Working out doesn't have to eat up large chunks of your time. In fact, recent research has found short bursts of exercise can be just as effective as traditional, long-duration exercise sessions.
For instance, doing workouts of 10 minutes or less throughout the day was associated with a lower risk of early death, according to a March 2018 review in the Journal of the American Heart Association. In addition, researchers of an October 2019 review in Sports Medicine found no difference in how micro-workouts and longer, continuous bouts of exercise affected blood pressure and heart health.
Exercising in short bursts also allows you to easily fit exercise into your daily schedule. Instead of trying to block out 30 minutes for exercise three or four days a week, you can fit in a quick 5-minute workout every day.
To help get you started, here is a 5-minute dumbbell workout made up of three exercises that help you build muscle and joint strength and improve cardio fitness. Set a timer for 5 minutes and perform each exercise for the amount of reps listed below. Cycle through the three exercises until the 5 minutes is up.
With this quick workout, you get everything necessary to strengthen your body in a way that realistically conforms to your schedule while providing tons of health benefits.
Trying to lift dumbbells too heavy for you can result in injury. Choose weights that allow you to complete all the exercise reps while maintaining good posture and technique throughout all movements and positions.
1. High Plank to Single-Arm Row to Curl to Overhead Press
This exercise is a sequence of movements combined to create a single, well-rounded, whole-body exercise. It incorporates push-ups, rows, squats and overhead presses to build strength, improve conditioning and increase dynamic movement. Additionally, it enhances power output and improves stabilization and balance, while helping to develop total-body stamina.
To make this exercise safe and effective, always keep your back and abs tight, and keep the dumbbells close to your body.
- Start out in a high-plank position, with your hands gripping the dumbbells on the floor. As you inhale, brace your grip, glutes and core.
- Exhale as you bend your arms to bring your chest to the floor (or as close as possible) to perform a push-up. Then push yourself back up into high-plank position.
- Brace your body, and, on an inhale, lift one hand off the floor, pulling the dumbbell to the top of your ribcage.
- With an exhale, return the dumbbell back to the floor, then repeat the rowing motion with your other arm.
- Once you've completed a row with each arm, inhale as you jump your feet forward so they’re directly beneath you. Then, spring up into a squat position.
- Exhale and curl the weights into a a clean position by lifting the dumbbells to your shoulders in one swift motion.
- Explosively drive up and out of the squat and press both dumbbells over your head.
- Return the weights down to your shoulders, then curl the weights back down into a neutral position with palms facing the outside of your legs.
- Squat back down and thrust your legs backward while going back into the starting high plank position.
A Note on Language
Squats are frequently used in CrossFit workouts and other training programs because of how effectively they strengthen your core and lower body.
Adding dumbbells to a traditional body-weight squat increases resistance and therefore promotes greater muscle growth in your glutes, quads, adductors (inner thighs) and hamstrings.
- Hold two dumbbells by your side. Face your palms toward your legs and stand tall with a slight bend in the knees and your feet shoulder-width apart. Evenly distribute your weight on both feet, and let your feet grip the floor to keep you stable.
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor and your back straight, brace your core, hips and shoulders, and push your hips back and down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go).
- Pause here for a brief moment, and then drive through your heels to stand back up, keeping your chest high and squeezing your glutes.
3. Wood Chop
Wood chops are an excellent exercise for strengthening your entire core, including your obliques, which are involved with torso rotation. By incorporating dumbbells into this exercise, you add extra resistance to increase and enhance the benefits of the exercise.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and hold a weight with both hands.
- Sink into a quarter squat and rotate your torso slightly to bring the weight over to one side of your body.
- Drive up and out of the squat as you pull the weight up and across your body so that it travels in a diagonal line to just past the opposite shoulder.
- Stop the motion by bracing your core muscles. Imagine that you were going to throw the weight but at the last moment, someone yelled “stop!” and you had to immediately stop yourself from throwing the weight.
- Reverse the motion to pull the weight back down across your body to the starting position.