Forget the gym — build full-body muscle at home with 2 dumbbells in just 25 minutes

Man working out with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Perhaps you’re just getting into strength training and looking for an effective workout to do with your weights. Or maybe you’re an experienced lifter looking to shake up your routine. Either way, this short dumbbell routine is the ideal way to work your muscles and strengthen your whole body.

If you’re training at the gym, it’s worth gathering several weights so you can switch between heavier and lighter dumbbells depending on the move. However, for home workouts, it’s worth investing in the best adjustable dumbbells instead, as these combine several weights, are easier to store, and you can increase the load as you get stronger.

ETHOS 50 lb. Selectable Dumbbells: was $350 now $300 at Dick's Sporting Goods

ETHOS 50 lb. Selectable Dumbbells: was $350 now $300 at Dick's Sporting Goods
These adjustable weights range between 5 and 50 lbs each, come as a pair, and increase in 5 lbs increments. The 'bells are made from steel for durability with a plastic outer, and have a quick select dial for changing the load between moves. 

But before you take on this routine from personal trainers Juice & Toya, it’s important to make sure you’re lifting a load that’ll challenge your muscles to get through a set, but won’t impact your form. That way, you’ll get the most from your training, build muscle, but also protect yourself from injury.

Since you’re using a challenging weight for your body, it’s an ideal routine for beginners or experienced lifters, as you can adjust the intensity by changing the load. Plus, Juice demonstrates some modifications if you want to increase the challenge.

There are 10 exercises in the routine, and you’ll repeat the circuit twice. However, rather than work for a short period and then take a break, you’ll train for 20 seconds, hold the pose for 10 seconds, then do another 20 seconds of work before taking a 10-second rest.

Watch Juice & Toya’s 25-minute dumbbell workout

It’s a technique designed to really challenge your muscles, which is part of the reason it’s so effective even though it only takes 25 minutes (including the warm-up). However, you’re also using a technique known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT).

This is where you work intensely for short bursts with minimal rest. Generally, this is arranged as 40 seconds of work with a 20 second rest, so the only difference here is that you use an extra 10 seconds to perform the isometric hold in the middle.

If you’re new to HIRT, it’s quite similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, but with a focus on muscle-building moves rather than cardio-based exercise. But both techniques are designed to work your whole body even when you’re tight on time.

The intensity helps raise your heart rate, so you burn a lot of energy during the workout, but you also keep it high (since you have little time to recover), which boosts your metabolism — the amount of energy you burn throughout the day.

So, you work your muscles hard, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and burn fat all in a single routine. Juice & Toya’s routine is also ideal if you want to use the progressive overload training technique, as you can increase the weights you lift as you get stronger over time.

Of course, this intense exercise will likely lead to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. When you train, it causes tiny tears in your muscle fibers that your body needs to repair to grow and strengthen the muscle. You can help things along by getting a good night’s rest, doing some stretches, and getting enough protein in your diet.

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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.