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.

Note: Links to any equipment will go to the Strength Junkies store.

  •  Dumbbells
  • 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
Exercise Sets Reps
DB Squat 5 8
DB Romanian Deadlifts 3 12
DB Goblet Squats 3 8
Bent Over 1 Arm DB Rows 4 12
Cross Body Hammer Curls 3 20
Weighted Decline Sit Up 2 AMAP
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat DB Bench 5 8
Incline DB Bench 4 8
Incline DB Flys 3 15
DB Overhead Tricep Extension 3 12
DB Pull Over 4 8
Push Ups 2 AMAP
Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
DB Deadlift 5 8
Stiff Leg DB Deadlift 3 12
Seated DB OHP 5 8
Bent Over Rear Delt Flys 3 15
DB Shrugs 4 12
Walking Lunges 4 20

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!