Work your core and upper body in just 30 minutes with this dumbbell workout

All you need is a set of weights and 30 minutes to build upper body muscle and core strength

Woman exercising with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are plenty of great reasons to strengthen your core—improved performance, better stability—but most routines rely on endless crunches and sit-ups to get results. Fortunately, this 30-minute dumbbell workout is a more varied way to work your mid-body.

You only need one pair of weights to get started, so it's an ideal option whether you're training at the gym or exercising at home. If you haven't got a set at home, it's worth investing in the best adjustable dumbbells, as these are a space-saving option, combining several weights in one.

The popular perception of dumbbell workouts is that they're only for strengthening your upper body, areas like your shoulders or biceps, but that's just one way to train. This routine, developed by fitness YouTubers Tiff x Dan (opens in new tab), adds the weights into staple moves like planks and squats.

It's a practical way to increase the load of popular bodyweight exercises. Still, there are also moves like deadlifts, swings, and rows, which use multiple muscles simultaneously to help you get the most from your training.

There are 35 moves, so you'll work out for 30 seconds and take a 15-second rest before starting the following activity to pack it all into just 30 minutes. Dan demonstrates the entire routine, so you can follow along and practice the technique to avoid injury.

It's a style of exercise known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), where the aim is to work intensely for short periods and take a brief rest between moves. This keeps your heart rate high, helping burn energy throughout the routine.

Watch Tiff x Dan's 30-minute dumbbell workout

But this also helps boost your metabolism for all-day fat-burning, which is why many people tackle a HIIT workout for fat loss if they're looking to drop pounds. Generally, HIIT workouts are built around cardio-focused exercises.

Tiff x Dan's routine combines this with muscle-building moves to help you get stronger too. This is sometimes called High-Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT), where there are short blasts of weights-based exercise with minimal breaks.

Although it's a full-body workout, each exercise also targets your core, a collection of mid-body muscles that includes your rectus abdominis, the six-pack abs muscle. Your core is responsible for your balance and workout performance and can promote circulation too. 

So there are plenty of reasons to add core strengthening exercises into your workout, but a side effect is that this also strengthens your abs. However, you need to reduce body fat around your stomach to get a visible six-pack.

You can't spot-target fat, so workouts like Tiff x Dan's are a great way to combine several goals, helping you burn fat and build muscle in just 30 minutes. Fortunately, there are alternative, less intense ways to improve your metabolism too.

Coffee is known to raise your heart rate, and you might be wondering does coffee help you lose weight? Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (opens in new tab) shows that drinking four cups each day can reduce your body fat. So, in combination, small changes like this can help you reach your fitness goals.

Alternatively, if you enjoy exercising with weights, consider investing in one of the best kettlebells and learn how to do kettlebell swings. This high-intensity move builds muscle all over, trains your core, and burns fat.

James Frew
James Frew

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.