This 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout Can Build Muscle in Less Time

All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a sense of focus to crush this quick session.


Bobby Maximus |

As the calendar winds down, time somehow starts to feel like it’s speeding up. Once you get closer to the attentional vortex that is the holiday season, your commitment to your fitness routine might start to flag. That’s why we think this rapid-fire dumbbell workout is the way to go.

Related: Struggling To Find Time To Work Out? Use These 9 Tips to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Family, food, and gift giving can become your focus instead of your workouts. Then, come 2022, you’re playing from a fitness disadvantage. But if you can dedicate just 20 minutes a day to yourself, you can keep yourself in good shape—and maybe even make some gains. Avoid losing strength during the lead up to the holidays with this full-body dumbbell workout.

Directions: Do this workout 4 or 5 days a week. On days you don’t work through this session, aim to go for a 20-minute walk or run. Choose at least 1 day a week to rest fully from training.

Warmup

Reverse Lunge to Reach

Start standing. Step back with your right leg into a reverse lunge, lowering your knee to the floor. Step back far enough that you feel a stretch in your right hip. Place your hands directly in front of you. Reach back with your right arm. Return it to the front and repeat the arm motion on the other side. Stand and repeat the entire sequence on the other leg. That’s 1 rep; do reps for 40 seconds, then rest 20. Do 2 sets.

Related: Start Your Workout With This 10-Minute Flow Warm-Up

Strength Complex

Hold a pair of medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Do 3 rounds of this circuit, trying not to put the dumbbells down. Need a breather? Stop, hold the dumbbells at your sides, take a few deep breaths, and get back to work.

1. Standing Biceps Curl

Stand, holding the dumbbells at your sides, abs and glutes tight, shoulder blades squeezed, palms facing each other. Moving only at the elbows, curl the weights up to your chest, turning your palms to face your shoulders. Lower the weights with control. That’s 1 rep; do 6.

2. Bent-Over Row

Hinge forward at the waist and push your butt back, lowering your torso until it’s at a 45 degree angle with the floor. Let your arms hang naturally. Squeeze your shoulder blades. This is the start. Row the weights to your ribcage. Lower them with control. That’s 1 rep; do 6. You’re building critical mid-back strength.

3. Hang Clean

Stand back up and squeeze your glutes, holding the dumbbells at your sides. Bend your knees and push your butt back slightly, then stand explosively (you may jump off the floor a bit) and pull the dumbbells up to shoulder height. Once the bells reach shoulder height, squat slightly, “catching” the mat with your shoulders. Stand up. Lower the dumbbells to your sides again. That’s 1 rep; do 6. You’re challenging your body to be powerful, a key characteristic of longevity.

4. Squat and Press

Stand holding the dumbbells at your shoulders, core and glutes tight, elbows facing forward. Push your butt back slightly and bend your knees, lowering until your thighs are just past parallel to the floor. Stand explosively; as you stand, press the weights overhead. Lower them to your shoulders. That’s 1 rep; do 6, building the muscles that will help you run and jump.

Related: Shoot For Total-Body Strength With The Rolling Pistol Squat

5. Push-Up

Get in a push-up position with your hands on the dumbbells, hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, abs and glutes tight. Keeping your elbows close to your body, lower into a pushup; press back up. That’s 1 rep; do 6. (This is about more than your chest: You’re developing core strength, too.)

6. Overhead Press

Kneel, holding the dumbbells at your shoulders, core and glutes tight. Straighten your arms, driving the weights overhead, then lower them with control. That’s 1 rep; do 6 to pack muscle onto your shoulders (and build back and core strength).

Bodyweight Finisher

1. Pushup

2. Air Squat

3. Sit-Up

Put the weights down. Set a timer for 3 minutes. For the first 30 seconds, do as many pushups as you can, aiming to do reps without stopping. For the next 30 seconds, do as many air squats as you can. For the next 30 seconds, do as many classic sit-ups as you can. Repeat the entire sequence. Enjoy the burn.

This article was published on Men’s Health US. A version of this story originally appears in the TK ISSUE of Men’s Health, with the title “THE 20-MINUTE MUSCLE MIRACLE WORKOUT.

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