Big Bang exercises use as many muscles in the body as possible during each movement.
When you engage hundreds of muscles at a time the body requires larger amounts of energy to fuel the movement. The more energy required for the movement the more calories you burn.
If you are short on time or are looking for exercises to burn maximum amounts of calories then choosing from this list will really help.
A word of warning: Most of these exercises are NOT for the beginner.
They all involve complex movements that require good balance, coordination and strength.
Due to the complexity of these exercises they also involve huge amounts of neurological involvement, something that is often overlooked in program design.
So not only are they physically tiring but mentally tiring too!
I would advise you to choose just one of these exercises per workout and start off slowly.
OK, here goes…
# 1 – Cross Body Clean and Press
This exercise is best performed with a dumbbell. You need good mobility and lower back form in order to get this one right.
Start off with the dumbbell just in front of the left foot.
Next lean down with the right hand and Clean the dumbbell up to the right shoulder keeping your back flat and driving from the hips. Next press the dumbbell overhead.
Reverse the movement by bringing the dumbbell down to the shoulder and then across the body to the left foot again.
Just 10 reps of this exercise on each side is very demanding.
# 2 – Kettlebell Snatch
The Snatch is an explosive exercise that uses most muscles in the body but predominantly the ones in the legs and back.
Using one hand, swing the kettlebell between the legs as if performing a regular kettlebell swing.
When the kettlebell reaches head height pull the kettlebell towards you and then punch your hand up and through.
Reverse the movement by throwing the kettlebell out and then controlling it as it swings back through the legs.
If you are familiar with Barbell training then the Barbell Snatch could also be classed as a big bang exercise.
# 3 – Kettlebell High Pull
Another big bang exercise from the kettlebell camp.
The High Pull works into the back of the body as well and being very cardiovascular, even more so than the Swing or Snatch.
Swing the kettlebell as with a regular swing but once you reach head height pull the kettlebell towards you keeping the elbow high and wrist straight.
Next push the kettlebell back out and return to the regular swing pattern.
Tough on your grip strength this one too! Try just 50 on each side for a cardio workout.
Want more? See how to master the kettlebell high pull
# 4 – Reverse Lunge and Press
A great full body movement that you can performed with Dumbbells, Kettlebells, a Medicine Ball or a Barbell.
Holding the weight at shoulder height take a good step back into a reverse lunge and ensure that the back knee gets as close as possible to the ground.
Next pull forwards from the front heel and as you start to return to the start position drive the weight overhead.
Control the weight back down to the shoulders and repeat the movement using the other leg.
Want more? See 16 Kettlebell Lunge Variations here
# 5 – Side Lunge and Clean
The side lunge is a very demanding exercise on its own but add a clean to the movement and you seriously know you’re exercising!
Step out wide with a Kettlebell or Dumbbell held at shoulder height.
As you step sideways drop the weight down towards the ground.
When you reach the bottom of the side lunge the arm should be straight.
Next drive back up to the start position and at the same time clean the weight back to shoulder height.
Keep your back flat throughout the whole movement.
# 6 – Thruster
The classic Crossfit exercise that connects the Squat with the Overhead Press.
It’s important that you take your time with this exercise.
Ensure that you reach at least parallel with your thighs to activate your Buttocks as well as using your upwards momentum to drive the weight overhead.
You can perform this exercise with any number of difficult pieces of equipment from Dumbbells, to Kettlebells to Powerbags, to Heavy Rocks!
Want more? See 7 Kettlebell Squat Variations here
# 7 – Pistol Squat
One of my personal favourites because it not only works on balancing asymmetries between your left and right side but also requires good Mobility, Strength, Balance, Coordination, and Cardiovascular health.
Just try 5 – 10 reps of these on each side and feel how your heart rate starts to beat!
Holding one leg out in front of your drop down into a deep one leg squat.
Without letting your one foot touch the floor drive back up to the starting position.
To activate the shoulders and back hold a weight plate, medicine ball etc. out in front of you.
# 8 – Deadlift
The grandfather of full body movements.
Using a barbell push the hips backwards as you reach down to grab the bar.
Driving from your heels with your chest up and back flat return to a standing position.
Slowly return the bar to the ground and repeat.
Note that the deadlift is labelled a Deadlift because it is lifted from a dead position. So start each repetition from the ground.
Although you use huge amounts of hips and legs during the movement, the back, and upper back also get huge engagement. Try 5 sets of 5, then rest up for a few days!
Want more? See 11 Kettlebell Deadlift Workouts here
# 9 – Kettlebell Swing
The classic Kettlebell exercise that sees the kettlebell dynamically swung between the legs.
Hugely effective due to the deceleration that is needed at the bottom of the swing and the dynamic movement from the hips.
Both one handed and two handed swings are effective although you will need to experiment to get the weight right.
# 10 – Squat and Rotational Press
Very similar in movement to the Thruster except this time more rotation is added to the movement.
Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Next drop into a deep squat, pause and then drive back up.
As you are coming up out of the Squat pivot on one leg and push one of the dumbbells up and across the body.
Return the dumbbell back to the shoulder position and repeat on the other side.
# 11 – Turkish Get Up
The perfect full body stability exercise that can be performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Begin the movement from a lying down position with the weight held straight armed above the chest.
Next sit up using one hand for support before sweeping the leg underneath the body and standing up.
The movement is then reversed back down to the lying down position.
A great exercise for beginners to bombproof the body from future injuries.
The exercise can be practised with a weight to begin with or by holding a glass of water.
# 12 – Powerbag Squat and Shoulder
Another variation of the Thruster but this one uses a Powerbag.
Start with the Powerbag on one shoulder and perform a deep squat.
Next drive up from the bottom of the squat and at the top position push the Powerbag up over your head and onto the other shoulder. Finally drop back down into the squat and repeat.
This exercise is a fast and cardiovascular movement that will leave any fitness enthusiast gasping for breath.
Try 20 reps.
# 13 – Clean, Squat and Press
A superb Kettlebell, Dumbbell or Barbell exercise that combines the popular Thruster exercise with a clean too!
The Clean movement adds more of a Deadlift type element so you get the benefit of more back engagement.
Begin by cleaning the weight to shoulder height before dropping into a deep squat and then driving up into an overhead press.
Finally take the weight back down to the ground before repeating the movement.
# 14 – Burpee Plus
Everyones favourite, the Burpee can be classed as a big bang exercise especially if you add a few extras.
To make the exercise more demanding you can add 1-3 push ups at the bottom of the burpee and a jump at the top of the movement.
I even like to encourage forward jumps or side jumps after each repetition.
# 15 – Walking Lunge with Rotation
A fun exercise that is highly demanding for the whole body.
Holding a medicine ball, dumbbell, powerclub, or weight plate begin with a forward lunge.
As you drop down into the lunge take the weight diagonally across the body from the shoulder and across the front knee.
Pull from the front heel and step up forwards.
Next repeat on the other side taking the weight across the opposite knee.
Continue walking forwards in this way.
Try 20 total reps or choose a marker to walk towards.
# 16 – Cable Push
You will need a cable machine or a resistance band for this exercise.
Stand with the right foot in front of you in a staggered stance and the weight behind you held in the left hand.
Now press the weight forwards rotating through the rear foot as you near the end of full extension.
Not only will you get heavy shoulder and chest engagement from this exercise but the core and legs work hard too!
# 17 – Cable Pull
The complete opposite of the Cable Push, this time pulling the cable towards you from a split stance.
Again rotate the body as the cable nears the end of the movement.
Ensure that you work the full range of movement during this exercise allowing the working side to fully extend and fully flex.
Maintain a tight core through the exercise and you won’t be disappointed!
Have you tried any of these exercises? Let me know more below: