After you have spent some time and energy on the beginning workout, you should be ready for some of the full body routines below. You should also have an understanding of how effective full body workouts can be. And that's really a 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. 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.
A lot of the loss of interest in full body workouts stems from pro bodybuilders. 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 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, here and now, THAT'S COMPLETE BUNK!
Here's some of the advantages to whole body, three days per seek workouts for building not just strength, but muscle mass as well -- even for advanced strength athletes.
One advantage to 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 18" 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. 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 every session?
I have found that, with most lifters, the split system of training does the opposite of what it was intended to. 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 and/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 himself 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 say then can't do justice after squats, can't get a good workout for their chest, 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 that the lifter is out of shape. After a few weeks on a whole body program, the lifter will find his strength is back on all bodyparts, and before long he will have surpassed all of his personal records, even on exercises performed at the end of the workout.
One of the best advantages to full body workouts is you get to hit your muscle groups frequently without having to go to the gym too often. This is great for lifters who have a busy schedule outside of the gym.
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 your heavy day. The other two sessions are light or medium workouts.
This first program is the best one to graduate to after completing the Beginner Workout Program.
Squat, 5x5, followed by one set of 10 repetitions. Perform two warmup sets, followed by 3 all-out sets of 5 reps. 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 that you will get 10 reps with.
Bench Press, 5x5, followed by one set of 10. Use the same protocol as squats.
Deadlift, 5x5. Same as above, but omit the 10 rep down set that you performed on the squats and benches.
Overhead Push Press, 5x8. 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 warmups sets of 8 reps, followed by 3 all-out sets.
Barbell Curl, 5x8.
Incline Situp, 3x30. Perform these on a steep angle. Perform 10 reps as regular situps, 10 twisting to your right side, and 10 twisting to your left side.
Squat, 5x5. 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 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.
Bench press, 5x5. Use the same system you used with squats above.
Good morning, 5x5. Perform 2 warmup sets followed by 3 heavy sets of 5 reps. Heavy, of course, is relative on this exercise. 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 DB press, 5x8. Use the same pattern as the overhead push presses you did on the heavy day.
Seated or standing DB curls, 5x8.
Crunch, 3x30. Perform these as you did the incline situps 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 the other ab workdoes.
Squat, 5x5, followed by 1 set of 2 reps. For this day, you're going to do 2 warmup sets of 5 reps, followed by 3 sets of 5 with a weight around 90% of what was used on the heavy day. In other words, if you squatted 400 pounds for your 3 work sets of 5 on heavy day, you would use 360 here. After your 5th set, rest a couple of minutes and perform a heavy double with more than what was used for your last set of 5 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.
Bench press, 5x5, followed by 1 set of 2 reps, as above.
Stiff legged deadlift, 5x5. Here, it's 2 warmup sets followed by 3 sets of 5. 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 press, 5x8. Use the same protocol here as you did with the shoulder work on the other days.
EZ bar curl, 5x8.
Hanging leg raise, 3x30. 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 right 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 16 weeks on the first two programs I've outlined. 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 down 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.
Soon, you won't be.
Here it is:
Squat, 7x5 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 full body routine. Here, however, you will be doing 2 more sets than the previous program. Perform 3 progressively heavier warmup sets, followed by 4 work sets of 5 reps. Once you can perform all 5 reps on all 4 work sets, increase the weight at the next session.
Bench press, 7x5. Use the same set/rep layout as above.
Deadlift, 7x5. Same.
Barbell curl, 4x5
Pullover and press, 4x5. Alternate on these the same way you did with the dips and chins. If you aren't familiar with the pullover and press:
Lie on a flat bench with a barbell or EZ curl bar. Take a close grip and lower the bar to your chest. When it touches your chest, keep your elbows bent 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 situp, 3x60. Use the same technique that you used in Program One, simply doing more reps on each set.
Oly squat, paused, 5x5. These should be performed with the bar 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 DB bench press, 5x5. 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.
Round back good morning, 5x8. 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 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.
DB curls, 5x8
Lying DB triceps extension, 5x8.
Bottom position squat, 7x5. 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 as 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 press, 5x5. Here, you will do 2 warmup sets of 5 followed by 3 work sets. Your goal should be 90% of the weight used on the heavy day bench press.
Deadlift off box, 5x5. For this one, you are going to need a box you can stand on that is no more than 6" off the ground. I've found that four or five inches works best. Do these as you would do regular 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 press. Your goal should be 90% of the weight used on deadlifts on the heavy day. 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 chin, 5x5. Use a relatively close grip on these. Use the same weight that you used on the wide-grip chins on heavy day.
Hanging leg raise, 3x60.
Summing it Up
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this progrsam:
REMEMBER, THIS WORKOUT IS ONLY A GUIDELINE. The more advanced you become, the more variety you need. There are many 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, your body will need the nutrients.
If you feel near-overtrained, avoid taking a layoff. Simply switch to some exercises that require the use of lighter weights for a week or two, 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 higher reps on your core exercises.
Enjoy Your Lifting!