A trainer says these are the six compound exercises "you really should be including in your routine each week"

You only need a couple of dumbbells and 18 minutes to combine them into a circuit workout

A man performing a dumbbell floor press during a home workout
(Image credit: Getty Images / Skynesher)

My social media feeds are full of people doing complex workouts, but if you follow a trainer-approved exercise plan you’re likely to see the same basic exercises over and over again. Why? Because they work. 

Compound exercises often feature heavily in these plans. These are moves that use multiple muscles and joints at once, allowing you to lift heavy weights, build strength and boost your coordination. 

Fitness trainer James Stirling (AKA the London Fitness Guy) has shared six compound exercises he thinks you “should be including in your routine each week”. They can all be done at home with dumbbells, and you can combine them to create an 18-minute circuit that will strengthen your whole body. 

How to do the London Fitness Guy’s six-move dumbbell workout

Perform the exercises (demonstrated in the video below) in turn for 40 seconds each, resting for 20 seconds between each one. Repeat this sequence for a total of three rounds (or four if you fancy a challenge) to complete the workout.

What dumbbell weights should you use for this workout?

You can do this entire workout with just two dumbbells, but it helps to have a few weight options (or a set of the best adjustable dumbbells) available. The weight of the dumbbell you choose is important for getting the results you want from the workout. 

“Base the weight off how it feels. If it’s too comfortable in the last few reps [of the 40-second work period], go heavier,” Stirling advises.

This advice is based on the SAID (specific adaptation to imposed demands) principle, which states that the body adapts to handle the physical tasks it faces. Consistently lifting weights that challenge your strength will push your body to grow stronger, so over time you’ll begin to find this workout easier. 

“As it gets easier, you lift heavier, and that is how you ensure you progress,” Stirling explains. This process is called progressive overload, and it’s one of the key pillars of strength training. 

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.