Picking a workout routine can feel like picking a political candidate.
Many people have strong opinions as to which is best and are often quick to denounce all other options.
For instance, after reading about why the push pull legs routine is the best, you’ll find someone claiming that upper lower routines are better, and then another who plumps for body part training, and so on.
It shouldn’t be this complicated, you’ve probably thought to yourself. And you’re right. It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t have to be.
To escape this quagmire, you need to . . .
- Clarify your goals.
- Survey your options and learn their pros and cons.
- Choose the one that’ll help you achieve your ends as efficiently as possible.
Now, if you’re like most people listening to this podcast, your goals are to build a muscular, proportionate, and strong body and maintain low but healthy levels of body fat.
At first blush, full-body training would appear to be a perfect fit for the first goal, because, well, it trains every muscle in your body. Plus, it sounds a lot simpler than training different muscle groups every time you work out.
There are many advocates of full-body workouts who say as much.
This style of training, they claim, is not only simpler and easier to follow than other kinds of workout routines, but also more effective for gaining whole-body muscle and strength.
So, if you want to learn the pros and cons of full-body workout routines, whether you should use one, and the best way to program them, you want to listen to this podcast.
5:31 – What is a full body workout routine?
10:26 – What are the advantages of full body training?
17:09 – What are the neurological or the systemic implications of full body training?
24:10 – Does full body training produce better results?
33:44 – Who should do full body training?
38:31 – How can you get the most out of your full body workout?
40:56 – How do you build a well-designed full body workout?
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, hi. Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today to learn about picking the right workout routine, which can feel a lot like picking a political candidate. Many people have very strong opinions as to which type of routine is best, and many of those people are often.
To denounce all other opinions and all other options. For instance, after reading about why the push pull legs routine is the best, you’re gonna find someone claiming that PPL is completely overrated and that upper lower is weight. Better. And then you’re gonna find another who plumps for body part training over all others and so on.
And you’re probably going to think to yourself at some point along the way, it really should not be this complicated. And you’re right, it should not be this complicated and it doesn’t have to be. That said, to escape the quagmire, you need to clarify your goals and then survey your options and consider their pros and cons, and then choose the one that will best help you achieve.
Year ends we’ll help you get to where you want to be as efficiently as possible. Now, if you are like most people listening to this podcast, your goals are pretty simple. You want to build a muscular, proportionate, and strong body, and you want to maintain relatively low but healthy levels. Of body fat and at first blush, full body training would appear to be a perfect fit for the first goal at least, because well, it trains every major muscle group in your body.
Plus it sounds a lot simpler than training different muscle groups every time you work. Gout and there are many advocates of full body training who say as much this style of training they claim is not only simpler and easier to follow than many other types of workout routines, but it’s also more effective for gaining muscle and gaining strength.
Furthermore, although full body workouts fell out of favor sometime in the last few decades, they were once the bread and butter of early body building icons, including the monarch of Musem, John Grim, the Soden Sandal Superstar, Steve Reeves, and the man who started it all. Eugene Sandow. Other fitness experts disagree, though they say that while full body workout routines might work well for beginners, they quickly lose their utility.
Once your new gains disappear a year or so of proper training, at this point they argue you must move on to another type of workout routine, another workout split to keep making gains. Right. Should you follow a full body workout routine or not? Should this be in your toolbox or not? Well, both camps are right to some degree and whose advice you should follow depends on a few different factors.
On the one hand, full body training can work extremely well depending on your fitness level. Goals, schedule, and preferences. As it happens, full body training tends to work best for those who are on the fringes, so that people just beginning their weightlifting journey and those who have already achieved most of their genetic potential for muscle gain.
On the other hand, full body workout routines aren’t always optimal, even for newbies or. Trainees under all circumstances, they certainly do have significant advantages over many other approaches, but they are not without limitations. So if you want to learn the pros and cons of full body workout routines, whether you should use one and the best way to program them, you want to listen to this podcast.
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Okay, so let’s start by defining what a full body workout routine is. And the reason we need to start there is because it is not as obvious as you might think. So if you look at most of the full body workout routines that were followed by the early bodybuilders, they are more or. Exactly what you would expect, exactly what they sound like in each workout.
You do exercises that train your entire body, your chest, your back, your shoulders, your arms, legs, calves even, and then you rested a or two and you do the same thing again in your next workout, and you repeat that. Add infinitum. Now despite it obvious workability, I mean, just look at what many of those guys and gals.
This approach is not optimal for a number of reasons, which is why it has largely fallen out of favor among more modern experienced weightlifters researchers and coaches. Instead, the modern full body workout routine is. More accurately described as a high frequency workout routine that doesn’t necessarily train all of the major muscle groups in your body, at least directly in every workout.
And we’ll get into the science of high frequency training in a moment, but the long story short is a growing body of evidence shows that training each major muscle group, two or more times per week is likely optimal for gaining muscle and strength, and particularly for intermediate and advanced weightlifters who.
To do more volume to keep making progress than a newbie. Now, to achieve this level of frequency, each major muscle group, at least twice per week, you basically have to train multiple major muscle groups in each workout. You don’t have to train every single one though. You don’t have to do a true full body workout every workout to do this, and you definitely don’t have to do the same exercises over and over either.
And that’s why the new evidence-based take on full body training differs quite a bit from the early approach. So much so that many contemporary full body workout routines don’t contain a single true full body workout because the goal isn’t merely to train every muscle. In every session, but just to achieve optimal weekly training, volume and frequency for each major muscle group.
And out of the two of those, volume is what matters the most. You can think of frequency more as a tool to help you optimize your volume, to help you distribute it across as many training sessions as is optimal for each major muscle. So, just to give you an example here, let’s talk about your typical body part split your typical bro split, where you might do a chest workout on Monday, a back workout on Tuesday, shoulders Wednesday, arms Thursday, legs Friday.
If you were to change that to a full body, Layout. So you could train each major muscle group again, at least indirectly, two or three times per week. You might turn it into something like Monday, becomes chest, back, legs, and shoulders. Tuesday becomes back, chest, shoulders, and arms. Wednesday becomes legs, chest, arms, shoulders, Thursday, shoulders, legs, back, arms, Friday, legs back, chest, arms.
Now if you re-listen to that, you’ll notice that there’s not a true full. Workout in that program, although Monday, Wednesday, and Friday come a little bit close and that’s totally fine because again, training every major muscles group in one or every workout isn’t desirable in and of itself. We want to achieve the right amount of weekly volume and frequency for each major group to maximize muscle and strength gain.
So from here on in the podcast, when I refer to full body training here, almost full body training that involves training two or more major muscles groups for workout, so as to train each major muscles group at least twice per week. That’s what I mean when I say full body training. Now that definition obviously allows for a lot of variability, so this style of full body training that I advocate comes in many different.
Shapes and sizes, and it can be tailored to almost any individual or any goal ranging from complete beginners to advanced weightlifters. For example, many people who are new to weightlifting have tremendous success with simple full body routines like starting strength and strong lifts five by five. And at the opposite end of the spectrum, many high level power lifters thrive on.
Power lifting programs like Moff and Sheko, and then you have a gazillion different effect of full body workout routines for intermediate weightlifters or even advanced weightlifters who aren’t competitive athletes who would consider themselves maybe lifestyle bodybuilders. Someone like me, for example, and I’ll be talking a lot more about those types.
Outs in this podcast. Alright, so now let’s talk about some of the advantages, some of the pros of full body training, as I have just described it. One is that this style may produce more muscle and strength gain than other popular workout splits. Now many people think of an effective muscle and strength building.
Work out as a bomb and blast initiative. You know, you just pick one major muscle group and you hit it with a slew of sets and a variety of exercises, and then you rest 3, 4, 5, 6 days. Then you do it again, and that can work. To some degree, but it is suboptimal for most people. A much better approach revolves around two vital training principles.
One is progressive tension overload, which involves increasing tension levels in your muscle fibers over time. And the best way to do that is just to get stronger, and especially on compound exercises that involve a lot of muscle mass, like the bench press and overhead press or military press, squat and deadlift.
And then the other principle is just. More hard sets, increasing volume. These are your heavy muscle and strength building sets that you take close to technical or muscle failure. And when you use these two principles in your training, when you apply them, you get bigger. The more weight you can lift, the stronger you get.
And the more sets you can do with your heavy weights, the more muscle you will build. And there is a winning. And it looks like this, you wanna be using weights that are at least 60% of your one rep max for most of your workouts. And I would say that you really want to be in the range mostly of probably 75 to 95%, and you wanna do about 10 to 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week with the lower number 10 or so being suitable for beginners and the higher number upward of 20 being the.
Maximum that advanced weightlifters can get away with before they just get hurt basically. Now that doesn’t mean you have to do 20 sets per major mouse group per week, by the way, if that immediately has alarm bells ringing in your head. I understand. Because if you were to try to program that out, you probably are gonna have to do.
Two a days, like two workouts a day, you know, three, four hours in the gym, five days a week, and anybody got time for that? For most intermediate and advanced weightlifters, something around 15 to 16 hard sets per major muscle group per week is all they ever need to gain all of the muscle and strength that is genetically available.
To them. Now, if you get just those two things, right, if you just get progressive overload, right, and you set up your training so you can gain strength, increase your whole body strength as represented by your one rep maxes on the big compound lifts, and if you can get in enough volume, high quality volume, everything else you.
In your training and in your programming is of secondary importance. Progressive tension overload and hard sets are the 20% that will produce 80% of your results as far as what you can do in the gym accordingly. Then, while things like exercise selection exercise, Order rep range, rest periods and so forth are important.
They are part of the 80% of the things that you can do that will produce no more than 20% of your results. Now, one way, full body training helps you better implement the 20% to achieve. The 80% is how it limits your muscle soreness in your fatigue. First, when you are working out, soreness and fatigue caused by an exercise at the beginning of your session will negatively affect your performance on subsequent exercises.
Unsurprisingly, research shows that you’re generally going to perform better on the exercises that are early in the workouts when you’re feeling freshest. As you get deeper into your workout though, your muscles get sore and drained and you start to tire out, and of course, your performance decline.
Second, the same principle applies over the course of a week. If you crush your chest on Monday, naturally, of course it may still be sore when it’s time for the overhead presses on Thursday, which then may limit your performance. Similarly, if you blitz your back on Tuesday, it may still be sore when it’s time to squat on Friday, which can also prevent you from working as hard as you could have otherwise.
Now full body training avoids those problems into ways. First, it separates the training volume for your major muscle groups throughout the week, and that means you experience less muscle soreness and less overall fatigue from individual training sessions. So for instance, let’s say you do a Monday chest workout that looks like this.
You do some. Bench pressing. You do some incline, barb bench pressing and some cable flies and some machine chest pressing. Maybe you do three sets or four sets of each exercise. Now, how does this play out, practically speaking? Well, after several sets of the bench press, your first exercise, your chest, triceps, and shoulders will have accumulated some soreness and fatigue, and that, of course, is going to knock your performance down a little bit on exercise number two, which is the incline barbell bench press, and by the time you get to exercise number, The machine chest press, your press muscles, your push muscles, your chest tries and shoulders, they’re gonna be bushed.
And that means that you’re gonna have to use a lot less weight than if you were starting your workout with the machine chest press. Now let’s compare that to the full body workout style that I have described, and that could look something like this. You might do a few sets of the barbell bench press, followed by a few sets.
Pull down and then some hamstring curls, and then you might wrap up with some dumbbell side raises. And then when you go to do the workout, what you’ll find is that after your bench press, your chest tries and shoulders will be aching, but your lats and biceps will be fresh. So that initial pressing, that first exercise in the workout really shouldn’t interfere much with your pulling at all.
What you should find is that your performance on those lap pull downs is more. What it would be if you started your workout with the LA pull downs, you might get a rep or two less per set, but it is going to be more or less the same. And the same thing is true of the hamstring curls in this case because neither the bench press nor the lap pull downs are gonna.
Train your hamstrings, obviously your hamstrings are going to be completely fresh. And then we’re ending with some dumbbell side raises, which of course involve the shoulders, and those will have been trained during the bench press, but they’ll also have been resting quite a bit while you were doing your lap pull downs and your hamstring curls.
And therefore, I would say that you’re gonna perform quite well on those side raises. Maybe not as well as if you started your workout with them, but you shouldn’t notice too much of a. Now, what about the neurological or the systemic implications of this style of training? Aren’t you still gonna be worn out by the end of full body workouts?
And especially if you’re training several major muscle groups with heavy weights and compound exercises, aren’t these types of workouts going to be much harder to recover from? Not necessarily the reason your performance declines in a workout with each subsequent set you do for an individual muscle group, has very little to do with neurological neural or central nervous system fatigue, as many people refer to it, and a lot more to do with muscle fatigue.
Now, in case you aren’t familiar with this concept, the theory of central nervous system fatigue is that during the course of a workout, your brain becomes less efficient at sending out signals for your muscles to contract. And then that reduces your strength, it reduces your performance. And while this does occur to some degree, studies show that you have to do.
A lot of very strenuous exercise to produce any meaningful decline in your performance, any meaningful amount of central nervous system fatigue, and even then, studies show that disappears in a matter of minutes. In other words, most of the exhaustion you feel during and after training is in the muscles.
Themselves. And as a little side note, researchers still aren’t entirely sure what causes fatigue, what causes that feeling, but it is likely a combination of factors such as the buildup of metabolic waste products and inflammatory molecules, the depletion of muscle glycogen, and others. So the key takeaway here is full body training can reduce the amount of fatigue you.
In a workout, which can then improve your performance in the workout, and that, of course can improve muscle growth and strength gain over time. Now, another way that full body workout programs can help mitigate soreness and fatigue is just more general. With many workout routines, you thoroughly exhaust one or maybe two muscle groups with a variety of exercises.
And you do many sets in one workout and then you rest the muscles for several days to a week before doing it again. And while your muscles do recover faster, as you gain more weightlifting experience, as you become more adapted to the stimulus, training a muscle group with a significant amount of volume in one session, let’s say anything more than probably six.
Maybe eight hard sets is going to require more time for recovery than a moderate amount, so maybe three or four hard sets with full body training, however, you train a muscle group with one or two exercises and a handful of sets multiple times per week, meaning you rarely train any one muscle group to the point of exhaustion.
Thus, whole body fatigue and soreness levels tend to be significantly lower with full body workout routines than with body. Workout splits, for example, in practice. This also translates into better performance in your workouts, which then further enhances long-term results. Now, some people say that spreading your sets out like this isn’t as effective as doing all, or at least most of them.
In individual workouts, they say that there’s a minimum amount of volume that’s required in an individual session to maximally trigger muscle growth. It’s an interesting theory, but research shows that so long as you do around 10 to 20 hard sets per major mouse group per week with sufficiently heavy weights, you are going to get similar results regardless of how you distribute those sets throughout the week.
Now, there is a caveat there though, in any individual session, you don’t wanna do more than. Nine or maybe 10 hard sets for a major muscle group because research shows that that is the point of diminishing returns in terms of muscle building stimulus. If you do, for example, all 15 hard sets for your chest that you need to do in a week in one session, that is not going to be as effective for gaining muscle and strength as two sessions of, let’s say eight, and then seven sets.
Now on the other end of the spectrum, some people advocate very high frequency training suggesting that you should split up those 15 hard sets, let’s say into five sessions of three sets each. They would say that that is going to be more effective than two sessions or three sessions, even when the volume is the same.
Well, most studies have not found any major advantages to high frequency training like that, but it is worth mentioning that there has been a consistent trend for people to gain more muscle and strength while following higher frequency programs. So while the benefits of just increasing frequency, Maybe small.
They probably do exist up to a point. Again, I think the sweet spot is training each major muscle group directly and indirectly, two to three times per week. Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that with a well-designed full body workout program, you will boost muscle protein synthesis in each muscle group.
You’re training more frequently than with other workout split. And that sounds great. Of course, that sounds desirable. It sounds like something that should lead to more muscle growth, but scientists aren’t sure if that’s the case because it’s not clear that multiple smaller increases in muscle protein synthesis throughout a week, for example, is better.
Than fewer larger increases. And even if there are benefits to boosting muscle protein synthesis more frequently, it’s probably only meaningful in experienced weightlifters. Why? Because people who are new to weightlifting benefit from a much more prolonged. Increase in muscle protein synthesis after a workout.
For example, in a study at the University of Sao Paolo, the researchers found that average muscle protein synthesis was about three times higher among untrained weightlifters than trained weightlifters. Over the two days following an intense workout, So what that means then is after training on Monday, let’s say a new weightlifters muscle protein synthesis levels might still be elevated come Friday or even the next Monday, thus training their chest or biceps or any other major muscle group again during that period might not be necessary, or it might not even be beneficial.
And you know, this could be why some research shows that high frequency training does not increase muscle growth in beginners. You can think of it this way, if your body’s muscle building machinery is already redlining, right? If you’re a newbie and that’s what happens, your body is hyper responsive to the training, then stomping on the gas isn’t gonna make you go any faster.
Now it’s a different story for those of us who are more experienced, though, those of us who only get several hours of elevated muscle protein synthesis rates after a workout, in this case, pumping on the gas several times per week, could. Increase muscle growth over time. Now, that is also a nice theory, and it is certainly one worth investigating, but is there any evidence that it actually works, that it produces better real world results?
Sort of a good example of the benefits of full body work. Our routines comes from a study conducted by scientists at Methodist University of Pure Kaaba, and in this case, the. Researchers split 18 resistance trained men in their mid twenties into two groups and had them train five days per week. So one group was the body part workout routine group, and they trained each muscle group once per week.
Well, technically the biceps and the triceps were trained twice per week, but whatever. Close enough. Then the other group was the full body workout routine group, and they trained each muscle group five times per. Now the participants were also intermediate weightlifters who could bench over 200 pounds on average, and they had been strength training at least three times per week for at least a year before the study.
Both groups followed their programs for eight weeks and the scientists tested their squat bench press and machine row one rep maxes. And biceps triceps and quad muscle thickness before and after the study. The researchers also measured the participants level of fatigue after each workout based on their rating of perceived exertion, which you can learn more about [email protected].
If you are not sure what that is, just search for. R p e or perceived exertion, and you’ll find an article as well as a podcast I believe that I produced on the topic. Now, in the end of this study, the full body workout routine group gained substantially more muscle in every major muscle group measured, although the results were not statistically significant for the triceps as well as nearly.
Twice as much strength on their squat one rep Max. Additionally, the full body group was able to do more reps and add weight to their exercises faster, but their average level of fatigue was about the same as the body part workout routine group. That is these people were able to do more total work without feeling more tired.
There are several other studies that have found more or less the same thing as well in intermediate to advanced weightlifters full body. Really just higher frequency workout routines tend to work better than body part ones. Another major benefit of full body training is it’s flexible and many workout routines.
Are not, they do not accommodate schedule changes. Well, so for example, let’s say you’re following a simple body part routine and you can’t make it to the gym on Friday to train your legs. Unless you can do that workout on Saturday or Sunday, that means you’re not gonna train legs for two weeks. And the same thing is true of other splits too.
If you are following a push pull legs routine and you miss your pull workout, you’re not gonna do any pulling for about two weeks, and that’s bad juju for a few reasons. You lose out on muscle. , your technique on certain exercises can rust a little over just two weeks, making it harder to lift as much weight as you normally would, and you’ll probably get more sore after the extended break, which then can interfere with your other workouts during the week.
Full body workout routines, on the other hand, are more forgiving in this regard. So for instance, let’s say you skip your. Tuesday workout on a full body workout routine, which involves training your back, chest, shoulders, and arms. It’s basically an upper body day. That’s not ideal of course, but you still train each of those muscle groups at least two or three other times throughout the week.
So the downsides of that one missed workout are far less pronounced. Yet. Another benefit that is worth discussing of this style of training is time efficiency. Because when you train a variety of muscle groups in a workout, it allows you to incorporate antagonist paired sets. You don’t have to, but you can.
And if you want to learn all about this, head over to legion athletics.com and search for super sets, and you’ll find an article as well as a podcast, I believe, called Should You Use Super Sets to Build Muscle Faster, what 18 Studies Say, but the summary. This, you use shorter rest periods than usual, and you alternate between exercises that train different muscle groups, typically ones that perform opposite functions, known as agonists and antagonists.
That’s why it’s called an antagonist. Paired set. So for example, when the biceps contract to flex the elbow, the triceps are the antagonist because they do the opposite, right? They extend the elbow. Thus, when the biceps contract, when they are the agonist, the triceps get a break. The the triceps are the antagonist and vice versa.
Now with antagonist paired sets, you’re using sets for one muscle group as part of the rest period for. , and as a result, you don’t have to rest quite as long in between sets, and that helps you just finish your workouts faster and without much hurting your performance. Now I say much hurting because I can’t say that it is exactly the same as taking a full two to let’s say even four minutes of rest depending on the exercise that you’re doing.
But in my experience, I lose zero to maybe two reps when I pair exercises in this fashion, depending on which exercises I’m pairing and whether I’m. Early or later in my workout, but I can’t remember a time where I ever had to drop weight, where I had to take weight off the bar or off the dumbbells where I had to move down in the dumbbells because of antagonist paired sets.
And just in case you’re wondering, the effectiveness of this technique is not just theoretical, it has been demonstrated in scientific. A 2010 review from researchers at the University of Ballarat concluded that antagonist paired sets allowed athletes to finish their workouts in less time while using weights that were just as heavy and in some cases heavier than traditional programming.
Now, full body training allows you to easily take advantage of this method because each workout involves training several unrelated muscle groups. So for example, let’s say that you were doing a workout that had the military press and the leg press. Here’s how you could do it. You could go to the barbell for your military press and you could do your warmup routine, and then your first hard set, and then you could rest a minute to maybe two minutes, and then go to the leg press do your warmup there and do your hard set, and then rest a minute to two minutes back to the.
Military press for a hard set rest, one to two minutes back to the leg, press for a hard set, rest, rinse, and repeat. And then you could alternate between, let’s say a one arm dumbbell row, let’s say that was also in the workout and cable triceps. Press down, let’s say those are the next two exercises, and you would use the same method.
You would do one hard set of the dumbbell row and then you’d rest a minute or two, and then a set of the cable triceps, press down and then. Rest a minute or two and so forth. Now you’re saving time in two ways here. First is the obvious one. You’re resting just one to two minutes in between each set as opposed to two to four minutes.
But then you also save time in not having to do as many warmup sets. And I’m a proponent of proper warmups, and I believe they serve several important purposes. But you don’t have to warm up before every exercise when you. Full body workouts. Now, the main reasons to warm up are to raise your muscle’s temperature, which likely improves performance.
Although some research shows that that may not be important for people who are new to weightlifting. It may be mostly for those of us who are more experienced and also warmups are for practicing your technique grooving in good form because the better you get at an exercise, the better you’re going.
Perform with weight, and that’s about it. Those are the only two reasons to do warmup sets, and that’s why you typically don’t need to warm up on more than maybe one or two exercises when you’re doing a full body workout. For example, take this workout I just shared with you where you’re doing the military press, the leg press, and the one arm dumbbell row and the cable.
Press down. The only technically challenging exercise in that workout is the military press. Therefore, I would do a few warmup sets to groove in the form and to make sure everything is warmed up and I am in the zone and ready for heavy weights. Now the leg press. Is an exercise you can load with heavy weights, of course, but it’s simple.
It doesn’t require practice, but because it does involve heavy loads, I still would do a warmup routine. It just would be abbreviated. I would do one or maybe two warmup sets as opposed to probably three on the. Military press, and then we are moving now into the second half of the workout with the one arm dumbbell row in the triceps press down.
And in this case, they just don’t require warmup sets. Neither of those exercises are technically demanding and your upper body muscles are gonna be primed from the overhead pressing. Thus, full body workouts don’t generally entail more warmup sets than most other types of workouts, as some people claim, allowing you to reap additional time efficiency benefits on top of the antagonist paired or the alternate sets that are optional.
- Don’t prefer to do them unless I’m trying to get out of the gym. I like to take full rest periods in between my sets because again, I do notice a slight improvement in performance, but that’s me. That is not everybody.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you is the leading brand. All natural sports supplements in the. All right, so now that we’ve gone over the big benefits of full body training, let’s talk about who should do it.
And you might be thinking everyone, and that’s not the case because the people who stand to benefit the most from full body training are beginners. And advanced weightlifters, but for very different reasons. So the primary benefit to beginners, and this would be people with less than, let’s say, six months or so of proper weightlifting experience, is that full body training allows them to practice the key exercises, to do those key exercises several times throughout each week.
That really is the major benefit because like any sport, the more often you practice your weightlift. Especially the exercises that are technically demanding, like any form of barbell squat, any type of deadlift or overhead press, even bench press. The more you do these things, the faster your technique will improve, and that is going to translate into faster progress.
That said, I should mention that I have. Met many people over the years who can learn good technique on all of the exercises in just a month or two of doing them maybe once or twice per week. And also since novices do respond remarkably well to heavy weightlifting, they can make outstanding progress training each muscle group just once or twice per week, and squatting just once per week and deadlifting just once per week and bench pressing maybe twice per week, for example.
And that’s one of the reasons that my bigger, leaner, strong. Thinner, leaner, stronger programs for men and women are set up that way. They basically are push pull legs with a couple of accessory body building workouts to add some additional volume to the upper body in the case of men and the lower body in the case of women, because as I mentioned earlier, we’re really just looking to get in 10 or so hard sets per major muscle group per week, and we wanna split them up into two sessions.
Generally, you’re gonna have some direct and some indirect volume. And we wanna put a lot of our efforts into the exercises that involve the most muscle mass and are going to allow us to most increase our whole body strength over time. And we don’t want to do more than we have to do to get the best results.
Most of us don’t like to spend more time in the gym than we have to. We like working out, but not that much. If we can get more or less maximum results from, let’s say, four or 5, 45 to 60. Sessions per week. That’s what we want to do. We don’t want to do two hour sessions per week just to burn more calories.
And so again, when I surveyed the many different ways to lay out the training I wanted these people to do, I found that a hybrid between a push pull legs and an upper lower split accomplished the goal best. Why not a full body approach? Well, Point of a full body workout routine is to maximize training frequency and volume and minimize fatigue.
As a beginner, though, your training frequency and volume doesn’t need to be that high, and thus fatigue is usually not a major impediment to progress, so it really doesn’t have that much to offer. Two people who are new have also found that many people who are new to weightlifting prefer to train one or two muscle groups per workout because it makes the workouts easier to mentally process and to remember.
As a result, a moderate volume, moderate frequency push pull legs or upper lower split tends to fit the bill best for most. People who are new to weightlifting Now, if you are an experienced weightlifter, you stand to benefit more from full body training than what I just described. And as we’ve covered in this podcast, with full body training, you are going to experience less soreness.
You’re gonna experience less fatigue. You are going to ensure that you train each major muscle group. At least a couple of times per week, and you’re gonna make sure that you can get enough volume for the major mouse groups that you want to focus on the most. And over time those advantages will likely add up to better results.
One of the reason to try full body training isn’t what you may expect given the complexion of this discussion so far. And that is, it might just be more fun than what you’re currently doing, and don’t discount the value of that one either, because if your workouts have gotten stale, no matter how scientifically perfect and optimized they are, if you feel like you’re just phoning it in, going through the motions.
Switching to a new routine can make a big difference cuz you can start looking forward to your workouts again and start enjoying them again, which means you’re gonna focus more on each session. You’re probably gonna apply yourself a little bit more to each rep in each set, and that means better consistency and better.
Results. And in many cases, that is the secret to breaking out of a rut. So the bottom line here is that full body workout routines are not always the best choice, but they can work for just about anyone and any goal when they are programmed correctly. And if I have now gotten you fired up to create some full body workouts and give it a go, I wanna share.
Few principles that are gonna help you get the most out of those workouts. One is that I recommend you emphasize one or two movements or muscle groups in each workout. Although you are going to be training at least indirectly, multiple muscle groups in each session, you still want to pick one or two to prioritize.
This simplifies your programming and it ensures you’re emphasizing the muscle groups you most want to develop. Another tip is to do your compound exercises at the beginning of your workouts. That is do the most physically and technically demanding training at the beginning of each session. For instance, even if you care more about building your biceps than your legs, it’s still usually best to do your barbell squats before your barbell curls, because it’s harder to maintain good form on your squats when you’re fatigued, and that matters more than perfect form on the.
Curl. Now, an exception to that rule would be in the case of specialization routines, which can involve training smaller muscle groups first. And if you wanna see what a specialization routine for, let’s say your biceps might look like, head over to legion athletics.com and search for biceps, and you’ll find an article titled How to Get Bigger and Stronger Biceps in just 30 Days.
And that is a biceps specialization routine. Now the third and final piece of advice I wanna share with you regard. Programming your full body training is train each muscle group with one or two exercises and three to six sets per workout and do 10 to 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week by using a moderate level of training volume in each workout, something around, let’s say three to six sets for an individual.
Muscle group, you’re going to minimize soreness and fatigue that would cut into your other workouts and by doing 10 to 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week. And again, that’s the high end of that. If you’re experienced maybe something around 15, 16, or 17, if you wanna try to go as high as 20 you can.
And then the low end, if you are. New to weightlifting, 10 to maybe 12 hard sets per Major MU group per week should be enough to produce optimal results, really for the first year at least, and maybe even the first two years. All right, now, just to help you build these workouts better, I’m gonna share with you a few examples of well-designed full body workouts.
So here’s one that is a press emphasis. It starts with the barbell bench press. You do your warmup sets and then you do. Hard sets of four to six reps, and then you move on to the seated cable row and do three hard sets of six to eight reps. No warmup is necessary there. And then you move on to the dumbbell sideways, three hard sets of six to eight reps, and you wrap up with some hamstring curls.
Three hard sets of six to eight reps, and then work out two. Could be a squat emphasis workout that starts with a barbell back squat. Warmup in three hard sets of four to six. Followed by standing Easybar curl. Three hard sets of six to eight reps, followed by cable triceps. Press down three hard sets of 68 reps, followed by seated calf rays.
Three hard sets of six to eight reps. Then workout three could go back to a press emphasis. But in this case, it’s going to be shoulder pressing. So you could start with a standing military press or overhead press variant of your choice and do your warmup sets, and then three hard sets of four to six reps, and then do some pull-ups, three hard sets of as many reps as you can.
I would recommend adding weight if you can do more than 10 reps in an individual set. And then it’s time for the dumbbell. Bench press three hard sets of 68 reps, followed by the seated leg extension. Three hard sets of six to eight reps. Workout four is a pull emphasis workout, starting with the barbell deadlift.
You do your warmup sets, and then three hard sets of four to six reps. Then you do standing easybar curls again, or a dumbbell curl maybe, or a straight bar curl if you wanna do something else. Three hard sets of 68 reps. Dumbbell rear del rays is next. Three hard sets of 68 reps. And then you wrap up with cable triceps, press down three hard sets of 68 reps, and then you wrap the week with another.
Press workout again. Moving back to emphasizing the chest pressing, starting with the incline barbell bench press where you do your warmup sets. And then three hard sets of four to six reps, followed by the leg Press. Three hard sets of 68 reps, followed by the one arm dumbbell row. Three hard sets of 68 reps, and your wrap up with some more calves.
In this case, it could be the leg. Press calf raise three hard sets of six to eight. Now if you re-listen to that breakdown, you might notice that it’s really just a push legs, push, pull, push routine, and it has some extra training volume for other muscle groups thrown in afterward. And that is the general approach that I recommend to full body programming.
Now, if you want to see those workouts laid out in a nice, simple chart that you could just. Saved to your phone, for example, or print out. And if you also want four and three day versions of that routine, head over to legion athletics.com, search for full body workout, and you’ll find an article that this podcast is based on called The Definitive Guide to Full Body Workout Routines.
Now toward the end of that article, you’ll also find some advice on. Progress in these workouts. How to use reps in reserve, for example, to control your workout intensity, how exactly you should warm up, at least my preferred warmup routine, and how hard your hard sets should be. Should you be going to muscle failure, for example, in hard sets, technical failure, something else, how much rest you should be taking in between each set and more.
Again, just head over to legion athletics.com and search for full body workout and you. See an article pop up called The Definitive Guide to Full Body Workout Routines. All right, well those are all of the key points I wanted to share with you regarding full body training, and I know it is kind of doss it girl.
Right now there are many popular full body routines making the rounds online, but you should know that it is not a wonder routine. It has plenty of advantages, but it also does have some disadvantages and it is. The best way for everyone to train it is best for some people, and if you’re wondering if it is going to be best for you, if it is going to be better than what you’re doing right now, you’re just gonna have to give it a go and see what happens.
Some people don’t like. For example, that full body training tends to be more complicated, to program correctly, and that most of the benefits are relevant to experienced weightlifters. Also, some people find that they just prefer to focus on one or two major muscle groups in each workout, and they just don’t really enjoy full body training as much.
They prefer. Push pull legs or upper lower or some other split, and that’s totally fine because full body workout routines aren’t that much better or that much worse than any of the other effective options. For most people, they’re just another means of getting to the same end of getting more jacked.
All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me. From in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility, and thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well.
And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com. Just muscle f o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this.
I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.
That is the best way to get ahold of me, mike, at muscle life.com. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.
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