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Full Body Workout Routine

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Armed with this full body workout routine, you’ll be able to target every major muscle group while engaging the heart and lungs. All in a single super-compact session that can be squeezed into an hour.

To appeal to a wider audience, I’ve developed three separate routines for different training facilities. The first workout, which aims to build functional strength, is suitable for a standard gym. For this routine, you’ll need access to resistance equipment and exercise machines.

The second full body workout routine was created for those that get their keep-fit fix at home. In addition to being a lot less kit intensive, I outline exercise alternatives in the eventuality that you don’t have a competition kettlebell or pair of adjustable dumbbells.

By far the most versatile workout, the third routine can be completed at your local park or sports ground. It requires only your body weight and a track to run around. But, as I explain in the hints and tips section, the exercises can be modified to increase (or decrease) the training intensity.

Full body workout routine benefits

The primary benefit of a full body workout is that they are the most efficient method of maximising muscular engagement. Targeting the major muscle groups using a conventional ‘split routine’ requires about a week of training. (Monday = biceps and triceps; Tuesday = lower back and chest; Wednesday = legs; Thursday = upper back and shoulders; Friday = core and cardio conditioning (reluctantly).) These five days of training, which inevitably involve lots of wasted time, could be condensed into a single full body routine.

Another reason to start integrating full-body workouts into your regime is given to us by the authors of the NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength & Conditioning. Full or, what they call, ‘total body’ workouts promote ‘functional performance.’ Functional performance refers to the type of physicality that enhances our ability to undertake ‘real-world’ tasks. These tasks, one leading health authority informs us, encompass everything from general household chores to more strenuous job-specific demands. This latter benefit, the NSCA authors note, accounts for the popularity of total body workouts among tactical professionals – law enforcement, protective services, and military personnel. The simple reason is that ‘tactical manoeuvres involve total body efforts.’

Maximal physical engagement

The final benefit that I’ll briefly touch on (there are many more), is the greater scope of physiological engagement associated with full body training. A conventional ‘split routine’ (as described above) typically targets a single fitness component (strength) or training outcome (muscular hypertrophy). On the opposite end of the spectrum, protracted bouts of cardio are applied to promote aerobic conditioning and burning fat.

Full-body workouts, in contrast, can confer gains in muscular strength as well as cardiovascular endurance. What’s more, if a full-body plan is populated with ballistic exercises – snatches, hang cleans, plyometric squat jumps – they carry the capacity to cultivate the entire spectrum of fitness components. And that’s not the end of it. Such is the versatility of full-body training that a sport-specific movement or (in the context of the tactical professional) job-specific manoeuvre would not be out of place in the lineup of exercises. Thus, you can tailor your full-body workouts to hone and enhance a particular skill or competency.

Now that we’ve considered a diverse mix of benefits, let’s turn our attention to the routines.

Full body workout routine

One often-cited limitation of a full body workout routine is the long list of exercises that must be compiled to ensure that each muscle is engaged. For new trainers, an over-stuffed session plan can be off-putting as it presents a daunting prospect. You know it’ll take an age to wade through all those sets and reps. But this is a design flaw and not an inherent defect of the full body training approach.

This flaw can easily be avoided by organising the stations into a circuit. Circuits cut out the excessive amount of time wasted resting between sets. To further improve the efficiency of a full body workout routine we can use multi-joint exercises in place of isolation movements. Selecting sumo squats over, say, seated leg press, not only stimulates all the lower limb muscles, but also (and this is where leg presses take a seat) the back, core, traps, deltoids, and forearms.

Both techniques have been incorporated into the three full body workout plans that follow.

Full body routine #1

The first routine is geared toward your typical gym. Most of the stations are comprised of big compound movements: power cleans, sumo squats, push presses and the like. The training weapon of choice is an Olympic barbell. However, you can supplement with dumbbells and kettlebells. Though the exercises are organised into a loop, you should not rush around the circuit. Maintain a methodical work rate remembering to prioritise the quality of your lift over the quantity of weight lifted. Take a minute or two to rest after each completed loop.

Target training outcomes: Functional strength > Power > Muscle endurance > Improved body composition (increased fat-free mass)

Full body workout routine training plan #1.

Full-body routine #2

Our second workout was crafted for those who keep fit at home. The training plan, you’ll notice on comparing it to its predecessor, is not nearly as kit intensive. In addition, the stations are a mix of resistance and bodyweight exercises. Of course, the simplicity of the plan makes it more accessible to a wider audience. Also, a simple plan is easier to modify and adapt to your training preferences and facility. As above, the six exercises are structured into a circular circuit. After selecting the level appropriate for your current fitness ability, the objective is to complete as many laps of the circuit as possible in 10, 20, or 30 minutes.

Target training outcomes: Muscle endurance > Aerobic conditioning > Power > Improved body composition (reduced fat-mass)

Full body workout routine training plan #2.

Full body routine #3

We round off this selection of full body routines with an outdoor workout. As far as kit and complexity go, this plan is the simplest of the bunch. But then it was designed to be conducted (almost) anywhere. Consisting of cardio and bodyweight exercises, you can complete this session at your local park, sports ground or (for those that are super-committed) on your holidays. The training method differs slightly from the previous two routines: each lap of the circuit starts with a short-distance fast-paced run. After setting a 10, 20, or 30-minute countdown timer, your objective is to complete as many laps as your physicality will permit.

Target training outcomes: Aerobic conditioning > Muscle endurance > Improved body composition (reduced fat-mass)

Full body workout routine training plan #3.

Full body workout routine hints and tips

Workout routine #1: Because the first plan is populated primarily with complex movements, it might not be suitable for beginners. Those just starting out on their training journey are unlikely to have developed the confidence or technical skill to perform barbell power cleans and sumo squats. Not to worry! If you come across an exercise that you don't feel completely comfortable performing, simply replace it with a close alternative. (Need some exercise ideas?) Dumbbell thrusters can be substituted for power cleans and sumo squats can step aside for back squats.

Workout routine #2: The exercises selected for workout two presume that your home gym is equipped with a kettlebell and a pair of dumbbells. But what if you only have a resistance band and two tins of beans? Well, you could replace the kettlebell stations for any of these resistance band exercises. For the dumbbell stations, you could either hold a tin in each hand or, if you feel a bit foolish doing that, convert them to a bodyweight exercise.

Workout routine #3: Workout three can be modified in a myriad of ways. If your park has an ‘open air’ training area (as some do), you could incorporate callisthenics into the plan. For example, instead of lunges you could opt for bench hops or plyometric box jumps. In place of walkouts, pull-ups would make for a superior alternative.


Enjoyed these workouts?

Then get your hands on 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.

Full body workout routine concludes with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Workouts.


 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

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