Full-Body Workouts Can Get You Ripped. So Why Are You Not Doing Them Yet?

Almost every single person who works out can trace their desire to do so to a magazine cover or movie character they saw. My first inspiration like that was Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Usually we can’t wait to find out the program they used to look like that, and work our asses off to follow that program to down to the letter. Which usually looks like some variation of:

Monday: Chest and tri’s

Tuesday: Back and bi’s

Wednesday: Legs

Thursday: Shoulders and abs

Friday: Forearms, jaw muscles, fingers, calves, toes

There are a ton of variations like this out there. They all amount to the same damn thing: a traditional bodybuilding type split that focuses on single body parts.

That type of training has given many a cover or stage-worthy physique. Does that mean it’s actually the best way to train for the average bro out there who wants to shed a little fat, build lean muscle, and look good naked though?

Slow your roll Speed Racer.

A dirty little secret that few people acknowledges about these programs is the amount of time these people have on their hands, the team of people they employ to make sure everything is perfect, and the drug regimens they follow.

Most bros out there aren’t blessed with hours every day they can devote to training, finding people to help tailor their diet perfectly to their needs, and the money necessary to fund a highly effective steroid cycle.

Does that diminish the hard work that bodybuilders or actors put themselves through? Hell no. No matter your steroid intake, you still have to work your ass off to get results.

Most bros don’t want to look like an overdeveloped gorilla who can’t wipe their ass. They just want to look good naked.

The quickest way for most guys out there to start getting the body they really want is start incorporating full body workouts into their routine. Using squat, deadlift, cleans, pressing, pulling, and burpee variations every time they hit the gym.

This sort of training has huge benefit to the average dude for a few reasons:

  • Training big compound lifts multiple times a week helps build more muscle by allowing you to use heavier weights, and cause a greater hormonal response thanks to the amount of muscle recruited. Heavier weights and greater hormonal response means more muscle growth, while keeping fat at bay.
  • You burn more calories during and after workouts thanks to the amount of muscle recruited to lift, and the excess oxygen you have to consume – which leads to something known as EPOC. EPOC basically means you consume far more oxygen than normal for hours after working out, which means burning more calories. If the workouts are effective enough you can burn more calories than normal for up to 24-48 hours after. That’s a shit ton (a real measurement) of extra calories burned.
  • Working muscles more times per week means more stimulation. More stimulation means more growth. Your chest doesn’t need 140 hours to recover between workouts. Instead start using barbells, dumbbells, push-ups, and fly variations throughout the week. Shit, do it every single day if you want a really good chest. Just work through different set, rep, and weight ranges.

There’s a well-known fitness icon out there who employed this style training early on in his career to pack on mass, and keep a lean physique. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Early in his career Arnold credited full body workouts for giving him the strength and size necessary to compete in powerlifting (which he did before bodybuilding), and still keep him lean enough to look so shredded everyone else thought it was unfair. Obviously Arnold juiced, but he wasn’t alone in the classic era of bodybuilding when using full body workouts. Many golden era physique legends employed full body workouts as their primary source of training.

Cardio is a lot like a condom. Everyone knows they need it, but it takes some of the fun away.

Free yourself from the shackles of the metaphorical condom. Start making lifting weights your cardio. Keep your regular condoms though. Don’t want to go catching a case of syphilis.

Full body workouts are basically your way to forget cardio in the traditional sense. A full body circuit workout that involves deadlifts, squats, burpees, and overhead presses with little rest will leave you feeling more gassed than an hour on the elliptical could ever hope to.

How does a bro implement this sage wisdom to get the body he wants by summer?

It’s easier than you think. Build 3 circuits per workout, 3 exercises in each circuit, and 3 rounds for each circuit.

Make one exercise of each circuit a pulling exercise, pressing exercise, and leg exercise. (That’s a general guideline to get a full body workout. The reality is you can do bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, and lateral raises and after three rounds still hate your life.)

Try to place the really taxing lifts towards the beginning. Those would be deadlifts, squats, cleans, overhead presses, etc. The ones that really involve heavy weights. Watch the weight though. More fatigue can mean form breaks down much quicker.

Then move on to dumbbell work for goblet squats, Romanian deadlifts, dumbbell presses, dumbbell rows, etc. If you’re vain like I am, incorporate direct ab work, curls, lateral raises and other vanity exercises in a few different circuits each week.

Towards the end of the workout try to make your last circuit involve some dynamic movements like burpees, use the battling ropes, box jumps, or sprints. This ensures you end the workout burning massive amounts of calories in as little time as possible.

Try to make sure you limit your rest to 60 seconds after each round, with little to no rest at all between exercises in the middle of a round. It’ll suck, but it’ll be oh so worth it.

Switching to this style training can be weird at first. You can’t use near the weight you’re probably used to, and you’ll be gassed by midway through the first circuit if you do it right. The reward is there though. You’ll start dropping fat like it’s your job, your endurance will go through the roof, and you’ll have a lean and athletic looking body. Which is far more aesthetically pleasing than having your lady come wipe your ass for you.

Tanner is a fitness professional and writer based in the metro Atlanta area. His training focus is helping normal people drop absurd amounts of fat, become strong like bull, and get in the best shape of their life.