Build stronger arms in just 30 minutes with a set of dumbbells — here’s how

Juice and Toya performing a dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Juice & Toya / YouTube)

It’s important to find ways to exercise, even when you’re short on time. So, while extended gym sessions might be out, you can still work your muscles and hit your fitness goals with a pair of dumbbells and this 30-minute high-intensity workout.

You can use two fixed-weight dumbbells for this routine, but if you regularly train at home, it’s worth investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These combine several weights in one for easy storage, and you can change the load between exercises or gradually as you get stronger.

Once you have the weights by your side, you’re ready to take on fitness duo Juice & Toya’s short muscle-building session. It’s arranged as an EMOM — every minute, on the minute — so you’ll aim to complete the target amount of reps for each exercise within 60 seconds.

If you complete all the reps before the timer is up, you can take a quick break. As a guide, you’ll aim to train for 40 seconds, take a 20-second rest, then start on the next move. Once you’ve done all three exercises in the group, you get 30 seconds to recover before starting the round again.

If you’re not sure which weight to choose, for reference, Toya trains with two 10 lb dumbbells, while Juice alternates between a 20 lb set and a pair of 25 lb dumbbells. If you want to adjust the intensity of the routine, you can increase or decrease the load or repetitions of each move.

Watch Juice & Toya’s 30-minute dumbbell EMOM workout

It’s an intense routine that’s designed to work your muscles hard in less than 30 minutes. Part of the reason it's so effective is the EMOM arrangement, which is a form of high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), where you exercise intensely with minimal rest.

This makes it ideal for when you’re short on time but want to strengthen muscles all over. Juice & Toya’s routine targets your upper body, but as the duo uses several compound exercises, which engage multiple muscles simultaneously, you also engage your core muscles.

Your core is involved in balance, stability, and posture, so it plays a vital role in many exercises and everyday tasks like walking and lifting, so it’s worth developing this mid-body muscle. And you’ll find that it’s useful in moves like the dumbbell presses to prevent your back from arching.

But there’s another reason that Juice & Toya’s workout is a great way to hit your fitness goals when you’re tight on time. Keeping the rest periods to a minimum raises your heart rate, so you’ll burn more energy during the routine than during a steady-paced equivalent.

Sustaining this high heart rate for the duration has longer-term effects on your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn throughout the day. So you pack in a lot of muscle-building, fat-burning exercise in less time than it takes to stream an episode of your favorite Netflix shows.

Plus, it’s an effective way to train if you’re looking to develop visible abs. You’ll need to reduce the amount of fat around your stomach, but since you can’t spot-target fat loss, this metabolism-boosting workout is a great complement to your efficient standing abs workouts too.

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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.