Skip to main content

This 30-Minute Dumbbell Workout Does It All

Alex Crockford
Alex Crockford, pictured, says this 30-minute dumbbell workout will help you build muscle and get fitter (Image credit: Joseph Bishop)

When you’re planning on a quick stop at the gym, but don’t have a training plan like this dumbbell workout in place and are short on time, turn to this 30-minute dumbbell workout, devised by Alex Crockford, trainer and founder of the Crockfit app (opens in new tab)

Using just eight exercises, the full-body circuit asks you to work for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds, rather than specifying reps. 

Crockford explains that the beauty of this format is that you aren’t pushing any muscle group to absolute failure, “meaning you can repeat this workout multiple times per week, enhancing results.”

“This time interval is also great for building up strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness,” says Crockford. “Not only will you build muscle, but you’ll get fitter, and with that high heart rate, you’ll see a big calorie burn too,  if you’re looking to get leaner.”

Crockford recommends doing this workout up to five times per week, depending on what other training you have in your routine and how well you recover. “You could also consider increasing or decreasing the rounds of this workout to make it longer or shorter depending on your fitness level and time available.”

No dumbbells to hand? You can also use kettlebells.

Before you go, be sure to fully warm up. Set an interval timer to eight blocks of 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest, then take a one-minute rest after each full circuit. Complete three circuits in total.

1 Goblet squat

Dumbbell goblet squat

(Image credit: Getty / Westend61)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out slightly. Hold one end of a heavy dumbbell in both hands at chest height. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower, keeping your back flat and gaze forward. When your thighs are parallel to the ground and your elbows are inside your knees, push up through your heels to rise. 

2 Bent-over row

Dumbbell bent-over-row

(Image credit: Getty / bluecinema)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding medium dumbbells with your palms facing and arms by your sides. Push your hips back until your torso is almost parallel to the ground, letting your arms hang. Keeping your core engaged, lift the dumbbells to your ribs, leading with your elbows. Slowly lower the dumbbells. 

3 Dumbbell press-up

Dumbbell press-up

(Image credit: Getty / Tashi-Delek)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

With the dumbbells on the floor, get into the top press-up position, supporting your weight on your knees or toes, and your hands holding the dumbbells. Keeping your body in a straight line, bend your elbows to lower your chest down to the floor, then push up through the dumbbells to rise. 

4 Devil’s press

Devil’s press

(Image credit: Getty / MoMo Productions)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

This is a complex move so make sure you’ve mastered the form before incorporating it into the workout. If you’re not confident, sub in burpees. Stand holding medium dumbbells by your sides, palms facing. Push your hips back to lower the dumbbells and place them on the floor, then jump both feet back and lower your body to the floor. Push your body back up and jump your feet forward, landing outside of the dumbbells. Engage your glutes, and keeping your back flat throughout, clean the dumbbells to your shoulders then press them overhead. Lower the dumbbells back to the start.

5 Lunge

Dumbbell lunge

(Image credit: Getty / kali9)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by your shoulders. Take a large step forward with your right foot, then bend your knees to lower until your back left knee is just above the ground. Your right knee should stay directly above your right ankle and your torso should be upright throughout. Push through your front heel to rise. Alternate sides with each rep.

6 Thruster

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out slightly, holding dumbbells by your shoulders. Push your hips back and bend your knees to squat, then push through your heels to rise and use the momentum generated by your lower body to push the dumbbells overhead. Pause, then lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders under control and drop back down into a squat. 

7 Romanian deadlift

Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

(Image credit: Getty Images / South_agency)

Time 40sec Rest 20sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding medium dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing you. Engage your core and keeping a slight bend in your knees, push your hips back to lower the dumbbells, keeping them close to your legs. When the dumbbells reach halfway down your shins, push through your heels to come back up to the start. 

8 Russian twist

Russian twist

(Image credit: Getty / Nitat Termmee)

Time 40sec Rest 1min 20sec

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet held just above the floor, holding a light dumbbell in front of your belly button. Engage your core, lean back ever so slightly, and slowly rotate your torso from side to side, keeping the dumbbell in front of your belly button.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.