A Les Mills trainer shares a three-move workout for building functional strength

As long as you have a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell or weight plates at home, you can build full-body strength with this versatile workout

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a functional strength workout
(Image credit: Les Mills / Justin Riley)

For more than five decades, fitness company Les Mills has been helping people become stronger, fitter and healthier through its wide variety of exercise classes.

Nowadays you can take your training home with you too using the Les Mills+ app. Or you could try this three-move full-body routine from Les Mills national trainer Justin Riley.

It builds functional strength by challenging you to move up, down, forward, backward, and side-to-side, as well as twisting your torso, Riley says. This covers all three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse, terms used to describe the different ways the body moves. 

And you can do it with a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell, meaning as long as you have a weight you can give it a go. 

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley
Justin Riley

Justin Riley is a level three certified personal trainer with more than 22 years of experience in the fitness industry. He has been a Les Mills trainer, presenter and assessor for the last 17 years.

How to do Les Mills trainer Justin Riley’s three-move workout

  1. Tempo front rack barbell squat x10-12
  2. Lateral lunge to single-leg knee drive to clean and press x40 seconds on each side
  3. Kneeling wood chop to split lunge lift x40 seconds on each side

Perform the exercises above as a circuit for three rounds. Rest for 20 seconds between exercises, and 30 seconds after each complete circuit.

1. Tempo front rack squat

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a front rack squat

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a front rack squat

(Image credit: Les Mills / Justin Riley)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10-12

  • Stand upright with a barbell resting across your shoulders. You can also have a moderate-heavy dumbbell or kettlebell held tightly to your chest in the goblet squat position. 
  • Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself as if you were sitting down into a chair behind you. 
  • Take three seconds to lower yourself as far as you can while keeping your chest up and your back flat, then drive through your feet to return to standing. Avoid pausing at the top and bottom of the rep.

2. Lateral lunge to single-leg knee drive to clean and press

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a lateral lunge to single-leg knee drive to curl to press

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a lateral lunge to single-leg knee drive to curl to press

(Image credit: Les Mills / Justin Riley)

Sets: 3 Reps: 40 seconds on each side

  • Take a wide stance with a lighter weight plate, dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand, and your right arm hanging in front of your body. 
  • Lean onto your left leg, bending your knee so you’re in a lateral (side) lunge. 
  • Hold the bottom of the lateral lunge for one second, then push through your left foot and drive your left knee upwards so you’re standing upright on your right leg and your left thigh is parallel with the floor. 
  • As you do this, curl the weight in your right hand to your shoulder and press it overhead so your biceps end up by your ear. 
  • Hold this balance position for one second, then step back into a lateral lunge.
  • Continue this for 40 seconds, then repeat this on the other side of your body.

3. Kneeling wood chop to split lunge lift

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a kneeling wood chop to split lunge lift

Les Mills trainer Justin Riley demonstrating a kneeling wood chop to split lunge lift

(Image credit: Les Mills / Justin Riley)

Sets: 3 Reps: 40 seconds on each side

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a lighter weight plate, dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands in front of you. Your arms should be fully extended diagonally across your body and the weight should be held to the right of your hips. 
  • Step back with your right foot into a reverse lunge, keeping your torso upright and lowering your right knee until it’s on the ground.
  • Brace your core and raise your knee a few inches off the ground. As you do this, lift the plate diagonally across your body so it ends up above your left shoulder with your arms extended overhead. Your hips and shoulders should remain square and facing forward as you do this.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the right of your hip, and drop your knee back to the floor. 
  • Continue this sequence for 40 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.