Ditch the gym — you just need 20 minutes and 1 pair of dumbbells to define your core and develop full body strength

a woman curling a dumbbell in each hand
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We know how easy it is to talk yourself out of doing a workout, especially when you’re running short on time. Between thinking up a good workout to learning the moves to traveling to the gym, it all adds up. So we’ve saved you some time and found a workout that not only trains muscles all over the body but it only takes 20 minutes to complete.

If you can, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of dumbbells to try this workout from fitness trainer Britany Williams. A pair of the best adjustable dumbbells is a great option for a routine like this as they allow you to easily move up or down weight sizes to suit the different exercises for different muscle groups.

If you’re ready to get a bit of a sweat on, tone your entire body and give your metabolism a boost then keep reading to find a breakdown of the workout below.

What is the workout?

If you prefer to follow demonstrations of a workout then you’ll find demonstrations of each move below, thanks to Williams. 

The main thing to note before you get stuck in is that there are ten reps to complete of each exercise (on each side) and you should aim to complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes. 

Things will get a little intense but just remember it’s temporary. Plug in your best workout headphones, put your motivational tunes on and give this full-body session a whirl.

Developing full-body strength is a key benefit of this workout style. The incorporation of compound exercises like the split squat curl to press and woodchops engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which in turn promotes functional strength. 

Functional strength refers to the ability to perform everyday activities easily and efficiently as your body uses multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously. It involves movements that mimic real-life actions, such as lifting, bending, and twisting. 

Meanwhile, the core is another focal point in this workout, with various exercises engaging these important muscles found in our midsection. For example, the side V-ups and woodchops specifically engage the obliques and transverse abdominis, while the chest press scissor switch and split squat curl to press require core stability to help you maintain proper form.

The HIIT element of this workout is beneficial for your metabolism because it involves short bursts of intense activity that elevates the heart rate and increases calorie burn both during and after the workout. The more technical term for this is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This essentially means the metabolism remains elevated for hours post-workout and this contributes to greater calorie expenditure and improved fat loss.

Thanks to the 'as many rounds as you can' twist to this dumbbell routine, this is a highly efficient workout to complete if you want to boost your cardiovascular fitness, increase strength and burn calories without spending hours in the gym.

Let's see how many rounds you can manage!

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.