GAIN MUSCLE

Best Full Body Workout Programs: 6+ Plans For All Levels

by Nader Qudimat
Updated December 11, 2021
OVERVIEW
Goal
Hypertrophy & Strength
Experience Level
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Periodization
Linear Periodization
Duration
Unlimited
Positives
Most efficent for time and frequency
Many programs available to choose from
Helps maximize results with minimum exercises
Allows room for extra activities like sports and more 
Negatives 
Can be more exhausting than split type workouts
Reduced overall volume

Bottom Line

Full body workouts can work well for muscle and strength development. 

It's optimal if you're short on time and want to maximize results by doing fewer workouts per week. 

There are quite a few full body workouts and they are available for all levels of athletes.

From beginners, to intermediates and advanced level, you'll likely find one that fits your preferences. 

Since they are whole body programs, they only need 3 days per week.

For how to save spreadsheet instructions, click here. 

Click Here For the Spreadsheets 

If you're looking for the best full body workout programs, then you're in the right place. 

Remember, an imperfect program is better than no program. 

Just get started with something that appeals to you and you can always change later on. 

Best Full Body Training Routines

There are some nice programs in this section and you can pick one according to your training level and preferences. 

Generally, beginners will be able to progress by workout, and intermediate lifters progress weekly. 

Advanced lifters vary from every few weeks to monthly. 

Here are the best full body routines:

Novice Full Body Workout Programs

  • Ivysaur 4-4-8 
  • Greyskull LP
  • Strong Curves

Intermediate Full Body Workout Programs

  • GZCLP 
  • HLM Program
  • Joe Delaney Full Body 5 day

Advanced

  • Madcow 5x5 Advanced

At home:

  • Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine

Best Novice Full Body Programs

Ivysaur 4-4-8 

Known for it's effective linear progression, Ivysaur 4-4-8 is one of the best beginner programs you can go with. 

It splits training by Week A and Week B with 3 training days a week. 

Every week with Ivysaur 4-4-8, you'll be adding around 15lbs to both squats and deadlifts, 10lbs for bench press and barbell rows, and 5 pounds to overhead press. 

This progression style is unique to Ivysaur 4-4-8 and you'll be making progression as quickly as possible with this full body program. 

Every workout includes the bench press and overhead press. 

Each training sessions rotates between deadlifts and squats, as well as chin ups and barbell rows. 

  • The reps look like:
  • 4 sets of 4 reps
  • 4 sets of 8 reps
  • 3 sets of 4 reps with AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

You can get the spreadsheet from here: 

Greyskull LP

Greyskull LP is a novice program that has similarities to other 5x5 types of programs like Starting Strength, StrongLifts 5x5 and Ivysaur 4-4-8.

The difference between this program and Ivysaur is that Ivysaur uses bench press and OHP in every workout, while with GreySkull you'll be alternating between them. 

Both of these programs are great for beginners and you'll see plenty of results with either of them. 

The spreadsheet on FitFrek is the Phrak Variation, which is seen as an improved version of the original Greyskull LP. 

You can find the spreadsheet here:

Strong Curves

Strong Curves is popular among women and you can probably guess by the name.

It's a program that is built with simplicity and it's main focus is on the glutes.

With 3 workouts per week, it uses 3 types of training sessions. 

Every 4 weeks, the program advances with more difficult exercises. 

If you can perform working sets with proper form, then you should increase weight. 

After every successful workout, compound lifts will get progressively heavier.

After this program, or if it's too easy, then you can move on to the next level which is the Strong Curves Gluteal Goddess. 

Intermediate Full Body Workout Programs

GZCLP

The GZCLP program is a linear progression variant of GZCL.

The progression is slower than the original program but it's more for intermediate lifters. 

There are two versions of GZCLP in one spreadsheet, 3 day and four day versions.

With accessory exercises and variations, this is a great program if you want a mix of compound lifts and smaller exercises. 

Each group of exercises are organized into 3 tiers, with the first tier starting with bench press, squats, overhead press and deadlifts.

The 2nd tier (tier 2) consists of the same exercises but with higher reps and lighter weights. 

Tier 3 are accessory exercises, like curls, lateral raises, etc. 

You can check out the infographic on Say No To Bro Science.

The spreadsheet can be found here. 

HLM

HLM or Heavy, Light, Medium, is a simple program that uses weekly progression. 

It's designed well to be used after a program like Ivysaur 4-4-8 or Greyskull LP. 

With 3 workouts per week, the first day is a heavy workout, then a light workout, followed by a medium workout. 

This is so muscle development can be maximized with proper recovery and effort. 

A good resource for structuring the HLM program can be learned from Andy Baker.

You can also see how HLM can be organized from BodyRecomposition

This program is designed to be customized to fit other HLM training configurations. 

Joe Delaney Full Body

If you're looking for an enjoyable program then Joe Delaney's Full Body split is a good choice. 

This is designed to be fun and easy to follow. 

Joe Delaney created this to build muscle and aesthetics as efficiently as possible. 

It uses a 5 day frequency that's split into 3 training blocks; A, B, and C.

Each of these blocks runs for 2 weeks before you move on to the next block. 

I recommend you read the instructions before diving into this program. 

Advanced Full Body Workout Programs

Madcow 5x5 Advanced

Madcow is well designed for those who've just completed the beginner stage.

There are two versions to Madcow, intermediate and advanced level. 

Here we're focused on the advanced level, but you can see both spreadsheets here. 

Both are made by the same creator, and it's a 9 week program that can be run indefinitely. 

In the advanced version, there are two main blocks, the first being higher volume, and the second has lower volume. 

Every 4th week, it attempts to set a new 5RM max by adding 5lbs, then it's followed by a deload week on the 5th week. 

On week 9, it'll set a new 3RM, which is at the end of the 2nd 4 week cycle. 

You'll know you're ready for this kind of program if you're getting proper recovery but still can't make progress on a weekly basis.

If you're at the advanced level then you would only be able to add weight to your compound lifts on a monthly basis, rather than weekly. 

Check out the advanced spreadsheet of Madcow here

Home Full Body Programs

Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine

The gym isn't required for full body workouts. 

This is the Reddit Recommended Bodyweight Routine, made by the community over at /r/bodyweightfitness.

It's a full body strength workout that consists of all bodyweight exercises, including push ups, pull ups, dips, squats, etc. 

In total, there are nine exercises and they are done in pairs, with one triplet. 

This is designed to take the least amount of time, so after performing two exercises in one set, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat until you've completed 3 sets of those two exercises (one pair). 

In the triple, you'll do the first exercise, rest 60 seconds, then perform a set of the next exercise, rest 60 seconds, perform the third exercise and then rest again for 60 seconds, repeat until you've completed 3 sets of that particular triplet. 

You'll also see tempo, which is the time taken during each portion of one exercise. 

All exercises are done in the same tempo, 1,0,x,0. This means take one second to go down, no pause at the bottom, explode on the way up and no pause at the top. 

If you find yourself going to slow on the exploding portion, that's fine as long as you focus on being explosive. 

You can find the spreadsheet here.

FAQs

What are full body workout routines?

Full body workouts are designed to target your whole body. 

While you may find split type workouts to be more common, whole body workouts can be just as effective, or even more sometimes. 

In one full body workout, you'll be exercising every muscle group. 

For example one workout may look like this: deadlifts, bench press, squats, overhead press. 

All exercises in a full body routine will usually be compound lifts.

Most programs of this type will have 3 workouts per week, and they are the most effective for building muscle, strength and even fat loss. 

Are full body the best for muscle building?

This is a little complicated to answer, but if you're short on time, want to make the best out of your workouts with minimal equipment, then yes full body workouts are the best type.

If you're a beginner or intermediate, full body workouts can make a big difference since any type of workout will help you but with compound lifts, you'll learn the movements and you'll be making the most out of your time in the gym. 

Volume is important when it comes to maximizing muscle development as you'll see in this study

While compound lifts will help build mass, it won't be optimally developing the smaller muscles. 

Bench press and deadlifts will increase arm size, but if you want to increase bicep and tricep size, then you'll need to include isolate exercises. 

But if you're an untrained individual, then using these smaller exercises will not be needed, so you should follow the program as it's written. 

After 3 to 6 months, you can add on smaller exercises like curls and tricep extensions.

A good program that has full body workouts as well as accessory exercises is the GZCLP program

How Should Full Body Routines Look?

Rarely do full body workouts have more than 3-4 workouts per week.

Most commonly they'll have 3 workouts per week. 

Depending on the level of lifter, intensity will vary from workout to workout or from week to week. 

If the trainer is advanced or intermediate level, then the intensity level will vary throughout the week. 

Beginners will have little to no variation as they won't need the recovery time as much as higher level lifters would.

Workouts mostly consist of heavy compound lifts, ranging from 60% to 90% of a lifter's 1 rep max. 

If the sets are low intensity then the reps would typically range from 5 to 8 reps, while high intensity sets range from 3-5 reps. 

Sets will depend on the level of the lifter but will usually be in the 9-15 sets range per week with deadlifts being anywhere from 1-6 sets per week.  

Of course every program will vary with these numbers but that's how full body workouts are typically structured.

Are Full Body Workouts For You?

Honestly if you're continuously searching for the "perfect" program, you'll never find yourself in the gym. 

Any program is better than no program. 

With that being said, full body routines are excellent for strength training and depending on the program and the lifters level, muscular development as well. 

Full body routines are great for beginners because it teaches lifters compound lifts should make up a large portion of the program. 

And it forces the lifter to practice and perfect the form of the lifts. 

It is also a great way for intermediate and advanced lifters to build more strength and muscle. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I will try my best to help.

 

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulks it up into this site.

Having to be stuck as a 110lb skinny guy in the early days, he has had no choice but to keep improving himself until he cannot.

Click here to check out his 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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