Need help building a full body workout

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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:11 pm

Need help building a full body workout

Post by Ayabara » Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:16 am

I need some help to find a good full body workout. My goal is strength and and athletic body (I'm not trying to get as big as possible).

I work out at the gym 2 times a week. In addition I run or cycle 2 times a week. With "only" 2 days at the gym, my guess is that a full body workout is the way to go. The problem is as always that I do not know which exercises to choose. My big fear is that shoulders/biceps/triceps (or any other muscles) will be worked out less then they should, and because of this I alway end up with rather extensive full body workouts where I am dead tired when I have 2-3 excersises to go...

At the moment I have two full body routines with different excersises that I alternate. It works out ok, bu I feel that maybe I'm doing too many isolating excersises.

My current routine is this (hope I get the names right :-) )

Day 1:
DB incline benchpress 2-3 sets
Squats 2 sets
Straight leg deadlift 1 set
Front pulldown 2 sets
Seated row 2 sets
DB lateral raise 2 sets
Biceps 2 sets
Triceps 2 sets
"lower back raise on bench" 2 sets

Day 2:
Benchpress 2 sets
Deadlifts 2 sets
Close grip pulldown 2 sets
DB shoulderpress 2 sets
Leg curl 2 sets
Leg extension 2 sets
Biceps 2 sets
Triceps 2 sets
Situps 3 sets

All help is appreciated!

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Post by northernbelle » Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:54 am

Hi, I am currently doing full body, because I don't get to the gym regularly due to my work hours. If you can only get there twice a week, full body is the way to go. My goal right now is to maintain my past gains until this job is finished (few more weeks). I am female, so I don't expect to get real strong or bulk up.

But it does take time, so stick to compound exercises. That way the smaller muscles are worked in the larger movements. I'm not sure of how much strength you are looking for, but the smaller muscles do develop strength through compound movements. If you are looking for a high level of strength or mass, then your routine must change.

I do 6 exercises, 3-5 sets each depending on the day. Sometimes I will do a compound set for variety. I also rotate the exercises between low, medium and high intensity.

Upper: choice between flat bench and incline bench press (usually alternating, and alternating between dumbbells and barbells). These hit your arms and shoulders also. Sometimes I will throw in an isolation movement as a compound set (such as pullovers).

Upper back: choice between TBar rows, lat pulldowns, seated rows and bent over barbell rows. That way if a machine is busy, I can substitute. Besides I like all of them. These also work your arms and shoulders.

Legs: rotate between squats, lunges, and step ups; sometimes I will add in leg extensions and leg curls for variety.

Abs: the only isolation work I do; 2 exercises; choice between exercises targeting the upper and exercises targeting the lower; sometimes on the ball; sometimes on the decline bench; sometimes on the mat.

Lower back, erector spinae: choice between straight leg deadlifts, hyperextensions, a couple of pilate/yoga exercises.

If I'm doing really well that day and have time, I will throw in extra- biceps curls, triceps extensions, calf raises. But if I don't I won't worry about it.

You are doing 9 exercises per session, starting with compound movements. By the time you get to isolation work, your muscles should be tired. I would suggest that you drop the isolation, smaller muscle work and stick to the larger movements for a while to see how that works.

Hope this helps...

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Post by Ayabara » Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:35 am

Thanks for the reply.

I forgot to write in my post that the exercises are not listed in the order they are done. I try to do the compund movements last. ( or at least what I think is compound movements...)

I am not looking for a high level of mass, and I will take whatever strength I can get out of 2 days a week at the gym.

Do the upper and upper back really hit the shoulders enough that I can skip dedicated shoulder ex?

"lower back raise on bench" = hyperextensions :-)

What if I do the following:

Both days::
1 Chest 3, Bench, Incline bench
2 Upper back 3, Lat pulldown, seated rows, tbar rows.
3 Lower back 3, Hyperextension, deadlifts (??)
4 Legs 3, Squats, lunges, leg ext, leg curl for variety.
5 Abs 3

6 Shoulders 2, shoulder press / lateral raise
7 Biceps 2, DB curl

Day 2:
6 Triceps 2, pushdown, dips, triceps extension
7 Calves 2, Calf raise

If I do this I end up at 18 sets a day.

Hmm. Here I go again.. My head won't let me skip all arm and shoulder movements...


Post by JeffD » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:41 am

2 sets for biceps and triceps per week is just fine, if you were say into powerlifting or something i'd say do more for triceps but you're not. Biceps are worked on the rowing moves for are triceps worked on your benching.

Do the compound exercises first. As just a general rule of thumb, I'd follow this order:

1) Legs (excluding calves)
2) Chest
3) Back
4) Triceps
5) Shoulders (if you choose to do the lat raises..)
6) Biceps
8) Abs

You could flip flop the order of chest and legs if you want. Use longer rest periods on the first 3, and less on everything else to try and keep things around the one hour mark.


Post by JeffD » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:43 am

Oh when i say do the compound exercises first, i mean always do something like Deadlifts or Squats before you do any leg curls or extensions.

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Post by TimD » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:58 am

Hi Ayabara. I really think you should go back and read Northernbelle's reply, carefully. It's an excellent example of how to set up a full body routine, without cramming anything and everything in to any one session, and allows for limitless variety. Jeff's is good too.
To even further simplify it, you could also set it up by motions, i.e lower body, upper body push, upper body pull. Here is an example you could come up with using northern belles basic template
Day 1
Lower body quad dominant = choose from:
1. squats, lunges, step ups
2. Upper body push-horizontal plane-choose from the various angles of Bench Press, BB or DB
3. Upper body pull-horizontal plane- choose from rows, DB, B or T bar
4. Abs
5 and 6, choose some electives of your choice
Day 2
1. Lower body-ham/hip dominant-Deadlifts
2. Upper body push-vertical plane-choose from BB DB overhead presse
3. Upper body pull-vertical plane-chose from chins, pullups/lat pulls, arious grips and widths
4. Abs
5 and 6 same, but close grip bench presses would fit in nicely on this day for arms, without being too isolationist
This is just an example of setting up something that covers the whole spectrum without cramming to much into one session, and although the focus is a bit different, everything is still being worked on both days.
Tim It also allows for limitless variety, with lots of choices. Right now, you are not focusing in on any one lift, so a wide variety of moves might be in order. Just some ideas

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:56 am

I would drop curls and triceps work before I would part with dumbbell laterals. ...While front delts get hit pretty hard from benching and rear delts may get enough work from rows (depending on what type of rows you do), side delts recieve very little stimuli from chest and back work.

If you don't like laterals you can substitute upright rows. These will also work your upper traps.


Post by Guest » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:27 am

Oh when i say do the compound exercises first, i mean always do something like Deadlifts or Squats before you do any leg curls or extensions.
My english failed me a bit here... I do the compound ex first in the program I use today too.


Post by Guest » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:56 am

Hi Ayabara. I really think you should go back and read Northernbelle's reply, carefully.
I thought I did that, but maybe I did not understand everything as well as I thought I did :-) The suggestion I made in my second post was heavily inspired by Northernbelles post.

I really like your example with splitting it in motions. By focusing that way, many of the problems I have had setting up a program are solved. When it comes to the electives I think good choices could be: hyperextensions and DB lateral raises on day 1, and close grip bench presses (like you said) and biceps on day 2. At first I though the chest would get too little workout, but if I do close grip benchpress I think they will have to work on day 2 as well.

Matt Z: I like the laterals, and I have done them for a while because of what you say. Didn't feel like the side delts did much work unless I did them.

Thanks for all the input!!

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Post by northernbelle » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:04 pm

I had mentioned that I went to a full body routine for maintenance because my work hours are erratic right now. Since then I have increased the weights in 4 different exercises.

That's a bonus I wasn't expecting!



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