You only need this five-move beginner dumbbell workout to build total-body strength

Hit all your major muscles in just 20 minutes using a pair of dumbbells

A woman performing a goblet squat with a dumbbell in her gym kit
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to add on some muscle and build up your strength, then a pair of dumbbells is one of the best pieces of home gym equipment you can invest in. Not only do they help build balanced muscles, but there’s a ton of exercises you can do with them. But that’s just the problem, knowing where to start and what exercises to do can be bit of a minefield. That’s where this workout comes in, not only are the exercises ideal for beginners, but you’ll be able to blast through the entire workout in less than 30 minutes. 

A lot of the exercises in this workout are compound exercises, which are movements that work lots of different muscle groups at the same time, as opposed to just one (isolation exercises). They're great for beginners as they help to build muscle and strength, as well as burn fat, so you get a lot more bang for your buck. They'll also improve your functional fitness as a lot of the exercises are movement patterns you do in everyday life., such as squatting down and hinging at the hips.

This workout is made up of a superset – where you perform two exercises back to back – and a tri-set – where you perform three exercises back to back. This not only helps pack more into your workout in a short space of time, but it also overloads the muscles, which will help them get bigger and stronger. Perform three rounds of the superset first, followed by a 45-second rest after each round. Afterward, complete three rounds of the tri-set, again, resting for 45 seconds between each round, then you’re done! Here’s your workout: 


  • Overhead tricep extensions (hold one dumbbell) – 12 reps
  • Floor chest press – 12 reps


  • Dumbbell glute bridge – 12 reps
  • Romanian deadlift – 12 reps
  • Goblet squat – 12 reps

Complete this workout two to three times a week, either trying to increase your reps or weight, alongside a good diet and you'll begin to see results. If you want another full-body workout to alternate between, here's a five-move dumbbell workout that will only take you 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you want to split your workouts into upper body and lower body, this upper body strength workout is a good option for beginners, and all the exercises are performed on the floor. For your lower body, give this four-move workout a go that only requires one dumbbell.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.