Build a stronger core and full-body strength with just six moves and a pair of dumbbells

Work your whole body, improve your posture, and boost your metabolism with this short dumbbell workout

Woman performing dumbbell biceps curls
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might think that building full-body strength requires lots of equipment and time. But with a combination of the right exercises, all you need is a pair of dumbbells to target all of the major muscles, with a fairly quick and straightforward workout.

If you regularly train at home, it's worth investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells as they combine several weights in one, and you can increase the load as you get stronger. If you're at the gym, aim for a fixed-load pair of dumbbell weights that'll challenge your muscles but not effect your form. 

This short dumbbell routine from personal trainer Berenice Salazar is ideal for an at-home full-body workout. It targets different body parts, you might need to adjust the weights you use for different moves. 

For example, most people will be able to lift more when deadlifting with dumbbells, because this engages big muscle groups in the legs, compared to exercises like tricep presses, which isolate smaller muscles.

The aim is to do 10-15 repetitions of each exercise, although you can make adjustments. For muscle growth, opt for a lower rep count (10-12) with a heavier weight; for endurance, do the full 15 repetitions with a lighter weight. 

For an effective muscle-building full-body workout, go for four sets of each exercise, taking a small amount of rest between each set. You can watch Salazar's demonstrations to practice your technique before you start. 

Watch Berenice Salazar's six-move full-body workout

If you only have one pair of dumbbells, simply use one dumbbell for the more difficult exercises, and two dumbbells for the easier moves. And ensure you engage your core by squeezing your ribcage inwards to avoid arching the back.

This is a great routine if your goal is to grow your muscles as you can make a regular part of your training and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger in line with the progressive overload training technique. 

And there's no need to overcomplicate the exercises you're doing either. In fact, repeating the same movements week-on-week, while increasing the weight, will help you to build strength in specific muscles.

If you have time, splitting up your workouts to target specific areas of the body can be helpful. But balancing work and a social life means fitting in regular workouts can be tricky, so try to be reasonable when setting yourself goals and planning how often you can workout.

If you're not used to strength training, you might experience DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness) in the days after completing this workout. This is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers your body needs to repair. 

You can help things along using the best protein powders for weight loss to stay topped up on protein and promote blood flow to your muscles using an active recovery day workout packed full of stretches. 

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.