This 30-minute dumbbell workout was the less-intense strength training session I needed

I was after something different to ease me back into resistance training and restore my confidence so I tried this dumbbell workout from Juice & Toya

James Frew performing a split leg deadlift
(Image credit: Future)

I've struggled to exercise since I caught COVID last summer. Even after the symptoms cleared up, I often became too tired or quickly got out of breath. But I was also trying to pick up where I left off rather than adjusting the intensity of my training. 

The handful of times I tried a dumbbell workout, I found it really hard, making me nervous about trying again. With an active dog, I've still managed to get out for a walk every morning, but I miss the strength training workouts I used to do. 

I resolved to try again, but ease my way back in with Juice & Toya's 30-minute resistance training routine. The duo usually record workouts together, with one demonstrating the moves while the other performs modifications. This session is slightly different, as Juice is currently injured. 

Toya leads you through three rounds of exercises with a single dumbbell. The second and third rounds are progressions of the moves in the first round, but you can stick with the variation you’re comfortable with if it becomes too challenging. I figured this, coupled with the reduced load, would help me regain confidence without overdoing it. 

Watch Juice & Toya's 30-minute dumbbell workout

The routine is structured like a high-intensity resistance training workout, but instead of exercising for 40 seconds in one go, you do each move for 20 seconds, take a five-second break, then do another 20 seconds. This made it an ideal option, so I laced up my cross-training shoes and gave it a go. Here’s what I discovered.

1. You don't have to lift heavy weights to get a good workout

As a fitness writer, I know there are benefits to lifting lighter weights, but I find it hard to let go of the idea that you need to lift a heavier load to get an effective workout. This routine was a good reminder that's not the case, as you only need a single low-load dumbbell. 

Toya demonstrates using 5lb and 10lb dumbbells, although she says you can use a weight between 3lb and 25lb. I usually have my adjustable dumbbells at the highest setting, so this was a great opportunity to work on my form, 

The routine gradually increased the intensity, giving me time to get used to lifting a weight again. And as you're not aiming for a specific amount of reps, I took time to get the technique right, which helped immensely by the time I got to the final round. 

2. Efficient workouts are still my favorite

James Frew performing a dumbbell glute bridge

(Image credit: Future)

Single-muscle isolation exercises like biceps curls can be effective, but they can get a bit repetitive. I prefer workouts based on compound exercises that work several muscles simultaneously, like this one. But I'd forgotten just how connected all the different areas of your body are. 

Each round finishes with a V-sit variation (also known as a Russian twist), which many people would describe as an abs-focused core exercise. My core engaged as I moved the dumbbell from side to side, but so did my chest, arms, and shoulders. 

The final round included a single leg tuck and dumbbell row, where you have to balance on one leg and maintain stability as you tuck your leg in while lifting the dumbbell towards your chest. It's a challenging exercise that develops core strength for stability while building muscle in your upper body. 

3. Making adjustments doesn't mean you've failed

In all likelihood, I was probably ready to start working out again a couple of months ago, but with some changes. But back then, I wasn't ready to admit that I couldn't work out the way I did before, which made me stop exercising altogether. 

Did I do Juice and Toya's routine perfectly? No, but I realize now that's okay. This session was a great way to ease back in, although I still needed a few extra seconds to rest and couldn't keep up with Toya's pace. Choosing a lighter weight also meant I could really focus on how I was exercising. 

I woke up this morning with delayed-onset muscle soreness (also known as DOMS), which is both a bit painful and a bit satisfying, but most importantly, I did what was right for my body at the time, and now I'm looking forward to my next session. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.