The Workout Move You CAN'T Skip

Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
By now, you’ve heard all about the benefits of strength training. It makes you fitter and gives you energy. It burns calories (even after you’re done). It helps keep your bones strong. And, it can boost your mood. But, if you’re just getting started, the weight room — with its racks of dumbbells and rows of clunky-looking machines — can be a little intimidating. “A lot of my female clients didn’t know their way around the gym, but once they learned a handful of key moves, their confidence grew,” says Chaz Dawson, a trainer at Equinox Wall Street in NYC.

To make strength training feel less overwhelming, it helps to understand the mechanisms behind it. A good weight-training move, Dawson says, will incorporate the push-pull effect. “Using this technique when you’re working out with weights helps balance your body by working on complimentary muscles equally,” he explains. After all, he adds, “exercise should replicate the natural movements humans make in everyday life, so your body can function at its best.” To that end, Dawson developed this push-pull strength-training routine you can do two to three times per week; it incorporates gym equipment such as cables, medicine balls, and weight benches. Click through for the seven total-body moves — and then stride into the weight room with authority.

Special thanks to Studio26.  
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Russian Twist With Medicine Ball
Targets shoulders, abs, and obliques

Sit on the floor with your legs extended and together, your knees bent, and your heels lifted from the floor. Keep your abs engaged and your back flat; lean back slightly. Hold a medicine ball in front of your chest, keeping your elbows by your sides.

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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Keep your eyes on the ball as you completely twist your torso (and the ball) from your right hip to your left hip to complete 1 rep.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Continue this movement as quickly as you can. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Variation: Do the move without a medicine ball. Instead, clasp your hands in a fist in front of your chest, or hold the ends of a dumbbell with both hands.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Dumbbell Overhead Press
Targets shoulders, back, chest, arms, and abs

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders, with your elbows bent out to the sides (like you're a goalpost) and your palms facing forward.

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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Press the dumbbells over your head, as if to tap the inner ends together, straightening your arms completely. Lower your arms to starting position and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Goblet Squat
Targets butt, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell vertically, with both hands, in front of your chest. Keep your elbows bent slightly out to the sides.


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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Squat, bending your knees 90 degrees and driving your hips back as if you’re sitting on a chair. Return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 12 reps. (Check out our video of this move to see the Goblet Squat in action.)

Variation: Skip the weight and keep your hands in fists in front of your chest.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Overhead Triceps Extension
Targets arms

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise your arms above your head (slightly forward from your body, not directly overhead). Keep your arms straight and your palms facing each other.

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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Bend your elbows to lower the weights behind your ears. Hold; then, straighten your arms to return to start. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Bench Crunch
targets abs, obliques, and arms

Sit on a bench and grip both sides of the bench (slightly behind your body) for stability. Bend your knees, lifting your legs in front of your chest, keeping your feet flexed.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Lean back 45 degrees and, keeping your feet together, kick your heels out in front of you, straightening your legs. Hold for one count. Reverse the motion to return to starting position by sitting up and tucking your knees back in toward your chest. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

Variation: Do the move on the floor instead of on a bench.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Reverse Lunge With Cable Row
Targets shoulders, chest, arms, abs, butt, and legs

Stand facing the cable machine, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure the cable is at waist level; then, grab the cable with your left hand, keeping your palm facing in.

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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Step back into a lunge with your left leg, bending both knees 90 degrees.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Once in lunge position, drive your left elbow back, pulling the cable toward your left hip, keeping your elbow close to your side. Reverse the motion to come back to standing. Do 8 reps; then, repeat on the opposite side. Do 3 sets total.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Deadlift
Targets back, abs, butt, quads, and hamstrings

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a 10-pound, weighted bar in front of your thighs. Keep your palms facing in toward your body.

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Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Renata Gar, Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey; Modeled by Ally Love.
Keeping your back flat throughout, slowly drive your hips back and, keeping your legs straight, lower your chest forward until your torso is parallel to the floor (the bar should reach your shins). Slowly reverse the motion to return to starting position — keeping your chin tucked, let the bar ride up your thighs as you pop your hips forward to standing. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Variation: Skip the bar, or hold a dumbbell in each hand instead.
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