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The Best Dumbbell HIIT Workout


Benefits | When And How Often To Do Dumbbell HIIT Workouts | What Weight To Use | Dumbbell HIIT Workout

Looking for a full body workout you can do at home or the gym in under 30 minutes? Give this full body dumbbell HIIT workout by Macallum Livock, PT and Assistant Gym Manager at PureGym Leeds North, a try. This challenging workout targets all the major muscle groups with just one piece of kit, in just 19 minutes.

Jump straight to the workout here or read on to learn about the benefits of dumbbell HIIT exercises.

What Are The Benefits Of HIIT Workout With Dumbbells?

HIIT workouts combine intervals of max intensity effort with periods of low intensity effort or rest. Some of the many benefits of HIIT workouts include:

  • Calorie burning. HIIT workouts use a lot of energy and burn significantly more calories in a short amount of time than steady state cardio and weight lifting.

  • Improved cardio health. The high intensity exercise intervals get the heart and circulatory system working hard, improving cardio fitness and heart and lung health.

  • Increased strength, power, and speed. Depending on the exercises you choose, HIIT workouts can improve speed, power, and strength.

  • Time efficiency. HIIT workouts use a lot of energy, so they need to be kept under 30 minutes. You can even do effective HIIT workouts in 5 minutes!

Bringing dumbbells into your HIIT workouts amplifies some of these benefits, particularly when it comes to increasing strength and power. Adding weight to your exercises challenges the muscles more effectively which is key to building strength and muscle mass.

Including dumbbells also allows you to continually make your HIIT workouts more challenging, as you can increase the weight as your strength and endurance improves. This is a great way to prevent your fitness from plateauing and ensure you continue to improve your overall fitness. 

We talk more about the benefits of HIIT workouts here.

When, And How Often, To Do HIIT Dumbbell Workouts

With all the benefits of a workout in a short space of time, you might be tempted to swap all your workouts for dumbbell HIIT. However, this is something we’d advise against as when it comes to HIIT, there can be too much of a good thing. Doing HIIT too often can raise your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and too much stress can have negative effects.

To get the benefits of HIIT dumbbell workouts without overdoing it, we’d recommend a maximum of 2-3 of these types of workouts a week, leaving at least 48 hours between each one. However, you can pair this up with other forms of strength training or cardio if you prefer to work out more regularly – just make sure to have at least one rest day a week (you can read why rest days are so important here).

What Is The Best Dumbbell Weight For HIIT?

There isn’t a right or wrong weight to use when doing HIIT with dumbbells – the ‘best’ dumbbell weight will depend on a few things including what exercises are in your dumbbell HIIT circuit, how long the intervals are, and how strong you are.

There are a few questions that can help you to choose the right dumbbell HIIT weight:

  • Can you perform reps at a quicker pace? HIIT workouts are performed at a fast pace to challenge the cardio system and burn fat, so it’s important to choose a weight you can keep moving.

  • Can you lift the weight with good form for the duration of your dumbbell HIIT intervals? HIIT workouts combine high intensity intervals with periods of rest, and to get the most out of this format you need to be able to work out for the entire interval.

  • Is the weight challenging? While it’s important not to go too heavy, you also don’t want to choose a weight that is so light it doesn’t add much to the workout. Aim to choose a weight that you can move for the entire interval, but it should be challenging to complete the last few seconds or reps.

If you are working out different muscle groups, having a few different dumbbells will ensure the weight is manageable but challenging for each exercise.

What To Use If You Don’t Have Dumbbells?

If you want to perform dumbbell HIIT workouts but don’t have access to dumbbells, don’t worry – you can use any household item that is heavy enough to be challenging, for example:

  • Heavy books

  • Large water bottles

  • Canned foods

  • Paint tins

  • Rucksack filled with potatoes

If you don’t have anything suitable, don’t worry - you can always try one of our bodyweight HIIT workouts you can do at home for an effective workout instead.

20 Minute Dumbbell HIIT Workout

This is a challenging full body dumbbell cardio HIIT workout you can try at home or in the gym. It combines multiple compound exercises to ensure each muscle group is worked more than once, so you get a great strengthening workout, and the fast pace and minimal rest keeps your cardio system working hard too.

The workout:

  • 8 exercises, 3 rounds
  • 30 seconds work
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 1 minute rest between rounds

Make sure you spend a few minutes warming up beforehand, and cooling down after. 

  1. Dumbbell squats

    Grab a dumbbell in each hand and press them up to rest on your shoulders. Place your feet around shoulder width apart, then bend your knees and hinge at the hips to bring your thighs parallel to the floor. Push through both feet back up to standing and repeat for 30 seconds.

  2. Crunches

    Sit down with your feet out in front, knees bent, and place a dumbbell onto your chest, holding it with both hands. Lower your torso down to the floor. To begin the reps, curl your upper back and shoulders off the floor, pause briefly and then lower down. Avoid straining your neck by keeping your eyes fixed on one spot on the ceiling.

  3. Press ups

    Place both dumbbells shoulder width apart, then adopt a high plank position with your hands gripping the dumbbell. Engage your core and lower your body down, making sure the feet, hips, and shoulders maintain a straight line. If this is too hard, you can do knee push ups instead.

  4. Devil’s press

    Stand tall with your core engaged, holding a dumbbell by each side. Squat down and place the dumbbells on the floor, then kick your feet back into a high plank position and lower your body to the floor. Press up and jump both feet to the outside of dumbbells into a sumo squat, then pick the dumbbells off the floor and swing them back through the legs. Extend your legs back up to standing as you swing the dumbbells forward and press them overhead. 

  5. Squat thrusters

    Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place them on your shoulders, then place your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down to parallel, then drive through the feet back up to standing. As you stand, extend both arms overhead to press the dumbbells to the ceiling.

  6. Shoulder press

    Hold a dumbbell above each shoulder with your feet shoulder width apart and brace your core. Extend both arms to press the dumbbells up to the ceiling, stopping just before you lock out your elbows. Return back to the start position and repeat.

  7. Russian twists

    Sit on the floor with your feet out in front of you. Cross the ankles and take both feet off the floor, then bring the dumbbell to your chest and hold with both hands. Keeping your legs stable, twist your torso to bring the dumbbell to one side and tap it on the floor. Bring it back to the middle before repeating on the other side.

  8. Clean and press

    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, hinge at the hips to lightly tap the dumbbells on the floor in front of your feet. Deadlift the dumbbells up so you are standing, then curl them up to your shoulders before pushing them to the ceiling. Reverse this movement back to the start and repeat.

Ready to incorporate more HIIT into your workouts? We’ve shared more 20 minute HIIT workouts here. Many of our cardio fitness classes follow a HIIT format which is a great place to start too! Find your nearest gym to see your local class timetable.

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