The trend in bodybuilding over the past many years has been to train one body part at a time, once a week. While this protocol can be very effective, it often can lead to overtraining and it requires a heavy commitment of time. If you find yourself too busy to make it to the gym 5-6 times per week or you feel that your body is overtrained and you need a refreshing change, the total body workout may be just the thing you need.
At first you may wonder how you can ever work your whole body in one workout. After all, most people are so accustomed to performing 4-5 exercises per body part for around 12-20 sets that they cannot imagine properly training a body part with anything less. This mindset must be opened up. In working your whole body in one workout, you will be performing only 1-2 exercises and 4-6 sets per body part. However, the training frequency will be 3 times per week.
The total body workout involves a focus on basic, multi-joint movements. These exercises stimulate the most response from the body in terms of not only the muscle fibres recruited, but also in the release of the necessary hormones to promote muscular growth. Also, working all major muscle groups in one session will have a synergistic effect on your body’s response to the training session. In short, your body should respond well to this type of training, especially if it is a drastic change from what you have been currently doing.
The key is to keep the training sessions relatively short (less than one hour) and intense. Work the large muscle groups first (legs, chest, and back) and then the smaller muscle groups (shoulders and arms). By focusing on basic, compound movements you will provide your body with the maximum recruitment of muscle fibres in the shortest amount of time. For example, when you train chest with bench or incline presses, you are also recruiting heavy work from the shoulders (especially the front deltoids) and triceps. This is efficient training. Combined with sufficient intensity, it will create really good results.
With this program, leg training simply cannot be neglected. The simple old-fashioned barbell squat is the best bodybuilding exercise, period. Regular intense squats performed in good form will stimulate muscular growth over your whole body. As a matter of fact, most individuals would benefit from a routine focused on just squats, deadlifts, bench, bentover rows, and chins. These exercises work because they stimulate muscle growth. These are what the old-time greats focused on. So do them.
Here are the exercises recommended for the Total Body Workout:
Quads: Squats, Leg Press, Hack Squats
Chest: Bench press, Incline press, dips (presses may be performed with dumbbells or barbells)
Back: Deadlifts, Chins, Pulldowns, Bentover Rows, T-Bar Rows
For a sample workout, simply choose 1-2 of these basic movements for each body part and perform no greater than 6 sets. For example, a workout could consist of squats for 5×5, bench press for 3×8, incline press for 3×8, chins for 3×10 and bentover rows for 3×8. You get the idea? It’s pretty straightforward. By the way, a 5×5 or 3×8 protocols works really well for the total body workout.
You can follow these basic movements with the following isolation exercises:
Hamstrings: Lying or seated ham curls
Calves: Seated or standing calf raises
Shoulders: Shoulder Press (dumbbell or barbell), lateral or front raises
Arms: Dumbell or preacher curls, lying triceps extension, triceps pushdowns
For the routine, simply choose 2-3 of these muscle groups and perform 2-3 sets of your favourite isolation exercise. The next workout, do the other 2-3 muscle groups. For example, if you did shoulders and arms one workout (at the end of your legs, chest, back routine) do hams, calves and abs the next workout.
The total body workout should be performed 3 times per week on alternate days. A Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine works well and it leaves the weekends free for you weekend warriors. The important thing is to remember never to do the same exercise twice in a row. So if you did squats, barbell bench and chins and barbell rows on Monday, change it to leg press, dumbbell incline press, pulldowns and deadlifts on Wednesday. This is an easy routine to follow.
If you are looking to get maximum results with limited time, this routine rocks! If you are looking for a change or something new to stimulate new growth and strength, the total body workout could be just the ticket. Give it a try – you may just love it! Now get to the gym and train with intensity!