Full body workouts have been becoming more and more popular in the last couple of years due to their numerous benefits compared to split training (where you only train certain muscles in a single day).
The main benefit is also the main reason a lot of people turn to these types of workouts, which is that it’s a great way to exercise your entire body as a single unit as opposed to targeting one or two muscle groups at a time. This way, your weaker muscles are significantly strengthened because they are always being engaged, and are brought in line with the rest of the body, which results in better overall fitness. Doing full body workouts is a great time-saver because you are targeting all your muscles with every workout and require fewer trips to the gym. It’s also a recommendable routine for beginners because of the low volume being employed, and because it creates a good foundation for your fitness that you can later expand on if you so desire.
It’s ironic that people are calling full body training a new trend in fitness since it’s actually making a comeback from the old school days of natural bodybuilding, when it was the norm. But enough about times long past, and let’s focus on what these workouts are, and how to achieve the best results following them.
With full body training you are working your every muscle every time you exercise, so it’s absolutely crucial to go to the gym only every other day to avoid putting too much strain on your muscles and potentially injuring them. If you begin to feel like your progress is slowing down, increase the number of sets/repetitions, or reduce rest time, but avoid the temptation to work out on back-to-back days.
Stretching is also very important in order to avoid injuries, as is having the proper equipment – light clothes help your skin breathe and you avoid heat exhaustion; weightlifting gloves will protect your hands from abrasions, and quality bodybuilding shoes with flat soles will improve your stability and your overall results. As with any workout regimen, it’s essential to eat right and drink plenty of water.
Types of full body workouts
There are two ways to do a full body workout – do multiple exercises that target one or a few of your muscles each, or perform workouts where each one targets all or most of your muscles. The former is recommended for building muscle, while the latter is much better suited for weight loss and overall fitness.
Split training is considered to be the go-to method of bulking up, but some of the most famous bodybuilders in the world actually started with full body training to establish a solid foundation. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a set of full body workouts called the Golden Six that you can use to build some serious muscle, and it goes like this:
- Barbell Squat
- Wide-Grip Barbell Bench Press
- Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press
- Barbell Curl
- Bent Knee Sit-Up
You do three to four sets of each exercise, depending on your fitness level, with 10 repetitions each, along with the exception of chin-ups and sit-ups, which you should do as many as you can. Of course, you can (and should) change some workouts, or even add more based on your personal goals, preferences, and available equipment. If you want to focus on a certain muscle group, you can add more exercises that target those specific muscles.
Lean and Mean
If losing weight or keeping fit without bulking up is what you’re after, then these full body workouts are for you. Each of these workouts engages your entire body, although some of them target certain muscle groups more than others. Typically, a set lasts around 20 minutes, and you should do every exercise as fast as possible and as many times as you can within the time limit while being safe and following the proper form. However, it’s better to do the workout more slowly and with fewer repetitions than not to follow the full required range of motion. A basic set looks like this:
- 10 Push-ups
- Jumping Jacks for 1 min
- 10 Spider Lunges
- Jumping Jacks for 1 min
- 10 Walkouts
- Jumping Jacks for 1 min
- 10 Jumping Lunges
Of course, you can add and replace exercises at will based on your own needs. For example, you can replace push-ups with jumping squats to focus on the lower body, or add two 30 second plank sets in the middle and at the end to strengthen your core, or increase the push-ups’ number to target the upper body. Really, you are only limited by your creativity.
While doing these or any other exercises, perhaps the most important thing is to stay motivated. A trip to the gym doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be a place where you leave your worries behind and have fun for an hour or two. A workout can become the ultimate stress release if while you are at the gym the only thing that is on your mind is the exercise you are doing at the moment. Also, by immersing yourself in the workout and firmly focusing on each movement, you will be in top form, achieve better results, and reduce the risk of injury. Following these steps will result in you leaving the gym feeling tired, but also satisfied, and with a desire to come back and do it all again in a few days.