Burn Calories Fast With This Dumbbell Cardio Workout

Women laughing in gym
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Fancy working out and being wrapped up in half an hour? Then try this two-part session that will fire up every part of your body.

Baz Gouldsbury is a level 3 personal trainer and online coach who works at some of London’s most prestigious studios including BXR and Gymbox. As part of our 12 days of Christmas workouts series, he’s put together a dumbbell cardio blast which works the entire body, using dumbbell exercises and bodyweight moves.

It only takes 26 minutes, which leaves you four minutes to run through some warm-up exercises.

Dumbbell Cardio Workout

The workout is split into two circuits, with six exercises in each circuit. Two do rounds of each circuit. Rest for two minutes between circuits.

Gouldsbury also uses an EMOM (every minute on the minute) format. That means you have one minute to complete the stated reps of one exercise, resting for the remainder of the minute. The quicker you work, the longer you have to rest, but the cumulative effect will be to keep you working hard and your heart rate high.

Circuit 1

Perform this circuit twice, resting for two minutes after the final round. 

1 Dumbbell squat

Woman performs dumbbell squat

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Reps 12

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by your shoulders with your palms facing and elbows pointing forwards. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat, keeping your back flat and chest up. Lower until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause at the bottom, then push through your heels to return to standing. 

2 Devil’s press

Group performs devil’s press exercise with dumbbells

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Reps 12  

Holding dumbbells, bend down and place them on the floor, jumping your feet back to land in a high plank position. Lower your chest to the floor then press back up. Jump your feet back to your hands, then stand up, swinging the dumbbells overhead, locking your arms out at the top. Lower the dumbbells under control. Keep your core engaged throughout.

This is a challenging exercise, so you may want to use just one dumbbell, or if you’re not confident with the form perform a burpee instead.

3 Press-up

Man performing press-up using dumbbells

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Reps 12 

Adopt a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Pause, then push back up. 

4 Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Woman performs Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

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Reps 12

Hold dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you, standing with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and, keeping a flat back throughout, hinge forwards at your hips to lower the dumbbells down your legs. Once you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings, return to standing by driving your hips forwards. 

5 Dumbbell push press 

People performing push press with dumbbells

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Reps 12

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding dumbbells by your shoulders. Bend your knees to drop in a quarter squat then explode back up, using momentum from your lower body to press both dumbbells overhead. Lower the dumbbells under control. 

6 Renegade row

Women performing renegade row exercise

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Reps 6 each side 

Start in a high plank position holding dumbbells. Keeping your hips as still as possible, lift one dumbbell to your chest, moving your elbow past your torso. Lower the dumbbell to the floor and repeat on the other side. 

Circuit 2

Perform this circuit twice. 

1 Dumbbell Russian twist

Man performs Russian twist with dumbbell

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Reps 15 each side

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the floor. Hold one dumbbell in front of your chest and, keeping a flat back, lean back slightly. Using your core muscles, twist your torso to one side and tap the dumbbell on the floor. Rotate and perform on the other side.

2 Dumbbell jumping jack

Reps 20

Stand holding dumbbells by your sides. Jump both feet apart and raise the dumbbells to the sides and overhead. Reverse to the start.

3 Mountain cross climber

Woman performing mountain climber exercise in gym

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Reps 20 each side

Start in a high plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Engage your core and drive your right knee to your left elbow then your left knee to your right elbow. Repeat at pace.

4 Burpee

Women performing burpees in gym

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Reps 10 

From standing, place your hands on the floor then jump your feet back, landing in a high plank position. Lower your chest to the floor, then push back up, jump both feet forward and jump straight up.

5 V-up

Woman performing V-up exercise

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Reps 12 

Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms extended behind you. Raise your arms and legs, aiming for your hands to touch your toes or shins. Lower back to the start, but don’t let your arms and legs rest on the floor between reps.

6 Plank 

Group of people performing plank

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Time 45sec

Place your toes and forearms on the floor, with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line. Engage your core and hold this position. 

More Dumbbell Workouts To Try

Lucy Gornall

Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.