Back at the Gym? Build Total-body Strength with This 5-move Workout

Jamie Millar
·2-min read
Photo credit: valentinrussanov - Getty Images
Photo credit: valentinrussanov - Getty Images

Strength is “the master quality”, says strength coach Dan John, who broke the US record for the throws pentathlon. Put another way, if other qualities are liquids, strength is the cup: whatever your goal, a shot glass can only handle so much.

John focuses on the five foundational movements – push, pull, hinge (the deadlift or swing, for example), squat and loaded carries – with tension, so they’re effectively “moving planks”. Then it’s about progressing onto more advanced variations – say, from a goblet to overhead squat – and increasing your load. He favours sets of five. “It works, and I’m not going to mess with it.” Take on this sample workout, resting as needed. With only 20 minutes’ effort, you’ll be “hauling balls”. So to speak.

A/ Military Press

2 sets of 5 reps

Hold a pair of dumbbells above your shoulders (A), then press them above you (B). Ensure that you don’t flare your ribcage or arch your back. Lower.

B/ Pull-up

2 sets of 5 reps

Hang from a bar with an overhand grip (A). Pull your shoulder blades down and drive your elbows behind your back until your chin clears the bar (B).

C/ Trap Bar Deadlift

2 sets of 5 reps

Your shins in line with the weights, hinge at your hips and grab the handles (A). Lift with your legs and squeeze your glutes at the top (B).

D/ Goblet Squat

2 sets of 5 reps

Hold a dumbbell to your chest with both hands (A). Squat until your elbows brush your knees (B). Keep your upper body upright throughout.

E/ Suitcase Carry

Loaded carries have been the biggest game changer in John’s 40 years of coaching. Hold the heaviest bell you can manage (A) and walk for as long as your grip lasts. Switch sides (B).

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