Forget the gym — you only need 15 minutes and a pair of dumbbells to build full-body muscle

Woman performing a dumbbell workout
(Image credit: Grow with Jo / YouTube)

Full-body home workouts are ideal if you haven’t got much time or motivation. These sessions, like this personal trainer's 15-minute dumbbell routine, are designed to work several muscles simultaneously for maximum efficiency. 

All you need is a set of dumbbells, so if you're at the gym, grab a pair that'll challenge your muscles but won't affect your form. But for home workouts, it's worth picking up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells so you can quickly change the load between moves if needed. 

Then you'll be ready to take on this no-repeat workout designed by fitness instructor Johanna Devries, known by the handle Grow With Jo, which will build strength all over your body and engage your core to help boost your balance and posture. 

This easy-to-follow class involves 10 minutes of strength training and then finishes with five minutes of deep core exercises that target your transversus abdominis (abdomen), multifidus (back), and pelvic floor muscles. 

It's a high-intensity routine, so you'll do 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest before starting on the next exercise. That gives you just about enough time to catch a breath, grab a sip of water, and get ready for what comes next. 

Watch Grow With Jo's 15-minute dumbbell workout

Part of the reason you pack such an effective workout into just 15 minutes is that many of the moves are split into combination exercises, which is where multiple movements are done in a single sequence. 

For example, it includes sumo squats with an upright row, which will activate your glutes, shoulders, and legs in less time. Likewise, there are shoulder presses with a lateral raise to work your shoulders, triceps, and biceps in just two swift movements. 

The session also incorporates the holy grail of any workout plan; compound exercises. You probably complete many of these multi-muscle moves in your daily life without realizing it — be it squats as you sit down, or deadlifts as you bend down to pick up your groceries. 

These moves use more than one muscle at a time, which helps develop flexibility, mobility, and strength in less time than doing several isolation exercises like biceps curls. Plus, Devries has arranged the routine in the style of a high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) workout

So, you'll train intensely in short bursts, and take minimal rest, but still work your muscles hard, raise your heart rate, and boost your metabolism for muscle-building, fat-burning results. You can also adjust the intensity by changing the weights you work with. 

Devries uses 5 lb dumbbells, but the weight you choose will depend on your current fitness level. Don't go too heavy, though — work your way up using the progressive overload technique to gradually increase the weight lifted or the number of repetitions performed over time. 

This will help you stimulate muscle growth, see continued strength development, prevent you from plateauing, and keep your workouts varied and challenging. Plus, by taking things at a steady pace and honing your form, you’re less likely to incur an injury.

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Becks Shepherd

Becks is a lifestyle journalist who specializes in writing about wellness and home products, from mattresses to weighted blankets and cooling comforters. She has tested a number of mattresses for Tom's Guide, putting them through their paces to see if they stand up to the brand's claims, and offering recommendations as to the type of sleeper they will (and won't) suit.