Boost your metabolism and build full-body strength with this 12-minute dumbbell workout

This time-efficient training session can work your whole body when you're short on time

Woman doing workout with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images/Tony Anderson)

You've got a packed day, no time for the gym, but you still want to squeeze in a good workout. What can you do? Well, why not try this quick dumbbell routine? 

It's just 12 minutes long and, better yet, it works your whole body. You only need a light pair and a heavy pair of dumbbells (or a single set of adjustable dumbbells) too, making it a great home workout option. So, for those days when the clock is not your friend, make sure to save this one for later.

The workout has been created by Mr and Mrs Muscle, a YouTube coaching duo with level three diplomas in personal training. It follows a HIRT (high-intensity resistance training) format, tasking you to complete two rounds of a six-move circuit. 

For each one movement you'll work for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then move on to the next exercise, challenging your muscles and keeping your heart rate high.

Watch the trainers' video below to find out which movements await you, and mirror their form to make sure you're performing each one correctly. 

Watch Mr and Mrs Muscle's full body dumbbell workout

The heavier set of dumbbells is for lower-body-dominant exercises like front squats and single-leg deadlifts, then you should switch to the lighter dumbbells for upper-body moves including the skull crushers and w-curls.

This is because your lower half is home to some of the largest muscle groups in your body, including the hamstrings and quadriceps (in the thighs) and the glutes (or buttocks). As a result, the vast majority of people will be able to lift heavier loads using their lower-body muscles. 

However, we realise "one light and one heavy" set of dumbbells is a bit vague, so we don't blame you if you're wondering: "What dumbbell weight should I use?"

The key is to pick a weight that challenges your muscles, particularly for the last few seconds of each set, but isn't so heavy that your form suffers. 

If you're new to dumbbell workouts or haven't done any weight training in a while, chances are your muscles will be aching the next day. This is totally normal, and known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). 

To aid recovery, many people take supplements such as protein drinks. Why not check out Fit&Well's guide to the best protein powders for weight loss to see which is best for you?

Enjoyed this workout and want to try other HIIT routines? Why not try this equipment free HIIT workout, or try our four-week HIIT workout challenge?

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors,, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.