Workout Plans
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Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty
Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty

Get strong and get ripped with a set of adjustable dumbbells.

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Back in the day, gyms catered to folks with serious strength and physique goals. Barbells, dumbbells and lifting platforms were the norm and the catalyst of choice for building massive, powerful men. Nowadays, some popular chain gyms have pizza night, alarms that go off from dropping weights, and pristine, chromed-out machines.

This has caused a revolt—many serious trainees are setting up home gyms. These “garage gorillas” and “cellar dwellers,” in the words of Brooks Kubik, are making great gains and finding their “pig iron” nirvana. Still, in this economy, many home gyms are still seriously limited on space and only have room for dumbbells and a few other modest pieces of equipment. Fortunately, with adjustable dumbbells or power blocks, you have everything you need.

With nothing more than a pair of dumbbells and a burning desire, you can build world-class strength and the physique to match. Give the following workout a shot to build strength and muscle—no barbell required.

Tempo Cheat Sheet:

Use this guide to get your rep speeds right for max gains. Using 30X1 as an example, here’s how it shakes out.

  • The first number is the time in seconds to lower the weight after you've reached the top of the lift. This is the eccentric or negative phase.
  • The second number "0" is the pause at the completion of the exercise or at the start of the lift.
  • The third character "X" represents the concentric phase. This could be the lifting of the dumbbell in an arm curl in the concentric phase, for example. X just stands for explosive movement. The third number just stands for the time on the positive.
  • The fourth number "1" is the pause at the top of the lift, or the peak contraction.

The Ultimate Dumbbell-only Tempo Training Plan