How to structure full body workouts???

I utilize two full body workouts when I am doing alot of wrestling training and cardio. I will do one heavy press movement (ie flat bench, incline, dips, close grip press), one heavy pull (chin or row variation) and one heavy hip extension movement (squat, deadlift, powerclean, hacksquat, leg press) and some ab work. In contrast, in the off season when I have more recovery time I usually find far superior strength and mass gains from a split routine…however now many people, with weight training as their main goal, seem to recommend full body routines.

I believe keys to full body routines are low volume and not going to failure. But if strength and mass gains are the main goal, is it better to hit different muscles and movement patterns more completely with a split routine? With full body workouts, one can’t do as many exercises per muscle group or movement pattern, but one can hit each muscle or movement pattern more often.

My question is, how is it best to structure full body routines? And what are the advantages they have over split routines, assuming the goals of the lifter are to gain as much muscle mass and strength as possible?

Joe Kenn “The coach’s strenght training playbook”
Michael Boyle “Functional training for sports”
Micheel Boyle “Designing strenght training programs and facilities”
Schuler & Cosgrove “New rules of lifting”

Altought split routines are a must for advance bodybuilder, I don’t find them especially a must for athletes (maybe upper-lower split). Does an athlete should utilize bodybuilding priciples when wanting to increase mmass? I think he should avoid bb approach when this is the goal… forget about splits and about pre-fatigue, isolation, cheating, forced reps etc…
Insetad, do larger volume of compund movements (larger number of sets:10-15 and low reps 4-6 with short rest WITHOUT failure- thus with 8RM weight). You can also do a drop sets with compund…

I am back pumping Iron, for the past two weeks. For me its all about full body routines, split routines have there place. For example, close to competition time, in boxing or sprinting, i would drop afew exercises.

lol everything in that article tells me that atheltes should train full body routines the benefits of the split routines arent desired for atheltes all except ofcourse overtraining wich can be avoided simply by knowing what your doing.

Right now I do two total body per week, typically something like…

bent over row

I’ll do that twice a week, for 3 or 4 weeks and then after a 3 week load and 1 week deload change the exercises and repeat ie

chin ups
diff abs

But for off season, if I add a 3rd full body session (because the volume and intensity of my cardio and wrestling will be way down) how should I cycle the exercises?

should I continue as I have been doing, keeping the same 3 excercises for 4-5 week waves then completely change or should I do something more like this…


Bench Heavy 1-5
Shrug reps 8+
Deadlift reps 5
abs light

Rows heavy 3-5
Romanian deadlift 5-8
incline bench reps 8+
abs heavy

Squat heavy 1-5
chins reps 8+
dips reps 8+
abs light

then after 4-5 week wave change up the exercises again and change the focus of which exercises I go heavier on, or is that too much variation?


I agree that the low reps, 4-6, with high voume and compound movements is the best for hypertrophy for an athlete, but is too much low rep work in the 4-6 range too hard on the body? Is it harder on the body then 8+ work? Or is simply using less weight, more sets and avoiding failure enough to prevent the low reps from being too hard on the body and joints?

yeah you sort of have the right idea. Although I realize there is some differing opinions on this, you can move from doing 85-90% for sets to doing 75-80% for sets. Although keep in mind you could alternate the %s throughout the week. Just as an example, do your main exercises 4x4 at 85% on mondays and fridays and do 4x6 at 75-80% on wednesdays.

You can increase the repetitions or the number of sets depending on your goals. For a wrestler where there is a tremendous need for strength to weight ratio, I would recommend keeping the repetitions overall lower and just adding in more sets. IMO this keeps the speed/force component of the work higher due to less overall fatigue.

That’s it!

Do a set for 5 reps with 6RM, then reduce the weight for 10-20% and do a lot of sets for 4-6reps with shorter rest, posibly longer eccentrics too. This is from Tsatsouline book!
I really don’t love to do large number of reps for some exercises (DL for example), but for other larger numbewr of reps can be done…

Also, Al Vermeil utilizes hybrids of compunds with Olys for “functional mass”

I hear ya