By Annie Gregory, CPT & CFN
When it comes to finding a training regimen that works for you, along with balancing everything else going on in your life, it can make you wonder how you’re going to get it all done.
If you are a busy parent who juggles a full-time job or runs a business (or maybe it’s all of the above and then some), then the thought of committing more than a few days a week to your health and fitness likely seems impossible.
Train smarter, not harder
There is a misconception that you have to do more to get more when it comes to taking care of yourself and your body. In reality, though, you can reap just as many benefits by simply training smarter, not always harder.
Sometimes, less can be more, which is especially true for full-body training. This approach can make your health and fitness routine more sustainable and help you stick to it.
Full-body workouts can be the perfect alternative for someone who has just started, or has limited time during the week, yet still wants to achieve their goals. This could also be the case for those who like to add other activities to their routine.
Here are 10 reasons why full-body workouts could benefit you:
1. More flexibility in your schedule
Not everyone can commit to training specific body parts four to six times a week. With full-body workouts, you can hit each muscle group two to three days a week and still make great strides toward your health and fitness goals.
2. Great for beginners
Don’t get me wrong, full-body workouts are still highly beneficial for the intermediate and advanced lifter, but they are also a great way to start.
These workouts can be simple in design. The also help beginners learn by constantly practicing basic compound movements and teaches them how to engage and fire each muscle group.
This approach can also help with strength and muscle gains because you train these muscle groups more throughout the week, which helps to build a solid strength foundation.
3. Less burnout
Do you also struggle with ‘leg days’? Or is there a specific body part you might not feel as motivated to train?
For some, the frequency with which you repeat the same activity from week to week increases the risk that you’ll grow bored and not stick to it as much.
Full-body workouts already offer an advantage because they offer greater variety and decrease the frequency with which you perform specific workouts. And the potential variations are endless! It wouldn’t be hard or take much time to mix things up once you start to start feeling burned out or bored with what you are currently doing.
And the more you enjoy your routine, the easier it will be to stick to it.
4. More recovery time
Even though you focus on different body parts when following a traditional muscle group training split, you almost always train them again as secondary muscles on other training days. This fact, coupled with the volume, can hamper your ability to recover between sessions.
Some individuals, especially beginners and even some intermediate lifters, can’t handle back to back workouts. But with a full-body approach, you can include a rest day in between each workout to optimise your recovery. This will ensure you’re ready to get in a solid workout at your next training session.
5. Ideal for home workouts
If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s how to navigate workouts at home, even if that means using what you have to make it work and be effective.
Finding a routine that you can stick to is important, regardless of the circumstances. I work with many busy moms who can only work out at home, and full-body workouts have been the best option.
A good training plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated or involve special equipment. They can be done just about anywhere using just your bodyweight, or with bands and/or a set of dumbbells.
As long as you have good structure, train with intensity and create that mind-to-muscle connection during your workout, you can still make progress.
6. Maximise your calorie burn
Full-body sessions work multiple muscle groups, which can burn more calories. The predominantly compound movements used incorporate multiple joints and work many muscles all at once, especially larger muscle groups like quads and glutes.
Compound movements are exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups, dips, pushups, overhead presses, bent-over rows, and bench press. Squats are one of the biggest calorie-burners because you use two large muscle groups in the lower body.
You can add to the calorie burn by adding in an isolation movement, for example, doing a squat with a bicep curl. This trick turns one movement into a powerful and effective whole-body exercise.
7. Balanced body symmetry
Everyone has their favourite body parts to train – I love a good solid back and bicep day. But instead of focusing one muscle group, you can spread the benefit in a full-body workout for better muscle balance, while also improving muscle function and movement.
This can also help prevent injuries by not putting a disproportionate stress on one joint or muscle group. Targeting multiple muscle groups can also strengthen joints and tissues, and protect against common injuries.
8. More time for other activities
For some, training isn’t just about lifting weights. If you enjoy things like running, hiking, biking, or other sports, chances are you won’t have the time or energy to be at the gym for the majority of the week.
A full-body approach lets you hit every muscle group a couple of times a week without compromising your recovery, while helping to develop strength and agility, and still lets you accommodate other activities.
If your goal is to achieve multifaceted fitness and look and feel as healthy as possible, you probably aren’t looking to develop your performance in just one area. Including a combination of full-body workouts a couple of days a week, along with endurance training, sprinting, or other physical activities, is generally a more effective approach.
9. Time efficient
Who doesn’t need more time these days? Obviously, you don’t want to sacrifice your fitness goals, so doing what you can is better than doing nothing at all, right?
With full-body workouts, you have the ability to get more done in less time. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s easier by any means. In fact, it could actually be a little more intense, depending on how you program it.
Get more out of the time you do have by using challenging multi-joint exercises. You could also combine your upper and lower body in the same exercise. Other options include using a quick and efficient workout style like Tabata routines or even an AMRAP.
10. Easy to program
When executing a full-body routine, it’s important not to overcomplicate it. Obviously, you want to hit all your muscle groups in one workout. An example of a workout design could be a circuit that looks like this:
- 1A) Squat variation (Anterior Leg)
- 2A) Chest Press (Upper Push)
- 3A) Lateral Raise (Isolation Movement)
- 1B) Romanian Dead Lift (Posterior Leg)
- 2B) Single Arm Dumbell Row (Upper Pull)
- 3B) Russian Twists (Rotational Core/Obliques)
- 1C) Bicep Curl (Isolation Movement)
- 2C) Tricep Extension (Isolation Movement)
- 3C) Leg Raises (Anterior Core)
Again, this is just one of the many ways to design a full body routine! A great thing about this is that if you cannot get to the gym to complete the workout, you can easily do them at home or even when out of town!
At the end of the day, there really is no perfect routine. It all comes down to the one you actually enjoy and can consistently follow, as well as what you actually put into it. Consistency, proper recovery, form, progression, and having fun over a longer period is the key to success when it comes to reaching your goals, no matter the training split you used to get there.
This contribution was created in partnership with FITposium, an annual educational and inspirational seminar focused on success in the fitness modelling and entrepreneurial industry. Held in Arizona in the US, this workshop features a variety of sessions to prepare fitness talents with everything they need to know to enter the market and succeed. For more info about FITposium, visit fitposium.com.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.