Use this strength coach’s beginner gym workout to hit your whole body with just six moves

Strengthen your entire body and build confidence in the gym with this session plan

A woman speaking to a strength coach in the gym
(Image credit: Getty Images / Anchiy)

When I first walked into a gym a decade ago, I made a beeline for a treadmill and stayed there for an hour. Why? Because that was the only thing I felt comfortable doing. 

As the weeks went on, the thing that gave my confidence the biggest boost was coming in with a plan of action. I found a program online and followed it to the letter, learning about different exercises, their benefits, and how to perform them properly. 

To help you do the same, strength coach and founder of Strength Ambassadors Sally Moss has created a beginner strength training workout. There are only six moves, but it will recruit every major muscle group, building on both your confidence and your fitness levels.

How to do Sally Moss’s full-body workout

1. Warm-up 

2A. Dumbbell back squat 5x8

2B. Cable row 5x10-12

3A. Dumbbell split squat 3x10 on each leg

3B. Push-up 3x8-10

4A. Dumbbell shoulder press x10,8,6,4,2

4B. Sit-up x10,8,6,4,2

This workout includes a warm-up, two strength-boosting supersets, and a quick muscular endurance challenge.

For the warm-up, perform the three exercises outlined below as a circuit, and repeat for two total rounds. 

A superset is two exercises paired together and performed back to back with a minimal break in between. Below they are labeled as A and B. Only rest once both moves have been completed, which will allow you to do more work in less time. 

For the final section (part four below) you will perform alternating sets of dumbbell shoulder presses and sit-ups for five rounds, resting as little as possible. You will start by doing 10 repetitions of each, then do two less each round until you reach zero. The goal is to do this as fast as you can while maintaining good form. 

1. Warm-up

Two rounds of: 

2A. Dumbbell squat

A woman performing a dumbbell squat

(Image credit: Getty Images / AldoMurillo)

Sets: 5 Reps: 8 Rest:

  • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell upright at your chest, with both hands clasping one head.
  • Push your hips back to initiate the movement, then bend your knees to lower your hips towards the floor as far as you can while keeping your back flat and chest up. 
  • When you reach your lowest point, drive through your feet to return to standing. 

2B. Cable row

A woman performing a seated cable row

(Image credit: Getty Images / Inspired_By_The_Light)

Sets: 5 Reps: 10-12 Rest: 60-90 seconds 

  • Sit opposite a cable machine, or at a cable row machine (like the one in the image above) if your gym has one. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and lean forward to grasp the seated row attachment in both hands. 
  • Sit upright, brace your core, then pull the attachment in a straight line to your belly button. 
  • Slowly control it back to the starting position.

3A. Dumbbell split squat

A woman performing a split squat

(Image credit: Getty Images / JulPo)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10 on each leg Rest:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your side. Step your right foot forward, keeping your feet roughly hip-width apart. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your weight on your right foot and both feet planted, slowly lower your left knee to the floor.
  • Drive through your right foot to return to the starting position, with both legs straight. That’s one rep.

3B. Push-up

A woman performing a hands-elevated push-up

(Image credit: Getty Images / Undrey)

Sets: 3 Reps: 8-10 Rest: 60-90 seconds 

  • Get into a high plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, your weight spread between your hands and your toes and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. 
  • Keeping your elbows fairly close to your torso, rather than flaring them out to the side, lower your chest until it’s less than an inch from the floor. 
  • Drive through your hands to return to the starting position, keeping your core braced and your body in a straight line throughout. To make this move easier, place your hands on an elevated surface like a plyo box or weight bench.

4A. Dumbbell shoulder press

A woman performing a dumbbell shoulder press

(Image credit: Getty Images / Milica Zivkovic)

Sets: 5 Reps: 10,8,6,4,2 Rest:

  • Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, held at your shoulders. 
  • With the dumbbells held at a 45° angle with your body, extend your arms straight upwards until your arms are straight and your biceps are by your ears. 
  • Slowly reverse this motion to lower the dumbbells to your shoulders.

4B. Sit-up

A woman performing a sit-up

(Image credit: Getty Images / GradyReese)

Sets: 5 Reps: 10,8,6,4,2 Rest:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and pointing upwards, and your feet planted on the floor hip-width apart. 
  • Place your hands lightly on your temples, then curl your spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time until you are sitting upright. 
  • Control yourself back to the starting position. 

Need some weights for your workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

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.