Work Out at Home with These Five Full-Body Movements

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Back in the old days when we talked about isolation exercises, we meant exercises that isolate a particular muscle group: the biceps, the quads, the glutes, or another area. But now in these days of Coronavirus self-quarantine, isolation exercises have taken on a whole new meaning. Now an isolation exercise is anything we can pull off in our bedrooms or dens while we’re avoiding the rest of the world.

In a lot of cases, unfortunately, these are still isolation exercises in the old-fashioned sense. We do a few bicep curls, a few crunches, maybe some tricep extensions, and then it’s back to the couch for another round of Tiger King.

There’s a Better Way to Workout at Home

If you want more bang for your buck when you’re stuck at home, consider a workout that incorporates compound exercises. As opposed to isolation exercises, compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time. These full-body movements are great for functional fitness, and they have the added bonus of working cardiovascular fitness into strength training.

These exercises can often be performed with the simplest of at-home exercise equipment, if they need any equipment at all. We’re talking about exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder presses, kettlebell swings, burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, and inverted rows.

The advantages of full-body movement exercises include higher calorie burn, shorter exercise time, improved coordination and balance, and improved strength gains from greater muscle engagement. The disadvantage is that these exercises can be intense, hard work. (But as always, how hard you work is up to you.)

Compound Exercises with Full-Body Movements

Give some of these a try to see what they can do for your workout:


Burpees are a classic for good reason. They’re great for cardio and they work your core, legs, arms, chest, and back. Love them or hate them, they’re hard to beat for a full-body exercise.

Start by standing up straight, then lower to a squat position. Put your hands on the floor then kick your feet back so that you’re in a push-up position. Now do a push-up. Now stand up and jump. Now do it all over again, over and over, as fast as you can with good form. Don’t forget to smile.


You can use weights for squats if you want, or you can use resistance tubing, or you can use nothing but your own body weight. You can do squats anywhere, anytime. They’re great for the core, the entire lower body, and even the back and shoulders.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your abs and keep your shoulders back. Move your butt and hips back as if you were about to sit in a chair. Try to keep your weight on your heels as you lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Rise back up to the starting position. Repeat often. If it’s been a while since you’ve done this, have fun trying to sit on the toilet for the next few days.

Woman doing renegade rows in her home

Renegade Rows

You know how to do a push up, right? Plank position, shoulders over hands, tight abs and glutes, lower your chest to the floor? Push yourself back up? Okay, great. Now do it with dumbbells in each hand, and after each push up alternately lift one of the dumbbells up to your body, then slowly lower it back down. Renegade rows are great for the back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and core, so do it again. Repeat until the fun is gone, then do it some more.

Dumbbell or Barbell Thrusters

Now that you’ve mastered simple squats, you can take the exercise to the next level by incorporating shoulder presses. You can do thrusters with dumbbells or barbells, or you can use resistance bands. This is like a squat but you’re holding resistance in each hand in front of each shoulder. As you rise up you raise your arms overhead until you’re standing with your arms fully extended upward. You’re getting good at this. Your legs, arms, and shoulders are getting stronger, and your core is like a rock.


Woodchoppers use all the muscle groups of your body, top to bottom and bottom to top. It’s great for core stability, balance, and coordination.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width and hold a weighted ball or dumbbell at about forehead level. You can also modify this exercise with a resistance band anchored to the wall above shoulder height. Rotate as if you were going to throw the weight down and behind you, tightening your abs as you move your body into a lunge stance with both knees bent and your arms now straightened (keep your grip on that weight!). To reverse, tighten up those abs again and explode up through the legs to back into the starting position. Repeat fifteen times to one side, then fifteen times to the other. It hurts, but you’re a better person now. Who needs Tiger King?

If you’re going stir crazy in quarantine, spend some time trying some new full-body workouts that you can do at home. With minimal or no equipment, you can still get a great workout in!