Full Strength

Appears in the August 2020 issue.

By Luke Davidson

This full-body strength workout is safe, effective, and efficient—nothing crazy, just a series of simple, well-performed exercises to activate and fatigue your muscles, every other day, in 20 minutes or less.


Remember these key points as you go through the workout, doing one set of each exercise:

  • Breathe continuously throughout each set (don’t hold breath).
  • Stop if form begins to deteriorate or muscles become fatigued.
  • When 12 reps or 120 seconds can be performed, attempt a more challenging exercise variation.
  • Each individual repetition should take about 11 seconds to complete (about 5 seconds each direction, with a 1-second pause in transition periods).
  • Transition to next exercise as quickly and safely as possible.


2 dumbbells (or 2 weighted objects of equal weight)

Glute Bridge
Lie on back with legs bent and feet flat on floor. With arms at sides, slowly lift hips off floor, squeezing glutes on the way up. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering hips back down to floor.
Calf Extension
Stand with both feet on the ground. Slowly extend or raise up on the balls of the feet or toes, lower to lightly bump heal on floor, then slowly start next rep up. Use a step to increase range of motion and challenge. If balance is an issue, hold on to another stationary object.
Lie on back with knees bent, ankles crossed, arms at sides. Slowly rise up, curling shoulder blades up and feet off the mat, while pushing lower back into the floor and maintaining rhythmic breaths. Once fully fatigued, lower slowly to complete set.
Bent-Over Row
Stand with feet in a parallel stance, maintaining a slightly forward lean. Hold dumbbells, keep elbows pointing slightly out with neck and low back in neutral position, eyes forward. Slowly draw elbows up and back, squeeze the shoulder blades together, and slowly lower dumbbell.
Start with feet in parallel position, shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly. With a slight hip and knee flexion, lean torso slightly forward, with neutral low back and neck position, eyes forward. Slowly descend to an 80- to 90-degree knee flex. Pause, then slowly ascend to start position. Modify: Hold weights with arms straight down at sides.
Lateral Raise
Stand holding dumbbells, with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Slowly raise weights up laterally to shoulder height, with elbows bent, then rotate above head. Slowly lower back to sides.
External Rotation
From a standing position, start with arms down at sides and holding dumbbells. Bring elbows up to shoulder height, tilting forearms forward to be parallel with floor. Slowly rotate forearms up toward ceiling while keeping upper arms bent, maintaining a slight angle to keep the muscle loaded.

Illustrations by Ievgenii Volyk