This minimal equipment workout is perfect for a crowded gym

One round of this comprehensive session will build full-body strength

A woman exercising in the gym with a weight plate
(Image credit: Future)

An overcrowded gym can be a nightmare to navigate, with huge queues for machines, weights, and equipment. Fortunately, there’s one item that’s usually in plentiful supply: weight plates. And, as luck would have it, a pair of these is all you’ll need for this minimal equipment full-body workout.

If you want to try this session at home, you can easily do it with a pair of the best kettlebells (opens in new tab) or dumbbells. However, you’re more likely to find a spare pair of plates in a busy gym, allowing you to get straight into your workout without waiting around. 

This session is designed by ace trainer and co-founder of the popular Sweat app Kayla Itsines (opens in new tab), who specializes in creating short, effective workouts to help people improve their health and fitness. This session is no different, and can be completed in just 12 minutes. 

It involves 12 moves performed back-to-back. You only need to perform 12 repetitions of each movement, although if you want to increase the difficulty and length of the session you can complete two or even three rounds of the circuit. 

Watch Itsines demonstrate the 12 exercises below, and follow her technique cues to ensure you perform each one correctly. 

Watch Kayla Itsines' 12-move full-body workout

A post shared by KAYLA ITSINES (@kayla_itsines) (opens in new tab)

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This workout is cleverly programmed by Itsines to include a combination of exercises that work a wide range of muscles. She also incorporates compound exercises (opens in new tab) to engage multiple joints and muscle groups for time-efficient training (these are some of the best exercises for weight loss (opens in new tab) and boosting your metabolism). 

For example, bent-over rows will target your back and biceps, Romanian deadlifts primarily hit your hamstrings and glutes, and push presses will work your shoulders and triceps. Your core is also in for a challenging time, thanks to the bent-leg jacknifes, side-to-side twists, plate pull-throughs and standing oblique crunches. The result? A comprehensive full-body workout. 

If you’re new to resistance training and this looks a bit too difficult, try this core workout for beginners (opens in new tab) or these five exercises to workout triceps with dumbbells (opens in new tab) to build up your strength. 

You can use this workout as a full day of training, particularly if you complete two or more rounds of Itsines’ circuit, or you can use it as a finisher at the end of a full-body session. 

If you want to see results, it’s important to fuel your body properly after strength-building exercises, so make sure you’re consuming enough protein. This should be through whole foods where possible, but you can top-up your daily total with the best protein powders for weight loss (opens in new tab) if you’re struggling to hit your targets. 

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.