Burn fat with this multi-muscle 40-minute dumbbell workout

This high-intensity routine strengthens your upper and lower body, works your core, and boosts your metabolism

Man holding a dumbbell squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to lose weight, the traditional advice has been to hop on a treadmill and run for hours. Fortunately, that's not the only way to hit your fat loss goals. Instead, take on this varied dumbbell routine to build muscle and burn fat in just 40 minutes.

If you're training at home, you only need a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started. These weights combine several dumbbells in one, which is ideal if you've been looking for a space-saving workout companion.

And for times when you're at the gym, you can head down to the free weights area and pick up a few different dumbbells so you can challenge yourself in each move but still keep your form just right to avoid injury.

This focus on the technique is one of the reasons personal trainer DanielPT's (opens in new tab) 40-minute routine is so effective, helping you get the best results from each activity. The high-intensity workout is split into two halves containing five giant sets of four exercises.

You'll do each move for 45 seconds, take a 15-second rest, then continue the routine. At the end of the set, you get a slightly longer 25-second break. Then, between halves, Daniel gives you 60 seconds to grab a drink of water and recover for the next block of exercises.

Watch DanielPT's 40-minute dumbbell workout

This workout style is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), where you exercise in short bursts with minimal rest to work your muscles hard and keep your heart rate high. This helps you get muscle-building results in a short time, but there are other benefits too.

Elevating your heart rate keeps your body burning energy during your session, but it also boosts your metabolism for all-day fat-burning. In this way, HIRT is similar to a high-intensity interval training HIIT workout for fat loss but with strength-focused exercises.

So, the way you exercise plays a role here, but so does the choice of exercises in DanielPT's routine. The moves—including weighted squats, dumbbell deadlifts, and presses—all work multiple muscles at the same time.

This strengthens the connection between areas of your body and makes for a time-efficient workout compared to single-muscle isolation moves like bicep curls. Training several muscles simultaneously builds strength and increases the routine's fat-burning potential.

If you're looking for alternative multi-muscle compound exercises, it's worth investing in one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. This single exercise works your whole body, boosts your metabolism, and strengthens 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.