A trainer recommends this five-move beginner strength training workout for building full-body muscle

Build full-body strength, muscle and coordination with this dumbbell workout

A man performing a dumbbell shoulder press at home
(Image credit: Getty Images / Gorodenkoff)

Training at home will save you time and money, but it can be hard to know where to start. 

Fortunately, top trainer James Stirling (better known as the London Fitness Guy) has revealed what he would do if he only had a couple of dumbbells and 30 minutes in which to train. 

His answer is a five-move strength training circuit that works every major muscle group in your body. You do 10 repetitions of each move and repeat this sequence for five total rounds, which should take roughly 25 minutes. If you’re new to lifting weights, you might want to scale this back to two or three rounds, then build up to the full five over time. 

Bookend this session with a warm-up and cool-down, and that’s your workout done.

Amazon basics adjustable 17.2kg/ 38lb dumbbells

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You don't need much equipment to build muscle, just a solid set of dumbbells that will challenge your strength. We're big fans of this cheap adjustable set from Amazon, which comes in at less than $50 and has a durable steel design. 

Watch the London Fitness Guy’s full-body dumbbell workout

People often scour the internet for obscure exercises promising a plethora of benefits, but Stirling uses common exercises precisely because they're effective. 

Consistently performing these tried-and-tested moves over time, and coupling them with the progressive overload principle, is one of the best ways to build strength. 

The workout uses compound exercises, which recruit multiple muscles at once. Together, the five moves deliver a full-body workout, incorporating most of the body’s major movement patterns; pushing, pulling, squatting, and hinging. 

Compound exercises are excellent for building strength and muscle. They can also improve coordination, movement efficiency, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness, according to the American Council Of Exercise

Why do compound exercises deliver cardio perks? Because they force you to use more muscles than you would during an isolation move, which is an exercise targeting one muscle at a time, like a biceps curl. 

Your heart has to work harder to pump blood to all of the working muscles and provide them with oxygen for fuel, so it gets a workout too. 

Need help picking some weights for your home workout? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.