Not everyone has hours and hours to spend in the gym. Maybe that’s you and maybe that’s why you are looking into a full body workout routine. Maybe you want some great gains and then a way to maintain those gains as easily as possible. A full body workout is our ‘prescription’ for you and we will let you in on a great routine in this article.
Do the pros do them? No, not typically, but they do have all the time in the world to spend at the gym and have gained all the benefits from them already, back when they were building their solid base of muscle. This is where the story about building a house on a good foundation goes, but we will skip it this time.
You see, that’s what full body routines are great for – building and maintaining a good solid base. Yes, there is a point when the gains you can get from them may taper off, but unless you are already a pro body builder spending hours in the gym already, we are going to go out on a limb here and say you probably haven’t come close to reaching this point.
A full body workout routine is more than capable of providing all the gains you could ever want and help you keep them with minimal effort.
The Blueprint of a Full Body Workout Routine
Let’s be real clear with what we are talking about here. As the name suggests, we are looking at a workout that works every muscle in your body, each and every session. You can’t just turn up at the gym, jump on any piece of equipment that’s free and then expect results though. No, it has to be a much more clinical approach with training frequency, duration, sets, reps and of course the exercises, all carefully calculated.
Due to their nature and how you are going to want to avoid overtraining, a full body workout routine should only be done once every 2-3 days (3 when you’re starting out, 2 once you start adapting). You don’t have to worry about the day of the week, just how long it’s been since your last workout.
Your session must NOT be longer than an hour. A full body workout is great for boosting you natural muscle building hormones, but studies have shown that working out for too long will boost you levels of the muscle-damaging hormone cortisol. Needless to say, we don’t want that.
Most experts agree that 40 – 50 mins is the optimal length of a workout session for a natural weight trainer.
Number of Exercises, Sets and Reps
We will make this one easy for you. Stick to one exercise per muscle group and perform 8-10 reps for 2-4 sets. This is a proven and effective formula for gaining muscle through a full body workout routine.
With only so many exercises, how much variation can there really be? The answer is lots, and here’s why – Not only can you switch up the exercises that you do for each muscle group, you can also switch up the order you complete them.
As you know, you are much more fatigued for your last exercise of the workout session than you first and will naturally be capable of less weight and reps, than if had you performed it first.
You don’t want to disadvantage one particular muscle group’s gains by always performing it at the end, so mix it up and sometimes do it first. It’s not rocket science, but still effective.
Compound exercises feature heavily here, but for good reason. Not only will they allow you to complete a full body workout in the optimal hormone boosting recommended time, but they also really are the best exercises for building mass, as they allow you to lift heavier and more effectively.
We recommend you choose from and alternate the following exercises in your routine:
Chest: Barbell Bench Press (flat, incline or decline), Dumbbell Bench Press (flat, incline or decline
Shoulders: Military Press, Seated Dumbbell Press, Upright Rows
Back: Deadlift, Pull-ups, Bent over barbell rows
Triceps: Dumbbell curl, Barbell curl,
Biceps: Close grip barbell press, Dips
Note: You probably noticed we only listed one exercise for your legs – squats. This is because nothing else comes even close, so we recommend you perform them each and every workout session. You wont be disappointed with the results.
Wait, what about abs? Good news, all those compound exercises you’re doing require lots of core stabilizing muscles, so you can rest assure, you are getting a good ab workout too. So much so that we don’t believe you need an ab specific exercise in your routine. Will it hurt to add one? No, not unless its going to take your workout over an hour, but maybe save it for when you’re at home in front of the TV.
A Proven Full Body Workout Routine
Using the above, a workout week might look something like this:
Day 1: Squats, Pull-ups, Dumbbell bench press, Dips, Upright rows
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Deadlifts, Decline barbell bench press, Close grip barbell press, Military press, Dumbbell curls, Squats
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Squats, Bent over barbell rows, Incline dumbbell bench press, Seated dumbbell press, Barbell curls, Dips.
Note: There is no separate bicep exercise on any day that includes pull-ups. This is because, in addition to working the muscles of your back, pull-ups also sufficiently work the biceps and a further exercise risks overtraining.
Got Gains? You Soon Will
If you are new to working out, strapped for time or just finding your gains have stalled, than a full body workout routine could be the best option for you. With the right exercises, training frequency and other supporting considerations mentioned, a full body routine could be your fast track to some big gains.