Full Body Workout Routine

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The Ultimate Full Body workout Routine

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A full body workout should do exactly what its title suggests; target the whole of the human body from top to bottom. There is no magic exercise that somehow works every muscle group at once, maximising the size of each muscle and improving strength and endurance along the way. Instead each muscle group should be targeted separately with specific exercises designed for this purpose.

Those who exercise regularly and are familiar with the concepts of weight resistance training are likely to follow a set workout routine. Typically these routines target specific muscle groups on particular days. The idea of a full body work out takes this idea of targeting specific groups and then merges it together.

There are numerous exercises for each muscle group and that is why those heavily involved with weight training can spend a full session working on just one muscle group, they will work their way through the various exercises. Full body work outs however tend to only include one or two exercise for each of the muscle groups before moving on to another.

Although some would argue that a full body workout doesn’t work each muscle group hard enough, what it does do is it targets a range of muscles throughout the session. Not ideal for those aiming to work a particular muscle group but perfect for anyone wanting to exercise a number of muscles in one session. People who are keen on fitness and do not train for a specific sport value full body work outs very highly.

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full body workout routine

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Pre Workout Notes

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Before beginning with your full body workout there are several key pieces of information which you should understand. This information will ensure that your exercise routine is both beneficial to you and your body and most importantly it is safe.

One of the most important aspects to consider is exercise frequency. Because of the demands of a full body workout and the strain it can put on your body it is important to treat rest days seriously. For some resting is considered cheating, the intensity of a full body workout however means ignoring rest can have a negative effect on the body, causing more harm than good.

Completing a full body workout two or three times a week is perfectly fine and recommended by most, however you must ensure than you do not train back to back. Twenty four hours is the minimum recommended rest time between full body work outs but to be sure your body has fully recovered it can be wise to increase this to 48 hours.

Besides planning several recovery days it is also wise to try and plan separate routines which can be used on a rota basis. Although the information included in the rest of this article will outline a variety of exercises for each muscle group it is advised that only one exercise is included per routine.

By devising a selection of full body work out programmes you can experience the variety of exercises, adding extra appeal to the routine as well as the obvious variety. It is recommended that before embarking on your first quest you sit down and plan the programme properly. Planning as you go along is not wise, you will find that your judgement will encourage you to choose the exercises you enjoy more, usually the easiest ones.

You should set aside only an hour for your workout, divide this by the number of muscle groups you wish to target, usually six or seven, and then choose your desired exercise for each. Knowing how much time you have available will help you decide how many sets and reps to plan for.

By only training for an hour and only performing one exercise per muscle group you can afford to train using the heaviest weights or resistance you can lift. With only a short time available to work each muscle group it would be naive to train using light weights, progress would be minimal. Increase the weight as much as you can, there is nothing to hold back for, you won’t be exercising that muscle group for at least another 24 hours and the conservation of energy can be kept to a minimum with the session only lasting an hour.

Having provided a range or hints and tips, the article now aims to outline the seven key muscle groups you should be looking to target. Information on all seven will be provided as well as at least two exercises per muscle group. Where possible the article will try and include exercise for those exercising in a gym as well as those at home.

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Shoulders (Deltoids)

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There are a number of simple exercises which can target the deltoid muscles. Some of these exercises are best suited to gym users, purely because they involve the use of equipment which most people are unlikely to have readily available at home.

Other exercises however use free weights such as dumbbells and barbells, ideal for those more used to exercising at home. Regardless of the equipment involved, all of the exercises included are perfect for working the shoulders and if employed correctly can be an integral part of a full body workout routine. The principle of exercising the deltoids is the same regardless of the equipment you use, the two exercises below portray this.

Shoulder Press- this exercise is very similar to the popular bench press exercise used to target the pectoral muscles of the chest. Like the bench press, this exercise is best for those working out in a gym or with gym equipment readily available. This exercise involves the use of a barbell, remember to stack the weight to the maximum you can lift.

Ideally you should be using a professional gym seat with two parallel vertical bars, fixed with safety catches. After stacking the barbell safely place it on the safety catches at a height which you can reach when seated. After taking your seat reach above your head and grab the barbell, keeping it resting on the catches still. Most barbells have markings on to show you where to put your hands.

When ready, grab the bar and lower it past your face, stopping once the bar is in line with your shoulders and your elbows are down by your side. To complete the rep stretches your arms once more so they are straight and locked at the elbow.

For a more intense shoulder press exercise try reclining the seat. Be careful however, the more reclined the seat becomes the more the exercise is likely to turn into a chest press rather than a shoulder press.

Barbell Military Press- in a positional sense this exercise is very similar to the shoulder press, as stated above the general movement of shoulder exercises tend to be very much the same. In contrast however this exercise is best suited to those with little equipment, possibly those who exercise at home rather than in a gym. Again this exercise involves a barbell; however the seated position is transferred to a standing position.

Grab the barbell so the knuckles on your hands are facing yourself and position the bar across your front in line with your shoulders. When in position raise the bar above your head, stretching the arms and locking your elbows. To complete a full rep return the bar to the position in line with your shoulders.

Before starting this exercise it may be wise to place the bar off the floor whilst adding the weight, a bar rack would obviously be ideal. This makes it easier to lift the bar into position before starting the exercise and placing it back once finished.

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Back (Trapezius/ Latissimus Dorsi)

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The two main muscles of the back are called the trapezius and the latissimus dorsi. Although not the most popular muscles to exercise in terms of body shape and body image, this pair should still be included in a full body work out.

Your back helps provide stability and if nothing else can assist with other exercises included in this article. With exercise in general putting a lot of strain on the back and the other core muscles such as the abdominals and the obliques it can be very important not to cause injury or a muscle imbalance. If you compare the size of your back to any other part of your body it becomes apparent why we need to strengthen its muscles.

Although exercising the trapezius and the latissimus dorsi concentrate on the upper back rather than the lower, their importance is still paramount. When exercised correctly over a period of time these muscles can help develop that much desired ‘V’ shape. In contrast the stability element of exercising your back can often come from exercises focused on the abdominal muscles.

To most this may seem unusual; however a large number of back and stability issues are a result of a weakened core. When this occurs the muscles around the core of the body are not able to cope with the stress of supporting the body, particularly during exercise, and they call on the muscles of the lower back to counteract this problem. This can cause back injury.

However, in terms of support and stability with the upper back it is important to exercise the trapezius and latissimus dorsi properly despite their lack of appearance in terms of body image. A selection of exercises have been included below and these are suitable for both gym goers and those who exercise at home.

Body Pull Up- this exercise is very much for those who have access to a gym, simply because of the equipment required. Although body pull ups can be performed without a machine the assistance provided by the machine is beneficial to most. After finding the pull up machine in your gym look carefully for the upper handles, picking the set that are the furthest apart. Stand on the platform provided whilst holding on to these handles, your body should now be in a ‘Y’ shape.

When comfortable begin to raise your body upwards by pulling on the handles, the platform will help with this by raising your feet. Once you have lifted your body enough so your chin is above the height of your hands and your arms are bent you should then lower your body towards the floor. You should now have completed one repetition.

Pullover- this exercise is not widely used but is very beneficial to those without gym access but with exercise equipment at home. Firstly stack up a barbell, remembering that heavy weights are more beneficial but not forgetting that you should still be able to lift the bar.

Next, lie on your back on an exercise bench with the barbell laid comfortably across your chest. When ready grip the barbell and raise it above your chest with your elbows locked and the bar in line with your nipples. From here move your arms behind your head and continue to do so until your inner arms brush past your ears. From here you should then return the weight to above your chest, remembering to lock your elbows. By this point you will have completed one repetition.

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Arms (Bicep/ Tricep)

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There are so many exercises out there which are designed to target the two main muscles groups of the upper arm, the bicep brachi and the tricep brachi. Although these two muscles are often grouped together they are of course separate muscles and therefore should be exercised individually.

For this reason the information below includes both a pair of exercises for the bicep brachi muscle group and a pair for the tricep brachi muscle group. For some this may seem excessive as the muscles are close to each other on the human body; however there is little point in doing a full body workout if you are going to miss muscle groups.

Again, similar to the deltoid section, a variety of different types of exercises have been included with the aim of appealing to those exercising both at home with little equipment and in a gym with a large range of exercise equipment.

Dumbbell Pull Back (Tricep)- this exercise can be performed both at home and at a gym. As its title suggests this exercise involves a dumbbell weight as well as an exercise bench. To perform the exercise place the shin of one leg flat on the surface of the bench whilst the other leg is planted on the floor at the side of the bench.

Lean forward so your back is horizontal and your hand is leant on the surface of the bench, this should be your right hand if it is your right shin which is on the bench and vice versa. In your other hand you should be holding your selected dumbbell. Start with the dumbbell facing the floor with your elbow at a 90 degree angle. Finally, use your elbow as a hinge as you swing it towards your rear until it is straight. Return the arm to the 90 degree angle to complete one rep. Remember this exercise can only work one tricep at a time so you will have to swap over at some point.

Triceps Dip (Tricep)- dips are commonly used by regular gym goers as a means of exercising their triceps. The equipment needed is very basic but sometimes hard to replicate at home so most may be best off visiting the gym for this one.

For a thorough tricep dip attach a weight belt around your waist before beginning the exercise. Once correctly equipped hold on to the two dip bars shoulder width apart with your feet on the floor. Once comfortable lock your arms at the elbow and bring your feet off the floor. Unlock your elbows and lower your body towards the floor, still keeping your feet off the ground. Once your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, stop and return to the locked position. Once you have completed this process you have completed one rep.

Bicep Curl (Bicep)- arguably one of the easiest exercises included in this article and also one of the most recognisable. The only equipment needed to perform a bicep curl is a barbell, for this reason they can be performed both at home and in a gym.

Although you are only going to be exercising one bicep at a time it is handy to start with two barbells, one in each hand. These barbells should be weighted evenly to avoid a muscle imbalance. In a standing position hold the barbells by your side with the bar in a horizontal position. Using one arm at a time, raise the dumbbell towards your upper body and head region. Once your upper arm is parallel with the floor stop and place it by your side once more. Repeat this action with the other arm and continue to do so on an alternating basis.

Chin Ups (Bicep)- again these are very similar to the tricep dips in the way gym equipment is generally needed but some people may be able to replicate the action in their own home. Firstly reach for the higher handles on the same apparatus you used for the dips, these handles are likely to overhang rather than be fixed to the outside of the frame.

Once the handles have been located and reached the action is fairly simple. Use your biceps to lift your body towards the handles you are holding. Once your elbow joint creates a 90 degree angle you should stop and lower your body to its original position. Try not to let your feet touch the floor between repetitions.

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Chest (Pectorals)

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The pectoral muscles are well known and many choose to exercise these muscles separately as well as including them in a full body workout programme. Chest exercises are beneficial to both males and females and should be a vital part of any full body workout regime.

As well as the popular chest press barbell exercise there are other free weight pectoral exercises such as dumbbell flys, as well as specific exercise equipment used to target the chest area. Despite there being a lot of variety in terms of exercises, many of the machine based drills can easily be replicated using free weights.

Two pectoral exercises have been identified below. One is designed for gym users and includes equipment which you are unlikely to have at how. The other however has been included especially for those wanting to complete their full body workout at home.

Dumbbell Fly- firstly you should select the weight of dumbbell you wish to exercise with, choosing two of the same weight, one for each hand. With the aid of an exercise bench lie on your back with your lower legs and feet over hanging the edge of the bench, your feet should be flat on the floor. With a dumbbell in each hand put both clenched fists together over the top of your chest, there should be around a 20 inch distance between your fists and your chest. Bend your elbows slightly so it looks as though you are hugging a barrel.

Next, move both fists away from each other stretching the pectoral muscles until your hands are in line with the surface of the bench. To complete a single repetition return the fists to the ‘hugging barrel’ position. To make this exercise more intense you could choose to recline the bench, this makes sure your pectorals not only have to work against the resistance of the dumbbells but gravity also.

Bench Press- it can be difficult to perform bench press exercises anywhere but a gym because of the room and holding equipment which is required.

The bench press uses a barbell in an attempt to work the pectoral  muscles. When performing a bench press exercise you should be laid flat on your back with plenty of space either side of your body, the platform you are lay on should preferably be raised from the ground. The machines in gyms already have the bench raised.

From here you lay your weighted barbell across your chest, in line with your nipples. You then grab the bar at both ends with the knuckles of both hands facing downwards so you can see them. At this point your arms should be bent.

To finish the bench press exercise you then push the bar upwards, extending your arms into a straight locked position. You then unlock your arms at the elbow as you slowly lower the bar towards your body once more.

Bench press areas in gyms are likely to have safety bars on which you can rest the barbell before exercising as opposed to resting it on your chest. This can also be used to rest the barbell on mid- cycle if you feel you are unable to lift the weight anymore.

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Stomach (Abdominals)

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The abdominal muscles receive a great deal of publicity, particularly the term ‘six pack’. Similar to the pectorals, a lot of people choose to exercise their abdominal muscles separately in addition to exercising them as part of a full body workout programme. The benefits of a strong abdomen and a stable core were underlined in the back section of this article.

The majority of abdominal exercises are done without equipment, the most popular of course being the sit- up. However there are abdomen machines out there and these can be found in most gyms. Similar to the pectoral exercises, these machines seem to use the same techniques as exercising without equipment except they use weights for resistance rather than body weight.

Whether it is a gym exercise or a home exercise you are looking for the information below should prove to be very handy. Abdominal exercises are an integral part of any full body workout and it is important to include one of the exercises outlined below.

Sit Up- everyone should be familiar with the concept of a sit up, these along with push ups are probably the most basic of fitness exercises. Sit ups are used regularly in the military and are generally a great way of measuring fitness levels.

Although many people choose to do sit ups in a gym environment they can actually be performed anywhere, perfect for those hoping to complete their full body workout in the comfort of their own home.

For those of you unfamiliar with sit ups, here goes. Firstly, lie on your back on a flat surface before shuffling your feet towards your bum, causing your legs to bend at the knee. Stop shuffling your feet when they are around one foot away from your bum, this is the starting position. From here you should place your hands palm down on your thighs before using your stomach muscles to naturally raise your hands up your legs and over the top of the knee caps.

To finish off a sit up you should then slowing let your hands slide back down your legs as your upper body moves closer to the ground once again. Rather than put their hands on their knees some people choose to put them behind their head or by their sides, all are fine as long as the action is correct. It is important however not to add any weight onto the feet, this may make the exercise easier but can also cause ankle trouble whilst benefitting the abdominals very little.

Push Crunch- this exercise is certainly best suited to those with access to a gym, unless some of you have some professional gym equipment locked away somewhere. Firstly you will require two evenly weighted dumbbells and a severely reclined exercise bench complete with a foot rest.

You should look to lie on the bench with your head at the end nearest the floor and with your feet hooked under the foot rest at the raised end of the bench. At first this may feel a little weird as the blood is likely to rush to your head however it will all be worth it in the end.

Next you must pick up your dumbbells, one in each hand and begin to hold them straight above your chest with your arms straight and locked at the elbow. Try at all times to keep your hands at shoulder width distance whilst aiming to extend your arms an extra 12 inches; in turn this will lift your upper body towards your core. Once achieved you may relax and allow your upper body to lower towards the bench once more and you will have then completed one push crunch.

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Upper Legs (Quadriceps)

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Lower body exercises are often forgotten about by those who exercise regularly but all the same it is necessary to include them in a full body workout, otherwise the title would then become ‘upper body workout’.

Those who do a lot of running or running based sports are likely to have naturally toned legs, both upper and lower, this is also the case with cyclists. If this is the case you should still try and exercise them just the same. Remember it is recommended that a full body work out you push your muscle groups to the maximum, for those described above, this should mean increasing weights to an unusually severe amount.

List all the muscle groups identified in this article, there are some quadriceps exercises which involve gym equipment and some which involve free weights instead. Examples of both have been included below and these are for the benefit for those with access to a gym as well as those who wish to exercise at home.

Front Squat- this exercise is best suited to a gym or somewhere that has barbell safety racks. Some of you may have these at home in which case there is no harm in you including front squats as part of your home based full body workout. Those of you without however may want to try the walking lunge instead.

Firstly you must stand upright against the barbell rack and mark the height at which your shoulders measure, it is here that you want to rest your bar before stacking it up with weight. When this has been done you should stand facing the rack with the bar resting on your shoulders, in front of your body under your neck. It is important that this is all done whilst the bar is still resting on the rack.

Next you should cross your arms across your front, grabbing the bar on the opposite shoulder, at this point you should feel as though the bar is steady enough to lift off the rack, if it is not the reduce the weight before continuing.

Once comfortable step forward with the bar in position and lower your upper body towards the floor bending your knees as far as they will go. Once your upper body is as low as possible use the power in your quadriceps to raise your upper body into an upright position once again. Once back in the upright position you have completed one repetition.

Walking Lunge- in comparison to the front squat the walking lunge is much easier to perform for those without gym access. Although this exercise does require a large area of space it does not require much in the way of equipment.

Stack up a barbell with your desired amount of weight before resting on your shoulders behind your head, holding the bar at both ends to create two ‘V’ shapes with your elbow joints. Once comfortable with this position you should then aim to walk around in the area available to you, lunging every other step.

To lunge you should aim to keep one leg straight with the foot planted on the floor whilst the other is bent with the knee and shin touching the floor. Lunges are designed to be dynamic stretches which only last for a couple of seconds.

So once you have lunged with one leg you should then return this leg back to a standing position before lunging with the other leg.

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Lower Legs (Calves)

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Often the forgotten muscle group of a full body workout, the calves are the final piece of the jigsaw. Many people wrongly choose to ignore the calf muscles as they concentrate on the upper body, however this defeats the object of taking part in a full body workout exercise programme.

The calves are at the back of the lower leg and as mentioned previously, those who do a lot of running and those who play sports which involve a lot of running tend to have very prominent calf muscles. Exercising these muscles tends not to be as strenuous as upper body muscles simply because we use them on a daily basis anyway without even realising. Walking for example exercises the calf muscles.

A selection of calf exercises have been included below, these have been picked to benefit both those exercising at home and those using equipment at a gym. All exercises are beneficial and should be included in order to add the final piece to the full body workout jigsaw.

Calf Raise- stack a barbell to the weight of your choice and rest it behind your head, across your shoulders. You should still have hold of the bar to stop it rolling from your shoulders, to do this your arms are likely to be in a ‘V’ shaped position.

Once comfortable shift your body weight to the tips of your toes and begin to raise your body and the barbell by standing on your tip toes. To complete one repetition lower your body once more, shifting your body weight across the whole of your foot once more. For an extra challenge you may wish to stand on a raised step with the front of both feet on the stop and the back over hanging the edge.

Calf Press- for this exercise a machine is required so it is therefore better to perform the calf press in a gym rather than at home. When exercising using the calf press machine you are required to sit in the seat attached to the machine with your feet flat against the weighted plate. The seats usually recline so be sure to find a position that suits you best.

Once seated in the machine attach the weight which you wish to work against and begin to push the weighted plate with your feet. As you push the plate you are likely to find that the bar on which the weight is attached to will move towards your calves and your knees will become locked. To return to the starting position and complete one repetition, unlock your knees and lower the weight towards yourself once more.

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