Why a Full-Body Workout Routine Is the Best Way to Build Muscle

Updated on November 7, 2018
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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Full body workouts build muscle fast
Full body workouts build muscle fast | Source

Use Full-Body Workouts to Build Muscle Mass

If you want to build muscle mass, there are hundreds of different training programs you could choose from to help you achieve that goal. And although many of them will give you decent results, at least for a while, if you want to build the maximum amount of muscle in the shortest possible time, you really can’t beat a full-body workout routine.

This is especially true for those who are just starting out. So if you are in your first year or two of training, or you haven't had much in the way of results from your efforts so far, this article is of particular relevence for you.

How to Build Muscle Naturally

If you go to the gym regularly you’ll know that body part splits (where you train say chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, shoulders on Thursday, and arms on Friday), are very popular.

But the only real reason for this is that this is what all the top bodybuilders do. However, what works for top bodybuilders may not work for the rest of us. This is because competitive bodybuilders take a lot of steroids to enhance their muscle growth. They also have really great genetics. And on top of this, they are very near their limits in terms of how much muscle they can put on. So they need a very large amount of volume and intensity in order to stimulate further growth. And the only way they can achieve this is to use body part splits.

But if you are natural, genetically average, and simply want to put on 20-30 pounds of muscle as quickly as possible, a full-body workout is the best way to go.

Full-body workouts are the best way to build muscle because they allow you to train all your major muscle groups more often. This, of course, means you get more frequent growth stimulation, which leads to greater muscle growth over time - provided you can recover from it.

Another reason this type of training works so well is that the focus of your workouts tends to be on compound exercises. This is because compound exercises enable you to train more total muscle tissue in less time, so you can work your whole body quickly and efficiently. Compound exercises also produce a much higher level of hormonal response than isolation exercises. And this again causes more muscle growth.

So a full-body workout routine can pack on muscle more quickly than anything else, provided that you know how to structure it in the right way.

The Best Full-Body Workout

All you really need is a squat, lunge or deadlift variation, an upper-body push, and an upper-body pull. Do 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

Leroy Colbert Explains Why Full-Body Workouts Are Superior to Body Part Splits

How to Structure a Full-Body Workout Routine

  1. Train three times per week, but don't do exactly the same workout every time, as this will soon lead to recovery issues. Instead, alternate two (or even three, if you are more advanced) different routines over the course of the week.
  2. Your workouts should not be too long. A big mistake many people make is doing too many exercises. You can work your whole body very well with just three or four exercises. And six is the most you should do. Doing more than this will only make it more difficult for you to recover, and this will limit your gains.
  3. All you really need for an effective full-body workout is a squat, lunge or deadlift variation, an upper-body push, and an upper-body pull. You can add in some additional arm work at the end if you wish, but that’s about it. By simply alternating between two different workouts over your three weekly visits to the gym you'll get all the growth stimulation you need to ensure maximum progress.

As an example, a simple, but highly effective routine might look something like this:

A Full-Body Workout Routine for Rapid Muscle Growth

Workout 1
Workout 2
Squat
Deadlift
Bench Press
Overhead Press
Bent-Over Row
Chin-Ups
Barbell Curls
Parallel Bar Dips
3-4 sets of 5-8 reps

Stick With Two for a Few Months

If you are a complete beginner, stick with alternating between the two workouts above for at least a few months. After that, you can move on to doing three different workouts if you wish.

After a few months on the above routine you may wish to move on to doing three different workouts. So now each exercise will be worked just once per week, but each body part is still being worked three times per week. This will further help with recovery, enabling better consistent long-term progress to be made.

An example of a three-day full body workout program might look like this:

Three-Day Full-Body Workout Program

Monday
Wednesday
Friday
Squat
Deadlift
Leg Press
Incline Bench Press
Overhead Press
Bench Press
Bent-Over Row
Pull-Ups
Dumbbell Row
Barbell Curls
Parallel Bar Dips
Hammer Curls
3-4 sets of 5-8 reps

Leroy Gives More Information on Full-Body Training

When to Increase the Weight

Increase the weight when you can do 8 reps on all 3 sets. If you do 8 on your first set, you should be able to do it on all of them, as you should be stopping your first set a rep or two short of failure. The only reason to go below 8 on subsequent sets is if you push your first set too hard, or if your rest periods are too short. If you push to your max on all your sets, your progress will grind to a halt more quickly than if you hold back a little.

What About Sets and Reps?

Another important factor to consider is your training volume. That is the number of sets and reps you perform. Most people will find they’ll get the best results by working in the 5 – 8 rep range most of the time (a little higher for your arm work). This builds hard, dense muscle, and is also great for making gains in strength.

Occasionally, however, you could use higher reps (10 – 12) to create additional growth through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. That is an expansion of the non-contractile components of the muscle cells. And going down to 2 or 3 reps for a while will help build more strength. This is important as it will mean you will then be able to use more weight for your higher rep sets, which will result in even more gains in muscle size.

So most of the time your training should consist of around 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps (after a couple of warm-up sets) per exercise.

At a later date, you can switch to 3 sets of 10-12 reps for a month or two. And after that do 4-8 sets of doubles or triples for a while.

Vary Your Workouts

It may also be a good idea to change some of your exercises occasionally too, as this will prevent your body from getting too accustomed to them. However, the principle of "muscle confusion," which states you should be changing your exercises on a regular basis, is a myth. Think of powerlifters and Olympic lifters. They use the same exercises all the time yet still manage to build enormous strength and massive muscle size.

So whilst body part splits can have their role to play for more advanced trainees, if you want to pack on as much muscle size to your frame as quickly as possible, do a full body workout routine in the way described here. Combine this with a good muscle-building diet, and get sufficient rest and sleep, and you’ll be certain to make the best gains of your life.

Which method of training do you prefer?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I have been going to the gym for the past two months, but my muscles haven't grown. Do you know why that might be?

    There could be any number of reasons, but to summarise, you need to do the following. Train hard, but not excessively so. That is, don't go to failure or grind out your last rep. Train consistently. Don't do too much cardio or other energetic activities. Eat a calorie surplus with plenty of protein. If you still don't grow, eat more. Get enough rest and sleep. And try to keep stress to a minimum. If you do all of that you must grow, unless you have underlying health issues or hormonal problems.

  • What should you be doing on your non-weightlifting days? Steady state cardio, HIIT, or just rest?

    You can rest if you wish, but if you are not doing any cardio on your lifting days, it would be a good idea to do some on your off days. Just go for a brisk 20 - 30 minute walk each day and/or do a HIIT workout twice per week. That should be enough to keep you fit and lean if your diet is also on track.

  • How much rest should you have between full-body workout sets?

    Just rest long enough for your muscles to fully recover, so that you can put the maximum amount of force into each set (but stop a little short of failure). For the bigger exercises that will usually be around 3 minutes, and for the smaller exercises about 2 minutes.

  • I am a natural bodybuilder. What is the most suitable workout, a full body workout or split workout ? (I am now doing a push pull legs workout).

    It depends on how experienced a lifter you are and how strong you are. If you've been training less than a year, the best way to train is with a full body workout performed three times per week. This is still a great way to train for many intermediates or even advanced lifters, depending on how it it structured. However, after you have been training for a while and have built up a decent level of strength, you will probably find you'll improve better if you do an upper/lower split, training three or four days per week. The push/pull/legs and opposing muscle groups split are also good methods for intermediate and advanced people. But for the best combination of strength and size development you can't beat the upper/lower split.

  • Is a full-body workout good for a sixty-year-old male? I see varying opinions on whether this type of program helps build muscle at my age.

    It is if you are just starting out, or have not been training very long. Though you may want to reduce the volume a little, at least initially. For more information on training for older guys see my article on that topic.

© 2012 David

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    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      42 hours ago from Birmingham, UK

      Well, the strict definition of supersets is going from one of the paired exercises to the other with no rest in between. Personally I don't like those. But alternating sets is the same thing, except that you have a rest before performing the second of the paired exercises. I think that is a good approach, and will still save time, as the rest periods can be shorter than if you were doing straight sets of the same exercise. It's often used with opposing muscle groups, but can also be done with completely different muscle groups, and the way you have set it up should work fine.

    • profile image

      Liam 

      2 days ago

      Hi David. What's your opinion on supersets, I have been doing the split we spoke about a while back. However, I am looking at trying to fit in some isolation exercises with my main work, but am still under the same time constraints. I found an article online talking about full body splits that recommended having either a squat/push/pull as a strength focused move and then superset the other two that you didn't perform first and then superset some assistance exercises after if you like. Something like the following, with / signifying a superset between the two movements:

      Day 1:

      Squat 3x5-8 2 min rest

      Incline DB Press/Pull-ups 3x8-10 90 second rest

      BB Curl/Hanging Leg Raises 2x10-12 60 second rest

      Day 3:

      Bench Press 3x5-8

      DB Lunge/DB Row 3x8-10

      Calf Raise/Lateral Raises 2x10-12

      Day 5:

      Deadlift 3x5-8

      DB Shoulder Press/Goblet Squat 3x8-10

      Tricep Pushdown/Weighted Ab Crunch 2x10-12

      Would this be a good approach to fit in more work within the same period of time? Thanks David!

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      8 days ago from Birmingham, UK

      If you were a complete beginner, I would suggest you stick with the dips, but as you've been training a while now, and built up some strength, it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      9 days ago

      Hi again. Can i switch the parallel bar dips on Wednesday to tricep cable pushdowns? I can feel it way more in my triceps even if it is a isolated exercise. Thanks.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      10 days ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, that's perfectly reasonable, as long as you stick to the same exercise for a few weeks. You don't want to be swapping exercises every week. There's no need to train abs three times per week anyway.

    • profile image

      Jack 

      10 days ago

      Thanks your feedback David. The reasoning for the intervals is that they’ve really helped with jiu-jitsu. Based on your comments I’m thinking this:

      25%x5, 50%x5, 75%x3

      Monday:

      Front Squat 3x5-8

      Dips 3x5-8

      DB Row 3x5-8

      Exercise of choice if time 2x10-12

      Wednesday:

      Deadlift 3x5-8

      DB Shoulder Press 3x5-8

      Pull-ups 3x5-8

      Exercise of choice if time 2x10-12

      Friday:

      DB Lunge 3x5-8

      Incline DB Press 3x5-8

      BB Row 3x5-8

      Exercise of choice if time 2x10-12

      My rationale about the exercise of choice, is that rather than doing abs after every session. If I have time I’ll choose an isolation depending on what I feel like bringing up and then do that if I have time. Having the full body as base then having the option to do an isolation at the end if I have time. Is this a good strategy? Thanks for all your help David.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      11 days ago from Birmingham, UK

      There's nothing wrong with your exercise selection at all, but personally I would do slightly higher reps for the dips and lunges. Also, I wouldn't go from a 50% warmup straight to my working weight. A 75% (ish) warmup is needed really. And you don't actually have any isolation exercises there (apart from abs). You just have big and small compounds. I would want to do one warmup set for the smaller ones, but that will take extra time of course. Same comment for arms/calves isolation. These are not essential unless you particularly want to bring up these areas more, but they will necessitate a little more time if you do them. And finally be careful with those intervals. 15 minutes solid is tough and will take some recovering from.

    • profile image

      Jack 

      12 days ago

      Hi David, looked over your articles and really like them. I’m a really busy guy who wants a good looking physique and also be in good athletic shape. I can consistently make 30 minutes a day 6 days a week. My current plan is Monday/Wednesday/Friday: full body strength training, Tuesday/Thursday: cardio, Saturday: yoga. I’ve tried so many different routines for years and want something to actually stick with. So I need something in 30 minutes I can do 3 days a week based on aesthetic and strength. Based off your article I’m thinking this.

      Warm Up:

      Fwd leg swings 15s per side

      Lateral leg swings 15s per day side

      Squat hold 30s

      Fwd/bwd arm circles 15s per side

      Rotations 15s per internal/external

      Band Dislocates/wall slides 30s

      Monday - Strength:

      Front Squats 3x5-8

      Dips 3x5-8

      DB Row 3x5-8

      *Weighted Crunch 2x10-12

      Tuesday - Interval Cardio

      5 min warm up

      30/30 intervals for 15 mins

      Wednesday - Strength:

      Deadlift 3x5-8

      DB Shoulder Press 3x5-8

      Pull-ups 3x5-8

      *Ab Rollout 2xfailure

      Thursday - Cardio

      5 min warm up

      20 mins cardio

      Friday - Strength

      DB Lunge 3x5-8

      Incline DB Press 3x5-8

      BB Row 3x5-8

      Hanging leg raise 2x10-12

      Saturday - Flexibility

      30 minutes Yoga/Pilates

      *Only do if have time

      Warm up 25%x5, 50%x5 for main lifts, none for iso.

      Increase when hit upper rep goal on all sets with good form.

      Stop 1 or 2 reps short of failure.

      2 minute rest compounds, 1 minute rest isolation either superset or alternate sets.

      The only thing I’m worried about is that there is no arm/calf isolation. Does this look like a good plan? Or how can I add those things within the 30 min limit. Thanks for all your help David.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 days ago from Birmingham, UK

      You can certainly do some abdominal exercises if you wish, but it's unlikely to make your abs look much better, unless you have very underdeveloped abdominal muscles, which I doubt. You make your abs look better mostly by reducing your body fat. If you want to train them though, I would probably do them twice per week with something like ab wheel rollouts on Mondays and hanging leg raises or reverse crunches on Fridays. A couple of sets of 10 - 30 reps is enough (after at least one warmup set). If you can't do hanging leg raises with straight legs, do them with bent legs at first, and gradually straighten them out over time.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      2 weeks ago

      Hi again, I have decided to continue bulking, since I only really have about an inch of fat on my lower abs. My body is about 17% BF. I have just estimated it using an app. Should I do some abs exercises too at the end of my workouts, just so I can maybe make them look better while im still dirty bulking? What should i do and how many reps and such? Someone told me its a good time to work on your abs when your bulking and in a caloric surplus. Thanks.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      5 weeks ago from Birmingham, UK

      Glad you have done well with this Mark. Yes, you can use the same routine for cutting, but there are just two things to bear in mind. Firstly, your recovery will not be quite as good when cutting, due to being in calorie deficit, so you may want to cut back a little on volume and/or level of effort. And second, you should increase your protein intake even more than when bulking to help maintain your muscle mass better.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      6 weeks ago

      Hi again.

      I have been dirty bulking with this routine for a few months and have seen amazing results in size and strength but i want to start cutting now and continue using this routine. Should i keep lifting heavy and doing the same amount of sets and reps? I want to add 30 minutes of treadmill after too. Thanks.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      7 weeks ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes jgjdjr, it should work great if you are just starting out. But don't try to push it too far before changing to a less demanding routine. See my article on training for older guys for more info on this.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      7 weeks ago from Birmingham, UK

      I suggest you start with the 2-day. Do this consistently for at least 6 months, and then consider changing to the 3-day.

    • profile image

      Karim 

      7 weeks ago

      Hi Dave,

      I have first started working out around 10 months ago. Since then, there has been lots of ons and offs and workout trial and error, switching between splits and fullbody workouts etc. been doing a 3-day split for a month now. I have gained a little bit, but not that much.

      Your workouts seems to be perfect for my aims and schedule. I want to start doing one of them. Would you recommend starting with the 2-day or the 3-day? Thanks!

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      2 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Hi Mark. For most people, training biceps directly three times per week is fine and gives good results. But triceps tend to take a bit longer to recover. So it might be worth just training them twice per week. Or you could reduce the number of sets. Also, make sure you are not pushing them excessively hard as well. Only go close to failure on your last set.

    • profile image

      jgjdjr 

      2 months ago

      Is this a good program for me (male, 61)? I've seen varying opinions on gaining muscle at my age, some suggesting lighter weight more reps.

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Mark 

      2 months ago

      Hi, again.

      I have started doing additional arm exercises on each workout like you said with 8-10 reps. On Monday I got an insane pump and the next day my biceps and triceps were a bit bigger, :) but my triceps were really sore. My biceps were fine though. I continued to workout on Wednesday and Friday, and today is Sunday and my triceps are still sore from Monday. They are still bigger and a bit harder. I think it has to do with the rep range and not so much the exercise since I always have worked my triceps with soreness lasting just a day or two and would be very mild. Nevertheless, should I remove the 2nd arm exercise from each workout, and just do the normal 1 arm exercise routine with 8-10 reps? Is this telling me that 2 is too much or is it that I just need to get used to it? Thanks.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      2 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      I don't have a specific one, but if you take a look at this article it will give you a good idea of how to set one up: www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/build-hlm-full-body-workout

    • profile image

      Rocko 

      2 months ago

      Hi Dave,

      Can you direct me to a solid Heavy/Light/Moderate full body workout for an intermediate lifter

      Thanks

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      2 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, there is already an arm exercise at the end of each of the workouts, but you can expand this to do both biceps and triceps each time if you wish. The reason we have parallel bar dips on Wednesday is to give the chest some additional work, as well as the triceps. But yes, you can still change it. So you coud do barbell curls and lying triceps extensions on Monday, dumbbell or cable curls and triceps pushdowns on Wednesday, and hammer curls and overhead extensions on Friday.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      2 months ago

      Hi, again. Sounds good. You have said that you can do an additional arm workout at the end of your workouts, and I really want to work my arms a bit more. What would be a good arm routine to include for each workout. I'm doing the 3 day routine. And 8-10 reps should be fine. Also, on Wednesday, could I change my parallel bar dips to tricep pushdowns? And do 8-10 reps?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      2 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Glad you are doing well with this, Mark. Yes, it will probably be a good idea to increase your reps for the arm exercises to 8 - 10 for a couple of months, and then go up to 10 - 12.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      2 months ago

      Hi, i have been doing the 3 day workout for 2 months now and have really seen my legs grow. I have also seen my arms and lats grow. Awesome! I do 3 sets of 5-8 reps. I see that you say that for arms you should do 10-12 reps. Is that only for arms and should i start doing arms with 10-12 reps? Thanks.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      5 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Full body workouts are the best way to train for beginners and early intermediates, but they can also work well for more advanced lifters, especially if your recovery is quite good. The program you have written is well structured and arranged in a way that will optimize recovery, so I'm sure it will work very wel for youl.

    • profile image

      Liam 

      5 months ago

      Hi David, I currently have a hectic work schedule and will for the foreseeable future. I have been training for 6 years, so I am wondering how this split will work for a more advanced lifter. I no longer have the time to do my usual split, therefore, I need something more time efficient like this. So I was thinking of Monday: Incline DB Press, Pull-ups, BB lunges. Wednesday: Overhead Press, Barbell Rows, Deadlifts. Friday: Flat BB Press, Lat pulldown, Leg Press. All for your 3 sets of 5-8 reps. I have put legs last on all days, as they are my most developed muscle group and I want to bring up my upper body.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      5 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You can replace back squats with front squats, goblet squats, Zercher squats, split squats, machine hack squats or even leg presses. However squats and deadlifts are not necessarily bad for taller people as long as you have decent mobility in the hips and ankles. And you may have to adopt a slightly different position as compared to a shorter person. Also, partial squats don't really activate the hams much at all, and they don't work the glutes or even the quads as well as full, or parallel, squats. So you might want to find out what it is that's causing your knee pain and try to address it if possible.

      Yes, you can replace barbell bench and incline bench with dumbbells if you wish, though I prefer barbells for beginners. Or you could do one with a barbell and one with dumbbells.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      5 months ago

      Oh, I forgot to mention, when I do the squats they are half squats since I can't go down all the way for a full squat, cause it hurts my knees too much. But, I've heard they don't work your hams and glutes the same as full ones. hmmmm

    • profile image

      Mark 

      5 months ago

      Hi, David. I have been following your 3 day a week program and have gotten a lot stronger after only 2 weeks. I have been substituting deadlifts with forward lunges though. Since I never worked out my legs before, I can carry so much more weight now, as i'm a stock clerk at a grocery store. I just want to know, I'm 6'5" or 1.956 m tall. I heard that deadlifts and Squats are bad for tall people. I want to substitute my squats now. What would be a good alternative for it? And also, can I change my flat and incline barbell bench press and use dumbells instead, because of the better free range of motion? Thanks. Sorry for all the questions.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      5 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, doing a barbell complex after your main workout is great for conditioning. You could take a look at my article entitled "Best Full-Body Fat-Burning Workout Routine" for more info on this if you wish.

    • profile image

      Michael Bialuk 

      5 months ago

      Hi David, I really enjoy your articles and knowledge about weight training. Thank you. I enjoy doing a full body workout three times a week and have been doing so for some time with excellent results. I would now like to incorporate a barbell complex for conditioning after the weight training session. Does this sound like a good approach to you? I would like to do this three times a week.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      6 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      That workout is not full body, as only chest and arms are being trained, so you will become completely unbalanced if that's all you are doing. With my three day plan, if you want to do more arm work you could add one of those bicep exercises to Wednesday's workout, and add a triceps exercise to Monday's and Friday's workouts.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      6 months ago

      Hi, David

      I have followed Leroy Colbert for 2years nowand I love doing full body workouts.I have been doing the same 6 exercises, every workout though for 3 days a week. 3 sets. 6-10 reps as he says.

      -Incline dumbbell press.

      -Flat dumbbell press

      -Seated half barbell curls.(Love this one but started getting sore wrists.)

      -Barbell Drag curls

      -Dips

      -Tricep Cable pushdowns.

      I have gained more in strength and not much in overall size, just bigger arm peaks, but I think its because of doing the same exercises every workout. Do you think so? This changing your workout every day sounds good though. You said that you can add a few arm exercises to your workout if you wish. Should i just follow your 3 day workout as is, or add Seated dumbbell curl and drag barbell curls to it too?

      Thanks! Sorry for the long comment.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      6 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      The two day program is for people who are just starting out. Their priority should be to get strong on the big lifts, and I wouldn't add anything to those workouts if you are in your first 6 months of training. After that the three day program may be more appropriate, and you can certainly add an exercise to each of these. In your case I would add lateral raises to the first workout, face pulls to the second and upright rows to the third. Do them for 2 or 3 sets of 10 - 12 reps.

    • profile image

      Raphael 

      6 months ago

      Hi David, first I would like to thank you, your basic and minimalist approach has literally changed my way of thinking and living fitness.

      Now I like the two and the the three days program but I would like to add some delt/traps work. My favourites are lateral raises, shrugs, face pulls and wide upright rows. How would you include some of them in a 2 or 3 day schedule? Which exercises and rep ranges do you recommend?

      Thanks in advance and greetings from South Italy!

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      7 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      No; it's fine to do those twice per week for a while, but if you do it too long you will likely run into recovery issues. So after about 2 - 3 months, or sooner if you are starting to struggle, I'd do a different set of complementary exercises on your second day.

    • profile image

      Notafool 

      7 months ago

      I am getting back into lifting after 15 years. I did not do much leg work before because I was doing a lot of cycling. I get to the Gym twice a week. Say Monday and Thursday. I want to be able to cycle at least 30 miles a week at 10-15 miles, which is easy for me.

      Is there anything wrong with doing the major exercises each workout? As in:

      Bench Press (155lbs 4x8)

      Overhead Press (85lbs 4x10)

      Bent Row (115lbs 4x10)

      Lat Pull Down (100lbs 4x10)

      Squat (85lbs 4x10)

      Deadlift or Romanian Lift (85lbs 4x10)

      Squat and deadlift are new to me so I am starting very light to work on form.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      8 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, you can stay on the upper/lower split indefinitely if you wish. or you can move on to a push/pull/legs split. Or alternate the two, doing a few months on one and then a few months on the other.

      As for straps for deadlifts; personally I don't like them because you get dependent on them. So I would only ever use chalk. Also I would only do three sets of deadlifts for a while. Once you get reasonably strong on them, reduce to two sets, and maybe later to just one set.

    • profile image

      Pilgrim86 

      8 months ago

      Thanks for replying David. Going through the routines for six months then progressing sounds good. I'm guessing you'll stay on the upper/lower split forever once you're on it? or is there another progression from that - obviously a couple years down the line.

      Also deadlifts - you've programmed deadlifts in all the routines the same as the other exercises (3-4 sets of 5-8 reps). Would you recommend lifting straps to handle the multiple sets? Great article :)

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      8 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      It's all very well to give advice re. time/strength needed before moving on, but the problem is that everyone is different, and will therefore respond differently and reach different levels before they reach the optimum time to move to the next phase. For instance, I might be tempted to say stick to the two way full body for 6 months, then do the three way for another 6 months, and then move on to the upper/lower split. But really the best advice is to stick to each one until you stop progressing, and then move on. But you'll need to allow for at least two or three de-loads (backing off and then building back up again) before you decide you are no longer progressing on any particular plan.

    • profile image

      Pilgrim86 

      8 months ago

      Hey David. Great article regarding full body training.

      You've written about the progression from going from the two routine full body to the three routine full body and then eventually to an upper/lower split.

      I was wondering if there was a realistic/average time you would recommend staying in each phase before moving to the next one? Is it time related (weeks then months) or strength related (wait until achieving 2 plate bench, 3 plate squat, 4 plate deadlift on a 1 rep max).

      Any advice regarding time/strength needed before moving from one phase to another would be great. Thanks :)

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      9 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Well, the first thing I would say is I don't think your workouts are really arranged optimally, but if you are happy with them and making progress, who am I to argue? As for diet, you need 150 - 200g of protein per day, most of which should come from meat, fish and eggs, and perhaps some cheese and whey protein (if you can find one you like). Take a look at my article on the best muscle building diet for more info, and let me know if you have any more questions then. Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Keith 

      9 months ago

      Quick question,

      I am 43 5'6" weight 190 I have been doing a full body work out 4 days a week for some time now and notice it takes around 2 to 3 hrs. a day. I preform bench warmups then 1 heavy then working sets. Then move to arms warmup sets then working sets I go back and forth from the bench to the bow flex for full arm workout. Then I work on legs warmups on squats then working sets, then deadlift warm up working sets. then I do barbell row sets then head over to bow flex work back. I always feel good when working out in fact my days off I look forward to working out again cause I feel better when I am working out. My question is I am OK with my routine but really suck on what to eat and protein all protein shakes taste like crap. What should my daily protein be for my size and routine and how is the best way to get it. Also I will mention I only eat dinner everyday that is it in the morning I have coffee on workout days I just started an energy powder that feels great that's all I have. What would you recommend?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      9 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      That depends. If you have got quite strong you will probably benefit from splitting your body up a bit now, rather than continuing with full body. However, if I read your comment right, you are looking to be training 7 days a week. That would be too much. You need your recovery days. For most people 4 days per week would be the most I would recommend. You might want to take a look at my article on the upper/lower body workout to see if that gives you a better idea of how to split things up.

    • profile image

      Tanis 

      9 months ago

      I’ve bern doing full body for almost 2 yrs, 4 days a week. Doing a glute/ham, quad, back, chest and a core. Then conditioning or HIIT afterwards. Am thinking of splitting it now... 2 days of Deadlifts, 2 days of glute/ham, 2 days quads, chest and back. And stocking in a gratuitous bicep, shoulder and tricep exercise. Would this be just as effective as doing all 4 compound movements 4 days a week?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      9 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Leroy was very advanced and had great genetics and recovery. This is for more typical trainees who have not been training that long. But even if you have been training a while, workouts of this sort will allow for better recovery and therefore better long term progress for most people.

    • profile image

      Berd 

      9 months ago

      But Leroy Colbert has many exercises (about ten or eleven) in his workout ... you suggest just doing four or five ...

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      10 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, it's a perfectly reasonable choice. Just continue with this as long as you are making good progress.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      10 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Do your exercises as a circuit, with minimal rest between each one. See my article on the full body fat burning workout routine for more information.

    • profile image

      Tanveer Mustafa 

      10 months ago

      How can we use full body workout to reduce wait or fat.

    • profile image

      Nikhil 

      11 months ago

      Hello, I'm coming from a gap of 50 days and started full body workouts 3 times a week to get back on track. I have noticed that it does not tire me as my previous hypertrophy based workouts used to also I'm lightly heavyweight and i assume full body workouts is the rught chouce for me, isn't it?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      11 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You are welcome Pete; all the best to you too.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      11 months ago

      Thanks again Dave,all the best

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      11 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Glad you are enjoying your training Pete. Myofibrils are thickened with low to moderate rep work. So if you do your big compound exercises for sets of 4 - 6 reps and your smaller exercises for 6 - 8 reps that should work well.

      Any sensible weekly plan will work, but I still prefer upper/lower or something similar.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      11 months ago

      Hey David

      I still enjoy only working 3 days a week and am now looking to build up my myofibrillar fibres to make them thicker.

      Do you have any ideas on how I perform a well structured workout weekly plan?

      Thanks again

    • profile image

      jgjdjr 

      12 months ago

      Thank you sir from a dumbbell!!!

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      12 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Ok, I understand the article doesn't really address the upper/lower/upper approach, but it gives you an idea of that sort of training. Maybe I'll add that to the article. But for older guys especially I tend to prefer upper twice per week and lower once per week. And you stick to the same lower workout.

      So maybe Monday would be bench press, bent-over row, seated dummbell shoulder press and curls.

      Then on Wednesday you could do squats, Romanian deadifts, leg press and calf raise.

      And on Friday you'd do incline dummbell press, pull-up, lateral raise and lying triceps extension.

      That's similar to what I'm doing at present. But you can choose your own exercises of course, and make the workouts a bit longer if your recovery is good. But most older guys don't recover so well, so this will probably be enough.

    • profile image

      jgjdjr 

      12 months ago

      David,

      Read your article and if I understand correctly.... upper on Monday and Friday and lower on Wednesday and then lower on Monday and Friday and upper on Wednesday or just stick with 1 lower and alternate those exercises. I realize this may be a dumb question but want to make sure.

      Thanks again for your advice and patience for us older folks. Also, I have no problem paying for a routine set up for me but didn't know how to go about that or if that's an option on this site.

      John

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Glad to be of help Davis; and thanks. Yes I'm talking about body parts. Do upper on Monday and Friday and lower on Wednesday. See my article on the upper/lower body split routine for more info on this type of training.

    • profile image

      jgjdjr 

      13 months ago

      Davis,

      Thanks for answering. By upper/lower/upper, I am assuming you are talking about body parts not weight or rep ranges. You routine here is mixed for the 3 day plan. I assume I can pick the upper/lower from each and put them together or can you give me a routine or point me in the direction of one you have already devised?

      Thanks again. Great to get advice from a professional!!!!

      John

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Older guys don't recover as well as younger guys, so you need to take this into account in your training. You can't do high volumes, you don't want to be doing very heavy training too often and you should not go to failure.

      I like an upper/lower/upper approach doing 4 or 5 exercises per workout, generally for 3 sets in the 8 - 12 rep range, but the sets and reps can (and should) be varied a bit. And there are also different ways of setting up the routine that can also work well.

    • profile image

      jgjdjr 

      13 months ago

      I am a 60 year old male looking for a good routine to look and feel strong. Almost all workouts I see today are for younger people. I try to lift 3 days and jog the other 3 or 4 but am not sure of reps and sets for older men.

      Thanks

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You could if you want to burn out very quickly. But it would work well if you reduced the number of work sets to 3 and did a different rep range each day. Say sets of 5 on Monday, 10 on Wednesday and 8 on Friday for squats and bench, and 8's, 12's and 10's for curls and dips. And like you say, moderate weights. Don't go to failure, especially on the 5's.

    • profile image

      arun 

      13 months ago

      Day 1:

      weighted squat, barbell curls , bench press, dips for triceps and light cardio

      5 sets each with average weight

      can I do the same workout on monday, wednesday and friday?? And rest on other days

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes; always do at least 2 - 3 warm-up sets before the big exercises, and 1 - 2 before the smaller exercises.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You could if you want, but I really wouldn't bother, at least until you progress to doing an upper/lower split.

    • profile image

      Dinesh 

      14 months ago

      Hi Dav In this routine shall I add any forearm workout like wrist curls? Or need not?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Hi Hans. Yes you are right; most routines are way too long for the average lifter, unless you use light weights and a fast pace. That may have a role to play for a more experienced lifter (on an occasional basis), but it's not ideal for a beginner or anyone who wants to develop strength as well as size. Best of luck with this.

    • profile image

      Hanser 

      14 months ago

      Hey David,

      Thanks for the advice! I like the way you approach workouts. I've researched lifting routines on-line and most have so many exercises I don't know how the average lifter can finish a workout in an hour or less, let alone recover in time to lift after a days rest. (But maybe thats my age and creaking joints talking)

      I like the idea of alternating workouts. I will try your two day workout above.

      Best,

      Hans

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      That's a good well balanced routine. However, if you are doing exactly the same workout three times per week, it's likely you will soon run into recovery issues. This is why I like to alternate two different workouts.

      Also, I'd suggest you do more warm-up sets. Three for squats, deadlifts and bench press and two for the others. And three work sets of deadlifts is probably overkill, especially as you are squatting on the same day. Two should be plenty, and even one is probably enough.

    • profile image

      Hanser 

      14 months ago

      Hi David, I am 48 and have recently (7 weeks) started a full body workout. I warm up and do one set of warm up sets for the first two exercises.

      Barbell Bench 3x8

      Squats 3x10

      Dumbell bent over Rows 3x10

      Dead lifts 3x10

      Incline Dumbell shoulder press 3x10

      I add weight when I reach max reps for all three sets and take Whey and Casein to supplement protein. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      15 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Rest as long as you need to be prepared for your next set. Usually 2 - 3 minutes for the bigger exercises, and 1.5 - 2 minutes for the smaller exercises.

    • profile image

      Vuk 

      15 months ago

      Hello David,

      Please tell me what is ideal rest between sets?

      Take care,

      Vuk

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      16 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes; that's how it would be done. Every other day, or three times per week, alternating. It's not too much as long as you only do one or two exercises per body part.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      16 months ago

      Hi Dave

      What do you think of the Chest,Shoulders,Back workout on day 1

      Then limbs on next workout on a every other day basis

      Dorian started out like this do you think it’s too much in one workout

      Thanks

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      16 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes I think it's a good split but not the best for newbies who would do better with a full body routine. Once you've been training a while and built a decent base, then yes this is fine, and it's what a lot of the old shcool trainers might recommend.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      16 months ago

      Hi Dave

      Quick question what do you think of this split that Dorian did as a newbie

      Workout1. Chest,Back,Shoulders

      Workout2. Limbs

      Regards

      Pete

      Happy New Year

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      16 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      The only way you can hit a body part every 48 - 72 hours, training 3 days per week, is to do full body workouts. But I wouldn't recommend that for an advanced lifter; nor would I recommend hitting a body part every 48 - 72 hours anyway. I would alternate upper, lower, upper, lower, which would mean you'd be hitting each muscle every 4 - 5 days, but that's ideal for an intermediate or advanced lifter anyway.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      16 months ago

      Dave

      Just a quick question if your an advanced lifter who can only train 3 days a week and wanting to hit muscle at least every 48-72 hours how would you go about doing your workout

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      17 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      I know exactly what you mean about overtraining quickly with too much volume as I'm exactly the same. And yes, being over 40 does not help in that regard.

      So you could do an abbreviated routine such as:

      1. Squat, Leg Curl, Bench Press, Seated Dumbbell Press, Calf Raise.

      2. Rack Pull, Bent-over Row, Pull-Ups, Barbell Curl, Skullcrushers.

      Or you could do a more complete program if you feel you have the energy for it. This could be like this:

      1. Squat, Leg Press, Leg Curl, Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Overhead Press, Lateral Raise

      2. Rack Pull, Bent-over Row, Pull-Ups, Barbell Curl, Skullcrushers, Calf Raise.

      Or customise it to suit yourself; but hope that helps.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      17 months ago

      Sorry to bother you again, are you able to give an example of a good (Legs,Chest,Shoulder) & Back&Arm workout done every other day to hit muscle 4-5 days week, I tend to overtrain quick with too much volume maybe due to being over 40 ☹️ Which is not a bad thing it’s just being mindful of it and working in tune with it.

      Thanks sorry to keep bothering you

      Kind Regards

      Pete

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      17 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Thanks Peter; Merry Christmas to you too.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      17 months ago

      Amazing thanks Dave

      Best Wishes

      Merry Christmas

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      17 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Oh, ok. In that case you would do legs with chest and shoulders, and then do back with arms and calves.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      17 months ago

      Thanks Dave great information,

      Looks a solid split

      I just want to incorporate legs in some way into the push/pull so I train muscles every.4-5 days instead of doing a push/pull/legs where would you slot legs into a push/pull?

      Thanks so much

      Pete

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      17 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Hi Pete

      Glad you made some good gains with that. For push/pull/legs there are a few approaches you could take, but for most people a really good way to set it up would look something like this:

      Legs: Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Leg Press, Leg Curl, Calf Raise.

      Push: Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Overhead Press, Lateral Raise, Skullcrushers

      Pull: Bent-over Row, Pull-Ups, Face Pulls, Barbell Curl, Dumbbell Hammer Curl.

      Best of luck again.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      17 months ago

      Hi Dave,

      Hope you are well, I wanted to say massive thank you I have made amazing gains with this workout you gave me 3 days a week

      Monday - 3 x 5

      Squats, Bench Press, Bent-over Row, Overhead Press.

      Wednesday - 3 x 10 - 12

      Leg Press, Parallel Bar Dips, Pull-Ups, Lateral Raises, EZ Curl, Skullcrushers.

      Friday - 3 x 6 - 8

      Front Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Incline DB Bench Press, Cable Row, Seated DB Press.

      I am ready to do a Push/Pull split every other day so each muscle is worked every 4-5 days, please can you give me some ideas?

      Thanks

      Pete

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      18 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You can as long as you are recovering ok. But if you find you are getting issues in that respect go back to the curls.

    • profile image

      Gymnewbie 

      18 months ago

      Hi, thanks for replying. Could I replace bicep curls with pull ups on the two day routine? so pull ups day A and chin ups day B?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      18 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, a complete beginner will do better with two workouts in ABA format.

    • profile image

      Gymnewbie 

      18 months ago

      Hi Dave

      For a complete beginner is it better to start with two full body workouts three times a week in a ABA format or do three full bodys in a ABC format with all different exercises in each? Is one method better than the other? Thanks

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      18 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, but you won't be able to keep on improving at that rate for long. So later you will need to do sets of 6, then 7, then 8 etc. And later still you will need to just add a rep to your last set first; then your penultimate set, and then all 3 sets before increasing. That method should keep you going for a long time though. Wish someone had told me that years ago.

    • profile image

      TANVEER 

      18 months ago

      Hi Dave,

      is it ok to perform workout A

      first time with 6 reps next time with 8 then next time with ten and then next time with 12 reps with the same weight. Then increase the weight and recycle it in the above manner.

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      19 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      I would say yes, no problem. But Mehdi might have different ideas. Basically you can do what you want, but some things may help and others may not. I'm sure that adding a couple of sets of dips to one workout and pull-ups to the other could only be beneficial though.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      19 months ago

      Hi Dave,

      Just quick question can you add Dips and Pull-ups to stronglifts?

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      19 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You are welcome Peter. Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      19 months ago

      Thank you so much Dave

      All the best my friend

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      19 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Try this:

      Monday - 3 x 5

      Squats, Bench Press, Bent-over Row, Overhead Press.

      Wednesday - 3 x 10 - 12

      Leg Press, Parallel Bar Dips, Pull-Ups, Lateral Raises, EZ Curl, Skullcrushers.

      Friday - 3 x 6 - 8

      Front Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Incline DB Bench Press, Cable Row, Seated DB Press.

      You can add in some ab and/or calf work at the end if you wish.

      I've suggested 3 x 5 on Monday, as 5 x 5 sets across can quickly get too demanding for intermediate trainees and will lead to an early plateau.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      19 months ago

      Hi Dave

      please give me a 3 day full body workout utilising the heavy/light/medium system I enjoy one day working in the 5x5 then following day 8-12 then moderate day 6-8 Reps

      Thanks so much

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      19 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Yes, that's right. And that can be useful for more advanced trainees. But it's certainly not the ideal way to train for beginners who simply don't need to "focus on one or two body parts". Most people in their first couple of years training will do far better on full body workouts. And from there they should transition to upper/lower splits.

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