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mbg Moves with Helen Phelan
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Last updated on August 31, 2021
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Welcome to mbg moves! We've been working out at home more than ever lately—and we know our readers are, too. To help keep your fitness routine feeling fresh, we're releasing a new at-home workout every Monday, to start your week off strong.
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Exercises that target specific body zones like your core and legs are fantastic—but when you've got only a few minutes to sneak in some movement, full-body moves are golden. Not to mention, working your entire body, rather than honing on specific muscle groups can offer some additional perks, too.

Benefits of total-body exercises.

Of course, one benefit of full-body moves is efficiency—after all, you're challenging all parts of your body in one exercise. This generally means employing muscles in your upper body, lower body, and core at the same time. As such, the method often calls for compound exercises (or a combination of two or more movements), which are ideal for functional strength building.

On the note of convenience, full body exercises and workouts are also great if you prefer not to commit to a specific weekly fitness regimen. For example, if one week you can exercise five days a week, and the next you can only squeeze in two workouts, opting for full-body routines ensures you don't neglect or overtax specific muscle groups. (Read more on finding an ideal fitness routine here.)

Ultimately, if your fitness goal is to build a healthy, balanced body, full-body exercises are a great go-to.

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10 full-body exercises.

Below, we've compiled some top-notch, full-body exercises from a few of our favorite fitness trainers. The best part? With these moves, you don't need any equipment (except, maybe a yoga mat for comfort) to get a phenomenal total-body burn.

To create a complete full-body workout, string three to four of these exercises together, and complete each for one to two minutes. Then, if time permits, repeat this circuit three times. Otherwise, these exercises are great to add to any bodyweight routine, or try one out whenever you need a quick movement break:


Mountain Climbers

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  1. Start in a plank pose, with shoulders over wrists. Pull waist in, drag shoulder blades down the back, and engage the core.
  2. Fire up the belly by pulling one knee in, then the other. That's one rep. 
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Half Pushup Hover

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  1. Get into a plank position, with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Engage your core.
  2. Bend your elbows, and slowly lower until your body is halfway toward the floor.
  3. Hold for a few breaths, then lower to the ground.
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Single-Leg Tabletop Triceps Pushup

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  1. Start on all fours, in a tabletop position. Stack the shoulders right on top of the hands and your hips right over your knees.
  2. Extend one leg out, keeping it at hip height. Be sure the hips stay parallel. Keep your elbows pointed toward your knees.
  3. Inhale as you bend your elbows, and bring your chest toward the floor. Go as far down as you can; try to line your nose up with your fingertips. Press the opposite shin into the ground.
  4. Engage your core, and slowly lift your chest back up to start. Keep your chest open, but don't arch your back. 
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Bird Dog

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  1. Get on all fours, and place shins flat on the ground. Release your shoulder blades away from your ears.
  2. Inhale as your reach your right arm and left leg up, stretching away from your body. As you lift, don't arch your back or bring your leg too high. Tuck your pelvis and hug your abdominals in; squeeze your glutes for stability.
  3. Exhale as your return your arm and leg back to the ground.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Bird Dog in Knee Hover

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  1. Start on all fours. Float your knees a couple of inches off the ground, and hold.
  2. Without shifting your hips, inhale and extend your right arm forward. Exhale as you crunch your abs and pull your elbow toward your torso. Reach it back out, then return it to the ground.
  3. Inhale as you extend your left leg out, squeeze through the glutes. Try not to lift your leg up much higher than your torso. Then exhale to curl your spine and crunch your body inward.
  4. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. 


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  1. Start in a standing position.
  2. Jump to the right, landing on your right foot, while lifting the left foot behind you.
  3. Immediately reverse the movement and repeat on the other side.
  4. Continue to jump from one side to the other.

Jumping Jack

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, with arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms out to the sides and over your head. At the same time, jump your feet out so they're wider than hip-width apart.
  3. Quickly reverse the movement and return to start. That's one rep. 

Plank Jacks

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  1. Come into a high-plank position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
  2. Jump your feet out so they're wider than your mat. Then quickly jump them back to start.

Forearm Plank

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  1. Start on all fours, then bring your forearms to the mat.
  2. Extend your legs out, and lift your body up.
  3. Pull your belly button toward the spine, press your forearms into the ground, press your shoulders down to your hips, and squeeze the glutes. This helps engage the whole body.

Squat + Rope Pulls

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  1. Hinge at your hips, and sit back into a squat position.
  2. As you inhale, stand up and reach your arms overhead.
  3. Quickly lower back into a squat, and pull your hands to your sides, as if you're pulling a rope down.
  4. Continue quickly repeating this movement for 10 seconds.

Star Taps

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  1. Come into a wide stance.
  2. Inhale as you lift up onto your toes and reach arms overhead.
  3. As you exhale, bend your knees, bend down, and press your fingertips into the mat.


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  1. Start in a high plank position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
  2. Keep your arms tucked to your sides, bend your elbows, and lower down until your body is hovering over the ground.
  3. Engage your core, press through your hands, and come back to a high plank position.

Total-body strength workouts:

If you'd like to try a complete full-body workout routine, here are a few of our favorites:

Kristine Thomason
Kristine Thomason
mbg Health & Fitness Director

Kristine Thomason is the health and fitness director at mindbodygreen. Kristine is a New York University graduate with a degree in journalism and psychology, and also a NASM-certified personal trainer. She has spent her editorial career focused on health and well-being, and formerly worked for Women’s Health and Health. Her byline has also appeared in Men’s Health, Greatist, Refinery29, HGTV, and more. In her current role she oversees, edits, and writes for the health, food, and movement sections of mindbodygreen.