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

Updated on June 19, 2017
Full body workouts build muscle fast
Full body workouts build muscle fast | Source

Use A Full Body Workout To Build Muscle

If you want to put on some muscle, 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 still can’t beat a full body workout routine.

Why A Full Body Workout?

If you go to the gym regularly you’ll know that body part splits are very popular. But the only real reason for this is that these are what all the top bodybuilders are using. 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. Because of this 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 genetically average and simply want to put on 20 – 30 pounds of muscle as fast as possible, a full body workout is the best way to accomplish this.

Full body workouts are the best way to gain 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 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 can pack on muscle quicker than anything else – provided that you know how to structure it in the right way…

Leroy Colbert explains why full body workouts are superior to body part splits

How To Structure A Full Body Workout Routine

It’s not a good idea to do exactly the same workout routine every time you go to the gym, as this will soon lead to recovery issues. Instead you should alternate two (or even three if you are more advanced) different routines over the course of the week. Also 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.

So for an effective full body workout all you really need is a squat, lunge or deadlift variation, together with 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. A routine of this sort, performed three times per week, will give you all the growth stimulation you need to ensure maximum progress.

As an example, a simple, but highly effective full body workout routine might look something like this…

A Full Body Workout Routine For Rapid Muscle Growth

Workout 1
Squat
Bench Press
Bent-Over Row
Barbell Curls

Workout 2
Deadlift
Overhead Press
Chin-ups
Parallel Bar Dips

Simply alternate these two workouts over your three weekly visits to the gym. And then at a later date you may wish to do three different workouts, so each movement is worked just once per week, but each major muscle group 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...

Monday
Squat
Incline Bench Press
Dumbbell Row
Barbell Curls

Wednesday
Deadlift
Overhead Press
Pull-Ups
Parallel Bar Dips

Friday
Leg Press
Bench Press
Pulldowns
Hammer Curls

Leroy gives more information on full body training

Which method of training do you prefer?

See results

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. This builds hard, dense muscle, and is also great for making gains in strength.

Occasionally however you could use higher reps (8 – 12) to create additional growth through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. That is expansion of the fluid 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 the higher reps, 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. Then at a later date you could switch to 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps for a month or two. And after that do 4 – 8 sets of doubles or triples for a while.

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 power lifters 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.

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    • dwelburn profile image
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      David 3 days ago from Chesterfield, 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 3 days ago

      Hi Dave,

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

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 6 days ago from Chesterfield, UK

      You are welcome Peter. Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Peter 6 days ago

      Thank you so much Dave

      All the best my friend

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 6 days ago from Chesterfield, 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 9 days 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 image
      Author

      David 11 days ago from Chesterfield, 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.

    • profile image

      Smart guy 11 days ago

      People use splits because it allows them to maximize training on one or two body parts, and allow them to rest whilst working complete opposites on a different day.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 11 days ago from Chesterfield, UK

      No; that's fine. You can replace any of the exercises with a suitable alternative. And whilst cable crossovers are not as effective as pressing movements, you are pressing on the other two days so it's ok.

    • profile image

      Peter 12 days ago

      Hi Dave

      Thanks for your reply,

      If I was to do the three day routine do you see anything wrong in doing

      Say for Chest one day incline DB Press then next session Dips and third session

      Just cable Crossovers would that offer good stimuli

      Regards

      Pete

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 13 days ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Hi Peter. The second routine described in this article is more for people who have been training for a while. You train three days per week, but do a different set of lifts on each day. Or you could try an upper/lower type split (see my article on this) training three days per week but alternating four different workouts (two upper and two lower). That's what I'm doing at present.

    • profile image

      Peter Michaels 13 days ago

      Hi Dave,

      I am 43 been traing 25 years on and off I have never progressed on a split, but done lot better on a three day a week moderate and frequent training, please can you devise a full body workout for me being a more intermediate trainer plus I believe I have reached much of my potential already, thank you so much, keep the great work up

    • dwelburn profile image
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      David 3 weeks ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yep; that's fine Tanveer. Best of luck with that.

    • profile image

      Tanveer 3 weeks ago

      I appreciate your help. Thanks.

      I have just started your program replacing parallel bar dips with close grip bench press. Doing in A B A. B A B fashion.

      Workout 1

      Squat

      Bench Press

      Bent-Over Row

      Barbell Curls

      Workout 2

      Deadlift

      Overhead Press

      Chin-ups

      Parallel Bar Dips

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 4 weeks ago from Chesterfield, UK

      I'd do 3 X 6 - 8. The older you get the less volume you are able to tolerate, so that should be plenty.

    • profile image

      TANVEER 4 weeks ago

      I m 51 years male of 5 feet 10 inches. Doing Workout off and on for 1year. Reduced my weight from 126 kg . I liked your full body basic/ beginner workout plan. Should I do it in 3 x 6 - 8 or 4 x 6- 8. Kindly guide

    • profile image

      AD3EL 2 months ago

      thanks i appreciated

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 2 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      It should work well; but unfortunately everyone is different and different people respond to different things. People like yourself who struggle to make gains may have to experiment to find what works best. But this routine should build you a good solid foundation. Just train hard, but not to failure, as this will soon burn you out. Eat a calorie surplus with plenty of protein and get sufficient sleep.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 2 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Between 4 and 8 sets of 2 or 3 reps. Don't do this if you are a beginner. Always use submaximal weights when training in these lower rep ranges, e.g. 5 sets of 3 using your 5 rep max weight. Never go to failure or grind out reps. Start with the lower end of the volume scale and increase gradually over time. Then decrease to allow fatigue to dissipate. Hope that helps.

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      J.w. 2 months ago

      I'm not sure what you mean about 4-8 sets of doubles and triples. Can you explain please

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 3 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Glad to hear you have done so well with full body workouts Wade. Yes Leroy is great :)

    • profile image

      Wade Race 3 months ago

      My weight workout consists of trap bar deadlifts, DB OHPs, weighted dips and chins, and EZ bar French presses superset with EZ bar curls. I'll sprint or box on the off days. I recommend this routine so much because full body workouts combined with better eating habits have gotten me bigger, stronger, faster, and lost me 15lbs of fat weight.

      Leroy the Legend!

    • profile image

      Wade Race 3 months ago

      I love full body! I do 2 full body calisthenics workouts and 1 weight workout a week. Workout A is HSPUs, pushups, pullups, inverted rows, and burpees. Workout B is squats, chins, dips, hanging leg raises, and back bridge-ups

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 4 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      You can do it either way. For maximim strength use about your 3 - 5 rep max. Or for power (speed) work use about 65% of your one rep max.

    • profile image

      Me 4 months ago

      Hi, so when doing 2-3 reps with 4-8 sets. Should the weight be heavy or lite ?

    • dwelburn profile image
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      David 5 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Glad to be of help. :)

    • profile image

      LookBackDontStare 5 months ago

      Thank you for your response

      I was resting two minutes between sets but maybe I was pushing too much weight for 8 in my first set which obviously impacted on sets two and three.

      Thanks

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 5 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      The idea is to increase the weight when you can do 8 reps on all 3 sets. But generally speaking if you do 8 on your first set you should be able to do it on all of them as you should really be stopping your first set a rep or two short of failure. So the only reason you should go below 8 on subsequent sets is if your rest periods are too short. If you push to your max on all your sets you will find your progress will grind to a halt much sooner than if you hold back a little.

    • profile image

      LookBackDontStare 5 months ago

      Hi David, hope you're well.

      I've been doing your routine as discussed for just over three months now and wanted to ask about progression within weights/reps.

      I've found in the last couple weeks that my progress is starting to slow down. I'm still looking to run the routine as prescribed with the exercises written and the reps between 5-8.

      My question is...Should I only be progressing/increasing my weight when I can hit all 8 reps on all three working sets, then increase the next session? or If I hit 8 reps on my first set should I increase the weight straight away?

      Hope this makes sense and you can help...again

      Thanks

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      If you are a complete beginner I recommend you do it as written at least for your first few months. After that you can add in an extra exercise or two if you wish.

      Do it for as long as you are making progress, but at some point you'll probably do better if you switch to an upper/lower split (see my article on that).

      And yes you can do close grip bench instead of parallel bar dips.

    • profile image

      Daniel 7 months ago

      and 1 more question

      can i change dips with close grip bench ? would it have the same effect?

    • profile image

      daniel 7 months ago

      thanks for the quick response

      do you recommend the program you posted in the article just the way it is or it ok to add some exercises?

      and for how long should i use this routine?

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      You are alternating between a vertical push and a horizontal push, but chest is still trained on your overhead pressing days with parallel bar dips.

      Yes, use the same weight for all your work sets, but do warm-up sets first.

      Do 3 sets for barbell curls, and 2 sets for parallel bar dips.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes that's perfectly fine; in fact it's recommended. Have at least one day per week completely off though.

    • profile image

      Prashanth 7 months ago

      Many Thanks for the insight. Please suggest if we can do 20-min of light cardio say treadmill walk on 'off' days.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      The reason I have hammer curls is that triceps have been worked hard just two days earlier with parallel bar dips. But if you feel your triceps need more work, proportional to your biceps, it would be ok to have skullcrushers here.

    • Mattew James profile image

      Mattew James 7 months ago

      Thank for your response David ;)

      On the day three, i have replace hammer curl by skull crushers, do you think is the good idea or is best to stay with the hammer curl ?

      Matt

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      The two workout plan is probably best for complete beginners, but after you've been training a while you may find you do better with the three workout plan. And your version of the three workout plan is perfectly fine.

    • Mattew James profile image

      Mattew James 7 months ago

      Hi David,

      What do you think of this routine on three days :

      Day one :

      - Squat

      - Bench press

      - Barbell row

      - Barbell curl

      Day two :

      - Dead lift

      - Push press

      - Lat pulldown or Pullups

      - Dips

      Day three :

      - Leg press

      - Incline barbell press

      - Cable low row

      - Skull crushers

      Thank you

      Matt

    • Mattew James profile image

      Mattew James 7 months ago

      ok thank you !!

      What is the best routine in your opinion?

      The one over two days or the one over three days?

      I prefer this on two days ...

      Matt

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 7 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes Mat, you could replace the lat pulldowns with cable rows if you wish.

    • Mattew James profile image

      Mattew James 7 months ago

      Hello, thank you for this excellent article.

      I practice the routine over three days that you described in your article.

      I have a question about working back on day two.

      By which I could replace the lat pulldown, because it looks a lot like the pulls, and it's a bit too much for me.

      Thank you very much and sorry for my English because I am French ...

      Mat

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 8 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Hi Sara; you need to do squats and make sure you hit parallel with them. Really flex your but as you push up. Also sumo deadlifts. Again focus on the but. Hip thrusts are good too. Eat at a modest calorie deficit, with little if any junk food. And you could get a regular massage and/or skin brushing for the area too. Read my article on weight training for women on my website (whatreallybuildsmuscle.com) if you wish.

    • profile image

      sara 8 months ago

      Great article .. i was doing spilt days but i just dont like it im going gym for 3 days but i want a routine that foucs more in my butt ( cellulite ) what should i do ?!! Plz

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 9 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Glad to help LookBackDontStare. Chin-ups have slightly more biceps involvement than pull-ups, but you can do pull-ups if you prefer. No big deal either way.

    • profile image

      LookBackDontStare 9 months ago

      Thank you your quick response, I think I'll utilize your workout routine of the full body split into two different shorter workouts and do three working sets for each exercise.

      Just a quick question (again), on Workout 2 why have you selected chin ups and not pull ups? Thank you again for taking the time to write back, you've been very helpful :-)

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 9 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Good to hear from you LookBackDontStare. Your trainer is right in that doing 2 sets will be plenty if you are doing all those exercises 3 times per week. And that schedule will be fine for a while if you are a total beginner and only using light weights. But it will soon become too much and you will make better, more consistent long term progress with my routine.

      I'd stick to 3 working sets most of the time though (rather than 4); and 2 sets of deadlifts is plenty. In fact I made my best progress just doing one working set of 5 reps on the deadlift. Best of luck.

    • profile image

      LookBackDontStare 9 months ago

      Hi David

      I really enjoyed reading this article, very informative and helpful. I just have a question in regards to the way you split your full body into two workouts.

      I've recently had a gym session with a personal trainer who recommended a full body workout with pretty much the same exercises and rep range 5-8 you've mentioned here. His routine was:

      Bench Press, Squat, Barbell Row, Overhead Press, Dips, Chin Ups, Deadlift in that order. Doing two working sets per exercise for 5-8 reps and using progressive overload over the next few weeks and months. To do this routine three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri). He mentioned that two working sets per exercise is enough per workout as all the muscle groups are worked across several exercises.

      I just wanted to know what are the pro/cons to doing two working sets of seven exercises three times a week compared to doing 3-4 sets of 4 exercises three times a week like you've written here.

      I'm just a little worried about starting the trainer's full body routine if there's a slight modification (like yours) which would be more beneficial in the long term and provide more sustainable results.

      Look forward to hearing back from you

    • greenmind profile image

      FCM 9 months ago from USA

      Brief and to the point. well-done, thanks!

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 11 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Ayman - sorry I only just saw your comment. I suggest you go over to my personal site whatreallybuildsmuscle.com and read the best fat loss diet plan. You could also read how to get six pack abs if you wish. Best of luck.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 11 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes, hack squats would be good, but if you don't have a hack machine, doing leg press twice per week is fine. Though you might want to do a different rep range each time. Say 6 - 8 reps one day and 8 - 10 reps the other.

    • profile image

      Lexar 11 months ago

      Thank you for the feedback! Considering I don't have a squat rack do you suggest I just remove smith machine and use leg presses? Or is there another exercise I can use to build mass?

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 11 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes; I think that's a good well-balanced routine. I can see you are doing quite a lot of volume for your legs, so I hope that's working out for you. Personally I don't like Smith Machine squats (or much else on the Smith for that matter), but apart from that, yes you should do well with that, and you are making the most of only having two workouts per week.

    • profile image

      Lexar 11 months ago

      Great article!! I only have time for working out 2x per week but still want to build mass.

      I used to work out years ago but am now trying to restart again, I would say I am beginner/intermediate. My legs are also falling behind so I upped the leg sets to increase some mass.

      (The gym I use is at work, very convient and free, but doesn't have a squat rack or barbell for bench pressing but has lots of machines, smith machine, and dumbell, kettle balls.)

      Day 1

      -------

      Leg press 4x8

      Dumbell Lung 3x8

      Pull up 3x8

      T bar row 2x8

      Machine bench press 3x8

      Machine Pec Deck fly 2x8

      Dumbbell shoulder press 3x8

      Dumbell lateral raise / superset with machine delt reverse fly 2x8

      Day 2

      -------

      Smith machine squat 4x8

      leg curl 3x8

      Pull up 3x8

      T bar row 2x8

      Dumbell incline press 3x8

      Machine Pec deck fly 2x8

      Machine shoulder press 3x8

      Dumbell lateral raise / superset with machine delt reverse fly 2x8

      What do you think of my routine?

    • profile image

      Ayman 15 months ago

      Hello,

      I did the seven day work out provided here on calorie bee, along with my own workouts until I got my weight to a weight I am comfortable at. However, I need a diet plan to reduce my body fat (yes six pack goals) in order to get more cut. Do you have any plans that wont take too long? if not, do you recommend any diet plans to get ripped? I thought of redoing the seven day diet plan to help me get ripped, would you recommend that ?

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 16 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Actually the information here is totally accurate, as I am not talking to "reputable bodybuilders". I am talking to beginners who want to pack on as much muscle as possible as quickly as possible - and this is absolutely the best way to do it.

    • profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 16 months ago

      The amount of erroneous information in this article, as well as in the comments section is absolutely staggering. Not a single reputable bodybuilder on the planet still does a full body workout.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 16 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Whey protein and creatine. BCAA's if you are over 40. Also omega 3's, beta alanine, vitamin D and B vitamins are very useful. A multivitamin or greens supplement if you don't eat plenty of vegetables.

    • profile image

      SHAHRUKH 16 months ago

      plz tell me best suppliment for muscles

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 16 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Thanks Anton; yes that's a pretty decent program, though personally I'd substitute pull-ups for pulldowns. Try about 3 sets of 6 - 8 for your main exercises and 8 - 10 reps for the smaller exercises.

      As for diet, I have a hub on eating to build muscle. Or over at my website (whatreallybuildsmuscle.com) there's an explanation of my favorite dietary protocol - The Renegade Diet.

      Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Anton 16 months ago

      Hey your article i very helpful and I love it :)

      I would really appreciate if you could help me with this:

      I found this program suitable for me, what do you think about it? And how many rep and set do you recommend I do?

      Btw I'm 17 years old wight 59 kg/130 pounds and I'm 5,6/170 cm.

      Also can you give me a nutrition advice or program? Thank you :)

      The Program:

      Day 1:

      Squat

      Bench Press

      Lat pulldown

      Military press

      Barbell curls

      Ab machine

      Day 2:

      Deadlift

      Bent over rows

      Incline dumbbell bench press

      Lateral raises

      Tricep extensions

      Hammer curls

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 22 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Depends on the level you are at and how many times per week you train each body part. This article is meant for beginners/early intermediates and 3 sets per body part is fine. When you are a bit more advanced you will need more (say 5 - 8 for large body parts and 3 - 6 for small body parts), but each body part will be trained about twice per week.

    • profile image

      john 22 months ago

      Hello Dwelburn so what is the best number of set you should do for each body part if you want to build strength and mass. I see some say 5 set I see some saying more so what the best number. should you do 3 set per body part each workout?

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 23 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Best of luck John.

    • profile image

      John 23 months ago

      Thanks Dwelburn. I have been training for year. I am 47 years old and working out 4 days a week. But looks like I can train more with only 3 days a week and I able to hit everybody part. I am also trying to get my body to rest so it can grow. so I going from a 4 day split to a 3 day full.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 23 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      If you are an absolute beginner I would say it's a bit more than you need. But if you've been training a few months it's fine. I would not add the extra arm work though. One for bi's and one for tri's is enough when you're doing them three days per week. Also I would not do two ab exercises three days per week personally either, unless you only do one or two sets of each.

    • profile image

      John 23 months ago

      Hello so I have 3 workouts Monday Wednesday and Friday. For legs squats day one day 2 leg press day 3 Deadlifts. Press day one military press day 2 Bench press day 3 Incline press . Every day I have one Tricep with one Bicep. Thinking of going one more on Triceps and Biceps. Back day 1 T-bar day 2 bent row day 3 well there Deadlifts and pull ups or pull down. upper and lower abs 3 time a week calf also 3 times a week. workout last 1 hour. Is this To much or is this Okay.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 23 months ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes you should do every major muscle group three times per week, but this can be with different exercises. Or you can simply do squat or deadlift with upper body push and upper body pull. So it's ok to split shoulders and chest. But of course if you add dips to shoulder day you'll be working chest as well.

    • profile image

      john 23 months ago

      Hello so on a full body workout should I Do every body part 3 times a week. for example squats bench press, shoulder press Biceps Tric calf and ABS. I split shoulder and chest.

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      You are welcome; glad to be of help. :)

    • profile image

      Stig 2 years ago

      Yeah ok, I agree. Thanks for an informative reply ! :)

    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes that looks like a great routine Stig. Though you might find doing back squats three times per week will get a bit too much after a while, so you could do front squats on your deadlift day instead.

      Also I personally would do parallel bar dips on your deadlift day too, as this will give the triceps the extra work they need as well as giving the chest some work on this day too. If you want to keep the number of exercises the same you could drop the wrist work on that day.

      And I wouldn't do quite such high reps for calves. I know a lot of people say you should, but really 10 - 12 will give the best results.

    • profile image

      Stig 2 years ago

      Hey, I can see you are someone who knows what he is talking about. I am going to do full body workouts until I have all the mass, then switch to splits with more isolation exercises to further mold that mass into art.

      My full body workout as of now ( will use this for as long as I get gains ) ;

      - where it says 5x5 means 2 warmup sets of 60% and then 80% followed by 3 working sets.

      On the isolation exercises there is of course no warmup.

      Workout A:

      Back Squats 5×5

      Chin-Ups 5×5

      Bench Press 5×5

      Barbell Curls 2×10

      Wrist Work 2×10

      Calves 2×15-20

      Workout B:

      Back Squats 5×5

      Rows 5×5

      Standing Press 5×5

      Deadlifts 3×5 (2 warm-up sets and 1 working set)

      Wrist Work 2×10

      Calves 2×15-20

      Training Schedule:

      Week 1: A, B, A

      Week 2: B, A, B

      Week 3: A, B, A and so forth.

      Whats your opinion on this? Is this a good routine? - I plan to do this 5 rep heavy stuff most of the time and then after some months take 1-2 months of 10-12 reps to stimulate more hypertrophy from the heavier weights I can now lift because of all the heavy work :D

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes; that's what I'd do. It's not a hub, it's on my blog. Click on my website icon on my profile page here to take you to it. The post is called 'How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle'.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      So should there be a day committed to testing your three rep max after the 3 sessions of 6 times 3?

      What is the hub called?

      Thanks

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yep that's right. Thanks Entourage.

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      Stuart 2 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      I agree, go down on weight a little bit and do 3 reps. Once you do that you should be able to decide which weight is appropriate for you if you max out with one rep. Great article by the way dwelburn.

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      No it's not, but it does discuss carb cycling as one of the 8 points to maintaining muscle whilst losing fat.

      Monday is the start of the week :)

      I would not do a de-load unless you have been stuck for 3 weeks. However you don't have to keep testing your one rep maxes if you don't want to as they do get a bit demanding. Just test your 3 rep max and calculate from that if you prefer.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Thanks. Is the article the one about carbohydrate cycling? I did a HIIT session four days in a row, Friday-Monday, but assuming Sunday is the start of a new week, I am still in the exact range of doing 2-3 HIIT sessions a week if I am done for the week or only do one more.

      I am currently on a de-load because when testing my one rep maxes last week, the weight I could bench declined. Given this, do you think a de-load was the right option? I feel the one-rep max is so mental and takes a lot of toughness.

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Sounds a good HII routine; but I would not do it 5 - 6 times per week if you want to maintain your muscle mass. 3 is plenty; 4 is maximum. I have an article specifically about how to lose fat without losing muscle on my blog that you may find of interest.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Forgot to include that I am sprinting and then brisk walking the basketball court 18 times. Found that that is a good number.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Great information. If I really wanted to lean up but keep my muscle mass, is it ok to do 5-6 HIIT sessions consecutive days or is this way too much? The type of HIIT I am doing is sprinting across a basketball court the vertical way if you are facing a hoop (30 yards I believe) and then fast walking back etc. followed by 15-25 minutes of jogging. Pretty challenging but not killing me.

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes this could work; it depends on your average daily totals really. As for keeping whole wheat bread, that would not be my first choice to keep as it is filled with all kinds of additives, fat, sugar etc. Although whole wheat pita bread is a lot better and this is what I generally have.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Thanks. I am not quite as lean as I want to be. I am considering cutting out ALL starchy carbs EXCEPT whole wheat bread for a while, while being a little bit more flexible with how much I may have on workout days and having it to a strict limit on non workout days. Can this work?

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Glad you liked it Eric.

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      Eric 2 years ago

      great read.....!!!

      Thank you

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Hi Jack; no best not to touch the dumbbells. Not that it's a big deal though.

      As for cardio; it depends how well you are recovering. If you can recover well from 3 sessions a week on occasion then it's fine. And if you are eating at a calorie surplus you'll likely be fine. But if recovery is an issue and/or you are on a calorie deficit, best to just miss the session.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Also, when you said it is better to just miss out on what you have not done entirely than do too much. The same for cardio? For example, if I only could do one HIIT session last week because my schedule was tight, should I try to do three this week so that I am averaging two a week? Or in this case would that be too much in one week and it would be better to just miss out on it?

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Thanks. I noticed you said that it is best not to touch the dumbbells together on dumbbell overhead press, same thing with incline dumbbell bench press?

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      It's annoying when that happens lol. Personally I would probably go back the next day to finish off and then have a day off before resuming my normal program. I wouldn't do an extra full strength training day repeating what you have done, plus the extra work, in the same week as it will likely be too much.

      Sometimes though you just have to miss out what you have not done entirely, depending on your schedule. Better to do that than to do too much.

      But yes 2 reps is fine for your later sets. Better to stop at 2 than to grind out a 3rd with poor form. It's better to stay away from failure (or even the possibility of failure) when you are doing low reps. Making a logical guess is fine but you should be able to calculate it with reasonable accuracy, and always err on the side of caution when moving from one phase to the next.

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Thanks Mr.Welburn,

      Today I got to the gym and it closed on me when I was only halfway done with my workout lol. I had planned to do 6 sets of 3 (it was a strength day) of bench press, split squat, dumbbell bent-over rows, and dumbbell overhead press. I got the bench press and dumbbell overhead press done, but not split squat and dumbbell bent-over rows unfortunately.

      What is the best course of action now since I missed my split squat and dumbbell bent-over rows workouts today? Just to add an extra 6 sets of 3 day with this type of workout being the extra day?

      Also, when going from the 4 sets of 6 part of the cycle to the 6 sets of 3 part of the cycle, is it best to just make a very logical guess based on your recent workouts of what weight will be ideal for 6 sets of 3?

      I wouldn't say I successfully completed 6 sets of 3 on the bench press and dumbbell overhead press, at least not with great form. However, even doing 2 reps the last few sets due to fatigue is still very beneficial for gaining strength because it is obviously pretty heavy and low rep right?

      And adding another 6 sets of 3 day would wouldn't hurt at all because it will just improve my strength more to the point where I can then lift a little heavier when the higher rep workouts come around right? At least in terms of the bench press and dumbbell overhead press because I would be doing an extra strength day with those.

      Thank you.

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Yes that's right Jack. Pure strength training you can take as long as you want.

      As for stretching; it depends what you are stretching. General stretching can help with recovery a little, but not much. But stretching the muscles you have worked after you've trained them is a good idea - especially for lats (stretch them straight away, while they are still pumped).

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      Jack 2 years ago

      Also, does stretching 30 minutes after your workout make a difference or no?

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      Jack 2 years ago

      When doing 6 sets of 3 for strength, you should just take as much time as it takes to recover in between sets right? When going for strength does it not matter as much? Thanks.

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Max - no your post workout meal is not more likely to turn to fat, as you'll still have achieved a decent amount of muscular stimulation. And as you say one day should not be a big deal.

      Actually I like dumbbell split squats. I hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand and put my back foot up on a low bench. Always gives a good burn in the quads. Chest press not so much; I wouldn't do them but if it's all you've got it can't be helped for that one session.

      If you find an exercise too easy for your prescribed sets and reps you can always push out a few more reps on your last set. Or do an extra set with a bit more weight. Prescribed amounts of sets and reps are a good idea but should not be set in stone.

      Joe - for seated dumbbell overhead press I put the bench on the last (most vertical) pin. But it's still not as much as 90 degrees. That would be a bit too harsh. A shade less (about 85 degrees) is ideal.

      No, don't touch the weights above your head. But yes bring your elbows well below 90 degrees. You don't engage the side delts properly if you stop at 90 degrees; it's more front delts and triceps. Bring the dumbbells right down till the plates are in line with your shoulders. Same for all pressing movements, e.g. bench press (barbell or dumbbells) work more front delts and triceps in the upper part. The pecs are stimulated most in the lower part, so the bar needs to go down to touch your chest (at about nipple level). Dumbbells need to come right down - you should feel a stretch. Despite what some people say all the research shows full range of motion gives much better results.

      As for stretching; no it should not hurt. There might sometimes be a bit of discomfort, but not actual pain. Toe touch while sitting down; I don't know and I've never seen this. But it doesn't sound like a particularly good idea. Be careful with spinal stretches; they are good but you don't want to injure your back.

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      Joe 2 years ago

      I have two questions regarding the seated dumbbell overhead press, and one general question

      1. Is 85-90 degrees a good angle for the bench? I realized if it is past 90 then it makes it a lot harder

      2. Should you not touch the weights above your head? I heard this takes the tension off of the shoulder muscles.

      3. Should you also not bring your elbows down past 90 degrees?

      General question: should stretching hurt or no? I believe I put a lot of effort into my syretches after my workout on the toe touch while sitting down. Is this even beneficial? I would obviously not want to put in effort and go through minor pain for something that is not going to be beneficial.

      Thanks!

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      Max 2 years ago

      On a day where my gym was closed, I went to this very small gym with pretty much only dumbbells, a chest press, and lat pulldown (very small gym I know). I had planned to do barbell split squat, bench press, dumbbell bent over rows, and dumbbell shoulder press that day, but instead had to do split squat with DUMBBELLS and chest press instead of barbell split squat and bench press while the dumbbell bent over rows and dumbbell shoulder press went exactly as planned. Specifically on the chest press, I didn't feel like I was challenged as much as I would be on a bench press. 160 lbs on a chest press is easier than 160 lbs on a bench press I believe. I wish I had realized and planned for this in advance, as I would have increased the chest press weight a little bit to compensate. If on my chest exercise I didn't feel as challenged as I usually do, and finished the prescribed amount of sets and reps somewhat easily, is my post workout meal more likely to turn into fat? One day this shouldn't be a big deal right? Thanks

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Hi Sidhraan

      If you are planning to do those two workouts three times per week each that is far too much. Do them both twice per week if you wish, but later on you should switch to using two different upper body and two different lower body workouts to help with recovery. Four training days per week is about the most you should do unless you are very advanced.

      As for the workouts themselves I would alternate (not superset - a superset is where you go from one exercise to the next with no rest) incline bench with pull-ups and flat bench with barbell row. Remove dips as you have far too much pressing in that workout.

      And for workout 2, I'd do stiff leg deadlifts rather than leg press as you need a posterior chain movement in there. And I wouldn't use the Smith machine. A barbell is far better, but the Smith is ok for calf raises. It's hard to balance with a free barbell on this one.

      I have a hub on upper/lower body training which you might want to check out and I also have a similar article on my own website/blog.

      Hope that helps. Best of luck.

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      Sidhraan 2 years ago

      Hi, I really liked your tips, and is very useful.. I would also like to hit each muscle 3 times a week. My week parts are Legs N chest, and has moderate physic with 5.7 inch and 67 Kg, with some moderate lifting background.

      I want to target more for legs, but can't do more than 45 minutes weight training a day, as that's over-training for me, and I usually rest not more than 60-90 sec between sets.

      So I have just started doing upper/lower split for 6 days a week, so that I can target each muscle 3 times a week with more targeted on Legs and Chest. But still confused !!!

      I am planning to do 30 minutes (lower body) and 45 minutes (upper body) weight training per day...

      Day 1

      Inclined barbell Press (3*8) super set with

      Pull Ups (or barbell Row)

      Flat or declined barbell Press (3*8) super set with

      Dips or Barbel pullover

      Dumbbell shoulder press (3*8)

      Dumbbell Biceps Curl (4*8) super-set with

      Close Grip Bench press

      Day 2

      Squat (4*12) or (1*20 Rep method)

      Stiff leg Deadlift or Leg press (3*12)

      Smith Machine Lunges ( or Hip Thrust)

      Barbell Calf raise

      3 Abs workouts

      Is this over training ????? Do you think this works for me better than a 3 day full body workout for great mass gain and for long team run???

      If not, can you please suggest me another workout Routine that suits my physic and needs ?? Thanks in advance, and keep the good work :-) Happy Lifting :-)

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      David 2 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Thanks Adam; glad you liked it.