If one of your exercise goals is to get stronger, you’ll want to bookmark this 30-minute full-body workout as one to keep coming back to time and time again.
That’s because this routine is a great opportunity to employ the technique of progressive overload, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. Progressive overload is a tried-and-true strength-building method whereby you gradually and continually increase the amount of work you’re doing in a routine, whether it’s by lifting more weight or doing more reps with the same amount of weight.
“Progress is never a linear process; it’s never going to be that every week you are increasing the weight or every week you are increasing the reps,” Fagan says. “But overall, the trend over time should be an improvement in performance.”
This 30-minute full-body workout is a solid way to gauge your progress for a number of reasons. For one, it uses a bunch of compound movements in it. Because compound movements employ bigger muscles and muscle groups than isolation exercises, they’re great movements to challenge yourself with additional weight. (You can lift way more weight with a row than a biceps curl, for instance.) It’s also a full-body routine that includes all the major movement patterns—a push and pull for your upper body, a squat variation and hip hinge for your lower, and two different ways to work your core by resisting motion—so you’ll be able to test your strength across the board.
If your goal is to get stronger or build muscle, you can consider this a benchmark routine that you repeat each week. As Fagan said, it’s not about progressing in every exercise each week, but continuing to challenge yourself in some way during each routine, so that you find yourself adding weight or reps—or simply improving on your form—in some of the moves. Then after four to six weeks, you should be able to look back on where you started and notice a solid change in each move.
After that, you can still use this 30-minute full-body workout as a blueprint for your next benchmark workout. The best way to do this, says Fagan, is to simply change this one slightly, whether you reorder the exercises or sub in a few variations of the moves.
One note: Because this workout is intended to help you get stronger, it’s really important that you take advantage of the given rest periods. If you’re used to HIIT or circuit interval workouts, it may seem like you’re resting a long time. But a significant rest period is crucial to allow your muscles to lift heavy weights and perform that intense work during your next set.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need for your first step in getting stronger.
What you need: An exercise mat and dumbbells, as well as some open space that’ll allow you to move freely.
- Walking lunge
- Single-arm row
- Romanian deadlift
- Arnold press
- For Superset 1, complete 10 to 12 reps per side of each exercise, going from one to the next without resting. After each round, rest for two to three minutes. Complete two rounds total.
- For Superset 2, complete 8 to 10 reps of the deadlift and 10 to 12 reps of the press, going from one to the next without resting. After each round, rest for two to three minutes. Complete two rounds total.
- For Superset 3, complete 45 seconds on each side of the suitcase carry, and 10 to 12 reps per side of the dead bug, going from one to the next without resting. After each round, rest for two to three minutes. Complete two rounds total.
Demoing the moves below are Shauna Harrison (GIF 1), a San Francisco Bay–area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; Nathalie Huerta (GIFs 2 and 4), coach at The Queer Gym in Oakland; Cookie Janee (GIF 3), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Erica Gibbons (GIF 5), a California-based personal trainer and graduate student becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist; and Amanda Wheeler (GIF 6), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Formation Strength.