Total Body Workout Routine And How To Set Up Workouts

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Total Body Workout Routine And How To Set Up Workouts

There are many different workout routines you can do, and as long as they are set up correctly and followed, they will work. But, out of those workouts, a few stand out as being better, more popular, and proven to work more than others.

The total body workout is definitely one of those workouts! Aside from the total body workout being one of the most tried and true workout routines in existence, there’s a few other reasons that people are drawn to it.

Here are the first 3:

  • For beginners, full body training is the most effective way to train.
  • If you can only find time to workout 3 days per week, then 3 full body workouts is one of the most often effective way to do it.
  • It’s high frequency so the routine has you hitting each body part up to 3 times per week.

This method of training works. Assuming you set it up and plan it out properly of course. So, let’s start building your workout.

How Often Should You Do A Total Body Workout?

With most other workouts, you are breaking things up in terms of body parts. Maybe a 3 day split of chest, shoulders and triceps one day, legs another, and back and biceps on the third.

Maybe a 4 day split of chest and triceps one day, back and biceps another, legs a different day, and shoulders on the last. Or even a 2 day upper and lower split where you hit your upper body one day, and your lower body the next.

Whatever it is, your workouts are split up in terms of body parts and muscle groups. With full body training however, you’re hitting everything all at once, all in the same workout.

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For this reason, you should do no more than 3 total body workouts per week, with at least 1 day of rest in between each workout. For example:

Monday: Total Body Workout
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Total Body Workout
Thursday: Off
Friday: Total Body Workout
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

This is the most common split for full body training. The days of the week you choose to train are up to you as long as you keep the basic structure the same.

3 total body workouts per week with 1 day off in between them, alongside choose the right exercises, the correct volume (sets and reps), and then set the 3 workouts up properly

This split will allow for enough rest and recovery for consistent progress to be made.

For those of you who can only find time to workout twice per week, you would have a schedule like this:

Monday: Total Body Workout
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Total Body Workout
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

This is the most effective way to train when you can only manage to fit in 2 workouts per week.

How To Set Up A Total Body Workout Routine:

When it comes to setting up a full body workout, there are 2 main guidelines to follow:

  1. The workout should hit most of your body either directly or indirectly.
  2. You must make that first guideline happen with not many total sets per muscle group.

The reason for this is for recovery. A total body workout routine has you hitting just about everything in every workout, and because you are typically doing this workout 3 times per week with only 1 day (sometimes 2) off in between, you need to keep the volume low to compensate and still allow for adequate recovery.

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In most cases you’ll only need 1 exercise per muscle group, doing between 1-5 sets of between 5-12 reps for that exercise. The more reps you do per set, the fewer sets you need. The less reps you do per set, the more sets you need.

More often than not, the bulk of your volume per workout should be dedicated to the more important compound exercises (bench press, rows, squats, etc.), with only a small amount of work being done for the isolation exercises.

The first thing you want to plan, is if you will be doing the same workout 3 times per week, or if you will be doing 3 different workouts over the course of those 3 days. Either option is perfectly fine, but there’s a 3rd option here:

An alternating ABA BAB format. This means you put together 2 total body workouts. Nickname the first one “A” and nickname the second one “B.” And, just alternate between them every workout. Here’s what that would look like:

Monday: Workout A
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Workout B
Thursday: Off
Friday: Workout A
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

And the next week:

Monday: Workout B
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Workout A
Thursday: Off
Friday: Workout B
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

This ABA, BAB format is a popular way of doing it, so that’s how I’ll be doing it throughout the rest of this article.

It’s time to put together an A and a B workout and select what exercises each will contain. In the most basic sense, full body training requires a minimum of 3 exercises:

  • A push exercise (a chest or shoulder exercise).
  • A pull exercise (a back exercise like a row or a pull-up/lat pull down).
  • A leg exercise (like a squat or deadlift).
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For example…

Workout A:

  • Squats
  • Bench Press
  • Seated Cable Rows

Workout B:

  • Deadlifts
  • Shoulder Press
  • Pull-ups (or Lat Pull-downs)

If you happen to be a beginner, this is the ideal programme for you.

If you’re wondering where the arm exercises are, you will notice that all push exercises (bench press, shoulder press, etc.) hit your triceps, and all pull exercises (rows and pull-ups/pull-downs) hit your biceps.

If you are past the beginner stage, you most likely want and sometimes need, to add a bit more to this basic setup. For example, some direct work (rather than secondary work) for your biceps, triceps, calves and abs. Here’s how to do this:

Workout A:
Squats
Bench Press
Seated Cable Rows
Triceps Press-downs
Calf Raises

Workout B:

  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Shoulder Press
  • Pull-ups (or Lat Pull-downs)
  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Weighted Crunches

This is a basic and effective total body workout routine for those of you who will be doing 3 workouts per week.

However, if you are one of those people who can only train 2 times per week, you will need to add a little more to each workout. For example:

Workout A:

  • Squats
  • Leg Curls
  • Bench Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Shoulder Press
  • Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-downs)
  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Weighted Crunches

Workout B:

  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Leg Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-downs)
  • Bench Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Triceps Press-downs
  • Calf Raises

This would only be for if you could only train twice per week (these would be the only 2 workouts you’d do all week), and you’d have to keep the sets per exercise low to keep each workout to a beneficial length.

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