You only need 25 minutes and a set of dumbbells to build upper body muscle

This short session develops your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest and all you need is a pair of dumbbells

Woman working out with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might think you need to spend hours on bicep curls at the gym to build upper body muscle. Fortunately, that's not the case, as you can use this 25-minute workout to strengthen your arms, chest, and shoulders, and all you need is a set of dumbbells.

If you're working out at home, it's worth picking up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab). These customizable weights combine several dumbbells in one, and you can quickly change the load, even mid-workout, so you can train using the progressive overload (opens in new tab) technique.

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When you're at the gym and wondering what dumbbell weight should you use, it's important to choose a load that'll challenge your muscles to get through a set but won't affect your form. Then you'll be ready to take on YouTube fitness duo Tiff x Dan's 25-minute routine.

There are five sets of five moves, with each set targeting either your shoulders, chest, biceps, or triceps. You'll do each move for 40 seconds, take a 20-second rest, then start on the next exercise. Plus, there's a multi-muscle push-up finisher to close out the routine.

To get the most from your training and avoid injury, a particular concern when exercising with weights, you'll need to pay close attention to your form. Handily, Dan demonstrates each of the moves, so you can follow along and perfect your technique as you go.

Watch Tiff x Dan's 25-minute dumbbell workout

There are plenty of single-muscle isolation exercises to target your arms, like bicep curl variations, but most of the routine is made of compound exercises (opens in new tab) designed to work several muscles simultaneously. This is one reason Tiff x Dan's routine can get results in such little time.

Another is the training style it uses, working your muscles hard in short bursts with minimal rests. This is known as high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) (HIRT), a technique similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but focusing on muscle-building exercises rather than cardio workouts.

Both styles help elevate your heart rate, so you burn more energy than during an equivalent steady-paced workout. Sustaining your high heart rate throughout the session also boosts your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn at rest, for all-day fat-burning results.

This is why you'll often hear people talk about using a HIIT workout for fat loss (opens in new tab). So, Tiff x Dan's routine combines muscle-building and metabolism-boosting training to help you reach your fitness goals, even when you're tight on time or only have access to a few weights.

If you like this time-efficient training, it's also worth picking up one of the best kettlebells (opens in new tab) and learning how to do kettlebell swings (opens in new tab). This single move works your whole body, raises your heart rate, boosts your metabolism, and strengthens your core.

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.