"If I only had 20 minutes in the gym this is exactly what I would do": A trainer recommends this efficient dumbbell workout for full-body strength

Strengthen muscles across your body and raise your heart rate with this short session

A woman doing a dumbbell workout in a gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working out can be time-consuming. But you don't have to spend hours and hours in the gym to see results.

Fitness trainer Jasmine Dawn, who specializes in time-efficient training, recently shared a workout on Instagram that she says she would do if she only had 20 minutes to work out.

It's a dumbbell session that targets many muscles across the entire body, including the quads, glutes, shoulders and core.

How to do Jasmine Dawn's full-body dumbbell workout

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Complete 10 repetitions of every exercise and 20 repetitions for the Russian twist (so you hit 10 on each side). Rest for 60 seconds and then repeat the entire routine three times.

Dawn demonstrates the exercises using one pair of dumbbells but you may need to adjust the weight for some exercises according to your strength. For example, you are likely to be able to lift heavier weights for the squat and Romanian deadlift (as quads and hamstrings can take a bigger load) compared to the shoulder press. It's useful to have a pair of adjustable dumbbells to hand, so you can change your load quickly.

Dawn notes the importance of hitting the full range of motion in each exercise, such as sitting to a low depth in the squat. This is when the hip crease is below the knees (i.e. just below parallel). Doing this will not only reduce your risk of injury by ensuring your form is correct but it will also help you target the right muscles and maximize muscle engagement.

A 2019 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that squat training when reaching full depth is more effective for developing muscles in the lower body, so you'll make progress quicker if you prioritize sitting deeply into the squat, while keeping the chest high. You can read more about how to squat properly here.

The benefits of full-body workouts

Doing a full-body workout like this is ideal if you're short on time or can only exercise once or twice a week, but still want to build strength and muscle across the whole body.

This routine uses a range of compound movements, which are exercises that target multiple muscle groups at the same time. These include the squat and deadlift.

These types of exercises are great for people who want to build strength without doing complicated workouts; they can also improve your coordination and develop your core strength and stability.

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.