This M&S mass building routine is perfect for lifters who want to give full body workouts a try. All major muscle groups are trained, and the program includes a 20 rep set of squats.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Full body workouts have always been popular.

Many bodybuilding greats (including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Reeves) used them to build the foundation of their lean muscle mass.

The reason for their effectiveness is they allow you to train hard and only 3 days a week. This type of programming allows most to optimally recover between training sessions.

They’re perfect for any experience level. Beginners will thrive when using full body workouts. Intermediates will continue to notice progress towards their goals. And advanced lifters will be able to maintain their size and slowly build upon their established foundation.

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 of the most important exercises you should include into your full body workout routine. Then, we will give you an excellent full body workout routine to help you achieve your goals.

Lastly, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding full body workout.

5 Best Exercises for Full Body Workouts

When it comes to writing an effective full body workout, exercise selection is key.

Since you aren’t training frequently throughout the week, the exercises you choose to do should provide a lot of bang for your buck.

The best way to accomplish this is by including compound exercises in your workouts. Compound exercises are exercises that require multi-joint movements to achieve the full range of motion. As a result, they recruit more muscles to perform resulting in a higher calorie burn and more muscle stimulation.

The 5 we’ve listed below are arguably the best to perform. We’ve listed them in their most traditional variations, however, most can be performed a number of different ways to meet the individual needs of the person using the program. Experiment or work with a trainer to find the best variation for yourself.

1. Deadlift

The deadlift could very well be the most important movement you learn throughout your lifting career. It is a hip-hinge movement that builds the entire posterior chain. Perfecting your deadlift form and becoming relatively strong at the exercise lends itself very well to keeping one healthy and injury free throughout life.

As a result, the deadlift will be included in most workout routines you find online. That being said, not everyone is comfortable performing the conventional deadlift. Luckily, there are many deadlift variations out there and most people can find one they’re able to comfortably perform.

The most popular among beginners is the trap bar deadlift, as it puts the lifter in a more favorable upright lifting position. If you struggle with the deadlift, seek out the help of a trained professional to find an appropriate variation to perform.

2. Squat

The squat is another classic exercise you’ll find in most workout routines online. It is a compound exercise that trains a very fundamental movement pattern. Like the deadlift, the squat is a movement pattern that requires a lot of mobility and it is important to build and maintain efficiency throughout life.

The most popular variation of the squat is the barbell back squat. It also happens to be one of the more advanced variations one can perform – so if you need to, begin with an easier variation such as the goblet or front squat.

The squat is a complete lower body builder. Simply by getting good at squats, you’ll notice that your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves all grow. And since they are one of the toughest movements to perform, you’ll also burn a ton of calories in the process of your workouts by including them.

3. Row

The barbell bent over row is an often overlooked exercise, but there’s a reason the golden era bodybuilders performed them consistently. They’re an absolute back mass building exercise.

If you want to build the coveted V-taper, perfecting the row movement pattern is key. The stronger you get at them, the denser your back will appear.

Most don’t have issues performing the barbell bent over row. However, if you notice your shoulders or elbows build up nagging injuries there are plenty of alternatives you can perform.

One could build an impressive and strong, albeit not completely aesthetic, physique simply by utilizing these first 3 exercises alone.

4. Bench Press

To round out the aesthetic appearance, you need to include some of the press movements into your routine. Unfortunately for some, especially beginners, it’s easier to focus on the press movements while neglecting the three prioritized higher on this list.

That being said, they are still very important to train. The horizontal push is very much a foundational movement pattern and the bench press is the easiest way to become super-efficient at the movement.

Like the barbell row, if you suffer from some nagging joint discomfort, you may want to research and experiment with alternate variations of the horizontal push until you find a variation you’re comfortable performing.

The bench press works the muscles of the chest, shoulders (primarily front delt) and triceps. By perfecting the movement and becoming stronger at it, you will build all of these muscle groups.

5. Overhead Press

The final movement pattern everyone should include into their full body workout routines is the overhead press. The overhead press trains the important vertical push movement pattern.

Overhead presses primarily target the muscles of the shoulder but will also indirectly target the triceps and require a ton of core stability to perform efficiently.

Perfecting this movement pattern and getting stronger at it equates to better shoulder development and a strong and sturdy core.

Again, the barbell variation isn’t for everyone. You may find it bothers your shoulders or elbows. If this is the case, research and work with someone to find an appropriate variation for yourself. Then, proceed to perfect the movement pattern.

M&S Full Body Schedule & Overview

This is a muscle and strength building program for beginner and early intermediate lifters. It is designed to target all major and minor muscle groups, allowing you to maximize hypertrophy (the muscle building process) through the use of progressive resistance.

You will be training 3 days per week, resting at least one day in between sessions. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Wednesday - Workout B
  • Friday - Workout C

M&S Full Body Workout Notes

How to work ramped 5x5 sets

The first 2 sets are "working warm up" sets. The weight you use for your warm up sets will be based upon the resistance used during your 3 working sets. Here is the set up:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3-5 - 100% (working weight) x 5 reps

So if you are using 200 pounds as your working weight for sets 3, 4 and 5, your workout would look like this:

  • Set 1 - 120 pounds (60%) x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 160 pounds (80%) x 5 reps
  • Sets 3-5 - 200 pounds (working weight) x 5 reps

Ramped 3x5 sets for deadlifts

This is performed in the same way you worked your 5x5 ramped sets, but with only one working set:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3 - 100% (working weight) x 5 reps

Workout C - Ramped 3x5 squats

If your squat sets during Workout A felt manageable, try to add 5 pounds to your working set during Workout C. Here's how your Workout C squatting would look like:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3 - Workout A's working weight + 5 pounds x 5 reps

How much weight to use per set

For a given exercise, use the same weight for each set. When this amount of resistance feels manageable, add another 5-10 pounds to the bar. You want to focus on progression at all times, so when you are able to, load the bar.

Progression of weight drives gains. It is essential, and this program will not yield gains without it.

Rest between sets

For major lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and barbell rows, rest about 2 minutes in between sets. You can use 60 to 90 seconds rest between sets for all other movements.

Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Squats (Ramped) 5 5
Bench Press (Ramped) 5 5
Barbell Row (Ramped) 5 5
Upright Row 3 10
Skullcrushers 3 10
Dumbbell Curls 3 10
Leg Curls 3 12-15
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3 10-15

Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts (Ramped) 3 5
Romanian Deadlift 2 8-12
Seated Overhead Press 3 8-10
Pull Ups or Inverted Rows 3 10-15
Dips 3 10-20
Barbell Shrugs 3 10
Standing or Seated Calf Raise 3 12-15
Plank 3 60 seconds

Workout C

Exercise Sets Reps
Squats (Ramped) 3 5
Squats 1 20
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10-15
Seated Arnold Press 3 10-15
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10
Barbell Curls 3 10
Leg Curls 3 12-15
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3 10-15

FAQs about Full Body Workouts

In this section, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about full body workout routines according to google.

If you have any additional questions about the routine listed above or full body workouts in general, please feel free to leave us a comment below.

1. Can you do full body workouts every day?

You can, yes. However, for most, it won’t provide that much benefit.

Those who primarily perform a full body workout every day are generally on contest prep. If you’re simply looking to improve your physique and/or health, performing a full body workout 2-4 times per week is plenty.

If you’re thinking working out more frequently will equate to you achieving results faster, think again. Building muscle, getting stronger, and losing body fat all take time. It’s a process and takes consistent dedication.

Instead of opting to go to the gym every day, look to modify other behaviors in your life to ensure you get the best results possible and seek out other hobbies that are conducive to the overall lifestyle you’d like for yourself.

2. Is it better to do a full body workout?

Better is subjective. Full body workouts are a good fit for most recreational lifters as they provide a sufficient amount of work in an efficient amount of time for most peoples’ lifestyles.

However, for those who have goals to become completive lifters or competitive strength athletes, once you surpass a certain training threshold, you may require more stimulus to achieve the results you’d like.

That being said, getting to this point will take quite a bit of time and it’s important when weight training to always opt for the lowest total amount of work it requires to achieve the maximum amount of results.

3. How many times a week should you do full body workouts?

For most performing a full body workout routine anywhere between 2-4 weight training sessions per week is sufficient to build strength and improve body composition.

This particular routine calls for 3 full body workouts per week. That falls into the range listed above and will result in great progress for most individuals.

Start out slow. Improve upon your lifts. Build up your strength and lean muscle mass slowly over the years. Once things stop working, look to modify slightly.

4. Can you build muscle with a full body workout?

Full body workouts are extremely effective for those looking to build lean muscle. They accomplish everything required to stimulate hypertrophy.

They allow you to maximize your workload in any one training session. They allow you to train each muscle with a higher training frequency throughout the week. And they provide an optimal amount of time in between training sessions to promote muscle recovery.

However, to build muscle, you will need the nutritional stimulus as well. You’ll have to eat in a caloric surplus and you will have to eat a sufficient amount of protein each day.

Taking things a step further, to completely optimize your muscle growth you’ll want to consume your protein periodically throughout the day and at ~25-40g per meal.

Lastly, you’ll want to ensure you get your sleep as it may very well be the most critical part of the muscle building equation.

5. How long should full body workouts be?

It depends on the total amount of work being performed in the session. Most full body workouts will generally take anywhere between 45-90 minutes to complete.

This will depend on several different factors including weight used, rep tempo, rest times, rep and set counts, etc.

6. Should you perform cardio on your rest days?

Yes, you can perform cardio during the rest days of a full body workout routine. You will want to be conscious of your individual ability to recover and your overarching fitness goal, however.

For those looking to build lean muscle mass, performing HIIT on rest days doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not only are you increasing the amount of calories you’ll need to consume to build muscle, you’ll also be jeopardizing your ability to recover in between training sessions.

For most, a light cardio session such as walking on rest days seems to work best. It can help alleviate muscle soreness, promote recovery, and burn calories without sacrificing muscle tissue.

7. Are full body workouts or splits better?

It depends on your goal, experience level, and the split you’re talking about. As mentioned throughout this article, full body workouts are great for most individuals. It allows you to get in a lot of work to promote muscle growth without having to dedicate your entire life to the gym.

If you have competition goals or are more advanced, however, you may require more stimulus to achieve the results you want.

Most will be able to progress from their full body workouts into an upper/lower split and see phenomenal results. Others who are even more advanced may need to increase their training frequency and progress from upper/lower splits to push/pull/legs splits.

Most will want to avoid body part splits as they require a lot of time to perform and don’t allow you to get as much work in as you could utilizing the other split styles.

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

339 Comments
Mani
Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2023 - 18:20

Hi Steve,

Is there a rough outline for a diet plan for this workout to help out?

If not, is there somewhere you can point to have a rough idea to follow and for protein intake?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/26/2023 - 20:18

Hey Mani, Steve didn't include a diet with this one. What's your goal? Maybe I can help you find something.

George
Posted on: Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:10

On workout C,you mention squat 1x20reps,right? Do you wanna clarify that? And what if i wanna replace the seated woth normal overhead press,should i stick to the same sets and reps? Thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/18/2023 - 21:47

Not sure what is needed to clarify. 1 set of 20 reps, and it should be challenging. Yes, same sets and reps if you do normal overhead press.

George
Posted on: Sun, 01/29/2023 - 07:16

Thanks for ur reply. Are you aware of a replacement workout routine after these 12 weeks?! This is so amazing, however ibthink after 12 weeks should be replaced,right?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/29/2023 - 12:12

Hey George, read this one, and it should help you make that choice. I recommend changing after three months, but if you want to keep going with this one and you see results, roll with it.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Greg
Posted on: Sun, 01/08/2023 - 00:31

Hello, the squad exercises they don't state if it's barbell back, barbell front or standard body squads only exercises please confirm?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/18/2023 - 21:45

*Squat, and it's back barbell squat.

Geoffrey
Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 15:38

Hi Roger,
this program or the fullbody "the total package"? What differences between the two?
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 19:11

Hey Geoffrey, there are a lot of similarities, huh?

This program has a little more emphasis on strength while Josh's program places more emphasis on hypertrophy. Outside of that, they are pretty comparable. You can't go wrong with either.

Cagri
Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 12:26

Hi,

Some people say that you should not push yourself to failure when it comes to compound exercises. Is that correct?

Do you recommend dropsets for compound/ isolation exercises in the end?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 18:19

Hello, Cagri. Not sure who "some people" are, but going to failure on compound exercises is ok as long as you do it correctly and safely.

Correctly: go to failure on the last set only when you are going to move on to another exercise.

Safely: use a spotter or partner to be ready to help if you need it. Also, don't compromise form for another rep.

I like drop sets for both types of exercises, and if you feel you can benefit from them, then do them on the last set of each exercise.

Sterling
Posted on: Tue, 11/15/2022 - 22:46

I workout at home. Equipment description doesn’t say machines, but workout calls for leg curls….recommend any alternative exercise without machines?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 11/22/2022 - 08:54
Kanishk Wagh
Posted on: Wed, 11/09/2022 - 14:01

Hey I am going to the gym since april 2022 now and have gained 8 kgs ( my goal is to gain weight and muscle) and was following bro split for 6 months and followed a ppl for a month 6 days a week but now i am going to go to gym 3 days a week cause of college i am busy so looking to follow a new workout routine. So should i follow this workout routinwle or the intermediate one. ( idk how you consider if i am beginner or intermediate) pls respond as soon as possible I am 19M 177Cm 58kg

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/13/2022 - 21:38

This program is a good one, and I would call you an intermediate now, Kanishk. Also, a request. Please don't include the respond as soon as possible in the future. I always do my best when the time permits. Comments have to be approved before they get answered.

Meg
Posted on: Mon, 10/17/2022 - 20:18

Hi, Could you tell me what a normal progression should look like for the bench press? I’m a 33 y/o female and have been following the program consistently since mid August 2022. I’m stalled on the bench at 85lbs (working weight). I think I started with 50-55lbs when I began. I might be trying to progress too fast but some days 85lbs feels manageable only for it to be too heavy the next time. I’m able to put more weight on the bar for all other compound lifts basically workout to workout so I was just curious if I was doing something wrong with regard to the bench press. Thank you! Really enjoying the program overall.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/19/2022 - 08:04

Hi, Meg! If you started with 50-55 and are now at 85 on some days, then you've made serious progress in a short time. I would actually suggest going to 80 or even 75 and focusing on how you control the weight for the reps. Once you get to the point that the 75 or 80 feels easy to work with, then you should start seeing jumps again. They may still be small jumps, but it beats no progress at all. Hope this helps!

Seamus Galvin
Posted on: Wed, 10/05/2022 - 04:36

Hello! I have a question regarding barbell exercises. Is it ok if I use dumbbells instead of a barbell. I think a barbell is still too heavy for me since I am 14.

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 10/08/2022 - 17:16

Absolutely, and you're smart for considering that, Seamus. Wait until you're comfortable before using a barbell. Let us know how it goes on the program, and thanks for reading M&S!

Michael
Posted on: Mon, 10/03/2022 - 22:07

I really like this routine but the resting alone takes up 45 minutes. How can this workout be done in 45-60 minutes? It's taking me more like 90 minutes or more.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 10/07/2022 - 07:05

Cut the rest time in half, and if there are different exercises in closer proximity that work similar to those on the program, switch them out. Those help me when I need to be in and out of the gym.

Seamus Galvin
Posted on: Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:44

Hello, I am now just starting this workout routine and I have a few questions. Is it ok to start at any age? I am 14 and want to try this, but idk if I am too young to start going to the gym.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 09/28/2022 - 21:23

14 is a great age as long as you're careful and have a trainer or someone with experience helping you, Seamus. Have a local trainer or coach help you with this, and I think you will see results.

Raffaele
Posted on: Mon, 09/12/2022 - 08:49

Hello Steve,
first of all.... Thank you for your workouts and your precious tips!
I'va a little question about this Fullbody routine. I would start today , my goal is to build lean muscle (i'm coming from a great fat loss "54Kg" in 5 years and many gym hours) and with help of my doc I'll start bulk diet.
Usally I do workout 4day/week, M/T W/F. So my question is: it's possibile to do this fullbody workout 4times/week or you think that it's no good anyway? Or you think that I need to consider another split routine, like Upper/Lower or P/P/L ? I don't like bro split.

Thank you so much

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:16

Hi, Raffaele. It's certainly possible to do this workout four times a week. Run it, and let us know how it goes for you.

Bartek
Posted on: Sun, 09/11/2022 - 15:45

Hi, only major lifts mention warming up. Should I add 1 warmup set per exercise or can I just go straight to main sets?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:57

By the time you finish the major lifts you should be good to go right into main sets, Bartek. If you want to do one warm-up set to focus on form, it would be alright, but not necessary.

Maor
Posted on: Mon, 09/05/2022 - 18:27

Hey roger I loved the routine and I’m thinking of trying it the problem is I used to do a push pull legs split with a lot of volume do you think my body will not react to this program? I’m sorry if it’s dumb question

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 09/06/2022 - 08:55

Actually, I think it will serve as a shock to the system, which can actually help you.

brad
Posted on: Mon, 09/05/2022 - 11:56

Bout to get swoll on this here workout plan. will holler back in 10 weeks

Sandy
Posted on: Sun, 08/28/2022 - 02:50

Can I do cardio like biking, jogging right away after full body workout?
Thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 08/28/2022 - 13:59

I would say give yourself a few minutes to stretch and prepare for the cardio activity you choose, but yes, you can do it after the workout.

Clyde
Posted on: Mon, 08/22/2022 - 13:01

I just downloaded this workout routine and want to give it a try. I’ve been hitting the gym for 2 months now I’m currently using the body recomposition method is this workout plan good for me will you recommend me another routine. Btw I’m also using full body workout 5 compound movements bench press, deadlift,squat,row and shoulder press 3x a week

Sam
Posted on: Thu, 08/18/2022 - 09:01

Great workout routine! Already seeing results. My question is, it says duration is 12 weeks. Is there another routine we should follow after 12 weeks, or just continue with this? Thank you,

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/19/2022 - 08:06

You can do it either way, Sam. Once you finish this 12 weeks, determine your new goals and come on back. We'll have something for ya if you choose to change it up. In the meantime, give this one all you got!

Rayn haque
Posted on: Mon, 08/15/2022 - 21:38

I am in planet fitness and they don't have machine for ab wheel roll out what can I do now?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/19/2022 - 08:07

You can buy an ab wheel at most sporting good stores and keep it in your gym bag. You can also substitute with cable crunches with a rope attachment.

Miguel
Posted on: Tue, 08/02/2022 - 07:50

On Workout C the Squat for 20 reps, what's the weight meant to be? I am guessing something light, but how much % of the working workout?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/12/2022 - 08:58

I would suggest the weight you warm up with on squats should be what you take for the 20 rep ride, Miguel. Start with that and add a little weight each week if it's too easy.

Abdullah Ali
Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 18:56

Hey..Can I replacement the pull ups in workout B with latpulldown and what is the range of the sets and reps I do for build muscles

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 07/28/2022 - 08:44

This workout is designed for building muscle, Abdullah. Do the sets and reps as Steve wrote.

If your gym doesn't have a pullup assistant machine, then pulldowns will be fine. If there is an assistant machine, go with that instead so you can get better at pullups.

KK
Posted on: Sat, 07/09/2022 - 20:52

I just started doing this program. How would you suggest increasing weight each week? If I did my 5x5 squats with my ramped weight at 165 last week, do I increase by 5lbs or more?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 08:48

Per the article...

"When this amount of resistance feels manageable, add another 5-10 pounds to the bar. You want to focus on progression at all times, so when you are able to, load the bar."

Tub
Posted on: Fri, 07/08/2022 - 11:04

Hi,

Can I train this program as strength training and hypertrophy? By that I mean switch between training styles every 3-4 weeks

Or do you suggest strength training where I train multiple major muscle groups, like 3 exercise/day but with heavy weights?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 08:17

Hey Tub, I would suggest changing it up every 8 weeks instead of 3-4. 8 weeks would give your more time to adapt and to reap the benefits of the focus you're working on.

Ciaran Mc carthy
Posted on: Tue, 06/07/2022 - 17:32

Is there an intermediate or advanced full body workout plan?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 06/09/2022 - 08:16
frederic fernandes
Posted on: Mon, 05/02/2022 - 06:31

bonjour une idee de variante en fullbody j ai 46 ans je entraine depuis un bon moment mais j ai moins de temps qu avant entre boulot et enfants je voudrais passer sur trop jour d entrainement toutes l annee une idee d entrainement evolutifs ou varier merci

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:24

For those that don't understand French, Frederic asked "hello an idea for a fullbody variant I am 46 years old I have been training for a while but I have less time than before between work and children I would like to spend too many training days all year an idea for training that can be changed or vary thank you."

Frederic, thank you for the question, you can try the following workout and see if it will help you out with your schedule. All the best!

Frédéric, merci pour la question, vous pouvez essayer l'entraînement suivant et voir s'il vous aidera avec votre emploi du temps. Tous mes vœux!

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-workout-for-b...