How To Get Big With 50lb Dumbbells If You Are A Skinny Guy (Workout Included)

get big with 50lb dumbbells

Tired of hearing 50lb dumbbells aren’t enough to get big? Then stick around. Because today, I’ll be showing you why 50lb dumbbells are enough to get big.

The average beginner can get bigger with 50lb dumbbells. At this weight, dumbbells are suitable for all of the popular compound and isolation-type exercises at a novice level. However, they will not be enough to develop the kind of muscle size that bodybuilders have.

From my personal 40lb muscle gain transformation, I know dumbbells are essential to building a powerful physique.

And I also know that 50lb dumbbells can and do work for the average skinny guy.

That’s why I’m sharing my research and experience with you today!

Let’s go!

I used 50lb dumbbells to get big
50lb dumbbells helped me to gain a solid base of muscle.

Products Mentioned In This Post

Why 50lb Dumbbells Are Enough To Build Muscle!

Let’s start with good news- 50-pound dumbbells are more than enough to build muscle. And here’s why.

The most popular way to build muscle is by lifting sufficient weights in the 8-12-rep range.

In other words, you should be lifting 8-12 repetitions per set, for any given exercise.

Bill Geigers weight-strength relationship (below) can then be used to estimate how much weight you should be lifting for 12 reps.

line graph showing weight to rep relationship

As you can see, lifting 12 reps requires you to lift around 0.65 of your 1 rep max for each exercise.

Note: 1 rep max is the maximum amount you can lift for a single repetition. It can be estimated using the Strength Level database.

Next, I used the Strength Level database to calculate the average 12-rep weight for someone who’s been training for 2 years (intermediate level):

ExerciseAverage Intermediate
12-Rep Weight
Can 50lb Dumbbells
Build Muscle?
Bench Press55lbYes
Shoulder Press44lbYes
Goblet Squat60lbYes (with limitation)
Deadlift60lbYes (with limitation)
Dumbbell Fly34lbYes
Lateral Raise22lbYes
Reverse Fly25lbYes
Bicep Curl32lbYes
Tricep Extension35lbYes
Intermediate 12-rep weights averaged across 110-310lb bodyweights. Weights are per dumbbell. Data derived from Strength Level.

You can see that 50lb dumbbells can be used to build muscle for at least 2 years, for 80% of the most popular exercises.

The remaining 20% (deadlift and goblet squat) can utilize 50-pound dumbbells for around 2 years. After that point, you’ll need to increase the weight or find other ways to increase exercise intensity (I’ll explain below).

And the lower your current bodyweight, the longer your 50-pound dumbbells will last (since you require less weight to progress).

If you’re interested, you can check out my other article for my favorite home dumbbell bodybuilding exercises!

Can You Get Big With 50lb Dumbbells?

Now for the not-so-good news- how big you can get from 50-pound dumbbells will depend on your current size and strength level.

Before I explain why let me first define “big” as making significant muscle gains to improve your current physique.

A 130-pound skinny guy will naturally require less weight than a 250-pound overweight guy, to make the same amounts of muscle gains.

That’s because the lighter you are, the less weight you can lift (and vice versa).

This also means that a 130 pound skinny guy will have more success in using 50 pound dumbbells to get big, compared to someone who is heavier.

Check out the table below for estimated muscle gains depending on your bodyweight:

BodyweightEstimated Muscle Gains From 50lb DumbbellsEnough To Get Big?
110-160 poundsUp to 25 poundsYes
160-210 poundsUp to 15 poundsBorderline
210+ poundsUp to 5 poundsNo
Estimated muscle gains from 50lb dumbbells according to bodyweight.

If you’re on the skinnier/lighter end of the spectrum, you’ll have no issue in using 50 pound dumbbells to get big.

I should actually say “bigger” because you’ll need heavy dumbbells (70+ pounds) to make bodybuilder-like gains. But 50lb dumbbells can still be used to build a significantly more muscular physique.

how big can you get with 50lb dumbbells

If you’re on the heavier side, then you’ll struggle to make any significant gains, and you won’t get much bigger with 50-pound dumbbells.

And if you fall somewhere in between, you’ll be able to make moderate gains. Enough to get a leaner and more athletic-looking body.

You can also check out my other post to find out what dumbbell weight you should use to build muscle.

The Kalibre 50lb Dumbbell Programme.

Now here’s a workout programme you can do with a pair of 50 pound adjustable dumbbells.

The programme comprises 3 full-body workouts:

Workout A

  • Flat Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Reverse Fly
  • Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Ab Crunch
  • Goblet squat

Workout B

  • Dumbbell Fly
  • Hammer Shoulder Press
  • Row
  • Dumbbell Ab Crunch
  • Tricep Extension
  • Dumbbell Lunge

Workout C

  • Incline Bench Press
  • Lateral Raise
  • Row
  • Leg Raise
  • Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Deadlift

Note: if you don’t have bench, you can lay on the floor (e.g. bench press can be turned into a floor press).

Check out my other article for a dumbbell workout to get shredded!

Reps, Sets, Weight, And Training Days

Each exercise should be performed with 4 sets of 12 reps.

You should perform each rep with a weight that allows you to complete 12 reps and is also challenging. This will fall somewhere close to 0.65 of your 1 rep max. This will build you a solid foundation of strength.

As a beginner, your 12-rep weights will be below 50 pounds per dumbbell. So make sure your dumbbells are adjustable and they have suitable weight increments.

After you’ve completed each set, take a 2 minute rest.

These workouts will take you around an hour to complete.

In the beginning, do a 3-day weekly split by completing the 3 workouts separated by a rest day each. And after 1 month, increase to 4 days. Finally, after 6 months, increase to 5 days.

Additionally, you should also decrease to 8 reps per set and increase the weight to 0.8 of 1 rep max, after 1 month. This will further drive hypertrophy (muscle growth).


The program incorporates a variety of compound and isolation exercises. And this will stimulate maximal muscle growth.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t include your own exercise preferences. Check out the video above for more dumbbell exercises.

Feel free to substitute them into your program. But make sure you’re working the entire body in a balanced manner.

Check out my other article to find out how many days you should be training!

Progressive Overload With 50lb Dumbbells

As your training progresses, you’ll naturally become stronger. And this also means you’ll need to increase the workload.

The principle of increasing workload is called progressive overload.

This is most commonly achieved by increasing dumbbell weight. To do this, add 5 to 10% weight whenever your 8 reps feel easy to perform.

However, you won’t be able to indefinitely increase weight since you are limited to 50 pounds per dumbbell.

Once you’ve maxed out the 50-pound dumbbells at 8 reps for most of your exercises (will take around 6-12 months of training), you should increase the reps again.

Keep on increasing reps until you reach 15 reps per set again.

You may be wondering why you go from 12 reps, to 8 and, back up to 15 again.

how many reps you should do with 50lb dumbbells

It’s because the initial 12 reps will safely build you a foundation of strength. From here, 8 rep heavy weight training will drive muscle growth.

And once you’ve outgrown your 8-rep weight, you need to increase reps again in order to continue overloading.

When you begin to outgrow your 15-reps using 50-pound dumbbells for most of your exercises (will take you over 2 years), you should have made some pretty impressive muscle gains.

decrease tempo to increase intensity with 50lb dumbbells

In order to keep driving hypertrophy, you can perform time under tension (TUT) training.

This involves decreasing the tempo for the upward and downward phases.

For example, where bench press upward/downward motion would usually take 4 seconds total, you would slow it down to 8 seconds total.

By following these methods for progressive overload, you’ll maximize the muscle returns from your 50 pound dumbbells!

Check out my other article to find out the ideal dumbbell workout duration!

Expect To Gain 0.5 Pounds Per Week

As a male, the maximum amount of lean muscle you can build is around 2 pounds per month (females half this). This equates to 0.5 pounds per week. And these are the numbers you should be aiming for.

If you don’t mind putting on (a lot of) fat as well as muscle, and just want to bulk up fast, then you may be interested in my other post which explains why it’s possible to put on 10lbs in a week.

To weigh yourself, you should take readings every morning after you wake up and before you have breakfast. Then take the weekly average across 7 days.

A set of cheap body scales that display in lbs to 1 decimal place, like this Fit Index, allow you to keep track of your progress.

If you aren’t hitting your 0.5lb weight gain per week, then you should increase your calorie intake.

You can also use cheap body calipers like this Light Stuff to effortlessly keep track of your body fat percentage. If you’re gaining more than 1.5% body fat per month, then you should decrease calories from carbs and fats and increase protein intake.

You may also be interested in my other article to find out the signs of muscle growth!

A Bulking Diet Is Essential To Get Big With 50lb Dumbbells

Whether or not you succeed in hitting these numbers will depend largely on your nutrition (and how effectively you follow a good program).

You should be eating a caloric surplus diet with around 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean bodyweight. This will facilitate the muscle-building process.

I currently use MyProtein Impact Whey to help me reach my daily protein and calorie targets. Each serving contains 21g of pure whey protein and 100 calories, making it perfect for lean gains.

Vegans will find the MyVegan Pea Protein to be more suitable.

I’ll be honest- the MyProtein/Vegan powders don’t have the highest protein content on the market. But they are one of the most affordable at $0.30 per serving and also one of the cleanest (not many additives).

If you’re new to bulking, you may want to use a weight gainer powder like the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass instead.

It’s a bit pricey at $3 per serving, but each serving has 50g of protein and 1250 calories, making it ideal for skinny guys to quickly gain mass and strength.

If you succeed in gaining 0.5 pounds per week, it’s a sign that your hard work is paying off! If not, then you need to make sure you are lifting at the intensities described above and eating the right foods.

Check out my other article for more nutrition tips for gaining muscle as a skinny guy!

How Much Does A Pair Of 50lb Dumbbells Cost?

To complete this workout, you will of course have to get a pair of 50 pound dumbbells.

Here’s how much you should expect to pay for 50-pound dumbbells (brand new):

Fixed-Weight Dumbbell Set (5-50lb)$1000.00+
Bowflex 50lb Adjustable Dumbbell (see my review here)$499.99
Powerblock 50lb Adjustable Dumbbell$459.99
Ativafit 50lb Adjustable Dumbbell$439.98
EMAIS 50lb Adjustable Dumbbell$398.99
Flybird 50lb Adjustable Dumbbell$399.98
50lb dumbbell price comparison. Check out my other article for details on how much dumbbells should cost per lb/kg!

Adjustable dumbbells are preferred by many (including myself) over traditional fixed-weight dumbbells. Not only are they more space-saving and convenient to use, but also much cheaper.

To get a set of fixed-weight dumbbells at 5 to 50 pounds, you’ll likely have to spend over $1000 (brand new).

In comparison, a pair of 50 pound adjustable dumbbells can be found for $400 to $500. And they’ll provide all the weight increments you need!

Check out my other article to choose the perfect dumbbell weight!

My 50lb Dumbbell Recommendation

Having researched close to 2 dozen different models, I decided to buy the Powerblock Elites.

They aren’t the cheapest 50lb dumbbells around.

But in my opinion, they offer the best balance between function and affordability.

The base model is fully adjustable from 2.5lbs to 50lbs, with 2.5/5lb increments in between. This makes them great for smaller isolation-type lifts like the bicep curl, as well as the bigger compound lifts like the bench press.

They can also be upgraded to 70lbs and 90lbs whenever you become strong enough.

This gives you great flexibility in progression and is more than enough weight for a beginner to get big at home. You can find my example PowerBlock workout plan here.

Or you can find the cheapest Powerblock price here.

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest 50lb dumbbells, then you can’t go wrong with the Yes4All spinlocks (you can see the reviews here).

I use my Powerblocks with this Flybird adjustable bench. This allows you to do flat/incline/decline exercises like bench press, row, and fly. The bench can also be folded and stowed away after your workout.

Combined, the Powerblocks and Flybird make an affordable, space-efficient, and effective home gym to get big

Struggling to decide between the Powerblock and Bowflex dumbbells? You can go to my other post here to find out which one is better!

Product Recap


Today, I’ve explained how you can get big with 50lb dumbbells.

These are considered moderate dumbbell weights, and are best used for skinny to average-sized guys. If you’re on the heavy side, then heavier dumbbells will be more suitable.

If you are closer to the average size, then building a powerful physique doesn’t require heavy weights. Yes, they help a lot, but they’re not essential.

Instead of overloading by increasing the weight, you can simply increase the number of reps. You can also decrease the tempo to make your 50lb dumbbells feel even heavier than they are.

Will you be trying the Kalibre 50lb dumbbell workout?

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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