5 Multitasking Full-Body Exercises

These moves work several muscle groups at once, saving you time during your workout.

By: Erin Keane Scott

Between nine-hour workdays and networking happy hours, sometimes squeezing in time at the gym feels downright impossible. Personal trainer Jay Morgan of Born to be Fit says workouts should be less about time spent on the treadmill and more about bringing high intensity for maximum results, even if you just have 20 minutes. He suggests combining these five moves that work several muscle groups at the same time for an efficient and effective workout.

1) Knee-to-Elbow Planks
Muscles worked:
Glutes, hamstrings, hips, back, and core

Morgan says any fitness regime should start by strengthening the core, which is commonly misconceived as being all about abs—core exercises also engage your back and hip muscles.

Start off with a basic front plank, supporting your upper body with your forearms and aligning your body from head to heels. (Before progressing, you should be able to hold this position for at least 60 seconds.)

After mastering the front plank, try the knee-to-elbow variation: Bring your right knee to your right elbow, then repeat the same movement with your left knee to left elbow.

2) Jump Rope
Muscles worked: Full body
In terms of conditioning and calorie burn, jumping rope is far from child’s play. A 200-pound person can burn up to 1,000 calories with an hour of jumping rope; it also improves heart health and helps strengthen joints.

Practice this move as a Tabata interval: eight reps of 20 seconds jumping at maximum intensity with 10 seconds of rest in between.


3) Pushup
Muscles worked:
Core, chest, and triceps
“I can’t leave out the pushup,” Morgan says. This fundamental training exercise works the stabilizing muscles in your core as well as your chest and triceps. To add even more difficulty, try burpees or plyo pushups.


4) Squat With Thruster
Muscles worked:
Glutes, quads, lower and upper back muscles

Hold hand weights or a barbell at shoulder height with your elbows bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Sink into a squat as if you are going to sit in a chair, keeping your weight in your heels. When you rise from the squat, push the weights over your head in an explosive motion.

5) Turkish Get Up
Muscles worked:
Core, shoulders, and rotator cuffs
“This exercise has two major benefits,” Morgan says. “It’s all about function and structural integrity.”

Start by lying on the ground, holding a five- to ten-pound weight in your right hand. Lift your right arm straight up so it’s perpendicular to your body. Bend your right knee. Then stand up, always keeping the weight overhead. Once you’re all the way up, get back down into the starting position, still keeping the weight overhead. Alternate sides and complete as many reps as possible in one minute.

The Full-Body Workout (to Lose Weight)
10 pushups

10 squat thrusters

5 Turkish get ups

30 seconds jump rope

30 seconds knee-to-elbow planks

Rest 1 minute. Repeat circuit as many times as possible.


The Full-Body Workout (to Strengthen and Tone)

15 squat thrusters

15 Turkish get ups

15 pushups

1 minute jump rope

1 minute knee-to-elbow planks

Repeat three times.

All photos courtesy of Shutterstock.