Build full-body muscle in just 15 minutes with this dumbbell workout

This high-intensity routine strengthens your whole body and builds core muscle in just 15 minutes

Woman working out with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's easy to think you need to train for hours if you want to build muscle and see results. But the truth is, it's more about how to train than for how long. That's why you can develop strength in just 15 minutes with this quick dumbbell workout.

Whether you're exercising at home or working out at the gym, all you'll need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. You can quickly change the load mid-workout, so you can find a weight that'll challenge you but keep your form intact.

It's no problem if you find yourself in front of a weights rack, though—just use these beginner strength training tips to find your ideal resistance. Then it's only a case of finding a bit of space when you have 15 minutes to spare.

The routine, developed by personal trainer Joe Wicks (also known by his handle, The Body Coach), packs 15 moves into a short workout. To fit it all in, you'll do each move for 45 seconds, take a 15-second rest, then start on the next exercise.

It's an intense way to train, so it is especially important to focus on your form to get the most from your workout and to avoid injury, a particular concern when working with weights. So, be sure to follow Wicks' demonstrations to practice your technique.

Watch The Body Coach's 15-minute dumbbell workout

This exercise style is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which is similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but with a focus on strength-building activities rather than cardio-based routines.

The aim is to train intensely for short bursts with only brief breaks between moves. This works your muscles hard—especially since Wick's routine has several compound moves which work several muscles at once—but there are other benefits too.

Keeping the intensity high raises your heart rate, which replicates the effects of cardio exercise and helps burn energy during the session. In the longer term, this boosts your metabolism for all-day fat-burning results.

This is why a HIIT workout for fat loss can be effective if you want to lose weight. Unlike Wicks' routine, you don't need any equipment, and there are just five bodyweight moves in total for a heart-pumping workout that'll take just 25 minutes.

If you like the idea of HIRT workouts with weights, it's worth picking up one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. This multi-muscle compound exercise builds core strength, develops muscle, and burns fat in just a single move.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor 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.