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Introducing strength training into your workouts can definitely seem like an intimidating move, but there are plenty of ways to ease into this new part of your fitness journey.

For one, you don’t have to jump straight into barbell work. Strength training encompasses bodyweight exercises that can also be enhanced with dumbbells. To help you narrow down your routine to the best beginner moves, Corey Phelps, nutrition expert, NASM personal trainer, certified BASI Pilates teacher, TRX and Spinning instructor, and creator of the fitness app Cultivate365, shared a strengthening workout that can help any level master fundamental movements.

Corey’s biggest recommendation: “Keep it simple, start small, and build from there,” she told POPSUGAR. “If you do too much in the beginning, you may end up overly sore, which can be discouraging and ultimately hinder you from keeping a consistent schedule.”

Back to Basics: This Fundamental Workout Will Help You Strengthen at Any Level

Her workout below targets major muscle groups and serves as a helpful way to measure your progress. Once you’re able to complete 15 reps with ease, it’s time to move onto heavier weights.

The workout:

  • Squats
  • Walking lunges
  • Shoulder presses
  • Bicep curls
  • Overhead triceps extensions
  • Reverse abdominal crunches

Complete 10 to 12 reps for each move for a total of four sets. Not challenging enough? Increase your reps to 12 to 15 for a total of five sets.

See the moves ahead!


  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.
  • Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips and sending them back as the knees begin to bend.
  • Make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward gazing straight ahead for a neutral spine. (Optimal squat depth is hips below the knees.)
  • Engage core and explode back up to standing, driving through heels.

Walking Lunges

  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Initiate the movement by stepping forward and lowering the body by flexing the hip and knee of the front leg until the rear knee is just about to touch the ground and the heel is pointed up. The thigh of the forward leg should be parallel to the ground.
  • Push off the floor with the rear leg and step the foot up to meet the front foot.
  • Repeat leading with the leg that was previously in the rear. This is one rep. Keep alternating legs in a walking motion.

Shoulder Press

  • Begin standing with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms bent to a 90-degree angle at shoulder height, palms of your hands facing forward.
  • Now, exhale and push the dumbbells upward and overhead until they touch at the top.
  • Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while inhaling.

Bicep Curl

  • Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Keep your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands until they face up toward your head.
  • Keeping the upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights up while contracting your biceps. Continue to raise the weights until biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Hold for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Overhead Triceps Extension

  • To begin, stand up with a dumbbell held in each hand. Feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Lift dumbbells overhead until both arms are fully extended, the palms of the hands facing up toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your upper arms close to your head with elbows in and perpendicular to the floor, lower the dumbbells behind your head.
  • Press back to the starting position by using the triceps to raise the dumbbell. Exhale as you perform this step.

Reverse Crunch

    • Lie down on the floor with your legs fully extended and arms at your side, palms on the floor. Your arms should be stationary for the entire exercise.
    • Lift legs up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your knees together, bent at 90-degree angles.
    • While inhaling, use your core to pull your knees toward your chest. Move your legs toward the torso as you roll your pelvis back and you raise your hips off the floor. At the end of this movement, your knees should be touching your chest.
    • Hold for a second and move your legs back to the starting position while exhaling.

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