After our first article on full body routines, in which we talk about the theory behind what exactly a full body routine was, today we bring you a post explaining how you can create your own full body routine.
As we mentioned in the theory article, something we’ve got to avoid in a full body routine is training two days in a row, as the body needs sufficient rest to recover from the previous session (not just in terms of the muscles, but the CNS – the Central Nervous System – too, which is put under a lot of stress with the weight training). So, if our training is exclusively full body, we should only train for 3 days, with the following combinations possible:
Now, it is possible to train 4 times a week, the the following week we’d need to do just 3 days, giving sufficient time to rest. The training combination would be like this:
There’s also always the option to do hybrid routines, where we’d mix up full-body days with upper body-leg days, or with a divided routine, for example. But we’ll look at hybrid routines in another post dedicated exclusively to them.
The most important thing is to choose multi-joint exercises – that’s to say, the basic exercises: deadweights, squats, pull-ups, bar rows, bench presses and military presses. They should be done, if possible, with free weights, using machines, or, if there’s no alternative, with a high weight.
In a basic and minimalist full-body routine, we only need 3 exercises:
- An upper body PUSH exercise: bench press (with different inclinations), back press (weighted), push-ups (weighted), military press (with bar or dumbbells), reverse push-ups, push press or
- An upper body PULL exercise: pull-ups (in all its variants), bar/dumbell row (in any variant), loaded or high pull
- A leg exercise: squats (in all its variants), press (45º o horizontal), deadweight (in all its variants) or lunges (in all its variants).
With these three exercises, doing 4-5 sets per exercise, we’ve already made up the routine. The workout is complete. Other exercises can be incorporated into the routine (1 to 3 more) to serve as complementary and isolation exercises, but the principal and most important work is done in the three primary exercises.
The optional exercises should be done in no more than 3 sets and without too may repetitions (ideally, between 6 and 12). Bearing in mind the following points, depending on the principal exercises:
- If we’ve gone for a bench press: the optionals should a shoulder exercise to work the sides: military press, side lifts, birds, high bar rows…
- If we’ve gone for a military press: add a chest exercise as an optional, which won’t work the shoulder too excessively (with a lot of inclination).
- If we’ve gone for vertical pull-ups: try an option exercise of horizontal pull-ups (and if the principal exercise is a horizontal one, make the optional exercise vertical).
- If we’ve gone for quadricep exercises: try a leg movement that works the hamstrings (vice versa).
- For extra arm exercises: although not necessary, one bicep exercise and another day of triceps could be put in every isolation day
- For abs: they’re not 100% necessary, depending on the individual, so these can be done your own choice.
Sets and repetitions
These depend on the type of full body routine, and can be divided between:
- Heavyweights: 4-6 sets for the core and 3-5 sets for the legs, with between 3-6 repetitions per set.
- Mid-weights: 10-16 complete set with a range of 6-10 repetitions per series.
- Lightweights: 12-20 complete sets with a rang of 10-20 repetitions per set, with metabolic circuits used to generate lactic acid.
- Hybrids: each exercise can have a different number of sets and repetitions. For example: 1-2 heavyweight exercises (3-6 reps), 2 mid-weight exercises (3-6 reps), 2 lightweight exercises (6-10 reps)
The ideal is to do the heavyweight exercises at the beginning of the sessions, unless they’re leg exercises, which are best to leave to the end of the routine as they as they can leave you quite affected for the rest of the exercises as they involve a great deal of effort and stress on the CNS.
So, first would be the (compulsory) upper body heavyweight, then the optional upper body, and to finish, the (compulsory) leg heavyweight, ending with an optional leg exercise, if you’re doing one.
Emphasising/Specialising in a specific muscle group
Emphasising: If you want to give priority within the session to one of the muscle groups, you increase the workload of that group while lowering the workload of the rest. Though you can do a mixed routine, where each day emphasises one muscle group. For example, on Mondays the leg, on Wednesdays the chest, and on Fridays the back.
Just add one more principal exercise from that muscle group, and lower the sets from the rest.
Specialising: is the same as emphasising the group, but it’s done all week to the same group. This can get them out of a possible stagnation or if they’re falling behind the rest of the groups.
In the next post we’re going to look at a few example Full Body routines so you’ve got a base to work from when creatirg your perfect routine!