Build full-body muscle and core strength in just 8 moves with this dumbbell and kettlebell workout

Woman performing a dumbbell Russian twist
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may think you need a gym packed full of machines to effectively build stronger muscles. But, fortunately, all you really need is a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and these 8 resistance training moves. 

It's important to choose a weight that'll challenge your muscles, but won't affect your form. The best adjustable dumbbells are ideal for this, as you can quickly change the load between moves or gradually as you get stronger. 

Likewise, a good kettlebell will give you an impressive workout, especially if you use this short routine developed by Planet Fitness trainer Teddy Savage. There are 4 kettlebell moves, followed by 4 dumbbell exercises for you to work your whole body, even when you're tight on time. 

You can follow Savage's repetition-based program, and do three sets of each exercise, or you could arrange them into a high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) routine, working for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds, then starting on the next exercise. 

How to do Teddy Savage's 8-move full-body workout

"This workout is all about combining exercises into a dynamic compound movement and using functional exercises to allow your body to move through multiple planes of space while targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time," explains Savage.

The moves are compound exercises, which work several muscles simultaneously. It's an efficient way to train, especially if you combine them in a HIRT workout (40 seconds on, 20 seconds off), for a routine that'll build muscle and boost your metabolism in just 24 minutes. 

Savage's workout is split into two; a four-move kettlebell routine, and a four-move dumbbell round. Complete 10-12 repetitions of each kettlebell exercise, repeat the circuit three times, then do the same with the dumbbell routine. 

Kettlebell 1: Romanian deadlift to upright row

  • Start with your feet a little less than hip-width apart and knees slightly flexed.
  • Hold the kettlebell with both hands and lower it down slowly to about mid-shin depth while keeping your back straight.
  • As you power through your glutes to stand back up, bring the kettlebell directly upward to chest height and flare your elbows up to shoulder height.

Kettlebell 2: Alternating reverse lunge to overhead shoulder press

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Step back into the reverse lunge with your right leg and press the kettlebell up above your head for the shoulder press.
  • Drive through the heel on your left foot to return to standing and repeat by alternating with the opposite side.

Kettlebell 3: Clean to overhead press

  • You'll need two kettlebells for this move. Hold the kettlebells in each hand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Hinge at the hips as you lower yourself down into the squat position, and ensure that the kettlebells trace the midline of your body and fall in between the knees.
  • Drive through the heels and explode up, creating momentum as you catch the kettlebells at shoulder height, and then press them up for the shoulder press.

Kettlebell 4: Alternating renegade row

  • Start in an upright plank position with a kettlebell in both hands stacked underneath your shoulder.
  • Pull the kettlebell straight back, keeping your elbow close to your body, keeping your back flat and core engaged throughout the movement.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat the movement on the opposite side. 

Dumbbell 1: Floor chest press to triceps skull crusher

  • Lay with your back on a mat, knees bent, feet flat on the floor with moderate-weight dumbbells in both hands. 
  • Press the weights up without locking out your elbows until you fully extend your arms for the chest press. 
  • Then, rotate your palms so that they’re facing one another and hinge at the elbow to perform the triceps skull crusher.
  • Reverse the entire movement to complete one repetition. 

Dumbbell 2: Floor chest fly to alternating knee tuck

  • Lay with your back on a mat in a T-position, with your legs straight and arms outstretched to your side holding the dumbbells.
  • As you bring the weight in towards the center of your chest, keep your elbows flexed and imagine you’re hugging a big oak tree.
  • As you perform the chest fly, simultaneously bring your right knee up towards your chest, allowing the weights and your knee to all meet at the same time at chest height.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat, alternating the knee you bring up towards your chest.

Dumbbell 3: Sit-up Russian twists

  • Lay with your back on a mat, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Hold a single dumbbell at both ends with your hands and exhale to come up into the sit-up.
  • Once you reach the top of the sit-up motion, rotate left and right while keeping your core engaged. After completing the Russian twists, slowly return to the starting position and begin the next repetition. 

Dumbbell 4: Hollow hold with flutter kicks

  • Lay flat on your mat, with your legs and arms outstretched in an I-position, holding a single dumbbell between both hands above your head. 
  • Bring the dumbbell up with your arms and raise your shoulder blades off the mat, squeezing your core muscles as you move.
  • Hold in this position for a moment, and bring your legs up off the floor, fluttering them up and down slowly while maintaining your core engagement throughout.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym.

Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones.

He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.