Build Strength All Over With These Six Exercises

Woman in gym performs pushup holding dumbbells
(Image credit: Westend61 / Getty Images)

When you’re balancing a heavy workload and a hectic social calendar, and you have limited time to work out, you want to use that time as effectively as possible. Choosing full-body workouts, and compound exercises especially, is a great way to do that.

This workout from personal trainer Alex Rice is designed to build strength all over with just six compound exercises. All you need is a pair of dumbbells, so you can do it at home or at the gym and it should take you no more than 30 minutes.

Watch Rice’s video below for demonstrations of each exercise, then prepare for the workout with this warm-up routine.

Complete three sets of each exercise, apart from the final movement, which is a plank hold to failure—you should do this only twice. 

The seesaw rows and push-ups are to be performed as a superset, meaning you do one set of rows followed immediately by a set of push-ups. Repeat that sequence a total of three times and then rest. This pairing of exercises hit your push-and-pull muscles in quick succession, targeting the chest, shoulders, triceps, back and biceps in one fell swoop.

Rice suggests eight to 10 reps of each exercise. For each exercise, find a weight that feels challenging but manageable. If you get to the end of the set and feel like you could do three more reps easily, it’s time to increase the weight.

If you have a range of weights available, use heavier dumbbells for leg exercises like the Romanian deadlift and sumo squat, because the larger muscles in your lower body should be able to handle a greater load. Then, reduce the weight appropriately for the upper-body movements.

Feeling energized or have a little more time on your hands? This full-body finisher is only six minutes long and also uses dumbbells. If you’re looking for another session to fit into a busy week, bookmark this 20-minute full-body workout

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.