Total Body Home Workout - A Basic Full Body Workout You Can Do at Home

1
Total Body Home Workout with Dumbbells

Getty Images/Mike Harrington

This total body home workout is perfect for working the entire body with no muss, no fuss.  All you need are a few sets of dumbbells and these basic exercises.  All of these moves will hit the major muscles of your body, including the chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and abs in a short period of time.  It includes all the classic exercises and can be done in a short period of time.  I really love this workout for when I'm crunched for time, but just want to get the job done.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
Various weighted dumbbells, a bench or step (you can use the floor if you don't have one)

How To

  • Beginners: Start with no weight or light weights and do 1 set of 14-16 reps of each exercise
  • Intermediate/Advanced: Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps with enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps
  • Warm up with 5 minutes of light cardio or warm up versions of each exercise.
  • Substitute or skip any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

2
Chest Press

Paige Waehner

Your total body workout begins with the chest press, one of the best ways to work your chest. The chest includes some of the largest muscles in the body, but you also work the shoulders and triceps with this exercise, making it a great compound move.

How to:  Lie on a bench or step and hold dumbbells up over your chest.  Bend the elbows and lower the weights until your elbows are at about 90-degree angles - they should look like goal posts at the bottom of the movement.  Press the weights back up and repeat. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16.

Helpful Tip:  The chest is a larger muscle group, so you can usually go a little heavier with this exercise, depending on how much experience you've had doing it.

3
One Arm Row

One Arm Row. Paige Waehner

You've worked your chest, now it's onto the next big upper body muscle group, the back.  The one arm row works the lats, the big muscles on either side of your back.  As a bonus, you'll also get plenty of biceps work in there as well.

How to:  Place the left foot on a step or platform and rest the left hand or forearm on the upper thigh.  Hold a weight in the right hand, tip forward keeping the back flat and the abs in, and hang the weight down towards the floor.  Bend the elbow and pull it up in a rowing motion until it is level with the torso or just above it.  At the top of the movement, squeeze the back.  Lower and repeat for all reps before switching sides. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16.

 Helpful Tip:  The lats are a large muscle group and can usually handle a heavier weight.  Try choosing a weight that really challenges you for this exercise, usually between about 8-20 pounds for women and 15-35 lbs for men.

4
Overhead Press

Overhead Press
Paige Waehner

Next in your total body workout is your shoulders, which may already be a little warm from the chest presses you did earlier.  If you want strong, firm shoulders, overhead presses should be your first choice.  They target both the mid and front deltoid, making it a great overall move.

How to:  Stand with feet about hip-distance apart, holding weights at ear level with the elbows bent (like goal posts).  Press the weights up and overhead while keeping the abs braced and avoiding arching the back.  Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

 Helpful Tip: Avoid lowing the arms way down past the shoulders, which takes emphasis off the shoulders and is a way to cheat. Instead, watch yourself in the mirror and make sure you're keeping that goal-post shape every time.

5
Hammer Curls on One Leg

Hammer Curl on One Leg.

I love hammer curls for working the biceps and, as an added bonus, you can work on your balance by doing them while standing on one leg.  It's harder than it looks!

How to:  Hold weights in both hands, palms face in and lift the right foot off the ground, holding that position (if you can!).  Now, curl the weights up towards the shoulders, palms still facing in and squeezing the biceps.  Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

 Helpful Tip:  Avoid swinging the weights, which adds momentum to the exercise. Instead, make the move slow and controlled so you're using all your muscle fibers to lift that weight.

6
Kickbacks

Kickbacks. Paige Waehner

No total body workout is complete without working the triceps, that lovely area at the back of the arms that tends to, shall we say, continue waving long after we've waved hello?  Now, you can do this move one arm at a time, which I like, but I really like doing it with both arms because you get some great core work with this one and I'm all about multitasking.  Just make sure you bend the knees and brace the abs to support your lower back.

How to:  Bend at the waist, keeping the back flat and the abs engaged and pull the elbows up to the torso (there should be weights in your hands, of course).  Holding that position, straighten the arms and squeeze the triceps muscles.  Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Helpful Tip:  If you find your back bothers you, bend the knees or prop one knee on a bench and do this move one arm at a time.  Keep the elbow next to the torso the entire time and don't let it drift down as you get tired.  Pretend like you're holding an envelope in your armpit.

7
Deadlifts

Deadlift. Paige Waehner

Deadlifts are one of the most challenging exercises to learn to do correctly, but I love this move for transitioning into the lower body portion of the workout.  Not only does it target the glutes and hamstrings, it also works your lower back as well, a compliment to the one arm row exercise you did earlier.

How to:  Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold weights in front of thighs. Tip from the hips and lower weights towards the floor, back flat and shoulders back.   Return to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Helpful Tip:  Keep the shoulders throughout the entire exercise.  It's tempting to round your back with this move, which only puts your lower back at risk for injury.  Think of arching your back or, if you're really having trouble, try this Hip Hinge First.

8
Squats

Squats with Dumbbells. Paige Waehner

Squats are probably one of the most important exercises in any strength routine, especially a total body workout.  This functional exercise helps you work on all the muscles you use each day to sit, stand, walk...basically do just about any lower body movement you do in a day.

How to:  Hold weights in each hand and stand with feet about hip-distance apart. Bend the knees and lower into a squat, knees behind the toes and squatting as low as you can. Push back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Helpful Tip:  Think of sending your butt back behind you when you squat, putting the emphasis on your glutes and thighs instead of on the knees.

9
Lunges

Paige Waehner

If you want to get the most out of your total body workout, lunges fit the bill.  They work multiple muscle groups, which means you work your body with fewer exercises, thus saving time and getting more out of your workout.

How to:  Stand in split stance and bend both knees, lowering into a lunge while keeping front knee behind the toe.  Lift back up and repeat before switching sides.  1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Helpful Tip:  If lunges hurt your knees, try one of these alternatives to lunges.

10
Bicycle

Bicycle
Bicycle. Paige Waehner

If you want to really target your abs, the bicycle crunch is the way to go.  This move works every muscle of the abs, with an emphasis on the obliques.

How To:  Lie on the floor and bring the knees into the chest.  Straighten the right leg as you twist the body, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee.  Repeat on the other side in a cycling motion.  Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Helpful Tip:  If you find bicycles a bit tough for you, try this bicycle modification.

Continue Reading