Dumbbell based strength training

Hey folks,

As Covid kicked off I canceled my gym membership, and as things here in Aus have improved I haven’t re-upped for a number of reasons, one of which being the place I’ve just moved into has access to a ‘weight room’ included in the body corporate fees.

Weight room is a bit of a stretch as all that’s in there is a set of dumbbells and a cable machine. Pretty much my entire strength training regimen was based around accesses to a squat rack, and now that I no longer have one readily available I feel a bit lost every time I go in there.

So, does anybody have any banger dumbell/cable machine workouts they might be willing to share? I’m trying to avoid buying a squat rack for the time being because they are not cheap.

Anything I might be able to stitch together would be much appreciated!

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Jefit is a really good weight training app and has some good plans.

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Do you mind me asking what exercises you were previously doing?
I am sure you could adapt them to work with dumbell’s.

I personally did the same as you, cancelled at the start of Covid and haven’t signed back up.
In stead I got some dumbbells and kettlebells (thankfully) and adapted my program.

Where I was doing squats and deadlifts with a barbell, I have now sub’d them for split squats and single leg deadlifts (worked on form before weight added).

You’re lucky to have access to a cable machine, as there are a lot of exercises that you can do for shoulder strength and health, along with really good core exercises (anti rotation exercises like the Pallof Press are a staple of mine for the back).

Goes without saying, if you Youtube cable machine exercises you will come across many many videos.
If you see any by Mike Boyle, check them out. He is no frills and straight to the point.
The exercises he uses are for a plethora of athletes, and are aimed at making people stronger.

Hope some of this helps, happy to go into more detail if needed.


Having been in a similar situation I started this routine a few weeks ago.

3-4 years ago I went regularly to the gym (and cycled less) and really enjoyed the Starting Strength routine. This dumbbell version is… well at least something. I guess as long as you don’t need too heavy weights you can make it work. Long term it’s hard to replace a squat rack.


Lower: Split squats, lunges, goblet squats, single leg deadlifts, lateral lunges

Upper: bent over rows, shoulder/Arnold press, push ups

Lots of options, you’ll need to increase weight though so plan on buying a range of dumbbells

I built my own rack for $80 USD. 300lb of Olympic weights ran me $450 ($1.50/lb)


I’m going back to the gym as soon as they open back up (Melbourne) because I miss having a dedicated space for strength work. Also, the kettlebells and the heavy barbells for deadlifts. Pretty much everything else I can do at home with a bench, resistance bands and a single dumbell that takes up to 35kg of plates. The bands cost like $3 from Kmart…

Key exercises for me have been single-leg squats, lunges, banded pushups, DB rows, and bridge and plank variations. My posterior chain has been somewhat neglected… If you’re going to do this long-term, find DB alternatives to exercises you’ve been doing based on movement (squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull)