Exercises for a Challenging Total Body Tri-Set Strength Workout

This sequence of exercises targets each muscle group

This challenging total body workout targets every muscle in your body, including the hips, glutes, thighs, chest, back, shoulders, and arms.

Each tri-set includes alternating 3 exercises for one muscle group with 3 exercises from a different muscle group (making this a double tri-set workout). Repeat each tri-set once for a great workout, or twice if you really want a challenge.


See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed

Various weighted dumbbells, a barbell, a pull-up bar (or resistance band), a ball, and a step or platform.

How to do the Total Body Tri-Set Strength Workout

  • Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio
  • Perform the exercises in each tri-set, one after the other with very short rests in between
  • For a longer workout, complete each tri-set 2 or more times
  • Use enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps

Tri-Set 1 - Ball Squats

Place an inflatable exercise ball against the wall and lean against it, holding heavy weights.

Lower into a squat, press back up and repeat for 12 reps. 


On the knees or toes, do 16 push-ups. Push-ups from the knees require less strength, so you may wish to build up to push-ups from the toes.

Hover Squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold medium-heavy weights at your shoulders or sides. See the photo for proper form.

Squat down for 2 counts, hold at the bottom for 4 counts, and then come up with 2 counts

Repeat for 8 reps. 

Resisted Push-Up

Wrap a resistance band around your upper back. Grasp the tubing with each hand. While holding the tubing or handles, place hands on the floor, slightly wider than shoulders

In pushup position (on knees or toes), bend the elbows to lower as far as you can and push back up. The tubing will increase resistance, making the exercise more difficult and thus more effective.

Repeat for 12 reps.

One-Legged Squat

Place a large inflatable exercise ball against a wall. Lean against the ball so that it is supporting the back. Lift one foot off the floor and lower yourself into a one-legged squat, just a few inches down.

Push through the heel and repeat for 12 reps and switch legs.

Hold weights for added intensity if desired.

Tri-Set 2 - Start With Side Step-Ups

Stand sideways on a step or platform, facing to your right. Hold a heavy dumbbell in both hands.

Step down with the right leg, lowering into a squat and keeping the back straight, the torso upright and the abs in.

Push back up and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides. 

Barbell Bench Press

Lie on a bench or step and hold a heavy barbell with hands wider than shoulders. Lower the weight to your chest and then press it back up, repeating for 12 reps.


Place the right foot on a step, transfer the weight to the heel and push into the heel to come onto the step.

Step back down and repeat all reps on the right leg before switching to the left.

Complete 12 reps on each side. 

Alternating Flies

Choose a moderately heavy weight. While lying on your back, lift the weight up with the right arm and lower out to the side until it is parallel with the bench.

Squeeze the chest to lift the arm back up, switch hands and repeat with the left arm.

Continue alternating for 16 reps.

Crossover Step-Ups

Stand next to a step or platform and cross left leg over the right leg, placing the foot flat on the step.

Keep your hips square to the front of the room as you press up with the left leg, bringing the right foot beside the left.

Step back down with the right foot and repeat for 12 reps on each leg.  

Incline Chest Press

Lie down on an incline bench or on an inclined step with your head on the higher end of the incline. Hold heavy weights in each hand, keeping your arms straight up over the chest, palms facing out.

Bend the elbows and lower the arms down until the elbows are just below the chest.

Press the weights back up and repeat for 12 reps.

This is the end of the second Tri-Set

Tri-Set 3: Start with Lunge

Stand in a split stance, with one foot about three feet in front of the other. Keep your arms at your sides, hold weights in each hand, and bend the knees.

Lower the back knee toward the floor, keeping the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot.

Keep the torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to starting position.

Repeat all reps on one side before switching sides.

Pull-Ups or Lat Pulldown with Band

For this exercise, you can either do ​pull-ups or lat pulldown with a band. 

On a pull-up bar or assisted chin-up machine, do as many wide-grip pull-ups (palms face out) as you can. A proper pull up involves literally pulling your entire body off the floor until your chin is above the bar.

Pull-ups are very difficult for many people, so an alternative move may be a better choice. Substitute with a lat pulldown on a machine or using a band, repeating for 16 reps on each side. 

Sliding Side Lunge

This move works best on a carpet or very smooth floor. Put a paper plate under the left foot and hold a heavy weight in the left hand.

Keep the weight in the right leg and bend the knee as you slide the left foot out to the side, keeping the left leg straight.

As you squat toward the floor, keeping the knee behind the toes, take the weight down and touch the floor.

Push back up, sliding the left foot in as you stand.

Repeat for 12 reps and then switch sides. 

Front and Reverse Lunge

Holding medium-heavy weights at your sides, step the left leg forward into a lunge.

Push back to start, lifting the left knee to hip level.

Take the left leg back into a reverse lunge and push off the toes to come back to start.

Repeat for 10 reps and switch sides. 

Barbell High Row

Hold medium-heavy barbells in each hand. Stand with hands wide and tip forward until the back is parallel to the floor, abs engaged and back flat.

Squeeze the upper back to pull the weight towards the chest.  Lower and repeat for 15 reps.

Keep the abs tight and bend the knees as needed to support the lower back.

This is the end of Tri-Set 3.

Tri-Set 4: Start With Bent Knee Deadlift

Stand with your feet wide apart, and place heavy weights on the floor between the feet.

Squat down (knees behind toes and abs in) and pick up the weights as you stand up.

Squat back down, put the weights down and stand up.  Repeat for 12 reps. 

One-Armed Row

Place the left foot on a step or the knee on a weight bench.

Support the body by putting your left hand on your thigh as you hold a heavy weight in the right hand, hanging the weight down towards the floor.

Squeeze the back to pull the elbow up in a rowing motion until it is level with the torso. Lower and repeat for 12, then switch sides. 


Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and hold medium-heavy weights in front of the thighs.

With the back flat, shoulders back and abs in, tip from the hips and lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows.

Raise up, squeezing the glutes.

Repeat for 12 reps.

Reverse Flies

Hold medium-heavy dumbbells and begin seated, bent over with arms hanging down and weights under the knees.

Lift the arms out to the sides, up to shoulder level, squeezing shoulder blades together.

Keep the elbows slightly bent and repeat for 12 reps. 

One-Legged Deadlift

This is a tricky move, as it requires balance as well as strength. Tip from the hips and lower the weight towards the floor (back straight) while lifting the right leg straight out behind you to hip level.

Contract the glutes of the right leg to pull back up and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.

Try to keep the foot flexed to encourage keeping the hips squared towards the floor.

Clean and Press

Begin the clean and press with weights in front of thighs, palms in. Raise the weights up to chest level in an upright row. Then, in a single smooth move, flip elbows down and weights up so that they're over the shoulders.

Press the weights up overhead and lower back down, flip the arms back to upright row position and lower.

Repeat for 12 reps.

End of Tri-Set 4

Tri-Set 5: Begin with Overhead Press Alternating Arms

Hold heavy weights with elbows bent outward, weights next to the ears.

Hold that position and alternate pressing each arm up for 12 reps (1 rep includes both sides).

Incline Curls

Sit on an inflated exercise ball with heavy weights resting on the upper thighs. The ball should be placed against a wall.

Slowly walk the feet forward, rolling down on the ball until you're at an incline position.

Take the weights down so that the palms face out.

Bend the elbows and bring the weights towards the shoulders without swinging the arms.

Lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom of the movement.

Repeat for 15 reps.  

Tricep Press

Sit on a ball or chair and hold a single heavy dumbbell in both hands with arms extended overhead, elbows next to ears, arms straight.

Bend the elbows and slowly lower weight behind you until elbows are at 90 degrees--keep the elbows in and right next to ears.

Contract triceps and straighten elbows to beginning. 

Incline Front Raise

Place your inflated exercise ball against a wall. Sit on the ball and roll forward to an incline position holding medium weights.

Keeping the arms straight and palms facing each other, lift the arms up to shoulder level.

Lower down and repeat for 12 reps.  

Preacher Curl

Kneel on the floor and prop elbows on the ball.

Curl the weights up and down, repeating for 12 reps. 

One-Arm Triceps Pushups

Lie on your right side with the knees bent and the hips stacked.

Wrap the bottom arm around the waist and place the left hand on the floor in front of you.

Contract the triceps to push the body up and off the floor, straightening the left arm as much as you can without locking the elbow.

Lower the body down until the arm brushes the floor and continue for 10 reps before switching sides.  

Take It at Your Own Pace

You will probably find some of these exercises challenging as you get started. Rather than allowing yourself to become frustrated, do a smaller number of challenging exercises or use a lighter weight until you are ready to progress.

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