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Danny King, a master trainer at Life Time,  created three mini workouts — one upper body (featured here), one lower body, and one core — each designed to take no more than 10 minutes. They can be done alone, stacked, or performed separately at different times on a given day. Doing one (or more) of these mini workouts might even inspire you to try another fitness activity, such as walking, cycling, or yoga.

They’re also great options for active recovery. If your legs are tired from a long run the day before, for instance, the upper-body or core routine might feel great.

The Upper-Body Workout

  • Complete at least two and as many as four rounds, resting as necessary between rounds.
  • If you can easily complete 15 reps of a dumbbell exercise, King recommends increasing the weight.

Dumbbell Row

This exercise strengthens the major muscles of the upper back, including the lats, traps, and rhomboids, as well your biceps.


  • Holding a dumbbell in one hand, stand alongside a weight bench and place your opposite-side hand and knee on the bench.
  • Keeping your back flat, pull the dumbbell upward toward the side of your body, squeezing your shoulder blade toward the middle of your back.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

Dumbbell Chest Press

This exercise strengthens muscles of your chest, shoulders, and arms. Using dumbbells versus a barbell requires more stabilization from your shoulders.


  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back on the bench with feet on the floor.
  • Press the weights straight up over your chest, fully extending your arms at the top of the movement.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

(For more on this move, see “BREAK IT DOWN: The Bench Press.”)

Dumbbell Pullover

This exercise strengthens your chest, shoulders and back while also improving shoulder mobility and engaging your core to stabilize.


  • Holding a single dumbbell, lie back on a bench with feet up. Engage your core and flatten your low back into the bench. Hold one end of the dumbbell with two hands and straighten your arms up toward the ceiling.
  • Extend your arms back behind your head, lowering the weight as you keep your core engaged and maintain a flat back. Keep your arms straight but not locked.
  • Return the weight to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

Modification: Try the movement first without a weight and aim to extend your arms until they are in line with your ears. Then progress to a load that you can manage while maintaining the same range of motion and keeping your back flat on the bench.

Feeling Great?

Try stacking with the 10-Minute Lower-Body Workout or the 10-Minute Core Workout from this workout or, try another fitness activity, such as taking a walk, biking, or yoga.

This was excerpted from “Three 10-Minute Workouts to Build a Full-Body Strength Routine” which was published in Experience Life magazine.

Photography by: Colin Simmons; Styling: Pam Brand; Model: Desyree Starr
Nicole Radziszewski

Nicole Radziszewski is a writer and personal trainer in River Forest, Ill. She blogs at

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