Full Body Workouts: The Best Training for Busy People

Oct 6, 2022 | Strength & Conditioning

Man running in the street looking on heart rate monitor on smartwatch. Portrait of motivated athlete using fitness tracker training outdoors.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. Finding time for the gym while working a demanding full-time job feels almost impossible. Add in all the responsibilities of having a family, and working out can easily become an afterthought. If only there was a way to continue getting fit without going to the gym every day…

Eric Rayer is a former collegiate basketball player and owner of Faithful Fit Fatherhood. As the father of two (soon to be three), he understands the struggle of finding time for the gym with a busy lifestyle. Read on for his advice on how to keep your fitness goals in check, and be sure to check out his sample training day at the end!

Eric Rayer
Eric Rayer

Your Fitness Journey Doesn’t Have to End

There’s not enough time in the day.

When I became a dad two years ago, I used the same excuse… “I don’t have enough time.” With all of the new responsibilities of becoming a father and continuing to be successful in my career, working out became an “if” rather than a “when.”

I stopped prioritizing my own health and well-being by not scheduling time in my day to workout and live a healthy, active lifestyle. Then I discovered full-body training.

Full body workouts helped me prioritize my workouts again and keep chasing my fitness goals.

If you’re someone who struggles to find time to workout or you’re looking for a training program that suits a demanding lifestyle, keep reading to learn why full-body training is the best programming style for busy people.

What Is a Full Body Workout?

Full-body training is pretty self-explanatory – during every workout, you’re training every major muscle group. Instead of the typical “bro split” where you hit one muscle group per workout, full body workouts consolidate every muscle group into one workout through compound exercises.

A compound exercise is a movement that uses more than one muscle group and multiple joints in your body, like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, or bench press. Just think about performing a squat or deadlift – how many muscles are firing in order to execute the movement? Glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, etc. are all getting worked. Compound exercises are the best bang-for-your-buck exercises for developing strength and building muscle.

Unlike other training splits where you’re in the gym five to six times per week, full-body training is usually three (sometimes four) days per week. Even two full-body workouts per week can improve your overall strength and performance.

Make More Progress in the Gym

Full Body Workout Benefits

Get Your Time Back

The biggest benefit of doing full body workouts is that you don’t have to go to the gym every day to see results. For people with busy schedules, finding three days out of the week for the gym is a lot more manageable than finding five or six.

Not only is it more manageable, but it also frees up time to explore other hobbies or spend time with your family. You can be in and out of the gym in less than an hour with a full-body program. With two kids, working full-time, and being a trainer, full-body programming has allowed me to spend less time in the gym and more time focused on other aspects of my life.

Grow Muscle, Gain Strength, Get Leaner

Compared to other training splits where each day is focused on one or two muscle groups, full body workouts works multiple muscle groups in a single workout. A full body program is able to stimulate muscles more frequently throughout the week, which leads to more muscle growth.

In 2019, a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) found that for most people, full body workouts developed more muscle mass compared to a typical bodybuilding training split.

With the use of compound exercises, you activate more muscle fibers throughout your body. This ultimately enables your body to burn more calories and burn fat faster than with typical split-style programs. Focusing on compound movements will help you keep from getting the infamous “dad bod” (with the correct diet of course).

Better Recovery = Better Results

When you’re only training three to four times per week, your body is able to repair and fully recover between each workout. With the external stress that comes from a busy life, allowing yourself to fully recover from each workout is crucial to see results.

If you train three days per week, you essentially get a rest day in between each workout. Having a full rest/recovery day in between each workout allows your body to recover and your brain to recharge. Better recovery gives you more energy to show up ready to crush each workout.

How to Program a Full Body Workout

If you search “full body program/workout” online, hundreds of different styles and variations pop up. Everyone has their own idea of what they think is best, but what I have found to be successful for my clients and myself is focusing on movement patterns: upper body push, upper body pull, hinge, squat, lunge, etc.

Also, as a former collegiate athlete, I like to use movements that keep you an “athlete for life,” like jumps, skips, hops, and sprints. I program a major compound exercise at the beginning of the workout since they’re the most demanding on the body. I also like to use a lot of supersets in my programs to 1) be efficient with time and 2) get more overall work in.

Finally, you aren’t doing it right if you don’t have a pump session at the end of the workout.

Sample Full Body Workout

1a. Barbell Deadlift 4-5 sets x 3-5 reps
1b. Box Jumps 4-5 x 3 reps
2a. DB Bench Press 3-4 x 12,10,8,8
2b. SA Row 3-4 x 12,10,8,8/side
3a. Single Leg Leg Press 3 x 10/side
3b. Walking DB Lunges 3 x 10/side
4a. Dips 3 x 12-15
4b. DB Incline Curl 3 x 12-15
4c. DB Lateral Raise 3 x 12-15

Coach’s tip: 10-20 sets per week for major muscle groups is typically the sweet spot when it comes to developing size and strength.

Full-body training is the most efficient and effective way to workout with a busy lifestyle. Whether you’re looking to gain muscle, build strength, or lose weight, full-body training helps you achieve your fitness goal without spending hours in the gym.

With that being said, you should always choose the program, workout, or training style that you truly enjoy and can see yourself sticking to. Constantly switching programs or workouts will always lead to subpar results. Stick to a program (at least 12 wks), work hard, and watch those fitness gains roll in.

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