Build full-body muscle with just two dumbbells and six moves

Develop strength all over, boost your metabolism, and work your core with this 30-minute dumbbell session

Man performing dumbbell renegade rows at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You don't need your own private gym to build muscle at home. In fact, you can get a great workout with just a couple of dumbbells.

Dumbbells can be used for hundreds of exercises that work muscles across your entire body—ideal for keeping sessions fun, fresh and effective. If you want even more versatility still, we'd recommend going with a pair of adjustable dumbbells, which allow you to increase the weight as you grow stronger.

This six-move workout from certified personal trainer Sara Kathryns is a great example of a dumbbell-only session, recruiting both your upper and lower-body muscles to build strength and boost your metabolism.

The session is to be completed as a circuit. Perform each of the exercises back to back for the number of repetitions listed in the video caption below, resting for 30 seconds between each one. 

Repeat this six-move sequence for three total rounds for a 30-minute workout. Check out Kathryns' demonstrations before you start so you can practice your technique, get the most from your training, and avoid injury. 

Watch Sara Kathryns’ full-body dumbbell workout

If you're wondering, "What dumbbell weights should I use?", we recommend choosing a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with perfect form. This makes sure you're activating the targeted muscles and minimizes any chance of injury. 

However, you can't build strength and muscle without challenging yourself, so don't make the mistake of lifting a dumbbell that's too light. Instead, you should use a weight that you struggle to lift (with impeccable technique) for the final few repetitions of each set.

It’s also important to take time to warm-up before you begin working out, to prime your body for the activity ahead. Our warm-up guide contains a selection of stretches that will prepare you for a full-body session.

If you've recently invested in a set of dumbbells, or dusted off your old set, then you might be hunting for more workouts you can use them for. If that's the case, you're in luck, as we have plenty of options for you to sink your teeth into.

To start with, why not try this time-efficient full-body routine, which can help you develop muscle all over in under 30 minutes. Or you can find out how our writer fared when he faced a 15-minute arm workout

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.