TD’s 7 Must-Do Exercises to be Strong From Foot to Fingertip

As a fitness professional, I’m always asked about my favorite, must-do exercises…

If I’m being honest, the best exercise isn’t what you’d expect.

The truth is, It’s simply whatever exercise you’ll actually commit to.

That said, I have a unique list 7 exercises I consider my favorites… and my guess is, at least 1-2 of them will be brand-spankin’ new to you.

TD’s 7 Must-Do Exercises

Here are my go-to movements to ensure you’re strong, healthy, and mobile from feet to fingertips!


Squats are a staple of all of my workouts and should be of yours, too. With so many ways to do them, you should practice this functional movement pattern frequently.

A few of my favorites are dumbbell or kettlebell goblet squats, kettlebell sumo squats, and of course, TRX Pistol Squats. I’m not a big barbell squat guy due to past back injuries, but if you can do them pain-free, go for it! I highly suggest incorporating power work through jump squats, unilateral work through single-leg squats, and strength work through standard squats into all of your programming. #MixItUp


Are you sensing a trend? Step-ups are another great functional movement that blast your entire body, with an emphasis on the legs. The secret coaching cue here is to think about lifting UP with your top leg, rather than pushing off of your back foot. This will maximize glute and quad activation, which is a must for successful step-ups.

Dumbell step-ups and kettlebell step-ups are go-to exercises for me, and I tend to use different speed patterns to keep my muscles guessing. This may mean holding for a 2-3 count at the top of the movement to emphasis balance and stability, or completing as many reps (AMRAP) as possible in a set time period to crush calories.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts:

As mentioned previously, unilateral work, AKA single-leg work, is a must. It challenges your balance, stability, and smaller muscles, while giving you the same benefits of the standard movement. It’s a great way to add an extra challenge to your favorite exercises.

Try single-leg Romanian Deadlifts with a kettlebell or dumbbell, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. You can even alternate the hand that holds the DB or KB as you get used to the movement. Oh, and PS: Don’t let the leg that’s rising ever touch the ground!

TRX Rows:

I’d be shocked if you’re surprised by this one. I LOVE to hit my backside with those iconic black and yellow straps courtesy of some TRX rows. The best part? You can easily adjust the tension by moving closer and further from the anchor point. Your goal should be to complete 10-15+ reps nearly horizontal with the floor.

Want to kick it up a notch? Once you’re hitting horizontal rows, give single-arm TRX rows try. They BURN so GOOD!!!

Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press:

Swapping the barbell for dumbbells when doing chest press is a great way to ease the tension on your shoulders and add a bit of stability work. Begin with your arms fully extended at the top of the movement. Lower one arm at a time, press back to ur starting point, and alternate for 12-15 reps with each arm. Then, start each rep at the bottom of the movement and alternate pressing for 12-15 reps with each arm. Finally, complete 6 more DOUBLE reps. Can you say cooked chest!?

Look, the circuit above isn’t for everyone, but alternating dumbbell chest presses are. Start light and work your way up as you master the movement and build that chest.

Core Rotations:

For anyone who has read the IMPACT! Body Plan, you already know the importance of playing in the transverse plane of motion. This often overlooked plane is all about rotational work (90% of you’ are not getting enough rotational work). With this movement, you’ll rotate your way to a strong, chiseled core.

While there’s many ways to rotate, here are a few of my favorites (and another throwback version). Oh, and I also LOVE anti-rotations. When you’re fighting to restrict rotation, you get a whole boatload of benefits. Try ‘em both and thank me later :).

Arm Farm:

Guys, you know what I’m talking about (ladies, too)!!! You gotta hit the arm farm and blast those triceps and biceps.

A few of my top “Arm-Farm” exercises include 21’s, band or chain curls, rope overhead extensions, and rope tricep pressdowns. The best way to blow up your arms is to combine a few of your favorite arm exercises into your own arm-farm circuit. There’s nothing like leaving the gym with a huge pump!

As always, you gotta train foot to fingertip for success. I hope you enjoyed my 7 Must-Do Exercises! My friends, ask and you shall receive. If you have anymore questions, you know what to do!


About the Author

Todd Durkin is an internationally-recognized performance trainer, speaker, and author. He presents motivational keynote talks worldwide to a wide array of audiences and is committed to creating massive IMPACT in the world.

He loves leading and coaching at his gym, Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA.
He loves coaching other fire-breathing dragons in his Mastermind Group for fitness pros.
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