Build full-body muscle in just four moves with this 20-minute dumbbell workout

This four-move routine works several muscles simultaneously for results in just 20 minutes

Man performing dumbbell thrusters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Finding time for an extended workout is hard when you've got a busy schedule. Fortunately, you don't have to miss out, as you can still build muscle all over with this four-move full-body dumbbell routine in just 20 minutes.

Although it's an excellent option for exercising at home with a set of the best adjustable dumbbells if you're tight on time, the four-move workout also makes a great finisher or complete routine for your gym sessions.

This flexible session, developed by personal trainers Rhiannon Bailey (opens in new tab) and Bradley Simmonds (opens in new tab), takes just 20 minutes in total, split into five four-minute rounds, with exercises like swings and variations on dumbbell deadlifts.

You'll aim to do five rounds, exercising for 40 seconds before taking a 20-second rest between moves. The focus is on multi-muscle compound exercises designed to strengthen your whole body, but this training style can also help you hit your other fitness goals.

According to Bailey, "keep the intensity high, so you're not only working on your strength, but you're getting that heart rate up to improve your cardiovascular fitness." It's also important to focus on your form, so practice the technique by following the pair's demonstrations.

Watch Rhiannon Bailey's full-body dumbbell workout

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The duo's routine is a great way to build muscle, boost your metabolism, and burn fat quickly, thanks to a combination of workout techniques. Although just four moves, each exercise trains multiple areas of your body at the same time.

These are known as compound exercises, and they're a time-efficient way to see results, which is why they're Chris Hemsworth's trainer's favorite workout tool. Working several muscles simultaneously helps build strength, but it also burns more energy during the session.

Then there's the way you exercise, too. Bailey encourages you to keep the intensity high, which elevates your heart rate. This leads to extra energy burn and creates longer-term changes to your metabolism for all-day fat-burning.

It's a form of high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which is quite similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but focuses on muscle-building moves instead of cardio-focused exercises.

If you're after another HIRT session with weights, it's worth picking up one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. This compound exercise is a highly effective way to burn fat, build upper body muscle, and strengthen your core.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer 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.