Are Full Body Workouts Effective?
Why training the whole body in one session may be helping or hurting your gains
Training in the gym is more than just picking up dumbbells and putting them back down, there is actually a lot that goes into it whether you are a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or just someone who likes to be fit. You have your diet, your supplementation, and your sleep schedule that all help with recovery and progressing, but when it comes to being in the gym, you have your training routines that you should follow. There are tons of different workout programs to follow, from the upper lower split down to the push pull legs, but what about a full body training split? That’s right, you can train every muscle in one session, but is a full body workout routine effective for making progress?
Many times people think that full body training is ineffective as you are hitting every muscle group from your traps down to your calves in one session, but that is not always the case. There are specific ways to go about utilizing a full body training program that can really benefit you and your goals.
Let’s break down full body training and how it can help you progress in your fitness journey.
What Does a Full Body Workout Entail?
A full body workout entails working the full body, no brainer right? But instead of hitting every single exercise you can for every single muscle group, a proper full body workout will pick select exercises to hit each muscle group in an effective time frame, so you are making the most out of your training session.
For example, your full body workout could be an SBD day (squat bench deadlift) meaning you only train those three compound lifts in one session. Now, something like this is common for powerlifters who are following a training program and testing their one rep maxes, but may not be ideal for the average lifter looking to increase their muscle mass. For example, squatting and deadlifting on the same day can be pretty taxing on the central nervous system and lower back, so if you do one before the other it may take away from the effectiveness of the second movement.
That being said, a solid full body workout routine will have you hitting each muscle group, but not to the point where you are taken away from other movements. For example, super setting the bench press with barbell rows in the same training session could be great, as these are opposite movements. Follow that up with a leg movement like the hack squat or leg press, finish it off with some biceps and triceps, and you have a full body workout.
The chances are you are strength training more than one day a week, and when following a full body workout routine you can switch up the movements you do on the next day of training. You do not have to do the same movements each session.
How Often Should You Train Full Body?
Training the full body every day will do you more harm than good, as you are not allowing yourself enough time to recover and grow. That being said, there are plenty of ways to incorporate a few full body training sessions each week. For example, you can do two or three full body days a week, with four or five days of rest, and that is your training routine.
You also could do something like an upper body day, a lower body day, then follow that up with a full body day. There are plenty of ways to go about incorporating it, it is just a matter of finding the right way that works for you.
Are Full Body Workouts Effective for Competitive Bodybuilding?
Image courtesy of Brett Asbury
When it comes to your bodybuilding goals, there is a lot that goes into them. You do not want to leave anything out, as this can result in imbalances, which will take away from your physique and can hurt you on stage. That being said, when it comes to your bodybuilding workouts, you may want to stick to a more bodybuilding focused split rather than full body workouts. What this means is that if your goal is competitive bodybuilding, you should stick to isolating different parts of your body during each training session, rather than targeting the entire body in one session.
While you can still make some effective progress hypertrophy wise with a full body workout, it may not be enough to get you ready for an actual bodybuilding show.
Are Full Body Workouts Effective for Competitive Powerlifting?
Image courtesy of Chloe Butler
You can make some significant strength progress with a full body workout, it may not be the best routine for competitive powerlifting. Powerlifting programs have specific training principles to follow each day of training, and full body may not be the way to go. Training the entire body in one session may leave you fatigued on other lifts, which can affect your powerlifting progress. That being said, take a look at following an actual powerlifting program rather than full body workouts.
The Best Full Body Workout Routine
The team at Boostcamp has hand-picked our favorite full body workout routine for you to check out.
Beast Slayer by Bald Omni Man is a great routine for building both size and strength. However, this is not your typical full body workout routine, as it includes an upper body day, a lower body day, and a full body workout. It actually can be split into two variations, let’s take a look.
Program Length: 12 weeks
Days Per Week: 4 days
Default Days: Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat
Good for all experience levels, from beginners, novice, to advanced lifters
4 days per week, including an arm day, full body day, upper day, and lower day
This variation is for people that want to get a little of everything
Hybrid is good for all experience levels. specifically people who want to just try out Full Body Workouts. You get an arm day, along with a classic upper/lower duo of sessions. One full body day is included. This split is also really good for intermediate or advanced trainees with strength minded goals, because it leaves room to fit in enough frequency for your compound lifts, along with enough rest to recover from them. Overall, this version is for people that want to get a little of everything. Newer lifters should set their volume on the lower side, intermediate and advanced lifters can use more volume.
Program Length: 12 weeks
Days Per Week: 3 days
Default Days: Mon, Wed, Fri
For intermediate or advanced lifters with hypertrophy minded goals
3 days per week with full body training each workout
Not meant to increase strength in BIG HEAVY compounds, but will get you stronger, in a general sense
The Hunter is great for intermediate or advanced lifters that enjoy the recovery benefits of full body training, along with the work capacity gains. This split works best for those with hypertrophy minded goals, as recovery will start to become encumbered for those that want to pursue increasing strength in BIG HEAVY compound lifts. This program WILL make you stronger, but in a general sense.
Where to Find More Programs
When looking for more full body workout programs, Boostcamp is the ultimate app for lifters, offering free science-based workout plans for bodybuilding, powerbuilding, and powerlifting. The Boostcamp app is a top of the line workout app, that offers free science-based workout routines, advanced custom program builder, and a workout tracker to help you stay on top of your progress, and make sure that you are hitting your goals and getting where you need to go, so there is no reason to not make progress.
By using the Boostcamp App for your training routine, you'll have all the tools you need to develop a strong mind-muscle connection and break through plateaus, continuing to make progress. Download the Boostcamp App today and take your workouts to the next level!
Overall, full body workouts are indeed effective if you do them correctly. Finding a good full-body routine is optimal for making progress.
Will you be checking out Boostcamp for a full body routine? Boostcamp has plenty of free programs that help with both strength and hypertrophy, be sure to check them out and follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!