Build full-body muscle in only 30 minutes with just a set of dumbbells

Strengthen your core, legs, arms, and back with this time-efficient 12-move dumbbell workout

A woman performing a squat during a strength training workout at home
(Image credit: Getty / Goodboy Picture Company)

Sometimes, you don't have an hour to spare for a lengthy workout, but that doesn't mean you can't get your fitness fix. 

We've found a time-efficient routine that will strengthen your entire body using two quick six-move circuits, allowing you to squeeze your daily workout into just 30 minutes (including a warm-up and cool-down).

To take part you'll need access to some dumbbells. The trainer uses three different weights for the various moves, so we suggest using a set of the best adjustable dumbbells as they offer you several weight options. But, if you don't have a pair, a few fixed weight dumbbells (or even a pair of filled water bottles) will work too.  

The routine was created by Heather Robertson, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. The aim is to perform each exercise for 40 seconds followed by a 20-second rest, and complete each six-move circuit twice through. 

It's a guided session, so you can follow along as Robertson demonstrates each move. This is valuable, as getting the technique right can help you get the most from your training and avoid injury. 

Watch Heather Robertson's full-body dumbbell workout

This routine is dominated by compound exercises; movements that use multiple joints and muscle groups at the same time, making them a top time-efficient training option. 

Compound exercises also engage your midsection muscles for a solid abs workout, and many mirror everyday actions. For example, the squat mimics standing up from a chair, and the deadlift similar to picking something heavy up off the floor. As a result, they're a great way to build functional strength. 

Henderson's routine starts with a quick warm up to get your blood pumping, and ends with a short cool down and stretch session. Not only can proper preparation either side of your workout help lessen post-workout aches (or delayed onset muscle soreness), it can also reduce your risk of injury and kickstart your recovery.

If you want to build strength and grow your muscles, workouts like this are a great place to start, but you also need to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Protein is particularly important as it is used by your body to repair and grow your muscles.

You can consume protein through whole foods such as meat, eggs, beans, and tofu, but many people also choose to supplement their intake with protein shakes to help them hit their daily protein quota. 

If you're worried that you'll pack on pounds with traditional powders, we've rounded up the best protein powders for weight loss instead. These low-sugar options are ideal for building lean muscle and keep you full for longer too. 

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors,, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.