Build full-body muscle in less than 30 minutes with just two dumbbells

Build a fit, functional body and protect yourself against injuries with this at-home strength training session

A man performing a renegade row with a pair of dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty / Gorodenkoff)

Your weekly workouts don't need to be confined to the gym. Whether it's a long walk or a spot of wild swimming, any activity that raises your heart rate and works your body counts as exercise. 

Take this simple five-move session from fitness trainer James Stirling (otherwise known as The London Fitness Guy), for example. It only requires a couple of dumbbells, so you can do it pretty much anywhere. 

But the lack of equipment doesn't mean it isn't an effective workout. It's designed to hit every major muscle group in your body in less than 30 minutes, helping you build total-body strength and boost your metabolism

To try it for yourself, perform the five exercises in turn as a circuit. For each one, work for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. After you've completed all five moves, rest for one minute then restart the sequence. 

Continue this until you've completed a total of five rounds. To find out which five moves await you, and how to perform them with the correct form, watch Stirling's video below. 

Watch the London Fitness Guy's full-body dumbbell workout

If you don't have a pair of dumbbells for this workout, take a look at our roundup of the best adjustable dumbbells. Alternatively, a fixed weight set or even a couple of filled water bottles can provide enough resistance for those new to strength training.

Most of the moves in Stirling's workout are compound exercises, meaning they work multiple muscle groups at once. For instance, the renegade row push-up will work muscles in your chest, back, and shoulders, as well as the biceps and triceps in your arms. 

Many compound lifts also double up as core strengthening exercises, as your midsection muscles are challenged to stabilize your spine as you lift an external load (in this case, the dumbbells). 

As a result, compound exercises are a brilliant way to make your training more time-efficient, working more muscles in a shorter space of time than moves that work each muscle in isolation. 

If you want more workouts you can do outside the gym, try this 25-minute strength-building bodyweight session. Or, if you're after a different type of exercise, consider our beginners' Pilates plan or these three beginner yoga exercises

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.