With so many training splits available, you would assume the one Pro Bodybuilders use is the best right? That means training one, two, or maybe three muscles per day.
Buy, maybe you’re strapped for time. Maybe your recovery ability will only allow 3 training sessions per week.
Can you still get ripped? Of course, you can! Keep reading to find out how.
What are Full Body Workouts?
Training is one of the most important things you can do to get ripped. The reason is, that you need to give the body a reason to retain muscle mass.
If you were to not train, and diet, your body would use both muscle mass and fat mass as energy. Obviously, we want to retain as much muscle mass as possible.
This means training – in any way shape or form. It doesn’t matter if it’s CrossFit or bodybuilding, as long as you use resistance, you’re golden.
You have to strike a good balance between:
- Volume (the total amount of work you’re doing per training session or per week)
- Intensity (how hard the training is [usually measured with resistance])
- Frequency (how often you train)
With a full-body training protocol, your frequency will be high compared to other training protocols which will only allow you to train a muscle once or twice per week.
A higher frequency means you will have to have to lower your volume per session, otherwise, you won’t be able to recover.
With lower volume per session, your intensity can be sky-high because you have time to recover in and in between the session.
This means you can train every other day, with 2-3 sets per muscle group, using a healthy amount of weight.
The people who are going to benefit from a full-body workout are typically those that are limited in time. If you can only sacrifice a few hours per week, or 45 mins per day even, a full-body workout will still provide you with enough stimulus to actually progress.
To get exceptionally lean though, you need to master a few more things than just training:
To keep yourself in a caloric deficit (to maintain leanness) you will ideally incorporate some sort of cardio. This will not only help manage your caloric intake but will also be healthy in regards to your cardiovascular systems.
Simple thermodynamics dictates that in order for there to be less of you (less fat), you need to provide less matter in the form of food. This means, in diet terms, that you need to eat in a caloric deficit.
Make sure you keep your protein intake high to maintain muscle, at least 1g per lb of body weight. Protein is going to allow you to retain as much muscle mass as possible, and there is evidence that shows protein is unlikely to turn into fat.
We have already established that following a full-body training plan will require you to follow a higher frequency, higher intensity training style. This means lower volume, but also means every day is a day you need to focus on recovery.
That means managing stress if you can and getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Without the right amount of recovery, you run a great risk of actually suffering from muscle wastage and possible injury.
There are, of course, certain supplements you can take to help you in this endeavor. We’ve already looked at the science, and the following has evidence supporting their usage:
- Protein powders (whey, casein, isolate, etc): Protein powders are one of the few supplements that have a tremendous amount of research backing them. They provide the body with high quality and fast-absorbing protein. This means not only will the muscles have easy access to amino acids, but they will be readily available after a workout.
- Creatine: Creatine is a natural supplement that will increase the ATP storage and replenishment rate in the body. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is the primary source of fuel for high-intensity activity – such as lifting heavy loads, as you should do with a full-body training plan. Having greater storage and replenishment for ATP means you can lift longer, harder, and more. Creatine has been linked to increased muscle mass, muscle endurance, and recovery.
- Pre-workouts: Pre-workouts could help you increase your performance while in the gym. Make sure your cardiovascular health is good enough to take one, and choose one that has ingredients for energy, focus, and pump.
How to Structure a Full Body Workout Plan
So now that we understand how to live your entire life besides actually lifting, let us get into the nitty-gritty about how to actually design your plan to get ripped!
Step 1 – Decide Your Goal
The goal is exceptionally important, and will actually play a role in designing your program. You have two goal options, either looking to gain mass or lose fat.
Someone who is looking to gain mass will typically have more leeway in terms of recovery capabilities. This means they can follow slightly higher training volumes before fatigue and cortisol become crashing down.
For these intents and purposes, we’re going to stick to getting shredded. That means you will not have the greatest wiggle room, and you will have to be on top of nutrition and training at all times.
Step 2 – Establish Your Recovery Rate
This is very important as missing your recovery rate will leave you feeling fatigued, and weak, and could even lead to injury. An important thing to remember is that certain body parts could have different recovery rates simply based on how your genetic profile is set up – we do some similarities between most people, however:
- Chest, Shoulders: Don’t take a massive amount of time to recover unless you become exceptionally strong
- Legs: Can take a very long time to recover due to their size
- Back: Another muscle group that can take longer to recover because it is simply so large
- Arms: Typically recover very quickly, unless again, you are incredibly strong
By using your own knowledge about your own recovery rates, you can dictate which muscles will need a few more sets per session, and which ones will require less.
Step 3 – Design
Finally, we come to actually designing the protocol! Let’s do a quick recap of what we want:
- Training every other day
- High Intensity
- Low volume (per session)
- Enough rest time to allow for high intensity
You will have two training days, A and B. You will alternate between these two, so A B A B, and so forth. Let’s look at a mock design of training B:
- Quad Movement: Heel Elevated Squats – 2 Sets
- Hamstring Movement: Seated Leg Curl – 2 – 3 Sets
- Glute Movement – Romanian Deadlift – 2 Sets
- Lat Movement – Underhand Grip Pulldown – 2 – 3 Sets
- Upper Back Movement – Chest Supported Rows – 2 Sets
- Chest Movement – Incline Barbell Press – 2 – 3 Sets
- Shoulder Movement – Cable Lateral Raise – 2 Sets
- Bicep Movement – Dumbbell Curls – 2 – 3 Sets
- Tricep Movement – Single Arm Tricep Pushdown – 2 -3 Sets
- Abs Movement – Leg Raises – 3 Sets
So in total, you’re looking at 20 sets per session. This might seem high, but it is spread across all the muscles in the body. You can shift these around as you like, as there is no real pattern to follow with them.
You will choose similar yet different movements for training day B:
- Quad Movement: Leg Press – 2 Sets
- Hamstring Movement: Lying Leg Curl – 2 – 3 Sets
- Glute Movement – Glute Hyperextension – 2 Sets
- Lat Movement – Wide Grip Pulldown – 2 – 3 Sets
- Upper Back Movement – Inverted Rows – 2 Sets
- Chest Movement – Bench Press – 2 – 3 Sets
- Shoulder Movement – Overhead Dumbell Press – 2 Sets
- Bicep Movement – Barbell Curls – 2 – 3 Sets
- Tricep Movement – Rope Tricep Pushdown – 2 -3 Sets
- Abs Movement – Planking – 3 Sets
So now you have two different days, and over the course of a few months, you will try to get as strong as you possibly can with these movements. Whilst doing this you need to try to slowly decrease your calories and increase cardio.
This combination will allow for the greatest ability to keep hold of muscle tissue whilst losing body fat.
You can make a decision based on your current lifestyle as to how you would ideally schedule these plans. Alternating between the two is a given, but how many days per week are you going to train?
The “best” would be 7 times across 2 weeks, but three times per week (Mon-Wed Fri) is perfectly acceptable.
Just remember, to get absolutely ripped you will need to combine this lifting with a good diet that is not only lower than maintenance in calories but also high in protein. You can also throw in some cardio to make it a bit easier on yourself.
To stay ripped you really need to live the lifestyle. It will require a great amount of effort towards actually getting there, and even more to maintain it.
The reason for this is that it’s simply not natural – the body is not meant to be that lean. It is not healthy to stay sub 8% body fat year long.
3 Full Body Pros
- You get to train really often: This is the perfect plan for someone who loves training a lot and likes training hard. You don’t need to train 7 times over 14 days, you can get by with 3 sessions a week perfectly fine
- This can potentially be perfect for a beginner: Due to hormonal response, newbies and people coming back from injury tend to recover a whole lot faster than others. This means you can get dirty strong and shredded using this higher intensity, higher frequency training plan
- Less training time: If you are someone who only has 45 minutes to an hour per day to give, or you might only be able to train on certain days during the week, this could fit your schedule perfectly
- Allows for greater recovery: Because the volume per session, and per week, can be very low, there is a lot of time for the muscles to recover. Rest days can be utilized for cardio and soft tissue work to make sure you stay in a deficit but also recover optimally for your next weight session.
3 Full Body Cons
- Some people find it boring: Due to the very nature of training everything every time you enter the gym, some people will find this tedious and get bored easily. For those, focussing on certain muscles per session might be better
- It is not optimal for experienced lifters: As you become more experienced, stronger, and better at lifting, you will need more and more stimulus per session to elicit change. This means that two or three sets per muscle may simply no longer be enough. Those individuals might need a higher volume approach
Full Body Workouts Conclusion
You have to lift in a style that suits not only your mind but your schedule as well. Some professional athletes are very eager to recommend the full training plan schedule seeing as it can yield excellent results for the correct individuals.
It is entirely possible to get shredded to the bone whilst using this training plan – in fact, some might say the extra recovery time allows for the greatest chance of muscle retention.
If you’re keen to try something new, or if you are time-limited, give full-body training a try. Make use of the template we designed, choose movements you like doing and will yield results and get really, really strong. And remember – more protein is almost always better.