This 20-minute dumbbell workout builds muscle in your lunch break
From kettlebells to medicine balls to battle ropes to ab wheels, there’s plenty of gym gear on the market these days. But the truth is you don’t actually need any of that stuff to build the muscle and strength that your body needs.
Do you have a pair of dumbbells and 20 minutes? Then you have everything you need to build serious muscle and strength, without any complication. You can get a solid full-body dumbbell workout does everything your body needs, but doesn’t take an eternity. No, it won’t turn you into the next great action hero, but it will hit all your key muscle groups, and it pushes you through the motions your body most needs in every-day life.
It also doesn’t take long to pull off. You’re doing a pair of supersets and once you’re warmed up, you can rip through them in 15 to 20 minutes if you’re efficient.
The Beauty of Supersets
Supersets are the bodybuilder's secret weapon, and the best way to make your time in the gym more efficient. The basic idea is removing rest – by pairing two exercises that work your muscles in opposite ways, you can fit more into less time, which means results arrive more quickly. You'll also spend less time staring at your phone in the gym, and being tutted at by the guy who's waiting for the weights bench.
This workout from Ebenezer Samuel has you blasting through two supersets — one for your upper body and one for your lower body. Each superset aims to focus on opposing muscle groups and opposing body functions. For example, the first superset for your upper body has you doing a pull move (a row) and a push move (the hollow-body press).
The pull move builds the back strength and muscle your body needs most and it also efficiently gets your body ready to push. The push move hits your chest and triceps.
You’ll do a similar superset for your lower body. Lower-body moves generally break down into hip-dominant moves (moves that have you hinging at your hips, generally stressing glutes and hamstrings) and knee-dominant moves (which challenge the knee joint more). You’ll do one of each.
The pace of these supersets has an added benefit too: you'll ratchet up your heart rate. You’re moving for 90 to 120 seconds at a time here, with tight rest periods, and that has a cardiovascular benefit too. In other words, you'll work every muscle, including your heart and lungs, in less time than it normally takes to eat your Pret sandwich at your desk.
Do this workout at least three times a week — or as often as you want to do it. Before you do the workout, run through a brief warm-up: something like 20 jumping jacks, 10 bodyweight reverse lunges, and a 30-second plank. Repeat that twice. Then you're ready to go.
Superset 1: Lower Body
Lead off with this lower-body superset. Do your reps of the Romanian deadlift, then go right into your reps of the goblet squat. Do three rounds and rest for 60 seconds between each round.
Romanian Deadlift: Do 8 to 10 reps. Focus on tempo, taking your time on every rep. Think of taking two seconds to lower the weights with straight legs, then exploding up and squeezing your glutes. The video below shows the move with a barbell; you should use dumbbells instead.
Goblet Squat: Do 10 to 12 reps. Focus on keeping your core tight and holding the dumbbell up high.
Superset 2: Upper Body
Finish with this upper-body superset. Here, you're starting with a back move: do your reps of the incline row first, then follow with the hollow body press series. You're only doing two sets of this superset, but expect it to be vicious. Rest for 90 seconds between each set.
Dumbbell Row: Do 10 to 12 reps per arm. Do your right-arm reps first, then follow with your left-arm reps.
Hollow Body Press to Hold Finisher: Work your right arm first, then work your left arm. Rest for 15 to 20 seconds between each arm.