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

© 2012 David

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    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      9 days 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 

      10 days 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 

      11 days 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 

      11 days 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 weeks 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 

      8 weeks 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Nikhil 

      5 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 

      5 months ago from Birmingham, UK

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

    • profile image

      Pete 

      5 months ago

      Thanks again Dave,all the best

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      5 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 

      5 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 

      6 months ago

      Thank you sir from a dumbbell!!!

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      6 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 

      6 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 months ago

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

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      9 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 

      9 months ago

      Hello David,

      Please tell me what is ideal rest between sets?

      Take care,

      Vuk

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      11 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 

      11 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 

      11 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Thanks Peter; Merry Christmas to you too.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      11 months ago

      Amazing thanks Dave

      Best Wishes

      Merry Christmas

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      11 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 

      11 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 

      11 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 

      11 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 

      12 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 

      12 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 

      12 months ago from Birmingham, UK

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

    • profile image

      Gymnewbie 

      12 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 

      12 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 

      12 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 

      13 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 

      13 months ago

      Hi Dave,

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

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      You are welcome Peter. Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      13 months ago

      Thank you so much Dave

      All the best my friend

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 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 

      13 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 

      13 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.

    • profile image

      Smart guy 

      13 months 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      13 months 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      13 months ago from Birmingham, 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 months 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

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

    • profile image

      Tanveer 

      14 months 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      14 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      14 months 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 

      15 months ago

      thanks i appreciated

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      15 months ago from Birmingham, 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      16 months ago from Birmingham, 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.

    • profile image

      J.w. 

      16 months ago

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

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      16 months ago from Birmingham, UK

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

    • profile image

      Wade Race 

      16 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 

      16 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      17 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      17 months ago

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

    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      18 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Glad to be of help. :)

    • profile image

      LookBackDontStare 

      18 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      18 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      18 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      20 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      20 months ago

      and 1 more question

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

    • profile image

      daniel 

      20 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      20 months ago from Birmingham, 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      20 months ago from Birmingham, UK

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

    • profile image

      Prashanth 

      21 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      21 months ago from Birmingham, 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 

      21 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 imageAUTHOR

      David 

      21 months ago from Birmingham, 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.

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