You only need these six dumbbell moves to build muscle all over

This short, high-intensity routine targets your upper and lower body and strengthens your core in just six moves

Man performing bent-over dumbbell rows
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's easy to imagine that the only way to hit your fitness goals is to take out a gym membership and spend hours lifting weights. Fortunately, that's not the case, as you can build muscle, boost your metabolism and strengthen your core with just six moves — all you need is a set of dumbbells. 

If you're training at home, it's worth investing in a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab). These versatile weights combine several dumbbells into one compact package, can be easily stored away after use, and allow you to gradually increase the load as you get stronger if you want to use the progressive overload (opens in new tab) training technique.

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Some adjustable dumbbells can be expensive, but if you're looking for a lower cost set to get you started, these octagonal weights are currently 57% off right now. The flat sides means they won't accidentally roll away and you can adjust the weight up to 20 lbs in total. Don't miss this rare chance to pick up adjustable weights for just over $50. 

For those working out with fixed-weight dumbbells instead, the aim is to choose a load that will challenge your muscles (particularly as they fatigue towards the end of a set) without negatively affecting your form. With weights by your side, you're ready to take on personal trainer Bradley Simmonds' six-move muscle-building workout. 

According to Simmonds, this is a "full-body workout with minimal equipment to get your heart racing, targeting the whole muscular system". You'll do ten repetitions of each exercise, rest for 30 seconds, then move on to the next one. Once you've completed all six exercises, repeat this circuit four times for an effective routine to develop muscle all over and strengthen your core. 

To get the most from your training without injuring yourself, it's essential to focus on your form in each exercise. If you're after a bit of guidance, practice your technique with Simmonds' demonstrations before getting started. It's also worth refreshing yourself on how to lift weights, too. 

Watch Bradley Simmonds' six-move dumbbell workout

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The moves (like the devil press, bent-over row and goblet squat) are designed to work your upper and lower body and your core. They're examples of time-efficient compound exercises (opens in new tab) — moves that work several muscles simultaneously. This helps you achieve muscle-building results without spending hours in the gym. 

Simmonds also recommends only taking short, 30-second breaks between moves. Keeping the intensity high with minimal rest periods keeps your heart rate high, so you burn more energy during the workout. Sustaining this elevated heart rate also has longer-term effects, like boosting your metabolism (the amount of energy you burn at rest). 

This makes the routine similar to a high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) (HIRT) workout, although it prescribes a set number of repetitions rather than challenging you to perform each move for a set amount of time. However, the intention is the same; to help you build muscle and burn fat, even when you're short on time. To see the results, you also need to ensure you're helping your body recover. 

You could use one of the best foam rollers (opens in new tab) to massage your muscles and encourage blood flow, or you could use one of the best protein powders for weight loss (opens in new tab) in a post-workout shake to provide the nutrients needed for muscle-growth. 

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.