Total-body moves should feature in your training plan, whatever your goal, for several important reasons.

Because they recruit multiple muscles, and release a ton of growth hormones, they’re one of the best ways to build muscle and burn fat.

And the fact you’re targeting the whole body at once means they’re the perfect option for the busy man. If you only train three times a week, for example, incorporating some total-body training will give you maximum bang for your workout buck.

Finally, they teach your different muscles to work together as a single, efficient unit, which has huge crossover benefit to sports performance and even everyday life.

Getting good at the following moves will make you stronger and leaner, and help you build a robust, injury-repellant physique. 

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Clean 

Holding a dumbbell in one hand works that side of the body for balanced development, and is a great option ahead of advancing to the barbell version.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat and pick up the dumbbell.
  • Keeping your core braced, your chest up and a natural arch in your back, lift the weight off the ground by driving up through your heels.
  • Once the dumbbell reaches your hips, rise up on tiptoes, shrug your shoulders and pull it higher, leading with your elbow.
  • As the weight reaches shoulder height, squat under it and rotate your elbow so you catch it on the front of your shoulder.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

2. Tuck-Jump Burpee 

One of the most intense bodyweight moves, this will work all your major muscle groups and get your heart rate soaring.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Squat, place your hands on the floor and kick your legs back until you’re in a press-up position.
  • Bring your legs back underneath you and jump up, grabbing your knees at the end of the move will send your heart rate through the roof while also building explosive power.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

3. DB Lunge to Press 

Combine a lunge with a shoulder press to work many major muscle groups at once.

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, with palms facing forward.
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, back straight and core engaged.
  • Step forward into a lunge – your front knee and front foot should be in line.
  • Sink your back knee down, while pressing the weights directly overhead.
  • Step back to standing and repeat on the other leg.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

4. Kettlebell Slingshot 

Improve shoulder stability, grip and core strength with this excellent warm-up drill.

  • Start to swing the kettlebell around your body, passing it from hand to hand as you go. 
  • Try to keep the movement fluid, while keeping your core braced and back straight.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

5. KB Windmill 

Build stability and strength in your shoulders and obliques.

  • Press the kettlebell above your head into the start position. 
  • Keeping the leg under the bell straight and the other one slightly bent, lean your torso forward and to one side, so the other hand travels down your leg.
  • Keep both arms straight throughout.
  • Turn to face the kettlebell, now push out your hips in the same direction and fold forward until you can touch your foot (or as far as your flexibility will allow).
  • Reverse the movement to return to the start.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK 9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

6. DB Squat to Curl to Press 

This works your legs, core, biceps and shoulders in one full-body movement.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in hands.
  • Lower into a squat, keeping the weights by your sides.
  • Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, squeeze your glutes to return to standing.
  • As you do so, curl the weights up to shoulder height and squeeze your biceps.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to your sides, then drop into the next squat.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

7. DB Press-Up to Renegade Row 

This is the ultimate upper-body complex, working your core, shoulders, back and even a bit of biceps.

  • Assume a press-up position with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, directly below your shoulders.
  • Keeping your core engaged and elbows tucked, lower your chest until it’s almost in line with your hands, then push back up to the starting position.
  • Row the right dumbbell towards your ribs.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position, press-up, then row the left dumbbell.
  • Raise the tempo for cardio; slow things down to focus on strength.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

8. Crocodile Walk 

A deceptively difficult movement to set your abs, arms and quads alight.

  • Start in a press-up position, with your legs and arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself down until your torso is as low as it would get during a press-up. Keep your upper body as low as possible throughout the exercise, bracing your core and glutes to ensure your posture is correct.
  • Begin walking by bringing one knee up towards the elbow, simultaneously moving the opposite arm forward. Then repeat on the other side.

9 Of The Best Total-Body Moves To Build Lean Muscle | Men's Fitness UK

9. Wood Chop 

This rotational lift builds the connection between your upper and lower body, and helps build a strong core. 

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold one dumbbell in both hands and twist your torso to one side to position the weight on the outside of one thigh.
  • Keep your back flat and core engaged throughout.
  • Lift the dumbbell up and across your body with straight arms, rising up onto your toes as you lift.

 

Photography: Eddie Macdonald  |  Model: Marvin Brooks (W Models)

 

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