The best full-body workout program for muscle gain will use mostly compound exercises because they work many muscles at once and give the most “bang for the buck.”
On this program, you will workout 3 times per week with one days rest between each workout. The rep schemes in this program will be kept between a total volume of 24-50 per exercise (volume = sets X reps). A total volume of 24-50 is great for both increasing strength and promoting hypertrophy.
A different rep scheme will be used each workout of the week. Rest periods between sets should be kept between 1-and-2 minutes. Higher rep schemes will have slightly longer rest periods and lower rep schemes will have less rest time between sets.
Try to avoid training to failure while working out on full-body programs because training to failure will require more recovery time. One should strive to increase weights lifted or reps performed each week to continue seeing progression.
Each workout will contain one exercise per major muscle group and two isolation exercises of your choice. One compound exercise should be chosen to work the lower body muscles, upper body pushing muscles and upper body pulling exercises. There should also be one shoulder exercise.
“One Should Strive To Increase Weights Lifted Or Reps Performed Each Week To Continue Seeing Progression. “
Because the abdominals, calves, triceps and biceps will get worked in the big compound exercises you choose, they do not need to be directly stimulated each day. Each workout chose two of these smaller muscles and perform one exercise for each of the 2 you selected.
Choose one exercise for each of the groups below for each workout (the below exercises are suggestions only and you are not limited to just these movements):
Compound Upper Body Push
- Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell)
- Incline Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell)
- Decline Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell)
Compound Upper Body Pulling
- Lat Pulldowns
- Bent Over Rows
- Cable Rows
- Other Row Variations
Compound Lower Body
- Front Squats
- Hack Squats
- Straight Leg Deadlifts
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Step Ups
- Military Press
- Push Press
- Upright Rows
- Lateral Raises
- External Rotations
- Power Cleans
One Isolation Exercise For 2 Muscles Of Your Choice
Day 1 – 4x8Print1Barbell Squat4 sets, 8 reps
2Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip4 sets, 8 reps
3Pullups4 sets, 8 reps
4Standing Military Press4 sets, 8 reps
5Barbell Curl4 sets, 8 reps
6Ab Roller4 sets, 8 reps
Day 3 – 5x5Print1Barbell Deadlift5 sets, 5 reps
2Bent Over Barbell Row5 sets, 5 reps
3Incline Dumbbell Press5 sets, 5 reps
4Side Lateral Raise5 sets, 5 reps
5Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension5 sets, 5 reps
6Hammer Curls5 sets, 5 reps
Day 5: 3x12Print1Barbell Lunge3 sets, 12 reps
2Dips – Chest Version3 sets, 12 reps
3Chin-Up3 sets, 12 reps
4Push Press3 sets, 12 reps
5Seated Calf Raise3 sets, 12 reps
6Plate Twist3 sets, 12 reps
How Does A Full-Body Workout Stack Up To The Standard 3, 4 And 5 Day Splits?
A full-body workout can more than hold its own against a split training program. For many people, doing full-body workouts can be better for total body growth than a traditional bodybuilding split routine. Because every muscle gets worked multiple times per week there are more opportunities for growth while on a total body training program, which allows many people to grow more from this training style.
While many people may argue that full-body workouts ignore many smaller muscles because less isolation exercises are used in this style of training, it is possible to provide adequate stimulation for growth for these smaller muscles using mostly compound exercises and a few isolation movements.
What Are The Benefits Of A Full-Body Workout Routine?
- Higher training frequency allows for more growth phases.
- Each muscle group is fresh when you work it because there is no accumulated fatigue from performing several exercises in the same day for the same muscle group. For example, in a training split program you may perform 3 chest exercises in one workout. By the third exercise, your chest will have accumulated a significant amount of fatigue and you would no longer be able to lift near maximum weights.
- In a full-body workout only one exercise is performed per body part so each muscle is fresh and you can lift heavier weights each workout.
- Full-body workouts are great for beginners.
- Athletes may better benefit from total body training because of the increased total body conditioning needed for full-body workouts.
- More motor units are stimulated per workout than in training splits.
- Many people will undertrain their muscles while on splits because a muscle usually doesn’t need an entire week to recover. Because each muscle is worked multiple times per week while on a full-body workout there is less chance of undertraining a muscle.
- Less deep soreness allows one to participate in other physical activities such as sports without being held back by their muscle soreness (try playing sports after a leg day on a body part split program and you will know what I mean!).
What Are The Disadvantages?
- People with lower recovery abilities may be more vulnerable to overtraining on full-body workouts because of shorter recovery periods.
- Most full-body workout programs only allow you to lift 3-or-4 times a week.
- Splits allow for weak points to be more easily addressed and corrected than full-body workouts.
- Less localized increase in muscle endurance while performing total body workouts compared to split training.
- Some training techniques such as drop sets, rest paused sets and forced reps cannot be used because the body can’t recover fully from those intense techniques with the shorter recovery times of full-body.