Sculpt and strengthen your upper body in 10 minutes with this super-efficient four-move dumbbell routine

Try out Mr and Mrs Muscle’s upper body dumbbell routine and feel the burn in just ten minutes

Man does at-home dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don’t have much time to work out? Never fear. Trainers Mr. and Mrs. Muscle have perfected the art of squeezing an intense workout into a short space of time. 

Their workouts use the super-efficient format of high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which features quick bursts of focused strength work interspersed with short periods of rest. 

Working to a timer instead of a rep count means you can push yourself on each round before you move on to the next exercise. Just remember to keep perfect form with each move, even when you're doing them quickly. 

You'll need some dumbbells to do the routine. You might find that you need a heavier set for certain moves, and a lighter option for others. Have a look at our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells, if you need a compact multi-weight tool to use in routines like this one. 

How to do the workout

  • Box row to bear hold 3-4x30 seconds
  • Rotating chest press 3-4x30 seconds
  • Tricep kickback ight row to front raise 3-4x30 seconds 
  • Tricep kickback 3-4x30 seconds

Do each move for 30 seconds and complete three or four rounds in total. There is 10 seconds of rest between each exercise but take longer between sets if you need to. If you keep the rest minimal, you’ll maintain the intensity of the workout. 

What is high-intensity resistance training?

HIRT follows a similar principle to its cousin, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), with short exercise periods followed by periods of rest.  While HIRT still utilizes cardio-based exercises, there is a greater focus on resistance and strength work. You can tailor how heavy you lift to your training needs and make the rest periods longer if you need to.

We previously spoke to Tom Cuff-Burnett, a former professional rugby player, personal trainer, TRX trainer, and movement specialist. He advised: "HIRT can be used to build muscle—and lean muscle, at that—as the typical rep ranges for a workout are six to 10 reps, which is the ideal range for muscle building...It uses high repetitions to increase muscle endurance and volume."

Looking for more efficient workout ideas? Try this equipment-free beginner bodyweight workout, or read all about how to incorporate "exercise snacking" into your routine. 

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.