It only takes 30 minutes to build lean muscle—here's how

All you need is a set of dumbbells, a bit of space, and this quick HIIT workout

Man working out with dumbbells at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You won't always have time for a long run or extended gym session. But you don't have to spend hours training to see results. Thankfully, this quick dumbbell HIIT workout can develop lean muscle in just 30 minutes.

All you need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started. These customizable weights combine several dumbbells into one, so you won't need to find space at home for a weights rack to get an effective workout.

Although they're best known as a muscle-building tool, you can add dumbbells into any high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. This increases the resistance for each move and helps build muscle and burn fat.

That's what makes personal trainer Heather Robertson's (opens in new tab) 30-minute dumbbell HIIT workout so powerful. The session is split into three five-move circuits with a mix of dumbbell moves and bodyweight exercises.

You'll do two rounds of each circuit and train for 40 seconds on each exercise before taking a 20-second rest. There's also a warm-up and cool-down to help your body prepare and recover from the routine.

Watch Heather Robertson's 30-minute dumbbell HIIT workout

The aim of any HIIT session is to work as hard as possible for short periods, take a quick break, and continue with the next exercise. This raises your heart rate and burns energy during the session and for hours afterward.

By adding weights into the workout, you get a similar fat-burning result but also build stronger muscles. It's a technique known as high-intensity resistance training, and it's a time-efficient way to develop lean muscle.

Want to give the routine a try in your own time? All the moves you need are listed below. Just make sure you properly warm-up before and cool down after your workout to get the most from your exercise and avoid injury.

Dumbbell HIIT workout moves

  • Circuit one:
    • Push press + twist
    • Lunge + curl
    • Deadlift jack
    • Side lunges
    • High knees
  • Circuit two:
    • T-push-ups
    • Tricep extension
    • Lunge + press (right)
    • Lunge + press (left)
    • Pivot hops
  • Circuit three:
    • Front + sumo squats
    • Walking plank
    • Front swing
    • Curtsey + raise
    • Jump squat + pulse

If you enjoyed this session and want another way to fit HIRT into your schedule, it's worth picking up one of the best kettlebells and taking on this heart-rate-raising kettlebell workout for beginners.

If you're looking to drop some pounds but you're not a fan of weights, you can try this HIIT workout for fat loss. You won't need any equipment for this five-move routine, and it only takes 25 minutes.

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.