A full-body workout sounds like they would take a long time. After all, there are so many parts of the body you need to hit in order to work every muscle. But when you boil down the exercises you need to perform in order to cover every area, there are only three you need to be concerned with: a push, a pull, and a squat.
Any kind of pressing exercise will train your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Any pulling movement (a row or chinup variation) recruits your back, rear delts, biceps, and forearms. Squatting movements (and deadlifts, which aren’t quite a squat but require all the same muscles) take care of the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Even your calves get some stimulation as they help to stabilize your squat. Your abs, of course, get worked on all these movement patterns, provided they’re done with free weights rather than machines, and can work to brace your spine as they’re supposed to.
The full-body workout below contains everything you need to put on size fast—a squat, press, and pullup—done with heavy weights. The amount of weight you use will have the greatest influence on the length of the session (the heavier you go, the longer it will take you to work up to your work-set weight), but you should be able to wrap it up within 45 minutes. And for more great (and simple) workouts, here’s the Best Quickie Workout You Can Do in Your Bathroom.
Directions: Complete all five sets for the squat and then perform the overhead press and weighted pull-up in alternating fashion. That is, complete a set of the press, rest, then do a set of the pullup, rest again, and repeat until you’ve finished all five sets for each.
Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Rest: 120 sec.
Set up in a squat rack or cage. Grasp the bar as far apart as is comfortable and step under it. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and nudge the bar out of the rack. Step back and stand with your feet shoulder width and your toes turned slightly outward. Take a deep breath and bend your hips back and then bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back. Push your knees outward as you descend. Extend your hips to come back up, continuing to push your knees outward.
Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Rest: 60 sec.
Set the bar up in a squat rack or cage and grasp it just outside shoulder width. Take the bar off the rack and hold it at shoulder level with your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Squeeze the bar and brace your abs. Press the bar overhead, pushing your head forward and shrugging your traps as the bar passes your face.
Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Rest: 60 sec.
Attach a weighted belt to your waist or hold a dumbbell between your feet. Hang from a pullup bar with hands just outside shoulder width. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. If you can’t complete your reps with weight for this full-body workout, it’s okay to use body weight alone. And for more great fitness advice, check out the Single Greatest Cardio Machine Ever.
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