If you’re short on time and energy, full-body workouts are an amazing way to target every major muscle group and get a sweat on without going to the gym every day. And, even though it can seem like you need to use a myriad of gym machines to feel that full-body burn, it’s possible to build all-over strength with a couple of simple pieces of equipment.
Two of the most useful (and affordable) fitness tools to invest in are resistance bands and dumbbells (we’d suggest buying a pair of one of the best adjustable dumbbells so you can increase the weight as you grow stronger). Both items are incredibly versatile and have the bonus benefit of being super convenient to store in your home — after all, who has room for an at-home treadmill anymore?
Fitness trainer and influencer Sydney Cummings Houdyshell has put together a workout which exclusively uses these two pieces of equipment, incorporating some fantastic movements for building strength in your upper-body, lower-body and core.
The 30-minute session involves nine exercises, all designed to target a specific area of the body and raise your heart rate. With movements that activate muscles in your shoulders, legs, arms, chest, back, core and more, this is a great workout if you're short on time but still want to challenge yourself.
Watch Sydney Cummings Houdyshell's full-body workout
This workout uses interval-style training (similar to the format found in HIIT workouts for fat loss) with 30-45 second work periods and 15 seconds of rest. There is also cardio finisher, with high-intensity exercise like this found to be critical in improving cardiac (heart) function, according to a 2009 study published in the Exercise and Sports Science Reviews journal.
Using a pair of dumbbells is an optional part of this workout, but it’s definitely worth adding them in if you’re able to. Research published in the Current Sports Science Reports journal found that workouts using weights have a range of benefits, including increasing fat loss and raising your metabolic rate (the amount of energy you burn in a day).
You can do this workout at home or at the gym. We think it's ideal for days when the weights section is overflowing with people (as is often the case in January) because it allows you to grab a couple of dumbbells, find a quiet corner and still get a great session in.
This session will certainly spike your heart rate and burn calories, but it can also help you build strength using moves like Romanian deadlifts, squats, curls and shoulder press variations. When doing these exercises, reduce your risk of injury by really focusing on your form and avoiding weights so heavy they compromise your technique. If you're wondering how heavy to go, our "What dumbbell weights should I use?" guide should help you pick an appropriate pair.
Come back to this workout on a regular basis and increase the weight of the dumbbell when the load you were using before starts to feel easier. This is an example of the progressive overload principle in action — a tried and tested way to build strength and fitness.
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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.
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