It only takes 30 minutes to build a stronger chest with this dumbbell workout

This short routine develops upper body strength with only a set of dumbbells

Man exercising with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It can be hard to know where to start if you're looking to build muscle around your chest, shoulders, and arms. Fortunately, you can pick up a set of dumbbells and use this short routine to strengthen your upper body in just 30 minutes.

You'll need a set of the best adjustable dumbbells if you're training at home, as these customizable weights combine several dumbbells in one for easy storage. And you can quickly change the load, even mid-workout, to get the most from your training.

When you're at the gym, use our guide to determine which dumbbell weight you should use. The aim is to find a fixed-load dumbbell that'll challenge your muscles but won't affect your form, allowing you to gradually increase using the progressive overload technique.

Once you've found your ideal weight, you can start with Joe Wicks' 30-minute dumbbell workout to build upper body muscle. Wicks, also known as The Body Coach (opens in new tab), explains that you'll need a bench to lie on, but you can always adjust to lay on the floor instead.

In that case, it's worth rolling out one of the best yoga mats for some support while you're down on the ground. That way, you can follow along with the routine, focus on your technique, and perfect your form to get the most from the short session.

Watch The Body Coach's 30-minute dumbbell workout

Wicks typically favors high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) routines, where you exercise intensely in short bursts with minimal rests. Still, for this upper body dumbbell workout, you'll focus on hitting eight to 10 repetitions of each move.

There are 10 exercises, split into five groups of supersets, two moves performed back to back without a rest. You'll repeat each set three times, making a muscle-building workout you can fit into just 30 minutes.

Alongside dumbbell exercises like lateral raises and presses, there are some upper-body workout staples like push-ups. If you're new to this bodyweight move, doing wall push-ups can be a great way to learn the technique and build up to the floor-based exercise.

After taking on Wicks' routine, you can also incorporate a few exercises to workout triceps into your regular routine. It helps add some variety to your sessions, making it easier to create a sustainable habit.

If you've got one of the best kettlebells to hand, it's also worth learning how to do kettlebell swings. This full-body compound exercise works several muscles simultaneously, builds core strength, and boosts your metabolism.

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.