Full Body Workouts
After you have spent at least eight weeks on Part Two’s workout, then you should be ready for some of the training routines below. You should also have an understanding of how effective full-body workouts can be. And that’s a really good thing. Because, in today’s bodybuilding dominated world, many have forgotten about how effective full body workouts are for adding muscle mass, strength, and power.
It’s really sad that full body workouts have lost their popularity. It’s especially sad among bodybuilders, considering the fact that some really good physiques were built on such programs (if you don’t believe me, then search “full body workouts” on this blog—you should find plenty of old-school examples). In fact, you can still find a fair amount of powerlifters and athletes in various sports who use full-body programs, while it’s rare to find a bodybuilder who does so. Even though plenty of the steroid-induced pro bodybuilders have what some would call a good physique, they are, pound for pound, about as strong as my 80-year-old grandmother. If only they would at least occasionally indulge their bodies in the type of full-body workouts I’m going to present to you here, then they could be a lot stronger than they are.
I have to be fair here, however. It’s not just pro bodybuilders who have almost brought down the demise of these effective workout programs. It’s also the various rantings and ravings of different authors (in mainstream bodybuilding magazines) who would have us believe that if we train a bodypart any more than once-per-week then there’s no way in the world we’re going to grow bigger, stronger muscles.
I want to tell you—right here and now—that’s complete bunk.
Here’s some of the advantages to whole body, three-days-a-week workouts for building not just strength, but muscle mass, too—even for advanced strength athletes.
One advantage of full-body training is that all of the muscles of your body get equal and complete attention. This allows for proportionate strength and growth (don’t you hate to see a guy with chicken legs who has eighteen inch arms?), and allows you to focus on any weak bodyparts. Okay, most avid followers of the split routine are crying foul at this moment—or they think I’m nuts (which, I assure you, I’m not). That’s the whole purpose of a split routine, right? Isn’t it to allow the lifter to blast one or two bodyparts per day, therefore giving them more rest between workouts and a better pump at each session?
I have found that, with most lifters, the split system of training does the opposite of what it was intended. More often than not, the bodybuilder will miss a lot of sessions involving training the muscles of the legs or the “trunk” (hips, abdominals, lower back) and will show up for more chest, shoulder, or arm training sessions. If, however, the lifter resigns himself to performing squats and lower back work at the beginning of each session—not allowing him/herself to work any other muscles until the leg and back work is finished—then the lifter will have a much more balanced and symmetrical physique.
Another excuse I’ve heard a lot is this one: lifters who say they can’t do justice to their other bodyparts if they train their legs first. They claim they’re too tired after squats to get a good workout for their chests, shoulders, and arms. You know what? Maybe they can’t get a good upper body workout after all that squatting—not at first. The reason is because the lifter is out of shape. After a few weeks on a whole body routine, the lifter will find his/her strength is back on all bodyparts, and before long the lifter will have surpassed all of his/her personal records, even on exercises performed at the end of the workout.
One of the best advantages with full-body workouts is you get to hit your muscle groups frequently (see Part One) without having to go to the gym too often. This is great for lifters who are on a busy schedule.
The programs you are going to see here are based on the heavy/light/medium concept of training. The first training day of the week is going to be your heavy day. The other two sessions are going to be light or medium workouts.
This first program is the best one to graduate to after completing the Beginning Workout Program.
· Squats. 5 sets of 5 reps, followed by 1 set of 10 repetitions. Perform two warm-up sets, followed by 3 all-out sets of 5 reps (similar to Part Two’s workout). Add weight at the next workout whenever you get all 5 reps on each set. After the final set, drop down in weight and do 1 set of 10 reps. This set should be very tough, but make sure you use a weight where you will get all 10 reps.
· Flat Bench Presses. 5 sets of 5 reps, followed by 1 set of 10 reps. Use the same protocol as the squats.
· Deadlifts. 5 sets of 5 reps. Same as above, but omit the 10 repetition down set that you performed on the squats and bench presses.
· Overhead Push Presses. 5 sets of 8 reps. Perform these with an Olympic bar. Start the set with the bar resting across your shoulders. Generate momentum at the start of the lift by using your legs. Two warm-up sets of 8 reps, followed by 3 all-out sets.
· Barbell Curls. 5 sets of 8 reps.
· Incline Sit-ups. 3 sets of 30 reps. Perform these on a steep incline bench. Perform 10 reps as regular sit-ups, 10 reps twisting to your right side, and 10 reps twisting to your left side.
· Squats. 5 sets of 5 reps. For these, use a weight that’s around 80% of the weight used on Monday. In other words, if you squatted 400 pounds on Monday for your three work sets, then you would squat around 320 pounds on these for your final 3 sets. Also, concentrate on speed and explosiveness during your three work sets. The concentric portion of each lift should be fast.
· Flat Bench Presses. 5 sets of 5 reps. Use the same system that you used with the squats above.
· Good Mornings. 5 sets of 5 reps. Perform 2 warm-up sets followed by 3 heavy sets of 5 reps. Heavy, of course, is relative on this exercise (which you should know if you stuck with the program from Part Two). No matter how hard you push this exercise, you won’t be able to approach the weights used for deadlifts on the heavy day.
· Seated Dumbbell Presses. 5 sets of 8 reps. Use the same system as the overhead push presses you did on the heavy day.
· Seated or Standing Dumbbell Curls. 5 sets of 8 reps.
· Crunches. 3 sets of 30 reps. Perform these as you did the incline sit-ups on the heavy workout. These are good for the light day because they require a short range of motion and also don’t require the effort that other ab work does.
· Squats. 5 sets of 5 reps, followed by 1 set of 2 reps. For this day, you’re going to do 2 warm ups of 5 reps, followed by 3 sets of 5 reps with a weight around 90% of what was used on the heavy day. In other words, if you squatted 400 lbs for your 3 work sets of 5 on heavy day, you would use 360 here. After your fifth set, rest a couple of minutes and perform a heavy double with more than what was used for your last set of 5 reps from the heavy day. In this case, our hypothetical 400 pound squatter would use 410 pounds for 2 reps. This will help the lifter prepare for the upcoming heavy day, when the weight used for a double here will be attempted for 3 sets of 5.
· Flat Bench Presses. 5 sets of 5 reps, followed by 1 set of 2 reps. Perform these in the same manner as the squats.
· Stiff-legged Deadlifts. 5 sets of 5 reps. Here, it’s 2 warm-up sets followed by 3 sets of 5 reps. The weight used on these should be somewhere in between the good mornings on the light day and the deadlifts on the heavy day.
· Seated Barbell Presses. 5 sets of 8 reps. Use the same protocol here as you did with the shoulder work on the other days.
· E-Z Bar Curls. 5 sets of 8 reps.
· Hanging Leg Raises. 3 sets of 30 reps. Perform 1 set raising your legs straight up, 1 set twisting your legs to the right side, and 1 set twisting your legs to the left side.
This routine is going to help take you to the next level in your development of strength, mass, and power. In order to do it, however, I want you to make sure you have spent at least sixteen weeks (and much longer than that if you’re not an intermediate to advanced lifter) on the first two programs I’ve outlined in this series. If you don’t take the time to work up to the volume and the intensity of this workout (not to mention the upcoming programs), then there’s no way you’re going to see the progress that you are capable of getting out of the routine. You don’t build a house without first laying the foundation.
This program also incorporates the heavy/light/medium concept, but goes about it in a different manner. In this workout, different lifts are performed on each day, and the exercise itself will determine which day it will fall on.
Also, I want you to now realize this: what follows is an example of what a more advanced lifter should be doing, for the more advanced you get the more variety you need in your training. Feel free (after a few weeks) to change exercises on the light and medium days on a regular basis—as long as they fall within the guidelines of each training day. Confused? Soon, you won’t be. Here it is:
· Squats. 7 sets of 5 reps. This is one exercise that I never want you deviating from on the heavy day. The full squat—or some version of it—should be the cornerstone of every workout in every routine. Here, however, you will be doing 2 more sets than the previous program. Perform 3 progressively heavier warm-up sets, followed by 4 work sets of 5 repetitions. Once you can perform 5 reps on all 4 sets, increase the weight at the next session.
· Flat Bench Presses. 7 sets of 5 reps. Use the same set/rep protocol as above.
· Deadlifts. 7 sets of 5 reps. Same as above.
· Wide-grip Dips alternated w/ Wide-grip Chins. 4 sets of 5 reps (each exercise). You should be well warmed-up from the first three exercises, so I want you jumping straight into your work sets on these. Perform a set of dips, rest 2 minutes, perform a set of chins, rest 2 minutes, and continue back and forth in this manner until all 8 sets are completed.
· Barbell Curls alternated w/ Pullover and Presses. 4 sets of 5 reps. Alternate on these the same way you did with the dips and chins. If you aren’t familiar with the pullover and press, here’s how it’s performed: Lie on a flat bench with a barbell or e-z curl bar. Take a close grip and lower the bar to your chest. When it touches your chest, keep your elbows bent and bring the weight behind your head until the plates on the barbell touch the floor. Raise the weight in the same manner, and then press up as if you were doing a close-grip bench press.
· Incline Sit-ups. 3 sets of 60 reps. Use the same scheme on these that you used in Program One, simply doing more reps on each set.
· Olympic-style Pause Squats. 5 sets of 5 reps. These should be performed with the barbell resting high on the traps, almost on your neck. Use a close stance and squat down as low as possible. Pause on the bottom for one or two seconds before “exploding” back to lockout.
· One-arm Dumbbell Bench Presses. 5 sets of 5 reps (each arm). This exercise is tough for lifters when they first try it because of the coordination it takes to lift weights with just one arm. Don’t be deterred, however, for this exercise has a great carryover to regular bench presses.
· Rounded Back Good Mornings. 5 sets of 8 reps. Make sure you’ve spent an appreciable amount of time on regular good mornings before you attempt these. Rounding your back will allow you to go much deeper on the negative portion and will work your lower back very hard. (A note of caution: if you have had any kind of lower back problems in the past, do not perform these; stick with the arched back version instead.)
· Dumbbell Curls supersetted w/ Lying Dumbbell Extensions. 5 sets of 8 reps (each exercise).
· Crunches. 3 sets of 60 reps.
· Bottom-position Squats. 7 sets of 5 reps. This exercise will bring new meaning to the words “hard work” if you’ve never performed it before (and you know how I feel about training hard). It is, in fact, a tougher exercise than regular squats. The fact that you aren’t able to use much weight on these, however, is the reason it fits on the medium day. Use the same 7x5 system on these that you used for squats on the heavy day.
· Incline Bench Presses. 5 sets of 5 reps. Here, you will do 2 warm-up sets of 5 followed by your 3 work sets. Shoot for 90% of the weight used on the heavy day.
· Deadlifts Off a Box. 5 sets of 5 reps. For this one, you are going to need a box you can stand on that is no more than six inches off the ground (I’ve found that four or five inches works best). Do these as you would your deadlifts from the heavy day, but the extended range of motion is going to make it a harder exercise, and, therefore, one in which you can’t use as much weight. Use the same system of sets/reps as the incline bench presses. Your goal should be 90% of the weight used on deadlifts. Don’t be deterred if, at first, you can’t get that much. Stick with this movement and it will have a great carryover to your conventional deadlifts.
· Reverse-grip Chins. 5 sets of 5 reps. Use a relatively close-grip on these. Use the same weight that you used on the wide-grip chins on heavy day.
· Lying Barbell Extensions. 5 sets of 5 reps.
· Hanging Leg Raises. 3 sets of 60 reps.
Summing it Up
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this program:
Remember, this workout is only a guideline. The more advanced you become, the more variety you need. There are a multiple number of chest, back, and squatting exercises to choose from, so you should never go stale on the program.
Consume a good amount of protein while on this program. You should be training intensely at every session, so your body will need the nutrients.
If you feel overtrained, avoid taking a layoff. Simply switch to some exercises for a week or two that require the use of lighter weights or drop one or two assistance movements. This will decrease your total workload and should get you back on the gaining track.
After a couple of months, don’t be afraid to add some back-off sets of high reps on your core exercises.