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Best Full Body Workouts For Fitness Conditioning

Updated: Jan 11

A fitness trainer completing best full body workouts.

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This blog brings you four of our best full body workouts. As well as building strength in all the major muscle groups, including many synergists and stabilisers, each workout engages the cardiac, diaphragm, and vascular muscles. After all, the accolade of the best full body workout cannot be awarded unless the cardiorespiratory system is involved.


Thus, they hit that training sweet spot that results in stimulating muscle growth while facilitating fat loss. And they can promote a load more health and fitness benefits (more on that below).


To reach a wider audience and complement a diverse mix of training facilities, each workout has been organised around a specific piece of exercise equipment. For example, our first full body workout requires only an Olympic barbell. Workouts two and three involve dumbbells and kettlebells respectively. And the final workout is an amalgamation of every conceivable training method.


For those interested, I’ve outlined the key health and fitness benefits the workouts can confer. Also, I’ve sketched out a few ideas concerning how you can tailor them to suit your current level of fitness and training experience. But if you’re eager to get cracking, hit the link and start the Best Full Body Workouts.


Build strength with a full body workout

The primary concern of the best full body workouts is to develop dynamic strength in the major muscle groups. To help achieve this objective, big compound lifts have been enlisted.


Exercises such as power cleans, sumo squats, dumbbell snatches and (my personal favourite) the kettlebell long cycle are what Anita Bean calls ‘maximal stimulation’ movements. That is, they recruit the largest number of muscle fibres with each contraction (Strength Training: The Complete Guide To).


Increase muscle mass

Furthermore, large ‘free-weight exercises’ that require the coordination of ‘major muscle groups at the same time,’ says Arnold Schwarzenegger, increases ‘testosterone production.’ This is worth mentioning for those in the audience that have their sights set on increasing both the strength and size of their muscles.


Testosterone, remember, is an anabolic agent and with more present ‘in your system you get stronger and can build larger muscles more easily,’ (The Encyclopaedia Of Modern Bodybuilding).


Full body functional fitness

In the hugely comprehensive book Advances In Functional Fitness, Michael Boyle defines functional training as a ‘continuum of exercises that teach athletes to handle their bodyweight in all planes of movement.’ Engaging in this type of training can bring about many coveted attributes. For example, according to Boyle, if performed with sufficient frequency, functional exercises can:


Decrease injury risk by strengthening stabiliser muscles
Enhance body control
Improve athletic performance
Promote balanced strength
Enhanced overall training results

Though I can’t promise that the workouts below will deliver any of those benefits, they are comprised primarily of functional exercises. This suggests that, if you can shoehorn the workouts into your weekly training schedule, you stand a chance of bagging some of those benefits.


Improved general physicality

The best full body workouts below feature a broad range of fitness components. For example, in the first workout, you’ll be transitioning from HIIT to strength to muscle endurance and back again.


Contrary to common misunderstanding, mixing modalities is actually beneficial and doesn’t result in the underdevelopment of one area. Some believe that if you put, say, speed training in a workout with resistance exercises, it will adversely affect strength gains.


A reasoned assessment of the relationship and interplay of different fitness components or ‘qualities’ is provided in the brilliant book Supertraining. Mel Siff cites studies showing that ‘complex training consisting of exercises which collectively involve speed, strength and endurance activities develops each of these qualities better than training each of them individually.'

Enhances multiple components of fitness

Siff goes on to say that each quality serves to ‘positively influence’ others. The development of strength and speed in the same workout develops the ability to display speed-strength.


In addition to broadening the general scope of your physicality, combining components can reduce fitness imbalances or, as Siff calls them, ‘lags.’ Interestingly, studies have identified a converse outcome of the positive effect – augmented speed-strength.


If a component of fitness is neglected, it can lead to a lag which may impair performance elsewhere. This interconnected relationship can serve to encourage us to develop the entire spectrum of fitness as opposed to a narrow band.


 

Best full body workouts #1: Siff’s strength routine

Our first best full body workout observes what strength training guru Mel Siff calls the ‘Minimax Principle.’ Siff explains the principle thus. ‘Essentially this means using the minimum effort to achieve the maximum results, preferably in the least time,’ (Supertrianing).


To achieve this, the workout is comprised primarily of compound movements from Siff’s list of most effective exercises. One exercise has been assigned to each muscle group. This is the method the legendary British bodybuilder Dorian Yates used to develop his incredible strength and size (as well as daily doses of steroids and gallons of protein shakes, of course). Apparently, he performed just a single set on one exercise for each muscle.


Key points

  • Be prepared for the workout by completing this warm-up: 5-minute cross-trainer → 10 press-ups and 10 air squats → 3-minute cross-trainer → 8 bench presses (low resistance) and 8 squats (low resistance) → 2-minute cross-trainer → Start the workout!

  • If you’re a new exerciser, consider using the Smith machine for the big compound lifts.

  • Before ‘going heavy,’ first prime the muscle group(s) with a light to moderate-intensity warm-up set.

  • The objective of the workout is strength development. To facilitate this outcome, remain within the strength training zone: 75 to 90% of one repetition max. However, it is important to prioritise safe lifting over heavy lifting. Bruce Lee said it best: Above all else, never cheat on an exercise; use the amount of weight that you can handle without undue strain (The Art of Expressing the Human Body).

Best full body workouts session plan.

Best full body workouts #2: Survivor circuit

Inspiration for our second full body workout was taken from Michael Boyle’s Advances in Functional Training. But Boyle admits to having borrowed it from an American football coach. Apparently, the coach called it the ‘survivor circuit’ because it’s a ‘physically demanding workout’ designed to put professional players through their paces.


Though simple, the workout engages a broad range of muscle groups and components of fitness. The plan features ten functional exercises (as you’d expect), most of which involve either a dumbbell or your bodyweight. You are to complete 10 reps at each station. After each set, take a short break before progressing to the next exercise.


In Boyle’s adaptation, he does not offer advice or guidance on how many laps of the circuit we should aim for. When I completed it, one lap took a little under ten minutes. I maintained a medium intensity throughout and rested for a minute upon completion of the tenth exercise.


Key points

  • Complete this 10-minute warm-up before starting the survivor circuit: 2000 (or 5000) metres rowing → 2 reps on each exercise.

  • To improve transition efficiency and training fluidity, organise the exercises into a circular or linear format. As well as saving time (Minimax Principle), this will prevent you from losing track of your position in the circuit.

  • Complete as many laps as you have time for. Remember, though, it’s not a race. Many of the exercises require considerable control and sustained concentration (try rushing single-leg straight-leg deadlifts). Take your time ensuring to focus on quality as opposed to quantity.


Best full body workouts session plan.

Best full body workouts #3: Kettlebell compendium

This one’s for the kettlebell fans in the crowd. The plan is an adaptation of a pre-competition workout from the training program of an elite-level girevik.


In addition, the program was developed by ‘recognised Girevoy sport expert V. I. Voropayev.’ According to Pavel Tsatsouline, the author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, Voropayev was a training mastermind and pioneer of performance analysis. So, we’re in good hands.


Related: Best Competition Kettlebell by a pood

The workout is disarmingly straightforward. You’re to progress through the eight exercises in the plan. The majority require a kettlebell (or two if you possess the proficiency to handle a pair) but there are a couple of exercise anomalies – such as the simulated cross-country run.


Key points

  • Get in the groove and give this warm-up a whirl: 4-minute cross-trainer (or rower) → 2 swings, squats, and deadlifts → 3-minute cross-trainer → 4 swings, squats, and deadlifts → 2-minute cross-trainer → 6 swings, squats, and deadlifts → 1-minute cross-trainer → 8 swings, squats, and deadlifts → Start the workout!

  • Complete all the exercises in the plan.

  • This workout is a balancing act between quality and quantity. At times it gets tough, but you must maintain control of your kettlebell. If you feel your form deteriorating, reduce the intensity or the resistance.

  • Don’t skip the simulated cross-country cardio corker that caps the workout!

Best full body workouts session plan.

Best full body workouts #4: Fitness feast

The final workout is based on the CrossFit training method. Meaning it features an eclectic mix of exercises and modalities.


The workout is likely to be quite different from what you’re used to. But stepping outside of your comfort zone every now and then can be beneficial.


Performing different exercises at varying intensities engages the body and physiological systems in different ways. As one leading fitness professional notes, this ‘shock tactic’ stimulates new growth in addition to broadening your repertoire of training skills.


Related: When you're done here, try these 21 CrossFit WODS

Split into three levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced – the workout begins with a short cardio blast into a bodyweight complex. Concluding what can only be described as an extended warm-up, the real work starts. You will be ascending a repetition ladder of resistance exercises.


Starting at the very first rung, you’ll complete one rep of each of the resistance exercises in the plan. After the final exercise, polish off the 25 double unders (or 50 single skips). Now go back to the first exercise but this time perform two reps.


Maintaining impeccable form, your objective here is to climb the ladder as quickly as possible. Good luck!


Key points

  • To improve performance in the opening two events, warm up thoroughly first. Complete the mini Murph: 800-metre run → 10 pull-ups → 25 press-ups → 50 air squats → Get started!

  • Select the level suited to your current ability.

  • Progress through each phase of the plan with the aim of achieving your best possible score. Make a note of your times/reps after each event.

  • Before transitioning to the following phase, treat yourself to a short break – 1 to 2 minutes tops.

Best full body workouts session plan.

Related: Do you dare take on Mighty Murph?

 

Best full body workouts hint and tips

As with all Hungry4Fitness workouts, you can customise those above to suit your fitness level and training experience. Here are a couple of examples of how you might do this.


Let’s say you’re a new exerciser and you haven’t graduated to free weights yet. There’s no shame in that. All you would do is replace free weight exercises with a machine equivalent. As you develop confidence and improve your training technique over the coming months, you can revisit the workout and reintroduce some of the exercises that you removed. You could keep doing this until you have worked up to the original plan.


If, on the other hand, you view yourself as an experienced exerciser, but just a bit out of shape, you may need to amend workouts three and four. Similarly to the advice advanced above, you could reduce the intensity of the workout bringing it into your sphere of physical ability. Here are three ways you could do this. First, reduce the resistance. Second, reduce the volume (sets and reps). Third, extend the workout duration to give yourself more time to recover.


 

Enjoyed these workouts?

Then get your hands on over 80 more with the Hungr4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.

This blog of the best whole body workouts concludes with the hungry4fitness book of circuits and workouts voulme3 .

 

About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and fitness coach. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam at info@hungry4fitness.co.uk.

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