Here’s a great full body workout routine for those of you just starting out hitting the gym and getting into weight training. This is what I used when I started out and I can tell you it really works. I didn’t put this workout routine together, I got it from a friend so i don’t know it originated, but its one of the better full body workout routines that I have come across so give it a go and see if it works for you.
General warm up, going gently through the full range of motion of every limb at every angle then some light lifting such as an empty bar, perhaps just a couple of pounds on it, for each exercise you are going to do. Just remember that if this is the first time you’re doing this, go easy on the weights or you’re going to feel some serious soreness the next day.
Compound – Start with some squats, either in a full machine or forward-step squats with a heavy weight in each hand. Later you’ll be lying or sitting down, so turn those thighs to jelly.
Bench press – go for a wide grip (some people can’t find this in the software, it’s at the bottom of the list, ironically to make it easier to find…) Because this is a heavy exercise you can go for 3 sets, starting with a light weight OR finishing with a light weight. Personally I prefer a good warm up, going heavy and then perhaps a 3rd set with a lighter weight, to ensure “assistance” muscle fibers have been hit, i.e. the little ones that keep you going when you’re wobbling.
OK, now you can “rest” with an isolation exercise, the much loved bicep curl. There are variations, with the classic “concentration curl”, using a barbell, alternative hands in a cycling motion, the preacher curling bar etc. As you are deliberately getting your breath back, go for one arm at a time, keep it simple and just aim for a large weight to fatigue, then immediately swap arms.
Quick tip – lift with your left arm first. Why? Because part of your strength is the power of the nerve signal, a power which will begin to fade as the workout progresses. So use that extra power on your weaker left arm for a more pleasing and balanced look (or if you’re left-handed, the other way round).
For strength, rest a minute before starting again but we’re not going for strength alone, we want growth, right? So don’t rest, as soon as you finish your right arm, swap to the left again, then the
final swap and that’s your 2 bicep sets done. You can rest a little but keep it to 30 seconds between twin-sets (I say twin sets as you are doing a set per arm) if you find the 2nd set is really feeble such as only 3 reps.
Quick tip – if your main aim is to develop bulk rather than shape to your bicep, use the hammer curl, which means holding the weight with the bar vertical, the weights above and below your hand. This hits the base of the bicep rather than the crown. Less round ball but more overall bulk to your arm.
Your chest has recovered a bit, so have your triceps so now we’re going to hit them both again but a completely different exercise.
Chest-flies - there are machines in most gyms for this but it is best done on a bench or a mat on the floor. In simple terms you lay yourself down on your back and raise a reasonably light weight in each hand up straight ahead. Then lower each to the side, going low, not necessarily touching the floor but do make an effort to go low. I prefer to do this exercise on a mat as in the event of giving up completely you can easily drop or lower the weight, not so easy with your arms bending backwards behind you on a bench! I suspect this is why people tend to use machines but even in a well equipped gym I’ll go for the floor if possible.
Raise them smoothly again to the middle, don’t clang together, or you’ll risk bits of enamel in your eye, and lower again. This hits the main chest muscles (“pecs”) but works them much more than the bench press. In the press they are just stabilizing, even with a wide grip but have already been worked so you avoid the all too common injury with this exercise. In fairness most injuries occur while using machines, as the movement is not a natural arm swing. By doing this exercise after the bench press you will naturally go for a fairly light weight and you’re using warmed-up muscle, so concentrate more on technique than sheer weight mass.
Go low, go slow and don’t be scared of fairly high reps such as 16 or so, this is NOT a good exercise to go heavy from cold! If you have ever had a rotor cuff injury you’ll know why and heavy weight is the primary cause, as you’ll revert to a rotation motion as you lose control. This is another reason why machines cause most of the injuries, as people overload the weight thinking because they can’t drop it or bend the arms backwards, there’s no danger.
Your pecs are very strong and you may find your tired triceps want to give up before your pecs but a weight heavy enough to strain your pecs is too heavy – hence the bench-press first. Any weight light enough to lift AFTER the bench-press is light enough but if you keep it low and slow you’ll soon be the proud owner of a well muscled chest with good definition.
Belly-buster - see the link from earlier or perhaps go for a raise up bench or just conventional crunches, but now is a good time to hit your abs. Do 2 sets, with a 30 second break. If using a bench
raised up, twist your torso on the way up for good definition.
Shoulder raise - take a good look at your shoulder, feel it and decide where you most need bulking. Most men will benefit more from a side shoulder raise than frontal, as it will improve the shape and definition better. However if your shoulders look a bit on the weedy side, front raises will add bulk faster.
You already hit the front of your shoulders with the bench-press though, so I’d strongly recommend the sides anyway. Yes, at first it will feel like real hard work and you will be surprised at how little strength you have. All the more reason to do them and just use a fairly light weight.
The overhead press, sometimes called the military press, is a great exercise in its own right but you’ve already tired your triceps and we’re aiming at the shoulder only. As soon as you cannot lift level to your shoulder, stop, rest, start again with fresh muscles. These little muscles strain easily in the early days so light weight, high reps, until you’ve toughened up a bit before really straining at the big stuff.
Pull-downs – one of the rare times I like using a machine. For this go for a narrow grip touching hands and concentrate on your torso, not your arms, doing the pulling. By this I mean the “V” shape muscles down your back and side. You’ll naturally try to use your stomach muscles to help – but we just hammered them with the belly buster ;o)
Don’t worry about a great range of movement, pulling “with your elbows” (not literally, just bring your elbows down to raise the weight instead of pulling at it with your biceps or triceps). The aim is to get your BACK doing all the work rather than your arms.
If you don’t have access to a pull-down machine the bent over row, done to work your back, is a substitute but better still is the opposite-sounding but almost identical exercise, the pull-up. I’ll talk more about pull-ups later.
OK, including the abs we’ve done 7 exercises, so you only have one left in your ‘budget’, though 6 exercises is plenty and a 7th is very much an optional extra IF you’re keeping the session well in-side an hour. We’ve hit the front and back of your arms, your thighs, your chest, your back, your abs and your shoulders.
So what’s next? For the final exercise pick an isolation move that will target a weak area. For me it’s forearm/wrist curls, in order to deliberately hammer my forearms and grip while already tired. If you have suitable equipment hamstrings and glutes are a good choice, perhaps calves.
Quick tip – calves are surprisingly hard to grow and if you DO hammer then hard enough to make a difference then walking the next day can be comical! For competition this is a weak area for most and you’ll blow the judges away with well defined ‘diamonds’. If you’re not into competition I’d say go for the glutes (butt)in-stead, as I’ve never heard either sex say “Check out (his or her) calves”! Forearms are also hard to grow which is why I hammer mine at the end of the session when they are already tired.
The above is a pretty basic, simple workout but notice that some thought went into it and you hit pretty much your entire body. For later you can add more refinement, move towards a split routine or more exotic moves such as the “Arnold Press” and other such stuff.
For now we’re building up your overall physique and toughening up your ligaments, getting you into good habits etc.
Combine the above workout with careful monitoring, good nutrition good technique and stick at it 2 or 3 times a week and I can GUARANTEE you will have a more muscular and shapely physique in just a few weeks.
Here’s a recap:
Squats or lunges
Side Shoulder Raises
The important bit is not to necessarily follow that exact routine but to understand the principles at work – start big, “rest” with an isolation exercise or two, hit your abs around midway through the session, finish with exercises on muscles that haven’t been worked yet, keep the whole thing under an hour. Simple enough and if you keep any routine you design within those guidelines you can’t go far wrong.
Since I don’t know who or where this full body workout came from I can’t really give credit, but if this is your workout, please let me know and I will mention it here.