Basic Full Body Workout You Can Do at Home

This total body home workout is perfect for working the entire body with no muss, no fuss. It includes all the classic exercises and can be done in a short period of time. 

All you need are a few sets of dumbbells and these basic exercises. These moves hit all the major muscles of your body, including the chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and abs. This is a great workout option when you are crunched for time, but still want to get the job done. 

Getting Started

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other medical conditions that affect your ability to exercise. Substitute or skip any exercises that cause pain or discomfort. You will need dumbbells in a few sizes and a bench or step (you can use the floor if you don't have one).

  • Warm up with 5 minutes of light cardio or warm-up versions of each exercise.
  • Beginners: Start with no weight or light weights and do one set of 14 to 16 reps of each exercise.
  • Experienced exercisers: Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps with enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps.

Chest Press

Barbell chest press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your total body workout begins with the chest press, one of the best ways to work your chest. While the move primarily targets the chest muscles, it also works the shoulders and triceps, making it a great compound move. The chest is a larger muscle group, so you can usually go a little heavier with your weight for this exercise, depending on how much experience you've had doing it.

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.

One-Arm Row

The next big upper-body muscle group is 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 withthis move.

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; do all reps before switching sides.

The lats are a large muscle group and can usually handle heavier weight. Choose a weight that really challenges you for this exercise, usually between about 8 and 20 pounds for women and 15 and 35 pounds for men.

Overhead Press

Shoulder Overhead Press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Next in your total body workout is your shoulders, which may already be a little warm from the chest presses you did earlier. Overhead presses target both the mid and front deltoids, making it a great overall move for the shoulders.

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.

Avoid lowering the arms way down past the shoulders in between reps. This is cheating, because it takes the emphasis off the shoulders. Watch yourself in a mirror and make sure you're keeping that goal-post shape every time.

Hammer Curl on One Leg

Hammer curls work the biceps. As an added bonus, you can work on your balance by doing them while standing on one leg.

How to: Hold weights in both hands, palms face in. 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, squeezing the biceps. Lower and repeat.

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 the weight.

Kickback

No total body workout is complete without working the triceps, the area at the back of the arms. You can do this move one arm at a time, or with both arms, which adds core work. Just make sure you bend the knees and brace the abs to support your lower back.

How to: Hold a weight in each hand. Bend at the waist, keeping the back flat and the abs engaged. Pull the elbows up to the torso. Holding that position, straighten the arms and squeeze the triceps muscles. Lower and repeat.

If you feel discomfort in your back, bend your 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.

Deadlift

Deadlift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Deadlifts are challenging to learn to do correctly, but they make an excellent transition into the lower body portion of the workout. Not only does this exercise target the glutes and hamstrings, it also works the lower back. It is a complement to the one-arm row exercise from earlier in the workout.

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.

Keep the shoulders back throughout the entire exercise. It's tempting to round your back with this move, which puts your lower back at risk for injury.

Squat

squats

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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, and walk.

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.

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

Lunge

dumbbell lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lunges work multiple muscle groups, which means you work your body with fewer exercises, thus saving time and getting more out of your workout. If they hurt your knees, try one of these alternatives to lunges.

How to: Start with your feet about hip width distance apart. Step one foot back and drop your knee low to the ground. Lift back up and repeat before switching sides.

Bicycle

Bicycle

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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. If you find bicycles a bit tough, try a bicycle modification.

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.

Was this page helpful?