You Need Just Two Dumbbells, Four Moves And 20 Minutes To Build Full-Body Strength

Woman in gym holds dumbbells by her shoulders
(Image credit: Cavan Images / Getty Images)

It doesn’t take much for your gym workout plan to go out of the window. Maybe you only have just enough time to fit in your scheduled session and you get stuck in traffic. Or there’s a rush on the piece of equipment you need. When you’re faced with these problems, you need a routine you can turn to. Dumbbell workouts are great for this because there are always plenty of pairs left in the racks of every gym.

Personal trainer Elise Young recently posted a straightforward but challenging routine that only uses dumbbells and it makes a great backup plan if you want to get stuck into a quick workout that will challenge muscles all over your body. The moves in this workout are all compound exercises, which means they engage multiple muscles at once.

Take a look at Young’s Instagram Reel where she demonstrates each of the exercises.

The first movement combines a single-arm dumbbell clean, push press and front-rack squat. The clean is a technical move so it can be worth practicing your technique with a light weight before beginning the workout to ensure the hinge-shrug-pull movement is smooth and controlled, and you don’t round your back.

Once you’ve performed eight reps on each side, move on to 12 bent-over rows. Note that Young uses an underhand grip. That’s followed by 20 reverse lunges holding a dumbbell in the goblet position, and finally 10 push-ups into renegade rows. I’ll let you decide whether a rep is counted after a row on one or both sides. That’s one round, Young suggests doing four rounds in total.

Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the workout, especially as you begin to fatigue in the final rounds. This will not only maximize muscle engagement, but it will also contribute to maintaining the correct form throughout the routine.

Why It’s Worth Training With Dumbbells

As well as being convenient, dumbbell exercises can limit the development of strength imbalances. Often, when using barbells and weights machines, people rely on a stronger side to move the weight. Using dumbbells ensures each side is trained separately.

Find more tried-and-tested recommendations in Coach’s guide to the best dumbbells

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.