Build full-body strength in just 16 minutes with this four-move dumbbell workout

Use these compound exercises to target a wide range of muscles

Man squats down at home holding dumbbells out in front of him
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you don't have a lot of time to exercise, it's important to prioritize workouts that target your entire body to ensure you're building strength evenly. You should focus on short, effective routines—like this one from NASM-qualified personal trainer Fernanda Shaw.

It's made up of four moves and only takes 16 minutes, but it will increase your heart rate and engage a range of muscles in both the upper and lower body. All you need to do it is a pair of dumbbells, so you can practice it at home or in a quiet corner of the gym.

Watch Fernanda Shaw's four-move full-body workout

This is an interval-style workout where you'll work for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds. After completing one round of all of the movements, you can take one full minute of rest, before completing the circuit three more times.

Opt for a weight that feels challenging but manageable. The last few repetitions of each move should feel difficult, but not so difficult that you compromise your form. Read our piece on what dumbbell weights you should choose, if you need more guidance.

Benefits of this workout

Each of the exercises in this routine are compound exercises, which are movements that target multiple muscle groups at once.

These types of movements are ideal if you're short on time but you still want to work a lot of muscles. Compound moves will also require you to activate your core  as you'll be transferring weight from your lower body to your upper body—such as with the squat and press—so your mid-body will be constantly engaged.

On top of this, the exercises in this routine will boost your coordination, particularly the cross-elbow-to-knee-jacks and the squat press.

Try to complete this workout regularly to reap the benefits. Over time, as you get stronger you might be able to increase the weights you use. Invest in a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells so you can adjust the weights without buying an entirely new pair of dumbbells.

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.