by Katie Hoehn October 26, 2022 7 min read
Full body workouts are workouts that, you guessed it, exercise your whole body in one session!
This means that when done right, they will use and stimulate most, if not all, your major muscle groups. This includes your upper body, lower body, and core. Whether you are just getting started or you're an advanced lifter, you can make great progress with full body workouts.
They can be, quite literally, beneficial for almost everyone! The important thing is to make sure you're doing them correctly...
So ... I'm sure you're wondering what I mean by "doing it the right way". When I say this, I'm mainly talking about the structure of your full body workouts.
On top of that, you have to make sure you're picking the right exercises too. First things first, you want to be sure that you are actually targeting all your major muscle groups during each workout.
These 6 major muscle groups are your core, arms, back, chest, legs, and shoulders.
If you don't pick the right exercises, there's a lot you can be missing out on. You want the most bang for your buck, don't you? Well, a great way to know you are checking this box is by including more compound exercises into your workout.
Compound exercises are movements that use more than one muscle group at a time, making them both efficient and effective! Because they do involve more muscles, they are very physically demanding. These exercises will increase your heart rate which can result in a greater calorie burn. They will also break down a lot more muscle tissue and use up a lot of energy, often leading to more calorie burning after the workout itself!
I'll make sure to cover some of these exercises in detail ... but first, let's look deeper into the benefits of full body workouts...
Let's look at some of the many benefits you'll see from full body training! Here are what I consider to be the top 3:
You aren't focusing on one muscle group, which is great. Not only are you training all your muscle groups, but you are able to train them more frequently. A lot of times, this can equate to more volume placed on each muscle group by the end of the week.
If you know anything about building muscle, you know just how important volume is. To be short, volume is just the total amount of work you put on the muscle in a given amount of time. Increasing the volume you put on your muscles is ultimately how you build new muscle.
If you happen to miss a workout session, you won't miss out on hitting a specific muscle group for the week. Most training splits have separate days to target different muscle groups. But, that's not the case with full body workouts. If you miss a session, you don't have to necessarily "make it up". You can simply hop into your next full body workout, knowing you aren't missing a muscle group!
So really, they are great for people who need some more flexibility with their workouts.
You can also perform these workouts using all different types of equipment or with just your body — just about anywhere, and oftentimes, in less time than a "normal" training session. That's because compound exercises will wear you out QUICKLY.
If your goal is to lose weight, they can help you burn more calories. If you want to achieve that lean look, they'll help you build it. When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, they can help with training for both functional strength and cardiovascular health.
Talk about an all-in-one deal!
Let's get into some good compound exercises that you can do for your full body workouts. Here are 5 of my personal favorites:
Deadlifts are a phenomenal compound exercise that works a majority of your body. You'll target everything from your back and core to your glutes and hamstrings!
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hinge over and grab a loaded barbell with an overhand grip just outside of your legs. From here, you want to roll your shoulders back and keep your back straight, with your head neutral (in line with your spine).
Next, squeeze with your glutes and push through your legs to lift the bar off the ground. Once the bar reaches your knees, straighten your back and stand up tall with the weight. Make sure your back stays straight throughout the entire movement and you don’t hunch forward.
To lower it back down, slowly hinge at the hips like you are closing a door with your butt and bring the weight to the floor. Keep the bar close to your legs the entire time.
The bench press is another great exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once. When you do it correctly, the bench press is a great movement for your chest, triceps, front delts, and even core.
How to: Lay down on a bench with the back of your head lying flat against it. You should be positioned underneath a barbell and your feet should be flat on the floor, pressing down firmly.
Reach up and grab the bar with your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width. Exhale as you lift the bar off the rack, extending your arms straight out in front of your chest. On the inhale, lower the bar down towards your chest, keeping your elbows at your sides.
When the bar reaches your chest, exhale and push through your chest and triceps to move the weight back to its starting position.
Another classic compound lift! Squats are great at targeting every muscle in your legs as well as your core. For this exercise, you'll need a loaded barbell and a rack to hold it at around chest height.
How to: Grab the bar with an overhand grip, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. While holding onto the bar, bend your knees to step underneath the bar, resting it on your upper back/traps (the base of your neck/across the top of your shoulder).
From here, straighten your knees to stand up tall with the weight on your back, and take a few steps backwards, away from the rack. Position your feet about shoulder-width apart from each other (some people prefer an even wider stance).
Now that you're ready to go, inhale, then slowly begin to sink into your hips and push your knees forward like you're sitting in a chair. Keep your shoulders pulled back, and your neck and back in a straight/neutral position the entire time. When you've sunk into your hips as far as you can, exhale as you push through your heels, driving with your legs and squeezing your glutes to reach a standing position once again.
The bar should move in a straight line up and down throughout the exercise.
Overhead presses, or shoulder presses, are another great exercise for your full-body workouts! You'll activate muscle in your upper chest, shoulders, core, and traps. For this exercise, you'll need a loaded barbell and a rack.
How to: Grab the bar with an overhand grip and rest the bar on your upper chest. From here, un-rack the barbell and take a few steps backwards, away from the rack. You want to position your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep a slight bend in your knees.
Take a deep breath in, then exhale as you keep your core tight and push the bar overhead with your arms and shoulders. When your arms have straightened overhead, lower the barbell back down to its starting position on your chest. Make sure you are looking straight ahead the entire time.
This is a great exercise for targeting the muscles of your back, your biceps, and your core. You can also do it with either a loaded barbell or a pair of dumbbells!
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend down and grab the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing up). Keeping your back straight and a slight bend in your knees, you are going to have your arms hanging in front of you.
From here, send your elbows back behind you right past your sides bringing the barbell to your belly button and lowering it back down.
For you to build strength, and achieve your ideal body composition, you want to weight/resistance train 3-5x a week. Below are two examples of how you can lay out your week if you are looking to start a full-body exercise program!
If you want to have 3 full-body workout sessions a week:
Monday: Full Body
Wednesday: Full Body
Friday: Full Body
If you want to train 4 times a week, you can just alternate between rest days and full body days:
Monday: Full Body
Wednesday: Full Body
Friday: Full Body
Sunday: Full Body
On your off days, I still recommend that you keep your body moving! You can treat them as active recovery days by going for a walk, doing some mobility work, going for a bike ride, and so much more.
This is something I always like to do to stay active and burn some extra calories when I'm not in the gym exercising.
I'm sure you're wondering whether full body workouts would be best for YOUR goals. My answer is ... they can be. At the end of the day, there are so many different training styles that can help you see the results you're after.
I would be lying to you if I said there was a "best way" to reach your goals. Now, when it comes to building muscle, burning fat, or even just being healthier ... there are a lot of factors that come into play. These are things like your nutrition, workouts, and recovery.
I know there are a lot of different moving pieces when it comes to earning results ... but that's why we made the 1st Phorm App. Inside the app, you'll get access to 1-on-1 coaching, a full library of workout plans, nutrition tracking, and livestream education to help you reach your goals.
Heck, you can even find a ton of amazing full-body workouts with instructional videos for each exercise! So download the 1st Phorm App and get started on chasing after your fitness goals now! If you have any questions, or if there's anything we can do to help ... reach out to us!
Just pick up the phone and speak with one of our Certified Personal Trainers here at 1st Phorm HQ (NASM-CPT)! We're here to make sure you are making steady progress and kicking butt when it comes to your goals.
Katie Hoehn Registered Dietitian ACE Certified Personal Trainer ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist ACE Youth Fitness Specialist 1st Phorm App Advisor