These six moves are all you need to build muscle all over

Learn six muscle-building moves (and why they're so effective) with this trainer's full-body dumbbell routine

A woman performing a goblet squat
(Image credit: Getty)

Walking into the gym for the first time can be a daunting experience, with all sorts of confusing machines and free weights scattered about the place. That's why we recommend going in with a clear, effective exercise plan — a sure-fire way to build both strength and confidence. 

This beginner-friendly workout from certified strength and conditioning specialist Katie Crewe (opens in new tab) is the perfect place to start. Not only does the Canadian trainer introduce you to six muscle-building moves, but she also explains how to perform each one and which muscles it will work. 

Most of the exercises can be done with just a pair of dumbbells too, so you can practice this session at home before hitting the gym. The best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) are great for gym-free workouts as you can change their weight to suit your strength level, but a fixed set will also work. 

Crewe recommends warming up for each exercise with a light set of 5-10 repetitions. Once you feel comfortable with the technique, perform each one for three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, leaving 60-90 seconds between sets. 

For the best results, use a weight that is light enough to maintain good form, but still feels challenging to lift for the final two or three repetitions. Watch Crewe's videos below for an introduction to each of the six exercises, as well as form tips and information on their benefits. 

Watch Katie Crewe's full-body workout

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If you want to try this workout at home before taking it to the gym, try using our simple substitutions to make it more accessible. 

Switch the dumbbell chest press for a dumbbell floor press (where you lie on the ground instead of a weight bench), perform the step-ups using a secure step or stool, and swap the cable rows for dumbbell bent-over dumbbell rows.

This resistance training workout may feel different to high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) (HIRT) or HIIT workouts for fat loss (opens in new tab) you've tried in the past. 

That's because these exercise styles focus on boosting your cardio and burning energy, whereas resistance (or weight) training workouts like Crewe's aim to build strength and muscle. 

As a result, resistance training workouts have longer rest times built in, giving your muscles time to recover slightly between sets. This way, you can hit each one with renewed intensity without having to lighten the load you're lifting. 

This can help you use the strength-boosting progressive overload (opens in new tab) principle, which (in a resistance training setting) simply means lifting weights you find challenging to tell the body it needs to grow stronger. 

Crewe's six-move session hits every major muscle group and is likely to feel quite taxing for beginners, so if you want to add it into your weekly workout plans we recommend using it as a standalone session for the day. 

You should also give your muscles enough time to recover and grow afterwards, so try resting or doing a lower-intensity activity the next day. A session from our running plan for beginners (opens in new tab) or a few flows using these eight anti-aging yoga moves (opens in new tab) should fit the bill nicely. 

Harry Bullmore

Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.

When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.

Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.