The Intense Total-Body Strength and Conditioning Workout You Can Do at the Gym

With such an eclectic mix of equipment and modalities now available at gyms and boutique studios, exploring has never been easier. And incorporating fresh challenges can net you all sorts of body breakthroughs and move the needle on your goals. “Everyone likes to reach a goal and feel as if they have been pushed a little bit,” says Kirk Myers, the founder and CEO of Dogpound, a personal-training facility in New York City that celebs like Karlie Kloss and Ashley Graham flock to. (Graham posts her Dogpound workouts on her Instagram on the reg.)

Myers began developing Dogpound’s signature all-methods training approach while working to hit his own weight and health targets. Since he experienced firsthand how a combo of approaches could be the key to finding fitness success, he made a point to learn from other exercise pros in order to fuse multiple styles—boxing, lifting, barre, TRX, kundalini yoga. (Here are some other workout studios celebs love.)

There’s power in doing something totally different from what you’re used to, says Dara Hart, a lead trainer at Dogpound. “When you do only one kind of workout, your body can get stuck in what we call groove training, which is essentially when it gets used to a single motion,” she says. “If you keep giving your body the same thing, it’s going to stay the same.” (See: Is It Bad to Do the Same Workout Every Day?)

To inspire you to play the field, we asked Hart to pull some of her favorite moves from seven popular modalities: barbells, boxing, kettlebells, barre, Pilates, suspension training, and gymnastics. Do the routine straight through for a total-body workout, or lift a few exercises to create your own fitness adventure incorporating these diverse sculpting and strengthening styles.

You will need: Barbell, Bench, Kettlebell(s), Resistance band, Pull-up bar with (or without) hanging ab straps

Full Body Workout: 6-Week Conditioning Plan

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There are many ways to perform a full body workout, but are you targeting the right muscles? I’ve been doing this six-week bodyweight conditioning plan with my athletes once a week for about two years now, with positive results and feedback. The benefits include an increase in relative body strength, speed endurance, stamina and mental toughness.

Unlike most full-body routines, this workout—lasting 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of reps per set—is more of a self-challenge than a beat-down. Do it at the end of the week so it doesn’t interrupt your strength or speed development workouts. It is also a great recovery workout.

Guidelines

Complete 10 sets of a 40-Yard Sprint, Push-Ups, Chin-Ups, Dips, Sit-Ups (first 5 sets)/Seated Twists (last 5 sets). Control the number of reps in each of the bodyweight exercises, but keep the reps the same for all three (Push-Ups, Chin-Ups, Dips) so your body doesn’t fatigue too early in the workout. Start with the sprint and go into each of the subsequent exercises without rest until you’ve completed every exercise for one set. Rest for one minute between sets and proceed to the next set, until all 10 sets have been completed.

Sprint

Always start with your most explosive exercise—in this case, the Sprint. If you do not have 40 yards to run, use a treadmill in a gym. Set the treadmill to a speed where you can sprint comfortably without risk of injury or falling off. In your first set, sprint on the treadmill for 5 seconds.

Push-Ups

Start your first week with five Push-Ups. Gradually increase the number you perform as the weeks progress.

Chin-Ups

Start your first week with as many Chin-Ups as you can complete, but keep the same amount of reps for all 10 sets. Gradually increase the number of reps as the weeks progress. Don’t exhaust yourself too early in the workout or you won’t be able to complete the remaining sets.

Coaches, if your athletes cannot perform a single Chin-Up, allow them to use resistance bands for assistance. If they still cannot perform a Chin-Up with the thickest band, substitute the Lat Pull-Down exercise for 10 reps, then gradually increase the weight as the weeks progress.

Dips

Start your first week with five Dips. Gradually increase the number as the weeks progress. Start with simple Dips, with your hands on a bench and your feet on the floor. You’re using your arms in three straight exercises without rest, so allow your body to adapt to this type of training first and then progress. Hands on the bench and feet on the floor is a beginner’s stage of Dips; hands on the bench with feet on a box/bench is an intermediate stage; and Hanging Dips are an advanced exercise, suitable for elite athletes. Usually, if you’re performing this workout with a large group of athletes, go with your hands on a bench and feet on a box/bench so that you don’t waste time or have people standing around waiting to use the Hanging Dip bar.

Sit-Ups (first 5 sets)

Perform a regular Sit-Up with your knees bent. Add weight as the weeks progress. Start your first week with a simple 10 to 15 Sit-Ups and progress from there.

Seated Twists (last 5 sets)

Perform Seated Twists with a light weight or light med ball. Make sure your feet are off the ground, and touch the ground with the weight or med ball on each side. Start your first week with 40 to 50 reps and progress from there.

Rest

Rest 1 minute between sets.

Go from one exercise to the next without rest until every exercise is complete. Athletes can do this and compete against each other throughout the circuit. Make it fun.

6-Week Total-Body Conditioning Plan

Week 1

  • 40-Yard Sprint
  • 5 Push-Ups
  • 5 Chin-Up
  • 5 Dips
  • 15 Sit-Ups
  • 40 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Week 2

  • 40-yard Sprint
  • 6 Push-Ups
  • 6 Chin-Ups
  • 6 Dips
  • 18 Sit-Ups
  • 46 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Week 3

  • 40-Yard Sprint
  • 7 Push-Ups
  • 7 Chin-Ups
  • 7 Dips
  • 20 Sit-Ups
  • 50 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Week 4

  • 40-Yard Sprint
  • 8 Push-Ups
  • 8 Chin-Ups
  • 8 Dips
  • 22 Sit-Ups
  • 55 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Week 5

  • 40-Yard Sprint
  • 9 Push-Ups
  • 9 Chin-Ups
  • 9 Dips
  • 25 Sit-Ups
  • 60 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Week 6

  • 40-Yard Sprint
  • 10 Push-Ups
  • 10 Chin-Ups
  • 10 Dips
  • 30 Sit-Ups
  • 70 Seated Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat

Once you’ve reached Week 6, repeat the workout from Week 1 and either reduce the assistance or increase the resistance. Coaches, encourage your athletes who are performing the Lat Pulldown substitution method to keep getting stronger and increase their workload each week. With enough motivation, they will one day be on the pull-up bar.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Beginner Full Body Strength and Conditioning Workouts

EDITOR’S NOTE: For an in-depth description of the beginner workouts and the movements contained in them from their creator, Bret Hamilton, have a look at his article on getting started with this 12-week program.

Getting Started with the Beginner Workouts

If you are just starting out and are unfamiliar with the movements included in this cycle, please refer to the instructional videos included and make sure you understand the techniques involved and have access to the proper equipment and space.

Tracking your progress is invaluable in achieving the results you desire. It will aid you on your journey and help you make sure you’re using a load that is challenging enough to help you improve, but not so challenging that you’re risking burnout or injury.

The program is designed to be performed three times a week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday would be ideal. It will help to build strength, improve coordination and flexibility, and also improve anaerobic endurance.

The total number of sets and/or reps will generally get smaller as the program moves forward, meaning it is designed to transition from strength-endurance focused to pure strength over the twelve week period.

Download the complete twelve week program – click here.

Week 1

1. Movement Prep: Consider this the passive warm up. Lots of soft tissue stuff that incorporates foam rollers and/or roller stick tools to break up adhesions and bring some blood flow to the muscles.

2. Activation: The part of the workout that fires up the vestibular system. These drills are excellent for motor control and coordination.

  • Crocodile breathing x10 breaths
  • Creeping X-lift practice with a ball on your back

3. Intensification: During this phase of the workout, you will perform a “core-focused” drill that promotes developing total body tension for short, intense bursts. Your core temperature will rise and you will be ready for skill building.

  • Farmer hold with DB, plate, or KB 3x:10
  • Rotational stability plank x10 per side, :02 hold

4. Skill Building: This is the strength training portion of the session. It is referred to as skill building because an emphasis is put on the quality of the reps, not the quantity. There are typically two groups of three exercises. Perform each group of three as a circuit, one after the other. Rotate through the number of sets prescribed, then move on to the second group of three exercises before continuing to the next section of the workout.

Monday: 2X15 reps each

Friday: 3X10 reps each

  • Pushup
  • KB deadlift
  • 1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch with dowel x10
  • KB goblet squat (level 1)
  • DB bent-over row
  • Side-lying windmill on foam roller

5. Metabolic Conditioning: Here you will improve your anaerobic fitness levels by performing a high intensity interval session for approximately five minutes. Overall time is kept to five minutes, with the work and rest ratios becoming more challenging as your fitness improves.

Monday: speed squats, 4 rounds of work :15, rest :30

Wednesday: 15-20 minutes of walking/jogging at 6/10 intensity level

Friday: speed squats, 5 rounds of work :15, rest :30

6. Cool Down: During the cool down, you will perform similar drills to the “Activation” section, except here they will function as total body resets. The drills included will help to bring down the heart rate gradually as well as recirculate blood after a high intensity finisher.

  • Cross crawls x10
  • Segmental rolls x3
  • Rocking x10
  • Foam roll as needed

Feel free to include any extra stretching and/or foam rolling you feel is needed after completing this section. Make sure to eat some kind of protein rich food/shake within 30-60 minutes to accelerate your recovery.

If it is your desire to participate in this program, make it a point to stick with it for its entirety, without mixing and matching workouts from other training programs. Make use of the tracking tool provided. It will be invaluable in keeping tabs on your progress.

Whole Body Conditioning Workout For Women

How it works:

This is a 7-day routine, for general fitness, which is suitable for any female that has never lifted a weight before; it is in fact the routine that I began with, having never lifted a weight. It is also very practical for those not wishing to go to a gym, because all the exercises can be performed at home, with a few pieces of equipment; all of the equipment will be based around your own level of strength.

The plan:

  • Day 1: Weight Routine A
  • Day 2: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 3: Weight Routine B
  • Day 4: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 5: Weight Routine C
  • Day 6: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 7: A 60 minute walk/cycle ride (at a good pace, based on your current fitness level)

The routine has been set out as Day1 through to Day 7, because it is important to realise that you can start the plan on the best day to suit your own schedule; for some, Saturday is the best day for day 7, for others it will be Sunday or maybe even Thursday. Because Day 7 is the only session that you need to do outdoors, even though you can also do this indoors as well, try to place day 7 at the most convenient time in your weekly schedule for you to be outdoors; so, if you place Day 7 on a Wednesday, then Day 1 will be a Thursday because it is the day that immediately follows it and because this is a 7-Day routine.

The reason it is a 7-Day routine is because it is not intense as such, and familiarity of doing exercise on a daily basis is a good idea, even though Day 7 is a gentle session and can be considered as just a relaxing day but with some exercise scheduled in to it. The plan is flexible, in that if you should miss a day, just pass over it and continue the normal cycle as you have it planned; this is not a problem due to the fact that each weight session covers the entire body, so if you end up missing a session, you have no need to overly concern yourself or berate yourself.

It is recommended that you plan complete breaks of about a week in duration; plan these to coincide with celebrations, holidays and similar days, but try not to take more than 5 weeks per year in total. The way to remain fit is to adhere to a program and if too many rest weeks occur this can prove detrimental; but 5 are fine, which works out to taking a break every 8-10 weeks. You could cycle the routine for 8 weeks and then take the rest week, or you could cycle it for 12 weeks and then break for one week for a birthday and the a week or two later for another important date in your life; the choice is yours. This is also an integral part, since you have to be able to learn to make decisions early on because this will put you in control of your fitness and that way you will stick with the program.

Requirements:

  • An adjustable set of dumbbells (or a set of 2.5kg/3kg/4kg/5kg weights; base the selection on your strength levels)
  • An exercise step (optional*)
  • An exercise bike (optional*)
  • A stability ball

*Basically, one piece of equipment for aerobic activity, so either of these two will work, as will an ordinary bike if you have the opportunity to exercise outdoors.

Notes: Where it says 3 sets and 20 reps; all this means is do 20 reps, short pause, do another 20 reps, short pause, do the last 20 reps. If you are unable to complete the reps required, this is not a problem; there are several ways around this: choose a lighter weight; do as many as you can in that session and build up over time to get to the number of reps stated; take very brief pauses of 5 seconds and continue the reps until you have done as many as you can or reached the number required.

Lying triceps extensions, pullovers and other suitable exercises can be done with either one weight held between two hands or with one weight in each hand; this is a way in which to vary the weight load, in a slightly different manner.

You will need to use lighter weights for some muscle groups, not the same weight for all muscle groups; the stronger the muscle the higher the weight load a person should use.

Workout A
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Squat 3 20
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 20
Dumbbell Pullover 3 20
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 15
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3 20
Two Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension 3 20
Standing Calf Raise 2 30
Reverse Hyperextension 3 20
Ab Crunches 3 20
Workout B
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flye 3 20
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 20
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 20
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 3 20
Tricep Kickback 3 15
Lying Adduction (dumbbells/bands*) 3 20
Lying Abduction (dumbbells/bands*) 3 20
Seated Calf Raise** 2 30
Reverse/Lower Abs Crunch 3 20

*If bands are available for performing the leg abduction and adduction exercises, then these two exercises can be done whilst standing upright and attaching the band around a sturdy object such as a stair railing. Dumbbells can be balanced across the trainers that are being worn, although this does require some balancing skills when lowering and raising the leg, but lightweights should be started with; a 5kg weight is a challenge during leg adduction, so anything below that is not considered bad in any way. Ankle weights are preferable, but not necessary.

**These have been placed in for those wishing to do some seated calf raises, if they can find weights that will challenge the calf; however, doing standing calf raises in each of the 3 sessions is fine, and is how the routine was performed initially.

Workout C
Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
Sissy Squat 3 20
Lying Leg Curl* 1 60
Standing Calf Raise 2 30
Chest Dip** 2 15
Push Up** 2 15
Dumbbell Pullover 3 20
Dumbbell Reverse Flye 3 15
Bicep Concentration Curl 3 20
Lying Two Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension 3 20
Obliques Curl 3 20

*Lying leg curl is done with a weight held between the feet; this is one set of 60 reps, because a low weight will not really tax the legs, however, done for 60 reps straight, you will feel it. Start low with the weight at 3kg, when it gets easy enough to do the 60 reps with no problems, move up to 4kg, and then to 5kg. If you cannot complete the 60 reps in one set, then pause a short time to get your breath and start from where you left off until you have completed as many as you feel you can, or have reached the goal of 60 reps.

**Chest dips can be done wherever you can find a suitable place, the corner of two kitchen units, for example. Half push-ups can be done until strength increases enough to complete full push-ups. With these 2 exercises, you may also omit one and just do 3 sets of 20 reps of the other one; so should you choose not to do chest dips, just do 3 sets of 20 reps of the push-ups.

Cardio/Aerobic activity:

If using an aerobic step, set it at a height which is comfortable for you. Start on the lowest setting if you are completely new to exercise; if you are slightly fitter, start on the medium height setting; if you feel you are able to handle it, use the step set at its highest level.

There is no need for fancy stepping, this will get you injured, and a twisted ankle will halt your gains. So, the plan is:

(Always count the lead leg)

  • Step up with the right leg
  • Step up with the left leg
  • Step down with the right leg
  • Step down with the left leg
  • Tap ground with left foot (this is the changeover after reaching 10 with the right leg as the leading leg)
  • Step up with left leg
  • Step up with right leg
  • Step down with left leg
  • Step down with right leg
  • Tap ground with right foot (this is the changeover after reaching 10 with the left leg as the leading leg)

Do as much as you are able, on the very first occasion, and then once you have a base starting point add 5 minutes per week to the session until you reach 45-minutes. Increase the tempo up and down as you wish, stepping along to your favorite beat/music.

Follow the exact same plan of building up your endurance/fitness levels, if using a bike/exercise bike. This is the same process you will use for gaining strength where the weight sessions are concerned; do as much as you can and gradually build it up week by week.

One of the most important things to do is to keep a journal, in this way you can see the improvements yourself. Above all, remember to have fun! Once you feel that you have outgrown this plan, move onto another routine; you will know when that time is.

Total body conditioning workouts

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