20 moves, 20 minutes, and a set of dumbbells to build upper body strength

This quick HIIT workout combines dumbbell exercises and bodyweight moves to make you stronger

Man holding a goblet squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to develop muscle in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back, you might think you need an extended gym session to see results. But you can build upper body strength without leaving your house using this 20-minute high-intensity workout.

And all you need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started. These space-saving weights combine several dumbbells in one, and you can quickly adjust the load, even mid-workout.

Then it's just a case of finding a bit of space and training hard for 20 minutes. For this routine, developed by Joe Wicks (best known as The Body Coach), you'll exercise for 40 seconds, take a 20-second break, then head on to the next move.

This workout style is known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and it's an effective way to exercise. Keeping the intensity high helps fit 20 exercises into just 20 minutes but has other benefits too.

Working out without longer rests raises your heart rate, which improves your cardio fitness and helps burn fat, even for hours after. As the sessions are quick, it's also a great way to stay active when short on time.

Watch the Joe Wicks' 20-minute dumbbell HIIT workout

There's a lot of variety in this routine, too, with a mixture of dumbbell exercises and bodyweight moves to keep things interesting. Across the session, you'll take on weight-free workout essentials like planks, burpees, and push-ups.

If you're new to strength training, dumbbell workouts, or HIIT sessions, this quick workout is an accessible way to get started. You can follow along with Wicks, which helps you stay motivated, keep pace, and focus on your form.

Although his routine is a great way to build muscle, if you don't have a set of weights handy, this HIIT workout for fat loss uses your body weight alone to develop upper body strength and only takes 25 minutes.

If you like spending time outdoors, it's natural to wonder does walking build muscle. According to experts, going for a walk is an excellent way for beginners to train their legs, but there are other benefits to walking.

It helps boost your mood, improves your cardio fitness, and lowers your risk of long-term illness. You don't need to hit 10,000 steps a day either, as research suggests that between 6,000 and 8,000 daily steps is enough to keep you in good health.

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer 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.