The Best Full Body Workout For Growth

full body workout A thumbnail-min

If you want to learn an effective full body workout routine optimized for muscle growth, then you need to read this article.

Full body workouts are one of the best workout splits for muscle growth and strength regardless of your training experience. They not only enable you to optimize your training frequency and recovery throughout the week but are also time efficient – and in this case requiring only 3 workouts per week.

However, in order to maximize the benefits of a full body workout routine, you need to adequately target all of your major muscle groups within each workout:

And you need to do so in a balanced manner such that your muscles grow and strengthen proportionately overtime. Leading to not only a more aesthetic physique but also minimizing your risk of injury.

In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to do so based on current scientific literature and our anatomical understanding of the human body.

The Full Body Workout Plan (Overview)

First off, to clarify, this full body workout routine consists of 3 workout days per week and will alternate between two different full body workouts like so:

Monday – Workout A

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Workout B

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Workout A

Saturday/Sunday – Rest

Monday – Workout B

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Workout A

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Workout B

Workout A will be covered in this article and workout B will be covered in a follow-up article.

Each workout will consist of mainly compound movements with a mix of various accessory exercises to minimize any potential muscle imbalances.

So with that being said, let’s take a look at what the optimal full body workout might look like.

The Best Full Body Workout

 

Exercise 1: Barbell Bench Press

The first exercise is the barbell bench press and is going to be your main chest exercise for this workout. It’s going to be responsible for contributing to most of your chest’s overall size and thickness overtime.

More specifically, due to the flat angle of the bench, it’s going to emphasize the sternal portion, or middle part, of your chest while also developing your shoulders and triceps muscle.

So as you perform this exercise you’ll want to focus on feeling the below highlighted muscles working, with most of the tension being felt in the chest:

full body exercise 1

Now the bench press was chosen for various reasons.

First off, it’s great at activating the chest.

Multiple studies like this 2000 EMG paper by Behren’s & Buskies have found bench press to elicit the highest chest activation when compared to other common chest movements:

…and this seems to translate to better chest growth as well.

For instance, two recent papers that tracked bench press strength and chest growth overtime have found a strong positive correlation between them

Suggesting that in most cases, a strong bench does indeed equate to a big chest.

And regarding form, you’ll want to come all the way down to your chest to accomplish a full range of motion.

This is because multiple papers have found that for compound movements like the bench press…

A full range of motion is more effective for muscle growth, even if heavier weights are used with a partial range of motion.

So unless you have previous shoulder injuries preventing you from doing so or you’re goal is to improve a specific sticking point…

Then aiming for a full range of motion with this exercise would be your best bet for growth.

Exercise 2: Barbell Back Squat

Next, we’re going to move onto a lower body exercise before proceeding onto the next upper body movement. This just helps to optimize our recovery and performance with each exercise throughout your total body workout.

The barbell back squat is the exercise of choice here since it’s been repeatedly shown in multiple papers to elicit very high quadriceps activation. However, it will also heavily involve the glutes and various other lower body muscles.

You should mainly feel the tension in the muscles highlighted below as you perform the exercise:

barbell back squat

And again with this compound movement you want to utilize a full range of motion to maximize growth.

In fact, illustrating the importance of this…

A 2014 paper by McMahon and colleagues found that there was a two-fold increase in muscle size after only 8 weeks for subjects using full ROM squats compared to partial range of motion squats:

full range of motion squats study

And although what constitutes full range of motion will vary based on your anthropometry, I’d stick with what the research recommends as optimal. Simply aim to come down to at least slightly below parallel or deeper if your mobility enables you to do so safely.

Exercise 3: Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are going to be the next upper body exercise and your main back exercise for this workout.

The main muscle worked will be the lats. But as shown below, various shoulder and scapular stabilizers and other muscles will be involved as well:

pull ups muscles worked

As you perform this movement, you should feel the above highlighted muscles working, with most of the tension being felt in the lats.

And once you’re able to successfully complete around 10-12 bodyweight pull-ups straight, you’ll want to then progress it. You can do so by slowly loading it with weight using a weight belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet.

But on the other hand, if you’re currently unable to do pull-ups, then you have a few options. Band assisted pull-ups, machine pull-ups, and/or sets of slow negative pull-ups are decent alternatives to start with and progress until you’re able to successfully complete bodyweight pull-ups.

Exercise 4: Lying Dumbbell Hamstring Curls

Next, going back to the lower body muscles, we’re going to be using lying leg curls.

I’d suggest trying out this variation with a dumbbell held between your feet as it helps ensure that you’re controlling the weight throughout each rep.

As shown below, this exercise will mainly target the hamstrings:

lying hamstring curls

Again, as you perform each rep, you’ll want to focus on feeling the hamstrings working while avoiding any lower back involvement by keeping your abs engaged.

Now the main reason why this exercise is included is to further strengthen the hamstrings.

This is crucial because as shown in this 2009 EMG paper, the back squat doesn’t sufficiently activate the hamstrings. In fact, as shown below, the hamstrings only reach about 27% activation during the squat:

lower body exercises study

…which is much lower than other common hamstring movements.

So since the hamstrings need to be balanced out with the quadriceps for injury prevention, this exercise is vital to include.

More specifically though, research has indicated that it’s the eccentric strengthening of the hamstrings that’s important for both enhancing athletic performance and preventing injury.

Meaning that when performing this movement, you want to really control the weight and use a slow eccentric of a few seconds on the way down of each rep.

Just be aware that this exercise will cause quite a bit of post-workout soreness if you’re not used to it, so take it easy in terms of load and progress from there.

Exercise 5: Standing Overhead Press

The last major compound movement of this workout will be the standing barbell overhead press. This shoulder exercise is essential when it comes to upper body development and strength. Although the full body is involved, the main muscles at play here will be the anterior deltoids, triceps, and the serratus anterior:

standing overhead press

As for the reasoning for this exercise, it has been shown in studies like this one by Behren & Buskies to be the best exercise for the anterior deltoid:

DELTOID ACTIVATION GRAPH-min

In addition, when compared to other similar shoulder pressing exercises, it enables you to lift the most weight. And from a practical standpoint is also the easiest shoulder exercise to overload with more weight as you progress, which is why I’d recommend incorporating it into your routine.

However, research does also show that the seated dumbbell press elicits similar activation, so feel free to use that as an alternative if it’s a more comfortable movement for you.

ADDITIONAL ACCESSORY EXERCISES

Next up in this total body workout routine, we’re going to move onto a couple more accessory exercises to help minimize any potential muscle imbalances as you progress.

Exercise 6: Face Pulls

The first accessory movement is going to be the facepull. This movement is essential for shoulder health, posture, and balancing out the pulling repetitions with all the pressing in this full body workout.

The main muscles worked are the rear delts, mid and lower traps, and the various rotator cuff muscles as shown here:

face pulls anatomy

Focus on feeling the above highlighted muscles working as you perform this exercise.

These can be done kneeling or standing, but regardless you want to keep the elbows high and drive them back as you pull the rope towards your face.

At the end position, your shoulders should be externally rotated such that you’re in a biceps flexing pose in order to best emphasize the rotator cuffs and rear delts. You also want to ensure you aren’t compensating by arching your lower back as you perform the movement:

face pulls form

I’d definitely suggest using relatively lighter weights for these and really focus on activating the right muscles.

Exercise 7: Drag Curls

The last exercise of this full body workout routine is going to be a biceps exercise; the drag curl.

Due to the shoulder extension component of this exercise, it will help preferentially target the long head of the biceps, or the outer head, which otherwise doesn’t get as much attention with our previous exercise selection:

drag curls exercise

To perform it, simply use a weighted bar or barbell and lift the bar as close as possible in front of your body by driving the elbows behind the body. Lower the weight in the same fashion.

I’d suggest using a much lighter weight than you would in a standard biceps curl and perfecting the movement before progressing.

The Best Full Body Workout Routine

(Part 1/2)

So to sum the video up, here’s what your full body workout A could look like:


Barbell Bench Press: 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps

Barbell Back Squat: 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps

Pull-Ups: 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps

Lying Hamstring Dumbbell Curls: 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

Standing Overhead Press: 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps

Face Pulls: 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

Drag Curls: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps


Calves and/or abs exercises can definitely be added as part of the accessory movements as well.

Just keep in mind that if you’re a beginner lifter, sticking to just the main compound movements and the low end of the range of sets per exercise would likely be best to start. And then you can gradually add more volume overtime.

Also keep in mind that you can play around with the exercise order of the workout. Several studies have shown a trend where lifters get better gains for exercises that are done early in a session.

So by knowing what each exercise in this workout targets, you can re-arrange the exercises based on what you want to prioritize. For example, if you wanted to focus on pull-up strength and back growth, you could simply perform the pull-ups first rather than the bench press.

Your Full Body Workout PDF

For your convenience, I’ve compiled all of this information into an easy to follow, completely free PDF for you to download and reference while you’re at the gym:

full body workout routine pdf

It shows you the full workout, rest periods, what muscles each exercise targets, step-by-step tutorials with visuals, and more:

No email opt-in is required on your end, just simply hit the button below to get to the download page and you’ll be able to access it with no strings attached:

…But if you want to take things one step further and are looking for a workout and nutrition plan that combines all the research I do into a step-by-step program such that you can transform your body as efficiently as possible from your starting point…

Then what you can do is take my starting point quiz I have up in order to discover which program and which approach is best for you.

Anyways, that’s it for this article – hope you enjoyed it and found it useful! Don’t forget to give me a follow and connect with me on InstagramFacebook, and Youtube as well to stay updated with my content. Cheers!

54 thoughts on “The Best Full Body Workout For Growth”

  1. Hey Jeremy ! Congratulation to this really compact and well explained Workout Collection Part 1 . I can´t wait till the next part . My son starts with BB he is 13 ,8 old and this is/ will be the perfect lesson now for him. I´m very happy to find your chanell. Keep the good work ! Best regards from Germany Keep Growing!

  2. hmmm… can’t seem to find the Free PDF for the full body work out. Can you point me in the right direction or send it to me please?

  3. Now this is a detailed guide. Precisely what I was looking for after glute/hamstring problems made it impossible for me to train splits. And it’s free, or am I missing something here? Big thumbs up and thank you very much for this.

  4. Where’s part B!! Done part A twice now! Just
    subbing DLs for Squats on B until you put
    Out an article. Loving it tho!

  5. Great article and workout! Is the progression scheme to add weight once you have completed all prescribed sets at the top of the rep range?

    Also, when will workout B be out? I’m excited to try the whole routine.

  6. Jeremy,
    Thanks for what you do. I love the workouts and appreciate all the scientific research you do to make them. I have a question regarding the full body workout. Why is there no tricep accessory movement in the workout?
    Thanks!

  7. Jeremy,

    Thanks for all you do. It’s awesome to see the science behind the exercises you do and choose. I have a question regarding the full body workout. Why is there no triceps accessory movement?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Joseph,

      I’m not Jeremy, but my guess would be:

      1. In full body A/B routines, biceps and triceps isos are often not included in the same workout. Perhaps workout B will have a triceps accessory.

      2. Your tris are getting hit pretty hard in workout A with two compound push exercises (Bench and Overhead Press). In this workout, there is a balance of both muscular development (pull-up and curls hit biceps, bench and overhead press hit tris), and a push/pull balance as well, which is important for avoiding injury.

  8. Nice work! Thanks to you i finally made up my mind about the split im choosing! And ill use your model too. I dont have a gym but i have a little room in my place where I use some equipment (dumbells, stability ball, resistance band and a pull up bar) my question is, regarding dumbell total weight, how much do you think i should have? Knowing i have to progressively overload… Consider this a duck the system approach!! x) im from portugal so to reach me you must be doing something right lol hopefully you can answer my question.
    Keep up the good work and hurry up with the workout b!!! Thank you very much a really appreciate your vídeos

  9. Jeremy – Love this workout as well as your other content. Quick question – lying dumbbell hamstring curls are nearly impossible for me to perform with my existing workout equipment (adjustable dumbbells). Is there a substitute hamstring exercise you’d recommend? Thanks!

  10. Jeremy,

    Thanks for all workout plan, really appreciated. Anyway just want to know that how we choose the best weight for each workout? Thanks.

  11. Thanks really great article! How do the hamstring dumbbell curl exercises progress? Given the need to hold the weight between your legs and definitely don’t want to drop it I can’t imagine doing it with a much bigger dumbbell than I already am. Also I’ve seen people do it on a bench. Is one way better than the other?

    1. If you have someone to help you set it up, doing it on a bench can help with the range of motion. In terms of progression, slowing down the tempo, using heavier weight, and doing more reps are all good options.

  12. Thanks Jeremy! May I know how do you recommend people to stick in the beginner phase before moving on to the advanced/intermediate phase?

  13. I can go to gym as much as 6 days a week. I know you have a full body and upper lower program. I am a kinda experienced and a skinny guy. I seek for hypertrophy. What do you suggest, which program or programs should I do as I have lots of time (6 days a week) for exercising?

  14. Jeremy thanks for all the great content. I travel a lot for work, sometimes the hotels I stay in don’t have gyms. Would you consider doing a video/article on alternative exercises using body weight, bands and or TRX to be able to keep the workout sequence? Thanks again!

  15. Hello,

    Great program,
    I don’t see any calf workout?
    If so can Which work out can I add it on A? B?
    After which exercise

    Also no Ab workout ? Where can I add ABS?
    A B both and after which exercise ?

    Last question on Friday after workout can I do cardio
    For 10 minutes speed 10 on treadmill ?
    I usually do it every Friday burn around 142 calories
    And max heart rate 160-170.

    Please answer all my questions

    Thanks.

  16. Jeremy, your content is amazing and I would like to incorporate it into my routine but , as I don’t have access to the gym, I’m afraid to only do some of what you recommend and have ‘unbalanced’ muscles. I am a 16 year old male with access to dumbbells and a push-up bar. I’d be very grateful if you could suggest a routine. Anyways, I wish you the best of luck!

  17. Hi Jeremy, great content as always. Wanted to ask your thoughts on using push/ pull super sets with this routine?
    Usually ill do a 4 day a week upper/ lower split with beach runs one or twice a week on rest days, but since im recovering from a race I wanted to do a month of total body to open up more time to do yoga.
    What do you think of doing this routine with set ups as db bench press/ one are db row, barbell back squat/ body weight pull ups, standing overhead press/ drag curls, then finishing up with lying hamstring curls and face pulls?

  18. Markus Puttbrese

    Hey Jeremy ,

    First of all thank you for all that information you provide!
    Now following question:
    I wanted to so the full body workout 3 Times a week, but because I have soccer practice tuesday and friday and games in sunday, I can only hit the gym ob monday, wednesday and thursday.
    Because of the lacking rest between wednesday and thursday i tried following weekly scheme:
    Monday: Full body workout a or b
    Wednesday: Lower Body
    Thursday: Upper Bod

    Would you recommend any changes?

    Cheers and thank you in advance
    Markus

  19. Shall you be using the same weight at each rep? So example 4x60kgx10. And when u can do that’s perfect u add weight?

  20. @JEREMY ETHIER, I cannot download the PDF the button takes me nowhere? Any reason why, I really looking forward to trying this workout!🤷‍♂️🙂

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