Build your Strength in Five Moves

Dave Ballantine is a personal trainer from Edinburgh, Scotland. With several years of experience working with busy professionals, both in person and online, to help them get the most out of their training and nutritional approaches, he uses a variety of training and nutritional methods to tailor an individual programme for each client. His passion is to help you get stronger, fitter and healthier, so you can handle anything life, throws at you. 

Build your strength in 5 moves.

Getting stronger can only ever be a good thing.  More strength helps you build a little more muscle, which in turn, gives you the shape you want. A little more muscle, and slightly more demanding training sessions, help you burn more calories to help you show off that newly built shape.  

You want more? Ok.

Getting stronger has been shown to improve confidence, focus and self esteem.

It has been shown to improve mental, as well as physical, health.

It also makes day to day activities so much easier.

Celebrities such as Daisy Ridley and Kate Upton have wowed their social media followers with their strength training workouts, helping to put to rest the idea that women shouldn’t lift weights.

Here are my 5 “go to” strength exercises I use with my clients to build great strength levels, improve fitness and burn a load of calories to boot.


Deadlift – 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.

The Best Exercise in the World. Targeting everything from the calves and hamstrings, to the glutes and back, the deadlift is my favourite exercise. It’s also one of the most technical lifts but these 2 options will get you started.


Option 1:

The Kettlebell deadlift.  – Great for learning the deadlift movement, keep the weight close to you throughout and feel your hamstrings and glutes work hard. Hips go back more than they go down.

Option 2:

The trap bar/ hex bar deadlift – These bars used to be a rare sight, but most gyms have one of these in their equipment collection now. The handle and load position helps make this easier to learn and safer than the conventional deadlift.


Squats – 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Option 1:

Goblet squats – These have a funny way of helping everyone squat a little better, holding the kettlebell or dumbbell up high on your chest gets your abs working hard and stops you leaning forward too much. With all squats, sit between your heels (imagine sitting to 7 oclock on a dial)


Option 2:

Reverse lunges – These can be modified simply to put the emphasis on your legs or your glutes. To hit your quads a little more, keep your torso upright, to be more glute specific, a forward lean of about 30-45 degrees throughout is your option.  


Push ups – 3 sets of as many good quality reps as you can.

Full or inclined, get good at these, and you’ll reap the benefits of a stronger mid section (it’s basically a moving plank), strong shoulders and arms.

If you can’t do a full push up on the floor, use an incline to take some pressure off your arms and as you build strength, lower the incline until you get back to the floor.


TRX rows 4 sets of 15 reps

Inclined or fully flat out, the TRX row can build a strong back, help with posture and work your biceps a little too. Move your feet closer to the TRX anchor point to make this harder, move further away to make it easier. Always challenge yourself to maintain a straight body – no sagging the hips!


Hollow bodys 3-4 sets of 20-45 seconds.

This gymnastics staple is one of the best care exercises out there, and it’s completely customisable to your ability.

Your main job here is to challenge your abs whilst protecting your back. The flatter you are the harder the exercise, think about holding the gap between your pelvis and ribs closed, and keeping your back flat to the floor.

Remember, technique and intensity are the keys to your success, if in doubt about anything in this article, feel free to get in touch and I’ll be happy to help!

Stay strong,


To learn more about me, take a look at my Facebook, Instagram or my Website.

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