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DB-Only Programs

Are you working out from home, don’t have access to a gym, or working out with minimal equipment? We’ve got you fam!

Dumbbell workouts can be insanely effective with the right programming.

You can still look great, feel great, get strong, and work towards your goals — regardless of how much workout equipment you do or don’t have (:


At-Home//DB-Only Programs at Paragon:

  • DB Quickie: 30-min workouts
  • DB Cardio/Lift: the best of both worlds – cardio AND lifting
  • DB Physique: strength training + bodybuilding for those who want to look their best and maximize their physique

New Cycles Begin Every 6 Weeks:


Equipment Needed:

  • Minimum of 2-3 pairs of dumbbells (pairs of light, medium, and heavy for you would be great! For example, pairs of 10s/20s/30s)
  • Resistance bands
  • Bench

Program Options:

  • DB Physique
    • 60-75-min workouts
    • 4 lift days + 1 optional conditioning day
  • DB Cardio/Lift
    • 60-75-min workouts
    • 3 lift days + 2 potential cardio days
  • DB Quickie
    • 30-min workouts
    • 4 lift days + 1 optional conditioning day

Unsure which program is right for you and your goals? Click here


Sample Workouts

*In our app, we have over 400+ movement demo videos so you know exactly how to perform your movements + lifts


How Our DB Programs Work

Hey, Paragon fam, Co-founder Bryan Boorstein here!

Research shows that sets of ~6-30 Reps can stimulate muscle growth, set for set, as long as working sets are taken within a few reps of technical failure.

In less technical language, this means that even with a small variety of dumbbells or weights, you can still optimally train, hit PRs, increase your strength, and enhance your physique (:

For example, 10-12 Reps with a pair of 10 lb dumbbells might be perfect for Bicep Curls or Lateral Raises, but much too light for movements like Bent-over Rows or Shoulder Press.

But by increasing volume and completing more reps (let’s say ~20-30 Reps), we can create an effective stimulus similar to what we could achieve for fewer reps at a heavier weight.

Lower body workouts might initially seem challenging or more difficult to overload if we only have light/moderate weights.

For this reason, we modified the base movements in our DB programs to encompass a lot of “single-leg” variations. As an example, Backsquats and Deadlifts might be replaced by Rear-Foot Elevated Squats and Single Leg RDLs.

If you’ve ever done a set of 30 reps on each leg for Split Squats, you know you don’t need much weight to create a gnarly stimulus (:


Tips For Our DB Programs

1. Choose weights in Week 1 so you’re lifting ~4-5 reps from failure the first week. Then 2-3 reps from failure the rest of the cycle.

Reps from failure = what you have “left in the tank” after you finish lifting that set. If you were building to a set of 10-12 reps (2-3 reps from failure), that would mean you could actually lift that weight for 13-15 reps if needed.

Remember that movements should be done with a 2-3 second tempo: one-one-thousand. two-one-thousand…

Choose your starting weight wisely. Each week, the goal would be to increase weight/difficulty on the repeating movements (parts A & B) from the previous week.

More on this here soon, but this might include increasing weight, increasing reps, increasing tempo, adding pauses, etc. Progressive Overload = gradual increase of stress and difficulty on the body over time.

2. Repeating Movements Have a Large Rep Range (Ex: 6-20 Reps) 

Every week, parts A or A/B in the workouts will repeat, as we’re trying to increase/improve those lifts by the end of the training cycle.

You’ll see a large rep range programmed for these since everyone will have access to slightly different amounts of weight and dumbbells.

Meaning some people might only have 2-3 pairs of dumbbells. Some might have access to pairs of 5-100 lb dumbbells. 

  • Have tons of dumbbells? Go heavier and aim for the lower end of the rep range programmed (where you’re ~2-3 reps from failure)
  • Have access to a barbell? Feel free to sub it in where possible if it lets you hit heavier weights on movements + lifts!
  • Working with limited equipment? Aim for the higher end of the rep range (~10-20 reps) so you can still hit that ~2-3 reps from the failure goal.

Ways To Increase Difficulty

  • Increase Weight
  • Increase Reps 
  • Increase Time Under Tension (aka increasing tempo)
  • Add Pauses (ex: 1-second hold at contraction during DB Row)
  • Increase Quality of Movement (working to improve movement patterns and maximize the mind-muscle connection with muscles being worked)

Example: Access to Tons of DBs

DB Split Squats = 3 Sets x 6-25 Reps

Access to Tons of Weights = aim for the lower end of the rep range (6-8 Reps)

  • Week 1: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 15 lbs 
  • Week 2: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 20 lbs
  • Week 3: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 25 lbs
  • Week 4: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 30 lbs
  • Week 5: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 30 lbs
  • Week 6: 3 Sets x 6-8 Reps  = 35 lbs 

Example: Only Have 2-3 Pairs of DBs

DB Split Squats = 3 Sets x 6-25 Reps

Limited Equipment = aim for the higher end of the rep range (15-25 Reps)

  • Week 1: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 13-15 Reps 
  • Week 2: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 15-17 Reps 
  • Week 3: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 17-19 Reps 
  • Week 4: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 19-21 Reps 
  • Week 5: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 21-23 Reps 
  • Week 6: 15 lbs = 3 Sets x 23-25 Reps 

How Hard You Should Be Working

Let’s define “failure” as lifting to the point that we can no longer perform a rep with the same technique.

If you’re suddenly folding your body like a taco, losing form and technique, etc – we have likely reached failure or close to failure.

We do NOT want to max out, hit failure, or redline ourselves every day in the gym. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being hardly working, 10 being maxing out or working as hard as humanly possible), we actually want to spend most of our workouts training in the ~7-9 effort range.

The goal is for our first rep to hopefully look pretty similar to our last rep. Just maybe a slower grind and some shakes.

Begin each cycle so that you can easily increase weight and/or difficulty easily each week and end the cycle lifting much heavier than you started. We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew later (:

A Good Rule of Thumb:

  • Week 1 = at least ~3-4 reps from failure. Then work to be closer to ~2-3 reps from failure the rest of the weeks during the cycle.
  • If you hit weeks 2-5 in the cycle and suddenly can’t add weight that weight – you likely came out too hot and started too heavy. We’ve all been there!

If new to lifting or have mobility restrictions, it can be hard to gauge how hard you’re working or what you have “left in the tank” – especially since so much confidence and body awareness simply comes with time and experience lifting.

You can always drastically increase weight towards the later weeks of the cycle. But if you come out hard and start too heavy – there’s no way to really remedy it.

You’re just gonna have to drop weight, cut your losses, and then resume increasing each week.


Existing Member + Still Have Questions on Programming?

Paragon Coaches + Founders are happy to help! 


New Training Cycles Begin Every 6 Weeks:

Want to follow our DB Workouts? Click here to get started!

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– Paragon Founder, LCK 

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Choose Your Own Adventure: choice between Hypertrophy OR Strength when new cycles begin January 16th!