Dynamic Strength Training: 13 Exercises To Build Strength

Dynamic strength training: 13 exercises to build strength

Dynamic strength training is a great way to challenge yourself, build muscle and get those strength gains. It’s a good idea to include it into your routine but the best thing is, you’re most likely already implementing it into your fitness workout without even realising it.

Dynamic strength training is also known as isotonic strength training. It refers to exercises that involve movement. That means, the exercise requires your muscle and joints to move in order to be executed. Some examples of common dynamic strength movements are the push up, bench press and deadlift.

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What Is Dynamic Strength Training?

What Is Dynamic Strength Training.jpg

There are two types of strength training: isometric strength training and dynamic strength training. The chances are, you’ve been doing dynamic strength training without even realising it.


Isometric strength movements require you to hold a position, working on your mobility and stability.

While the muscles and joints involved do not move, it doesn’t mean it’s any less challenging than their dynamic counterparts.

Just think of the plank. The plank is a common static movement that can be difficult and challenging without even having to change positions.

Another isometric exercise could be holding a squat in the bottom position for a period of time. Again, you don’t move from the squat position, making it an isometric squat that can burn just as much as a dynamic squat.


Dynamic exercises are ones in which the muscles lengthen and shorten while the joints also move.

Any exercise in which you have to move a muscle to perform it, such as the push up, bicep curl, deadlift, are considered dynamic.

Related Article: The 10 Best Push Exercises

13 Dynamic Exercises To Build Strength

Here are some other dynamic exercises that you can include in your fitness workout. You can find upper body, core and lower body dynamic movements.



Overhead Press.jpg

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, back, arms

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Rest the barbell just at your collarbones, holding it with your hands in an overhand grip. Your grip should also be shoulder-width apart.

  2. Take a deep breath in and brace. Engage your core and glutes and push the bar up until it’s in an overhead position with your arms fully extended and locked out. Be careful to move your head back slightly as the bar passes your face, returning it to a neutral state once your head is clear of the bar.

  3. In a controlled motion, bring the bar back to the starting position and catch it lightly on your collarbone.

Notes: Don’t bend your knees and push up for momentum as this would make it a push press as opposed to an overhead press. In an overhead press, your legs should remain straight and unmoving. All the work should be done using your upper body.


Barbell Skullcrushers.jpg

Muscles worked: triceps

  1. Lie flat on the floor or bench, back to the ground.

  2. Hold the barbell up in an overhead grip. Your arms should be fully extended with your hands shoulder-width apart.

  3. Bend at the elbows, bringing the barbell back towards your forehead. Make sure that the only body part that is hinging is your elbows. The upper arm should stay motionless.

  4. Once you’ve gone as far as you can, bring the barbell back to the starting position.

Notes: This dynamic strength exercise can also be done with dumbbells. You can hold one dumbbell with both hands or use two, with one in each hand.


Pull Ups.jpg

Muscles worked: back (particularly the lats), biceps, triceps, delts, pecs

  1. Hang onto a pull up bar in an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your body should be hanging down, arms straight. Keep your body still.

  2. Engage and squeeze your lats.

  3. Pull up onto the bar until your chin is over the bar. If you can’t get to this height, try to get it as close as possible.

  4. Slowly, bring your body back to the starting position.

Notes: Pull ups can be a difficult exercise to master. To make them more accessible to beginners, you can use a resistance band by wrapping it around the bar and using it as support for your feet so you can pull up easier. Another way to make pull ups more beginner-friendly is by focusing on negative pull ups. This is jumping up off the ground or a box to get your chin over the bar and then slowly returning to the starting position yourself in a controlled motion. The aim is to get your chin over the bar for it to count as a rep.


Dumbbell Chest Press.jpg

Muscles worked: pecs, deltoids, triceps

  1. Lie flat on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground.

  2. old two dumbbells of equal weight, one in each hand in an overhand grip. The dumbbells should be at your chest, making sure your elbows are down.

  3. Inhale and push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended.

  4. Lower the weight slowly with control back to your chest.

  5. Repeat.

Notes: The dumbbells don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be touching together during this lift or at the top position.



Bird Dog.jpg

Muscles worked: core, stability

Begin on all fours. Your back should be straight and your wrists directly below your shoulders. Your knees should be shoulder-width apart, beneath your hips.

  1. Engage your abdominal muscles.

  2. Lift your left arm up until it’s level with your shoulder, extended out straight in front of you. Simultaneously, extend your right leg back  behind you until it’s hip level. Both your arm and leg should be suspended in the air at the same time.

  3. Hold this position steady. If you find yourself wobbling, try and find your balance by squeezing your core. Wait until you have your balance before moving onto the next step.

  4. Bring your arm and leg back to the kneeling position.

  5. Then, engage your core again and repeat on the other side, this time with your right arm and left leg.


Body Saw.jpg

Muscles worked: core, hips, shoulders, calves, triceps

  1. Start in a forearm plank position. Your body should be supported by your toes and forearms, keeping it in a straight line from head to toe. Engage your core and tuck your pelvic in. Your elbows should be beneath your shoulders.

  2. Move your body forward with your elbows. It’s as if you’re shifting your body forward a couple of inches while your forearms remain in the same position. Use your toes to push yourself forward as well.

  3. Then, move your body back to the starting position. This is one rep.


Medicine Ball Side Throw.jpg

Muscles worked: core, particularly obliques, shoulders,

  1. Grab a medicine ball and stand next to a wall, with your left side closest to the wall and your right furthest away. Your feet are shoulder-width apart. Hold the ball in front of you with both hands at chest height.

  2. Engage your core and twist to the right, so your twist away from the wall. Then, rotate back towards the wall, using the momentum to throw the medicine wall into the wall as hard as you can.

  3. As the ball rebounds off the wall, catch it. That’s one rep.

  4. Complete your reps on the same side first before swapping over to the other side.


Farmer Carry.jpg

Muscles worked: grip, biceps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, back, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core

  1. Grab two weights of your choice in each hand. This could be kettlebells, dumbbells or even weight plates. Make sure you choose a weight that you’ll be able to carry with good form that is still challenging.

  2. Keep your core contracted, your torso upright and your grip strong. Make sure your shoulder blades are down and back. Walk down the length of the room until you reach the other side. Your muscles should be engaged the entire time.

  3. Then turn and walk back the other way.

Notes: The farmer carry is an excellent dynamic strength exercise that also builds your grip strength. This will then carry over to other exercises such as deadlifts and pull ups where grip is very important.



Weighted Step Up.jpg

Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, calves

  1. Grab a box or bench at a height that you can safely step up and down. Also, hold two dumbbells, one in each hand and stand before your box.

  2. Use your left leg to step onto the box. Drive through your heel and step up, bringing your right foot beside your left. Remember, the first leg you’ve stepped up with is your leading leg. This is the side that should be doing the work.

  3. Once your feet have met, bring your right foot back down to the ground, landing safely.

  4. Then, bring your left foot down to meet your right one.

  5. For your set, you can choose to complete all your reps using your left foot to step up with first or you can alternate leading sides.

Notes: The height of the box or bench dictates whether this will be a hamstring-dominant or quad-dominant exercise. The higher the step, the more emphasis there will be on the hamstring. The lower it is, the more focus there will be on the quads.


Goblet Squat.jpg

Muscles worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, back

  1. Hold a kettlebell upside down, grabbing it by the handles with two hands, at your chest.

  2. Make sure your feet are slightly wider than shoulder-width.

  3. Drop into a squat. Try to go at least parallel to the ground for depth and keep your knees facing outward.

  4. Press through your feet and return to your starting position.

Notes: The goblet squat can also be performed using a dumbbell. If you’re using a dumbbell, hold it with both hands on one side so it’s hanging vertically down your chest. Alternatively, you can hug a weight plate to your chest or use a medicine ball.


Kettlebell Swings.jpg

Muscles worked: hips, glutes, hamstrings, core, grip

  1. Grab a kettlebell, holding it with two hands in front of you so it’s hanging down, palms facing your body.

  2. Bend your knees, bringing the kettlebell back between your legs. Your torso should be leaning forward and your hips should be back. This will create the momentum you need for the swing.

  3. Thrust your hips forward and swing the kettlebell back in front of you. The kettlebell should reach at least your shoulder height.

  4. Bring the kettlebell back down, back between your legs, ready for the next rep.

Notes: This variation of the kettlebell is the Russian kettlebell swing. The American kettlebell swing involves bringing the weight all the way overhead so that is an option as well.


Weighted Curtsy Lunge.jpg

Muscles worked: glutes, quads

  1. Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your side.

  2. Balance on your left leg and take your right foot behind you and to the left. Your legs should be crossing each other in this position like a curtsy.  Bend at the knees so you’re lunging, keeping your torso upright.

  3. Drive through your feet and return to the starting position.

  4. Alternate legs, bringing the left leg back and to the right of your right foot and repeat.

Notes: The weighted curtsy lunge can be done in various ways. You can use kettlebells, a barbell or even hold a dumbbell to your chest instead of two, with one in each hand. Another alternative is to wrap a resistance band around your thighs instead so it’s harder for you to curtsy.

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Dumbbell Thruster.jpg

Muscles worked: glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, back, triceps, shoulders

  1. Grab two dumbbells, holding one in each hand. Rest the dumbbells on each shoulder, your palms facing each other.

  2. Go into a squat, trying to hit at least parallel to the ground for depth.

  3. Then, push up into standing position while simultaneously pressing the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended. When your arms lock out, your legs should simultaneously lock out too. That’s one rep.

  4. Drop back into a squat, bringing the dumbbells safely back to your shoulders and press up again, repeating the movement for your second rep, and repeat.

Notes: The dumbbell thruster can also be done using a barbell (overhand grip, shoulder-width apart) or kettlebells (holding one in each hand by the handles), so choose which one feels more comfortable for you.

Final Notes

Incorporating these dynamic strength training exercises into your workout means you’ll be well on your way to building your muscle and strength. There are many options for each muscle group so you can ensure you’ll gain an all-round, full-body workout but if you would like more ideas, then take a look at the FitBod app here.

About The Author

Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.