3-Day Total-Body Strength Workout

Shana Verstegen
by Shana Verstegen
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Long weekends tend to evoke images of vacations and quick getaways, but they can also be just what you need to jump-start a strength-training streak. Of course, you don’t need an official long weekend to do this workout. Just pick three consecutive days — you can even start on a Tuesday. You’re in control!


The goal for this 3-day workout is strength, thus you are aiming for heavy weight, and longer rest breaks. Every exercise is completed 10 times (or as close as you can get with good form) and 3 sets, separated by a minimum a 1-minute rest break.

Traditionally, it’s best to take at least a day between heavy resistance-training workouts to allow your muscles time to recover, heal and develop. However, if you focus on different areas of the body for your back-to-back lifting sessions, you can easily become a weekend-warrior for strength training.

The only tools necessary are dumbbells or other heavy objects you can hold onto safely. Begin with a minimum of 5 minutes of cardiovascular and mobility warmups before completing each workout.



Begin by holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand of the planted foot. Keep a neutral spine and only a slight bend in the planted leg as you hinge forward, keeping square with the ground. Once the end range of a flat torso is reached, lower that leg back to the ground.

Pro tip: Ensure a neutral spine throughout the entire movement. Forward flexion not only takes away from the exercise but also puts excessive strain on the lumbar spine.


Hold a heavier dumbbell vertically by one end against your chest. Your feet should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart with toes turned out slightly. Drop your hips straight down to the floor with your chest open and shoulders anchored down and back. Pretend you are separating the floor with your feet and engage your glutes as you power back up to the starting position.


Dumbbell Stepups

Select a box, bench or step that is about knee height. Grasp a fairly heavy dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang straight by your sides. Plant your right foot flat and firm on the box with toes pointing directly forward. Squeezing from the glutes on the right side, keep the right knee tracking directly over the middle toes, and press to a stand. Balance on top of the step for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position. After the prescribed number of reps, repeat on the other side.


Begin with your feet together and standing upright. Step wider than hip-width apart with your right leg, keeping the toes of your right foot pointed forward as you land. Immediately upon coming in contact with the floor, bend at the knee and sink your right hip down and back. Press back to the starting position. After the prescribed number of reps, repeat on the other side.



Begin by holding a dumbbell in one hand. Hinge the hips back and lower the bell to just above your knee. Simultaneously unhinge your hips, pull the dumbbell up along your body, and bring it overhead with speed and power.


While holding a moderate-to-heavy dumbbell in the left hand, place your right hand and right knee on a bench. Establish a neutral spine, gaze forward slightly, engage behind the left shoulder blade, and pull the dumbbell to the rib cage. After the prescribed number of reps, repeat on the other side.


Dumbbell Bench Press

Grab two dumbbells and safely lay on a bench or the ground. Press both bells up toward the ceiling, then lower them down, stopping with the dumbbells about an inch above your chest. Ensure the core stays braced, wrists are neutral, and the dumbbells go straight up toward the ceiling.


Begin with two dumbbells in line with your earlobes and hands turned in to face one another. Keeping a strong, stable core, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Avoid shoulder shrugging or arching your back.



Plank With Reach

Begin in a high plank or forearm plank position, with your body in a tight, straight line and feet about shoulder-width apart. With minimal movement in the rest of the body, extend one arm out in line with your shoulder, hold for a count of two, set it down and repeat on the other side


Side Plank Leg Raise

Line your elbow up with your shoulder and your shoulder with your hip and heel. With a tight, braced core, push the ground away from you, staying active in the shoulder joint. Squeeze your glutes and drive your hips forward. To add the leg raise, lift your top leg up about 6 inches and slightly back to engage your glutes. Lower and return.


Hanging Leg Raises

Grab a pullup bar (or anything you can hang safely from) with your palms facing forward. Brace your core and lift your toes as high as possible. Return to the original position slow and controlled, avoiding any swinging. To cut back the intensity, consider bending your knees and pulling them to your chest in a tuck position.



Begin by lying on your stomach with your body long, arms overhead and toes pointed. Squeeze the glutes and lift your arms and legs off of the floor. Lower back down to almost touching and repeat, arching back up into position.

Check out “Workout Routines” in the MyFitnessPal app to discover and log workouts or build your own with exercises that fit your goals.

About the Author

Shana Verstegen
Shana Verstegen

Shana is a TRX and American Council on exercise master instructor and a six-time world champion lumberjack athlete. She holds a degree in Kinesiology
- Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a certified personal trainer through ACE, NASM and NFPT. An energetic and personable speaker, she is also the National spokesperson for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.


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