Why a Full-Body Workout Routine Is the Best Way to Build Muscle
Use a Full-Body Workout to Build Muscle
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 can’t beat a full-body workout routine.
The advice and workout suggestions that follow are especially beneficial for a beginner or early intermediate lifters and for those who have noticed little progress from their attempts to build muscle so far.
The Best Full-Body Workout
All you really need is a squat, a lunge or deadlift variation, an upper-body push, and an upper-body pull. Do 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.
Why a Full-Body Workout?
If you go to the gym regularly you’ll know that body part splits, training one or two muscle groups per day, are very popular. For instance, focusing on the chest on Monday, the back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, shoulders on Thursday, and arms on Friday.
But the only real reason a beginner would ever organize their workout this way is that it's 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. 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 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. Visit the gym three times a week for best results. 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 can pack on muscle more quickly than anything else, provided that you know how to structure the routine 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
- Don't do exactly the same workout routine every time you go to the gym, 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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. Simply alternating between these two workouts over your three weekly visits to the gym will give you all the growth stimulation you need to ensure maximum progress.
As an example, a simple, but highly effective routine might look something like this:
Full-Body Workout Routines for Rapid Muscle Growth
Parallel Bar Dips
Stick With Two for a Few Months
If you are a complete beginner, stick with alternating between the two workouts above for at least for your first few months. After that you can add in an extra exercise or two if you wish.
After a few months, you may wish to alternate between three different workouts so each body part is worked just once per week, but each exercise 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
Incline Bench Press
Parallel Bar Dips
When to Increase the Weight
The idea is to 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 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.
Leroy Gives More Information on Full-Body Training
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 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. Gradually increasing the weight over the course of a workout program is called progressive overload.
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 Workout
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.
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?
© 2012 David