14 Full-Body Exercises with Weights to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Learn compound exercises like the squat, curl, and press

Compound exercises like the squat, curl, and press target different muscle groups to build endurance, increase strength, and improve stability. In fact, some research suggests that compound exercises, which involve functional movement patterns, are one of the most effective ways to improve muscular strength and burn fat, particularly among overweight adults.

Add more power to your resistance-training routine with these quick compound moves using dumbbells to get a dynamic full-body workout right at home.

1

Squat With an Overhead Press

Squat with an overhead press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The squat with an overhead press is a great compound exercise for working both the upper and lower body at the same time. These moves function in tandem to allow for a natural transition from a squat to an overhead press.

  • Stand with feet a little wider than hips-distance apart.
  • Rest light to medium weights on your shoulders with your elbows bent and palms facing each other.
  • Lower into a squat.
  • Keep your torso upright by lifting your chest (imagine trying to show someone the logo on the front of your shirt while in the bottom of your squat).
  • Make sure you are sending the hips back to protect the knees.
  • Push into your heels to stand up as you press the weights overhead.
  • Lower the weights to your shoulders, and repeat 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps.

Compound exercises are quick, full-body moves you can do anytime, anywhere—especially if you're short on time.

2

Squat, Curl, and Press

The squat, curl, and press is a well-known compound exercise that works the legs, core, arms, and shoulders in one dynamic movement. This is an advanced exercise that requires physical strength and stability. Start with lighter weights as you practice this movement pattern before trying heavier weights.

  • Stand with your feet just wider than your hips, and hold light to medium weights with your arms by your sides and palms facing each other.
  • Squat down and touch the weights to the floor and turn your palms to face forward. Keep your back straight and abs pulled in and engaged.
  • Curl the weights up in a biceps curl and hold.
  • Push to a standing position as you press the weights overhead and allow your arms to extend.
  • Allow your arms to naturally rotate so that the palms face forward again.
  • Lower the weights by your sides, and repeat the move for 10–16 reps.
  • Complete 1–3 sets.
3

Single-Arm Hinge and Swing

The single-arm hinge and swing is an excellent whole-body exercise that works the hips, thighs, glutes, arms, and core. If you use a heavier weight, this move will also increase your heart rate, making this a great warmup exercise.

  • Stand with the feet about hips-distance apart, and hold a weight in your right hand.
  • Bend the knees and hinge at the hips, keeping the back straight and the abs in, and then swing the weight between your knees.
  • As you stand up, swing the weight overhead, keeping the arm straight.
  • Lower the weight, and repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps on each side.

The single-arm hinge and swing is a dynamic compound exercise that uses momentum. Practice this move with a lighter weight and make sure you engage your core to avoid injuring your back.

4

Deadlift Row

The deadlift row is another great move that works different muscle groups. You start with a deadlift, which strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, followed by a row, which targets the lats.

  • Stand with your feet about hips-distance apart, and hold medium weights in both hands with your arms by your sides.
  • Squat and touch the weights to the ground. Then perform a deadlift, keeping your back flat. Stand back up, still holding the weights by your sides.
  • Now tip at your hips and bend your knees slightly as you draw the arms into a row.
  • Repeat the deadlift row 1–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

If you have back or spine issues, you may want to avoid the squat and front raise part of the exercise, which may cause discomfort.

5

Side Squat to Overhead Press

This is one of those exercises that doesn't look like much until you actually try it. Then you'll realize just how many muscle groups this move works together, including the lower body and the shoulders.

  • Begin with the feet together about hips-distance apart, and hold weights in front of your chest with the palms facing each other.
  • Step out to the right into a squat while pressing the weights overhead.
  • Rotate the weights back to their starting position as you lower them, then step the feet together.
  • Repeat on the other side, alternating sides for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps.
  • For an added challenge, try jumping into the squat instead of stepping out.
6

Single-Arm Clean and Press

The single-arm clean and press is a whole-body exercise that works the lower body, core, and shoulders. By doing this move one arm at a time, the core has to work extra hard to keep your body stable and balanced. The combination of movements gets your heart rate up and your body warm.

  • Stand with your feet hips-distance apart, holding a weight in your right hand.
  • Squat down and touch the weight to the floor, keeping your back straight, abs pulled in.
  • Push back up, drawing the weight into a single-arm row.
  • In one fluid movement, rotate the arm as you lift and press the weight overhead.
  • Lower the weight, and repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps on each side.

If you have shoulder issues, you may want to skip this exercise or try the move with just the overhead press.

7

Pushup Plank and Single-Arm Row

The pushup plank and row is a compound exercise targeting multiple muscles, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, ​and core. By combining a close-grip pushup with a row, you'll work your chest and back muscles at the same time, while building strength and power.

This is a challenging exercise, so start with lighter weights and modify it if necessary by doing the pushup from your knees. You can also position your feet a little wider for a more stable foundation.

  • Get into a pushup position on a step or raised platform, with your hands gripping dumbbells about shoulder-width apart. Alternatively, you could ramp up the intensity by doing this move on the floor.
  • Lower into a close-grip pushup, keeping your back flat and abs pulled in.
  • Press up into a plank and hold briefly.
  • Maintain stability and stay lifted in your torso and hips (watch out for dropping into a banana back) as you pull the right weight up into a single-arm row.
  • Lower and repeat, alternating rows on each side for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps.

Tip: Use hex weights or other types of weights that won't roll around.

8

360 Plank With Single-Arm Row

The 360 plank with single-arm rows can be a little tricky, since there are a few things going on at once. You'll transition from a standing position to a plank and then incorporate a few single-arm rows with dumbbells. This compound exercise works multiple muscle groups, including the legs, abs, and back.

  • From a standing position, hold weights in each hand and turn to the left. Take a step forward to lunge with the left leg, keeping the right leg straight.
  • Take the weight in your right hand down to the floor while holding the weight. You should be in a deeper runner's lunge as you draw your left arm into a row.
  • Touch the left hand to the floor while still holding the weight as you step the left leg back into a plank position.
  • Pull the left weight up into a single-arm row and then step forward with the right foot.
  • Stand up and turn to face the back of the room.
  • Repeat the series, once again lunging to the left, moving into a plank, and then lifting the left arm into a row as you step forward with the right leg.
  • Each time you complete one circle of lunges, planks, and rows, you should be facing forward again.
  • Do 4 circles and then change directions by lunging with your right leg first. Complete 4 circles in the other direction.

This move requires some concentration and coordination, so start out with no weight or light weights as you practice the technique.

9

Walking Knee Lunge

The walking knee lunge is a functional exercise that works the entire body with a movement we often do every day—getting up and down from the floor. This move will increase mobility, flexibility, and stability all at the same time.

Holding a weight overhead makes this move more challenging, so start with no weight at first until you get the hang of it. You'll also want to use a soft, padded surface like a yoga mat for this exercise, and you may want to keep a chair nearby if you need assistance getting up and down off the floor.

  • Hold a light or medium weight in your right hand, and reach your arm overhead, framing your biceps to your ear.
  • Step back with your right foot into a lunge, taking the knee all the way to the floor.
  • Now step the left foot back and touch the knee to the floor while still holding the weight overhead. You should now be kneeling on both knees.
  • Step forward with the right foot and then the left foot to return to standing, still holding the weight overhead.
  • Do 8 reps, then switch the weight to the left hand, and perform the move starting with the left leg for 8 more reps.
10

Rear Lunge With a Double-Arm Row

The rear lunge with a double-arm row is a compound movement that works the glutes, hips, and thighs, as well as the back muscles. With this full-body exercise, you'll step back into a straight-leg lunge and pull the arms up into a double-arm row, which targets the lats.

  • Hold weights in each hand, and step back with the right leg into a reverse lunge. The back leg should be straight and the front knee should be just behind the toes.
  • Tip from your hips and maintain a flat back as you pull the elbows up to torso level into a double-arm row.
  • Lower the weights, and step back to your starting position. Complete 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps on each side.

If you have lower back problems, you may want to skip this exercise or try using lighter weights.

11

Side Lunge With Triceps Extension

The side lunge with a triceps extension allows you to work the lower body and the triceps in one dynamic exercise. The key to this move is to step out wide into the side lunge and sit back slightly to target the glutes as you extend the arm out to the side.

  • Begin with the feet together, holding a weight in the left hand in a row position.
  • Take a wide step to the right into a side lunge. Your left leg should be straight and your right leg bent with your foot facing forward.
  • Sit into the heel of the right foot and lean slightly forward with a flat back as you straighten the left arm and press the weight out to the side.
  • Bend the arm back into a row and step back to the starting position, and perform 8–16 reps before switching sides.
  • Complete 1–3 sets.
12

Side Lunge with Upright Row

This functional exercise is a great way to work both the lower and upper body in a single dynamic movement. The key is to focus on your form in the side lunge, making sure you send the hips back and avoid putting too much pressure or strain on the knee.

  • Start with feet together, and hold dumbbells in each hand.
  • Take a wide step out to the right, and bend the knee into a side lunge.
  • Pause for a moment and make sure your left leg is straight, with the toes pointing forward, hips back, and back straight.
  • Push into the back heel as you step the feet back together.
  • Do an upright row, drawing the elbows to shoulder height and weights at chest level.
  • Lower the weights and then do the side lunge on the left, return to standing, and then do an upright row.
  • Repeat the series for 8–16 reps, and complete 1–3 sets.

Keep the move slow and controlled and pause with each exercise. Start with a lighter weight or no weight and practice before trying heavier weights.

13

Deadlift with Overhead Press

This compound exercise is a great full-body move that works the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quads, biceps, and shoulders in one fluid motion. Maintaining your balance is part of the challenge, so start with no weights and practice each part of the move on its own before putting them all together.

  • Stand with your feet just wide of your hips, and hold dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing each other.
  • Tip your hips forward and lower the weights to the floor. Keep your arms and back straight.
  • Next, draw the weights into a deadlift.
  • As you lift all the way up to standing, press the weights overhead.
  • Lower the arms then tip forward again, repeating the movement pattern for 8–10 reps.
14

Burpee with a Renegade Row

The burpee with a renegade row works multiple muscle groups while providing some serious cardio. It combines a burpee, a plank, dumbbell rows, and a bent-knee deadlift for a complete, total-body exercise.

For a modification, practice with light weights at first or keep the weights on the floor instead of picking them up. Try heavier weights once you've mastered your technique.

  • Stand with your feet wider than hips-distance apart and hold weights in each hand.
  • Squat low to the floor, keeping the hips down, torso straight, and shoulders back.
  • Place the weights on the floor between your feet and step or jump back into a wide plank.
  • Hold that position with your hands on the weights. You can keep your legs straight or modify by lowering your knees to the floor.
  • Alternate a dumbbell row on each side, keeping your hips square to the floor.
  • Jump or step the feet forward. Remember to squat very low with your back straight and hips back as you pick up the weights and return to stand.
  • You can leave the weights on the floor the entire time for a modification.
  • Repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps.

Because you're lifting weights as you're standing up in this compound exercise, your lower back is vulnerable. Keep your squats low and your torso upright (not rounded) to protect your lower back.

A Word From Verywell

Compound exercises offer a great full-body workout by ramping up the intensity to build muscle and burn calories. The versatility of these quick workouts means you can sneak them in just about anytime, anywhere. Moves that target the whole body not only improve your fitness by building strength and endurance, but they're also highly effective if you're trying to lose weight and get in shape.

If you're not sure whether compound exercises versus isolation exercises are better for you, talk to your health care provider or consult with a certified personal trainer for more guidance.

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  1. Kak H-B, Cho S-H, Lee Y-H, et al. A study of effect of the compound physical activity therapy on muscular strength in obese womenJ Phys Ther Sci. 2013;25(8):1039-1041. doi:10.1589/jpts.25.1039