How To Do The Squat To Curl To Press

Woman performs dumbbell curl in studio
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’re partial to a combination exercise here at Coach, since they are a great way to get a cardio workout with weights. Generally combo moves involve doing two exercises in one movement, but the squat to curl to press goes a step further by merging three of the best dumbbell exercises into one.

Those exercises are the dumbbell squat, the biceps curl and the dumbbell overhead press, and between the three of them there are very few muscles in the body that don’t get involved in the process. 

Squat To Curl To Press Benefits

Woman performs dumbbell squat in front of her reflection in a studio

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The benefits of the combination move begin with the muscles you’ll work at each stage. The squat targets all the major muscle groups in the lower body, with the glutes and quads doing the bulk of the work. The biceps curl works pretty much just the biceps, but the overhead press targets the shoulders, triceps and upper back.

All the moves involve your core muscles, especially the squat and press, and the benefits to your core are enhanced by combining the three exercises into one since your body has to stabilise itself throughout. 

By using dumbbells for the three exercises you can also identify any strength imbalances in your body, especially when it comes to the curls and presses.

How To Squat To Curl To Press

Man demonstrates three positions of squat to curl to press exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells by your sides. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive through your heels to return to standing and go straight into the biceps curl, bending your elbows to lift the dumbbells to your shoulders, keeping your upper arms close to your body.

Once the dumbbells reach your shoulders move straight on to the press, lifting the weights overhead until your arms are straight. Reverse the movements under control and go into your next squat.

When selecting the weights make sure you consider the curl and particularly the press parts of the move, where you will need to be using lighter dumbbells than you could for just squats.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.