What is a Full-Body Workout?
Full body training is one of the most efficient workout splits as it works for every major muscle group in your body. Usually, full body workouts include upper body, lower body, and core exercises. The main point of full-body training is that a variety of muscle groups is used, rather than one. This training approach is also used by bodybuilders to build a foundation of their lean muscle mass. The best thing about it is that full-body training is effective for anyone, regardless of the training experience.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), exercise should include aerobic activity as well as muscle-strengthening (6). It’s important to combine both types of these exercises to train every part of the body. Note, many workouts that contain muscle-strengthening exercises may lead to an increased heart and breathing rates, so consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to perform these exercises.
Warm-up should never be ignored, since it’s an extremely important element of a training session. It will not only prevent injuries but will also boost your fitness performance during the workout. Make sure to properly warm up the muscles you’re going to use. Perform 5-10 minutes of cardio activity and a set or two of each exercise with smaller weights, to mobilize all your muscles. If you don’t have enough time to do a full workout, make the it a bit shorter but do not skip the warm-up, as it may lead to severe injury.
A Full-Body Workout for Beginners at Home
Most full-body workouts include a certain number of reps and sets to get optimal results. However, it’s important to take into account your fitness level and health status, as each person is able to do a different number of sets and reps during one workout. According to the ODPHP, even small amounts of exercise make a difference to overall health (6). If you are not able to do as many sets or reps as it’s stated in the workout plan, don’t be discouraged, as even a small amount of exercise benefits your general health. Here is a list of the most efficient full-body exercises that can be easily done even at home, as they don’t require any sports equipment.
This is a basic body-altering all-encompassing exercise that can help you strengthen and tone up the upper body (chest, shoulders, back muscles, biceps, triceps) and core muscles (abdominal). Repeat this exercise at least 10-12 times and if you feel like it’s a breeze for you, up the number of reps. There’s no shame in taking a step back and performing modified push-ups. Even with knees being your support point, you’ll still manage to work the same above-mentioned muscles. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat this set. Avoid sagging down, arching up, hunching your shoulders, and drooping your neck.
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Make sure to incorporate this exercise into your workout routine, as it’s an effective way to build your leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves). Furthermore, it promotes body-wide muscle building, improving the muscle mass. By changing up the tempo, you can manage to sneak in some cardio which will help you peel off unwanted pounds. Banging out squats on a regular basis will strengthen your heart, improve mobility and flexibility, improve joint health, benefit your posture, boost your overall muscular strength. Complete the set of 8-12 reps, take a breather, then jump right back into it and try to repeat the set two more times.
This is another great full-body exercise that combines the benefits of push-ups and squats and can take your cardio endurance to new heights. You can do a 2-minute drill and test your physical and mental strength or you could try out a descending burpee ladder workout. Kick it off with 10 burpees, then stop for a minute to catch your breath. And repeat, continuing to lower the number of the reps. If you want to add intensity to your workout, you can jump out of the squat into the standing position. If you feel that the exercise is too difficult for you at first, you can remove the push up stage to make it easier.
Lunges are another basic exercise, which helps you build up strength and tone up the core, butt, and legs. It engages the following muscles: abdominals, back, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and gluteal muscles. Don’t let your knees flare out to the sides, avoid stepping too fat backwards or forward, creating tension in your lower back, raising the heel off the ground, caving your knee, and having a sloppy form in general.0 Start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg and more up from there.
5. Running and cycling
Both running and cycling are extremely beneficial to our cardiovascular health. These aerobic activities can help you strengthen your heart. However, vigorous exercise for more than 5 hours a week can negatively affect your cardiovascular health, that’s why you should be careful with the physical loads (1, 2). To make these exercises effective at building muscle strength, a study paper published in the International Journal of Exercise Science suggests incorporating high-intensity interval training into aerobic exercise (3). This involves running or cycling at a moderate intensity with intervals of very high-intensity anaerobic exercises. Remember to warm up your muscles before running or cycling. Stretching will help you prevent injuries and improve performance.
Stair climbing has plenty of benefits, it can help build and tone muscles, burn fat and calories, reduce cholesterol levels, and increase stamina and energy. Develop a habit, choose stairs instead of the elevator every day, this will not only improve your body complexion but will also boost your health. Besides, you can do a workout that includes stair climbing. Climb to the top of a set of stairs, then climb back down. Rest for a few seconds and repeat this for a minute or as long as you can. To have a better weight-loss effect, climb stairs one step at a time. A study of 14 people in the journal PLoS One found that although the action of climbing two steps expended more energy than taking a single step, climbing a staircase one step at a time burned more calories (5).
A Full-Body Dumbbell Workout for Men
A famous trainer and fitness model Shaun Stafford has shared a top-notch full-body workout plan for men that will help you achieve your personal fitness goal. The expert states that this fitness plan will be perfect for anybody who wants to increase their muscle size and strength.
Stafford advises to work out 4 times a week for 6-8 weeks to get optimal results.“In terms of weight selection, it’s trial and error at first. Always go lighter than you think you need to and build up over the first week. If you can complete the sets and reps with near-perfect form, don’t be afraid to crank it up”, he says.
Generally, for beginners, a rep scheme of 8-12 reps is a good place to start. Once you hit 12 reps on an exercise pretty easily that is a good sign that it is appropriate to increase in weight. Here is a list of the most efficient dumbbell exercises that target different muscle groups.
1. Dumbbell overhead press
Sets: 3. Reps: 8. Rest: 90 sec.
This exercise will help you build your delts. Make sure to use a dumbbell to activate the front deltoid.
- Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Make sure to keep your chest up.
- Press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight.
- Lower your hands back to the starting position.
2. Lateral raise
Sets: 3. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 0 sec.
This exercise will not only help you develop deltoids but also build massive shoulders.
- Stand or sit with a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with palms facing each other.
- Keep your back straight, brace your core, slightly lean forward, then slowly raise the weights to the sides with the elbow slightly bent.
- Slowly lower them back to the starting position. Avoid speeding up to make the workout more effective.
3. Dumbbell front raise
Sets: 3. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 0 sec.
This exercise engages both shoulders (deltoids) and the upper chest muscle (pectorals). It will help you build strength and definition in the front and sides of your shoulder.
- Stand tall with feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your body with straight arms.
- Make sure to keep the chest up, lift the weights in front of you to shoulder height.
- Lower them back to the starting position.
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4. Reverse fly
Sets: 3. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 90 sec.
This is a resistance exercise that engages shoulders (deltoids) and major muscles of the upper back, including trapezius.
- Sit with your knees bent and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other.
- Lean forward, bend your elbows slightly, raise the weights out to shoulder height,
- Lower them back to the starting position.
5. Dumbbell stiff-leg deadlift
Sets: 3. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 90 sec.
This is a great exercise that targets your legs and glutes.
- Take a couple of dumbbells, hold them by your side at arm’s length.
- Brace your core and bend your knees slightly.
- Hinge from your hips without rounding your back until you reach the limit of the range of your hamstrings.
- Hold for a second, then return to the starting position.
6. Dumbbell spider curl
Sets: 3. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 0 sec.
This is a great biceps exercise, as it targets all parts of this muscle group and develops strength, and power.
- Bend down and rest your elbows on your thighs, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight.
- Curl the weights up, squeeze your biceps at the top, then slowly lower them back to the starting position.
The Full-Body Kettlebell Workout
Here’s another example of an effective full-body workout, which includes exercises that engage the hamstrings, glutes, hips, core, and shoulders. Start with warm-up sets to prepare the muscle groups you will be using throughout this workout.
Kickstand Deadlift (8 reps)
- Stand tall, holding a kettlebell with both hands.
- Take a step back with one leg, about two feet behind the hips. Hinge forward to the bottom of a deadlift position.
- Keeping your core braced, drive through the forward leg, and stand back up.
Front Rack Carry (1 min)
- Hold two kettlebells at chest height.
- Make sure your wrists are locked out with knuckles facing the sky, elbows tucked in.
- Keeping your core braced, walk about 30 to 50 feet, return to the start.
Dead stop Swings (5 reps)
- Pull your hips back to the wall behind you.
- Grab the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and tilt it towards you.
- Hinge at the hips, bringing the kettlebell back and between your legs.
- Keeping your core braced, propel the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips forward and contracting your glutes.
- Swing the kettlebell to the chest height, bring it back between your legs.
Tempo Goblet Squats (5 reps)
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding one kettlebell at your chest.
- Send your hips back, bend your knees and lower down for three seconds.
Tempo Push-ups Do (5-8 reps)
- Start in a high plank with shoulders over wrists.
- Lower down for 5 seconds, keeping elbows close to the body.
- Push back up to the starting position in 1 second
Are full-body workouts good for me?
Sure! A full-body workout is an excellent option, as it targets multiple muscles simultaneously in every exercise. If your goal is to build muscle mass and strength, then a total-body workout is definitely the right choice for you. This fitness approach is considered to be extremely efficient as it involves optimal training frequency and enough time for the body to recover between training sessions.
Can I do a full-body workout every day?
Yes, you could do a full-body workout every day, however, you wouldn’t get any benefits from it. The thing is that your body needs enough time to rest, and the higher your training volume the more recovery time you need. Men’s Health fitness experts state: “If you’re hitting the same muscles hard every two days you hamper growth”. Our body needs at least one day of rest between sessions that target the same muscle groups. 3-4 full-body workouts a week is enough to tone up your body and improve your overall health. If you want to get the results faster, it’s better to adjust your nutrition plan and improve your lifestyle. This will definitely help you reach your fitness goal faster. Remember that building muscle, getting stronger, and losing body fat take time, so be ready to work hard and consistently and you will achieve amazing results.
Do full-body workouts burn more calories?
Full-body workouts work very well when it comes to weight loss as they make different muscles work during the training program which results in burning more calories. The study shows that regular full-body workouts boost the fat burning process compared with typical split-style training. One of the researches shows that people who were doing total-body workouts three times a week lost more body fat than those who performed a typical split-style workout plan (4).
How many times a week should you do full-body workouts?
2-4 workouts a week are sufficient for most people to build strength and improve body composition. However, everything depends on your personal health, goals and fitness program.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Exercising for health and longevity vs peak performance: different regimens for different goals (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy after Aerobic Exercise Training (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effect of High-Intensity Interval Run Training on Cross-sectional Area of the Vastus Lateralis in Untrained College Students (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Energy Expenditure of Stair Climbing One Step and Two Steps at a Time: Estimations from Measures of Heart Rate (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2019, health.gov)