Pulverising Max-Rep Total-Body Workout

Woman squatting with dumbbells in gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This workout may sound simple, but these two moves combine to offer a pulverising total-body workout. Doing max reps of these two exercises recruits all the major muscle groups and you should find that pushing yourself to failure will help you increase strength and build muscle faster than doing reps in the standard hypertrophy range.

You'll target your legs, core, back and shoulders in the first move, and your core, abs and obliques in the second move.

For the dumbbell squat to press, aim to use dumbbells that each weigh one-eighth of your bodyweight. For the knee raise with a twist, make sure you alternate sides with each twist.

Do each move to failure, for three sets of the following exercises. Be careful not to let your form slide as you tire.

1 Dumbbell squat to press

Man demonstrates three stages of the squat to press exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3  Reps Max

Stand with your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells above your shoulders with your arms bent, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe.

Drop into a deep squat. Allow the dumbbells to come forward a few centimetres as you squat to help you balance. 

Keep your back in a neutral position as you stand up explosively, pressing the dumbbells as high as you can above your shoulders.

2 Knee raise with twist

Knee raise with twist

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3  Reps Max

Start in a wide-grip pull-up position, hanging from the bar with your body in a straight line from head to feet.

Keeping your core braced, pull your knees up and over to one side, but avoid swinging as you lift your legs. Keep your legs together and your torso and head facing forward.

Drop your legs back down to the starting position. Pull your knees up and across to the other side.

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.