Being serious about fitness means having a clear picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish. This is the case whether you’re looking to improve your overall health, build stamina, lose weight in time for next year’s bathing suit season, or build muscle mass. However, you also need to have a well-defined strategy in place as far as how you plan on meeting those goals.
Some people decide they’re going to meet their fitness goals by hitting the gym six days a week and focusing on a different part of their body each of those days. Others choose to go for a full body workout instead. While both approaches certainly have their benefits, full body really is the way to go more often than not. Here we’ll take a closer look to help you choose the best type of workout for you.
Who Should Be Opting for a Full Body Workout?
Some people have a near limitless amount of time and energy to pour into working out – career athletes, for instance – but for 90% of us, that’s just not realistic. Most people have careers, family lives, and other pursuits that need their attention as well.
To put it simply, life happens and can make it hard to maintain a complicated workout schedule in order to meet your goals. Full body workouts are perfect for people who want to get more bang for their buck when it comes to their gym time. The same goes for people who may have hit a plateau and are looking for a way to start making progress again. This is even the case if strength is a major focus.
What Are the Major Benefits of Full Body Workouts?
Time efficiency is vitally important to people when it comes to their careers, their free time, and so forth. Why should the approach to fitness be any different? Full body workouts help you maximize what you’re getting out of your workouts regardless of the time spent. Let us count the ways.
1. You’ll burn more calories more quickly.
The more different parts of your body you can engage during your workout, the more calories you’re ultimately going to burn, so it only stands to reason that a full body workout is going to pack more of a punch than “arm day” or “leg day” will.
Compound exercises that focus on entire muscle groups working together call for higher energy expenditures in order to coordinate the movements. More energy expended means more calories burned overall.
2. You’ll get stronger and build muscle more efficiently.
If building muscle and getting stronger overall is your ultimate goal; then it’s important to focus on exercises that allow for the highest possible usage of weight. Exercises like bench presses, squats; and so forth call for total body movements that require quite a bit of effort to execute properly.
When exercises like these form the backbone of your workout routine; you can rest assured that you’re keeping your body challenged on an ongoing basis. Consistent challenges of this type are the key to building muscle, endurance, and overall strength.
3. Your workouts will automatically become as efficient as possible.
Let’s say for the sake of argument you only have 30 minutes to devote to working out on a given day. You’d naturally want to pack as much fitness value into that half hour as possible, right? Full body workouts are hands down the best way to do this.
Working your entire body instead of stimulating the same exact muscles over and over again as you would with more focused exercises ensures the highest possible degree of benefit from your workout. Just think about how supporting a bar while performing squats simulates your core in addition to your legs and arms!
4. You make it possible to squeeze in a workout almost anywhere.
As touched on above, most of us are balancing our commitment to fitness and strength training with other major responsibilities. A little flexibility goes a long way, and full body workouts fit the bill perfectly.
Training the body as a whole unit allows you to work out even while adhering to a busy travel schedule or an extra grueling work week. These compound exercises stimulate the same muscle groups in a single workout that would require two or three more isolated training sessions otherwise. Most importantly of all, it allows you to do it in a way that prioritizes the building of strength.
Essentials to Remember
We’ve covered the importance of why a full body approach is best when it comes to maximizing workout effectiveness as well as building strength. Now let’s touch on a few of the key factors involved in a solid routine.
Consistent Weight Increase: If you don’t keep challenging your body; you won’t maintain your momentum when it comes to building strength. Make sure you’re adding more weight and resistance to your routine as soon as you’re ready. (A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re training with 70-80% of the maximum weight you can handle for at least six reps.)
One Exercise per Muscle Group: You quite simply don’t need more than that to see consistent results. Just make sure the exercises you choose are all compound exercises. Also, aim for about 2-4 sets and 8-12 reps in regards to each.
One-Hour Training Limit: After a certain amount of time spent strength training, your body begins releasing the catabolic hormone cortisol instead of the hormones (like testosterone) that contribute to muscle development. This usually happens after about an hour, so make that your cut-off point.
If you include protein shakes or other high-protein replenishments as part of your routine; you’ll want to consume those right after your workouts so they’re as effective as possible. Not only does this activate the recovery process, but it assists it. (Picture filling up your car’s gas tank after you’ve just come back from a long road trip.) Follow these tips and you’ll be seeing tangible results in no time.