Training your entire body, each time you suit up for a workout, is the fastest way for 99% of lifters to gain muscle. I can’t make it any simpler than that. Full body training (aka total body training) is as popular as ever because that’s what the vast majority of lifters out there need.
I’ve written countless articles and three books that revolve around full body training: Muscle Revolution,Huge in a Hurry, and Body of F.I.R.E. In fact, if you do a Google search for “full body training” or “total body training,” the T-nation article I wrote a few years back on the subject is the first to come up. (Out of 71.1 million possible results.)
It’s safe to say that my name is synonymous with the full body training philosophy, yet I still get frequent emails from avid lifters who want to try it but don’t know how to set up an effective plan.
So that’s why I decided to write this post. With the following information you’ll have all the tools you need to make full body training work for you.
First, let me explain why this type of training works so well. There are three reasons: exercise selection, hormonal response, and frequency.
Exercise Selection: when you train everything in one workout you must be wise with the exercises you choose. Of all the variables that make or break your muscle-gaining efforts, exercise selection is number one. Any body part split can be effective if it’s comprised of compound exercises. However, when you target specific muscle groups with body part split training you invariably do a bunch of isolation exercises that have little to no impact on adding muscle to your frame. With full body training, there’s no time to mess with concentration curls, kickbacks, and a host of other subpar exercises. By default, full body training steers you to compound exercises that give you the most bang for your buck.
Hormonal Response: three of the most important hormones for building muscle are testosterone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and growth hormone. Research shows that growth hormone will increase after an intense bout of exercise. And when growth hormone increases it signals the body to produce more IGF-1, a powerful anabolic hormone. Research also shows that working the largest muscle groups results in the highest output of growth hormone. A full body workout creates an intense demand for your body to upregulate anabolic hormones – significantly higher than workouts that only work a few muscle groups (eg, arms and shoulders).
Through research, it’s been shown that the amount of muscle mass stimulated in a workout is proportionate to the amount of testosterone that’s released. Put simply, workouts that stimulate the most muscles produce the most testosterone. I’ll concede that the relationship between strength training and the impact it has on testosterone is still a little fuzzy, but my empirical data (and common sense) tells us that full body workouts augment testosterone better than a day of arm training.
Frequency: no one would argue against the principle that training a muscle group more often results in faster muscle gains (provided you can recover between the workouts). With full body training, each of the primary muscle groups are stimulated at least three times per week, as opposed to a body part split that only hits everything once per week (yes, there’s some carryover between a chest/back and arms/shoulders workouts, but you get the point). Make no mistake about it: training more often is the key to building muscle fast.
However, you can’t just train everything three times per week and recover from those workouts unless you follow these steps.
Step #1: Start with three exercises in one workout. One of the problems lifters run into when they embark on a full body training plan is they try to do too many exercises in one workout. For a workout to be full body, it only has to consist of an upper body pull, an upper body push, and a squat, deadlift or lunge variation. Here are two examples of a full body workout:
Full body workout Example 1
1A Chin-up
1B Dip
1C Deadlift
Full body workout Example 2
1A One-arm dumbbell row
1B One-arm shoulder press
1C Reverse lunge
As you can see, a full body workout can consist of single-limb exercises, too. Full body training is not just about bent-over rows, push presses, and squats. There are countless exercise variations you can use in the workouts. Later on I’ll tell you how to add more exercises to a full body workout in order to target lagging muscle groups. But for the first few weeks, start with three exercises per workout to get your body accustomed to this type of training.
Step #2: Perform a different exercise for each workout throughout the week. This is where lifters often get tripped up. If you try to do a full body workout that consists of the chin-up/dip/deadlift circuit three times per week you’ll get overtrained in no time. Each workout throughout the week must consist of different variations of an upper body pull, upper body push, and squat, deadlift or lunge variation. Here’s a sample weekly workout plan.
Monday
1A Chin-up
1B Dip
1C Deadlift
Wednesday
1A One-arm row
1B One-arm shoulder press
1C Reverse lunge
Friday
1A Pull-up with a narrow grip
1B Decline dumbbell bench press
1C Front squat
Now you have a weekly workout plan that consists of different exercises in each workout. Repeat this plan for 6 weeks, and then pick new exercises. The exercises for your next 6-week phase don’t have to be drastically different. Simply switching from dumbbells to a barbell or kettlebells will do the trick. For example, you could do the front squat with a barbell for 6 weeks, and then do a front squat while holding two kettlebells for the next 6 weeks. Or you could do a completely different exercise. It’s up to you and the equipment that’s available.
Step #3: Use a different rep scheme with each workout throughout the week. Full body workouts are demanding and they’ll push your limits of recovery if you’re not used to them. Therefore, one simple trick to help your body recover is to use a different number of reps per set in each workout. This, by the way, is just another way of telling you to vary the load throughout the week. You can’t use the same weight for a set of 10 as you use for a set of 3 reps. This is a good thing since different loads have a different impact on your nervous system. It’s easier for your nervous system to recover from three different loads throughout the week than it is for a constant load, especially if it’s heavy.
So let’s build on the sample full body training plan we already have and add in the set/rep parameters.
Monday
Sets x Reps: 8×3
1A Chin-up
1B Dip
1C Deadlift
Wednesday
Sets x Reps: 5×5
1A One-arm row
1B One-arm shoulder press
1C Reverse lunge
Friday
Sets x Reps: 4×10
1A Pull-up with a narrow grip
1B Decline dumbbell bench press
1C Front squat
Now you have a weekly plan that consists of different exercises and different loads (reps) in each workout throughout the week. This is how to make full body training work for natural guys who have a limited capacity to recover. I’ve never worked with a client who couldn’t recover from the above program, provided their nutrition and sleep are in order.
Here’s another trick if you’re really limited by the number of exercises you can do. Start by setting up a weekly plan that consists of the exercises that suit your available equipment. Use the same set/rep parameters I listed above. Do that plan for 6 weeks. Then, when the 6 weeks are up you can alter the weekly plan by simply moving around the set/rep parameters from one workout to another. Here’s what I mean.
Monday
Sets x Reps: 8×3
1A Pull-up with a narrow grip
1B Decline dumbbell bench press
1C Front squat
Wednesday
Sets x Reps: 5×5
1A Chin-up
1B Dip
1C Deadlift
Friday
Sets x Reps: 4×10
1A One-arm row
1B One-arm shoulder press
1C Reverse lunge
Now you have a whole new program to do for another 6 weeks while using the same exercises you did in the first phase.
In part II I’ll explain how to modify a full body workout to burn fat, build strength, or bring up a lagging body part.
Stay focused,
CW

Wikio

About EdR

Tant que les lions n’auront pas leurs propres historiens, les histoires de chasse continueront de glorifier le chasseur. (proverbe africain)

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