


Sound like something you want to try? Let me know in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “3 Day Powerlifting Dumbbell Routine”

    1. The best way to dumbbell squat is to clean them and then squat (think about the resting position for dumbbell overhead press).

      A less effective way (on the core) is to just hold them out to your side like a shrug and then go ass to grass with squatting.

    1. When ready. Compound lifts you can start at 60-90 seconds, more if needed. For the smaller exercises you should be good with 45-60 seconds. If you need a little longer, that’s ok.

      You can add in conditioning or HIIT work to work on conditioning and work output.

  1. Hello Cutty I’ve been following your 4 Day dumbbell workout routine for about a month now and I love it. My set up is 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, & 70’s. For my chest I have gained strength and can now do 3 sets of fat and incline presses. I have been struggling to increase strength in my biceps so do you think this power lifting routine would make a difference? I am also 5’8″ and weigh 235. Should I be eating 70+ grams of protein on a daily basis? Do you have a set diet routine can use? My goal is to increase strength and mass as well as lose weight. I do not cardio, but I probably should.

    1. Great job on the progress. I’m glad to hear you like it. Biceps just take more volume, add another set or two in your exercises and focus on getting a good contraction.

      Triceps make up 2/3rds of your arm so if you are trying to have bigger arms, hit the triceps too. Hammer curls and reverse curls both help build some great strength and carries over to bench and other exercises.

      For the protein, there’s no set rule on how much you should eat, but if I were in your situation I’d try to eat at least 120g through food and maybe have a shake post-workout. You can eat close to a gram per pound of lean bodyweight, so I would aim for 100-150g a day if possible. If you can’t, that’s fine. You can eat right and you’ll notice a change.

  2. Do you recommend increasing weight for each set, or remain the same until you can complete all reps of all sets at a certain weight?

    1. You could do both. I used to pyramid like that, upping the weight each set… but I’ve found I personally like when I get up to my working weight and then run that weight every set.

      It’s a completely new challenge. Both work, you have to find what you like. Warm up properly and then you can maintain the same weight. It makes loading up the bar quicker since you don’t have to add more weight and it’s a totally different monster.

  3. Hi Cutty,

    This workout looks amazing. I’m wondering which one would be better between this one and the Effective 3-Day Dumbbell Only Workout. I’m in a female body and I’m looking to start either program after my first six weeks of strength training; it would be my second workout program.

    I prefer bodybuilding to powerlifting and I’m looking to gain muscle mass/size, so the title of this one (the word “powerlifting” specifically) puts me off a little, but, from what I can see, the two programs are very similar and this could easily be a bodybuilding routine. I strongly prefer this program, but on the other hand I want to find a program meeting my goal of increasing muscle mass. Will this program be good for that or would you recommend the Effective 3-Day Dumbbell Only Workout?

    I hope my long-winded question isn’t too confusing!

    Thanks for sharing both programs, they’re amazing.

    1. A muscle needs to get bigger to lift more weight. The term powerlifting means we are focusing more on building strength than huge volume hypertrophy.

      Both will give you the gains you are looking for as long as you are eating right and progressing with weights. More people that I’ve trained enjoy building muscle with a powerlifting workout than putting themselves through hell with a hypertrophy workout.

      Find one that you like and stick with it. These workouts are a general write up and I invite people to modify or add in exercises they prefer. Pick which workout sounds funner and stick with that for 8 to 12 weeks and you’ll be surprised how much you’ve gained.

      Takes a lot of work and dedication, but it’ll happen. Good luck Nikias :)

  4. Hi! Looks like fun!…I’m a female powerlifter
    .temporarily moving away from my coach and gym…to an area ..no gym! Ahhh! I dont want to lose strength so was thinking of getting some adjustable dumbbells….what weight range should I go for?

    1. I apologize for the delayed response, I’ve been moving and finally settled in! You could get away with buying a couple sets of dumbbell spin lock handles and then get some of the 1″ weights that go with it. They hold a relatively decent amount of weight — I have some that hold Olympic plates and I can do rows with a couple 45s on them. I wouldn’t recommend pressing or overhead, but how I’m doing it is fine.

  5. Hi, I am also a female powerlifter and student. My school’s gym is often extremely packed, but my new apartment has a full dumbbell rack. My questions are: How frequently should I increase the dumbbell weight? How long should I do this program before having to switch back to barbells?

    1. Hey there, I’m glad to hear you’re a fellow powerlifter! You could essentially use dumbbells and progress in weight for a while. If you are actively trying to compete in powerlifting, though, you’ll need to get some practice with a barbell.

      Basically, if you hit all of your sets and reps with a weight, try the next heavier set next time. If you fail, try the same weight but attempt to hit all of your reps. I’d invite you to try to find the down times at the school gym and maybe plan a day of training there with barbells if you are looking to compete. Otherwise, run with what you have and I think you’ll be happy with the strength increase.

    1. Pushing yourself is great, so it varies person to person. On the big lifts, I recommend 60-90 seconds between sets. If you need more, take it. But try to keep the rest times reasonable. Between exercises you can take a few minutes if you’d like. I personally prefer just jumping to the next exercise if I can. Heavy compound lifts sometimes takes 3-5 minutes, but learn your body and find what works best for you.

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