Why Total Body Workouts are Back for Good!
by: Josiah Novak
Back in the day, before Arnold hit the scene and changed the entire fitness universe, everyone who was anyone in the fitness world trained using full-body workouts 3 to 4 times per week. But even Arnold has been quoted saying that full body routines are extremely effective and that he built most of his initial muscle mass doing full body splits.
Full body vs. Split Routines
I should probably back up for a second and explain the difference between full body and split routines...
Full body is hitting each major muscle group during one training session. Usually the focus is on basic compound movements with 1 or 2 accessory movements for bigger body parts. I’ll show you an example of this at the end of the article.
Split routines are what most magazines and fitness celebs promote and it looks like the typical Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, Arms on Wednesday routine. The workouts are targeted around one bodypart with higher volume and more exercises for that body part.
Benefits of Full Body Training
The first tremendous benefit of full body routines is that by training your full body 3-4 times per week you send a muscle-building signal more frequently than training each body part once per week. Some bodybuilders (google Mike Mentzer) have done full body and have had tremendous results.
Think about construction workers who perform manual labor each day. They tend to develop incredible strength and muscle density just by stimulating the same muscle groups each day.
The second benefit of full body workouts is that they burn more calories - thus if you’re trying to burn body fat you end up getting more for your investment. Think about it. If you do squats, pull-ups, dips, overhead presses and barbell curls for a full body routine versus doing just biceps and triceps on “Arm Day”, you’re going to burn a ton more calories!
Full body routines can also provide more total volume of training each week. Let’s say you have been doing the basic “Chest on Mondays” routine and your chest routine consists of 5 exercises of 4 sets each. That’s 20 total sets. Full body routines performed 4 times per week gives you the chance to break up the volume into 4 different workouts. So instead of hitting chest one time per week for 20 sets - you can do 10 sets (2 exercises of 5 sets) 4 times per week! That’s 40 total sets versus 20. Crazy, huh?
Finally, full body routines allow you to enjoy more time outside the gym. If you’ve been doing the standard 5 or 6 day split - you could cut back to 3 days of full body and leave yourself plenty of time to do other things related to fitness, or increase productivity in other areas of your life. I don’t know about you - but what’s the point of looking awesome if you can’t enjoy life too?
Ok, so what would a full body workout look like? Let’s say you wanted to bring up your back and shoulders... Here's an example of how you could set that up.
- Pull-ups 5 sets of 8-10
- Standing Overhead Press 6 sets of 10-12
- Dumbbell Rows 4 sets of 8-10 each arm
- Incline Dumbbell Press 5 sets of 10-12
- Leg Press 4 sets of 12-15
- Lying Leg Curls 3 sets of 12-15
- Incline Dumbbell Flys 4 sets of 10
- Arms Superset: Bicep Dumbbell Curls 4 sets of 8-10 superset with Dips 4 sets of 8-10
Abs can be trained on off days along with cardio! Pretty simple, right?
I hope this article at least makes you ponder the idea of full body workouts. I strongly encourage you to start doing your own research to maximize your time spent in the gym. Total body workouts are making a comeback... Don’t believe me? Just watch!