If you want to increase your over-all muscle strength, a full body workout routine is one of the best ways to accomplish this. By targeting every muscle group in one workout you train the same muscle group multiple times per week. This increases the effectiveness of your routine and enhances the development of muscle strength.
Increasing your muscle strength will also support your mass-building workouts. Becuase you will be able to perform the exercises of your mass-building workout with a heavier weight, the results will increase.
Is a full body program better than a split program? Well, yes and no. One is not better than the other. The advantage of a full body program is that you train the same muscle group multiple times per week. Most split programs aim to train each muscle group just once per week. Full body programs therefore put more stress on your muscles which enhances results. But the downside is that this extra stress can lead to injuries and even overtraining. These chances are a lot smaller with split programs. And split programs allow you to perform more exercises per muscle group on the same day.
It’s important that you perform the workout routine which you feel comfortable with and gets you results. I like to alternate full body and split programs to continuously provide my muscles with different kinds of stress. By ‘surprising’ my body every 8 weeks with a new workout program that include other exercises performed with a different weight, I sidestep saturation and make every training as effective as possible.
This 8-week strength-building full body workout consists of 3 training days per week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend are the days were you take your rest to let your body recover.
You perform 3 different workouts per week:
Monday: WORKOUT A
Wednesday: WORKOUT B
Friday: WORKOUT C
The entire program runs for 8 weeks. As the weeks progress the weight and the number of sets increase and the number of reps decrease (see below).
When I perform this workout I don’t train to muscle failure. When you train to muscle failure it takes your body more time to recover and you simply don’t have the time when you have 3 training days per week. It’s important to listen to your body, if you don’t you will risk injuries and even overtraining. That's why I aim to train at max. 90% instead of reaching muscle failure for each exercise.
If you feel like training to muscle failure to increase the impact of this workout plan, please do so. If your body recovers relatively fast you will be able to pull it off. I just know that with only one rest day in between I can't ´´´`train to muscle failure every single workout and recover on time.
Another way to sidestep this problem and provide a compromise for the statements above, is to choose to only train to muscle failure for certain muscel groups. Personally, my smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps and shoulders) recover faster than my bigger muscle groups. Therefore, I can decide to train my chest, legs and back at 90%. And subsequently train my biceps, triceps and shoulders to muscle failure.
In order to focus on increasing your muscle strength you need to apply the right fitness technique. This means low repetitions with a heavy weight. The workout programs below will tell you exactly how many sets and reps per exercise you have to perform. The rep schemes of each exercise will be a volume between 8 - 25 (volume = reps x sets).
You start the first two weeks performing 8 reps. This is basically the tipping point between focusing on muscle mass and focusing on muscle strength: performing 1 - 6 reps means focusing on muscle strength, performing 8 - 12 reps means focusing on developing muscle mass. When the weeks progress the weight goes up and the number of reps go down. Aim to perform +/- 6 reps in week 3 and 4, +/- 4 reps in week 5 and 6 and 1 - 2 reps in the last 2 weeks.
Performing 1 rep means using the heaviest weight with which you still can perform the exercise. If you feel uncomfortable putting that much pressure on your muscles, you can repeat the workouts from week 5 and 6 again and perform +/- 4 reps. Decide for yourself if you are experienced enough to not run into an injury while performing such heavy exercises.
As stated above, you don’t want to train until muscle failure. With one rest day in between training days you don’t have enough time to recover completely from a ‘muscle failure-type’ workout. You will run into injuries and possibly even overtraining.
Therefore, it’s important that you perform the exercises with a weight that allows you to perform the minimum number of reps without reaching complete muscle failure. Don’t get me wrong, the exercises need to be heavy and challenging. But you need to have a little bit of energy left at the end of your set.
The core of this workout program are compound exercises for your chest, legs and back. Each training day will therefore start with 3 compound exercises. Compound exercises are so effective because they target multiple muscles at ones. Example: instead of having to perform the 3 different focus exercises leg curl, leg extension and hip thrust you only perform the squat compound exercise that targets the same 3 muscles. This strength-building workout routine is build around the 6 most effective compound exercises:
This video explains the exact performance of each compound exercise:
NB - Before you start this program I want to emphasize that this is my personal full body strength-building routine. It's aimed at my preferences and personal goals for the muscle groups that I want to develop. Keep the workout routine below as a blueprint but substitute or change exercises according to your own preference. This workout routine is not the single source of truth, but my personal experience is that it worked great for me and gave me an over-all stronger and muscular physique.
I compiled and converted the workout plan above into a pdf document for your convenience: