Forget the gym — build full-body muscle with a set of dumbbells in just 25 minutes

Tiff and Dan doing dumbbell workout for YouTube video
(Image credit: YouTube / Tiff x Dan)

If you’re tight on time, it can be hard to make it to the gym regularly. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of equipment or large machines to still hit your fitness goals. In fact, you can build muscle, raise your heart rate, and boost your metabolism with a single set of dumbbells.

Whether you have fixed-weight or a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells at home, these versatile weights are ideal whether you’re into isolation exercises like biceps curls or multi-muscle compound moves like squats. But if you’re not sure where to begin, this 25-minute session is a great place to start.

The routine, designed by YouTube trainers Tiff x Dan, works muscles all over your body to give you an effective full-body workout, split into two rounds of 15 moves. The aim is to train for 30 seconds, take a 20-second rest, then start the next exercise.

You’re working to the timer, but it’s important to not rush and do each move with proper form. This helps you get the most from your workout and avoid injury. And if you could use a refresher on any exercise, the duo demonstrates the routine so you can work on your technique.

It’s an ideal routine whether you’re a seasoned lifter or a newcomer. Dan demonstrates the advanced version of each exercise, while Tiff guides you through a beginner-friendly version of the same move. And if you want to adjust the intensity, you can use a heavier or lighter weight as needed.

Watch Tiff x Dan’s 25-minute dumbbell workout

The duo recommends using a heavy weight for most of the routine, before switching to a lighter pair for the abs exercises. However, fixed-load bells work just as well, but it’s keep an eye on your form during more challenging exercises, and ensure your back doesn’t arch during the core moves.

It’s a no-repeat workout, so you’ll do 30 moves in total, with variations on staple exercises like push-ups, planks, and squats alongside multi-muscle compound moves like rotational and bent-over rows, weighted lunges, and crunches.

It’s an effective routine, partly thanks to the choice of exercises, but also the style of training. It’s a form of high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), where the aim is to work in short bursts with minimal rest. This works your muscles hard but has longer-term impacts too.

Keeping the breaks short raises your heart rate, so you’ll burn more energy than during a steady-paced routine. Plus, sustaining this high heart rate helps boost your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn throughout the day, for a muscle-building, fat-burning session in just 25 minutes.

If you’re new to strength training, it’s worth keeping this workout saved, since you can start on the beginner-friendly moves and gradually switch to the advanced routine as you get stronger, in line with the progressive overload technique to continually challenge your muscles.

But whether you’re just starting out or jumped into Dan’s advanced plan, you’ll still probably feel the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. You can help your body repair and recover by getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you get enough protein in your diet.

More from Tom’s Guide

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.