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!

245 Comments
Ashnan Kirithar...
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 14:04

Hi, how many calories do you burn in this workout routine?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:44

Hi, Ashnan. That is individual based. One person may burn more calories than another depending on their experience, weight, speed, etc. The best option is to wear a heart rate monitor with a calorie tracker to figure out what you burn when you do the workout.

Charles
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:17

Hi, I'm an intermediate lifter, just need something to get me back going without hurting myself. I haven't been to the gym for 2 months, is this a good way to start again? Should i change the reps?
Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:43

Go with this one as is, Charles. I'm sure you'll see positive results.

Houssein
Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2021 - 07:30

Hi what come after this program

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 21:01

Hi, Houseein. After you complete this program, there are many others to choose from here on M&S. Type your goal into the search bar and look each over to find the one that would best suit your goals.

Joseph Hall
Posted on: Sat, 08/21/2021 - 04:48

Hi, great workout and looking forward to trying it, when doing the 20 rep squat what percentage of 1RM or working weight should you use? Thanks, Joe

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 21:03

Hi, Joe. Start by trying 50% of your 1RM and see how that feels. Some people can handle higher reps with more weight than others. 50% is a good weight to begin with. Depending on how easy it is for you, add or subtract 5% next time. Hope this helps!

Joseph Hall
Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2021 - 12:47

Thanks Roger, appreciate the response

Enrico Rinaudo
Posted on: Mon, 07/19/2021 - 04:15

Hi,
first of, thanks for this amazing website.

I’m 30 years old and have stopped working out for quite some time. Now, I’d like to start over again.

Do you recommend doing this workout program on Mon, Wed, Frid and on Tue and Thurs a calisthenics workout like this one : https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/calisthenics-workout-to-impro... , followed by some Concept 2 rowing or do you think it’ll be counterproductive to combine this Full Body Workout and the calisthenics workout?

Also, since I’m starting again to hit the gym, but I’m not a beginner, do you think it’d be better to follow the program on this page or this one: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/beginner-fullbody-workout.html?

Thanks very much to whomever will respond,
Enrico

P.s. Sorry for my English, but I’m Italian.

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/19/2021 - 10:01

Hey Enrico - I would stick with just this program followed by some cardio.

Enrico Rinaudo
Posted on: Mon, 07/19/2021 - 15:15

Hi,
Thanks for answering.

Would it be too tiring to do the calisthenics and this full body workout in the same week? In the calisthenics workout it is written that using them in conjunction with a bodybuilding training program can help improve overall fitness and physique.

Thanks

Michael Carey
Posted on: Sun, 06/13/2021 - 19:04

What would suggest after this 12 week program? Than coming back after 12 more weeks.

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 06/14/2021 - 10:42

Hey Michael - you can repeat this program if you enjoyed it!

Michael Carey
Posted on: Mon, 06/14/2021 - 10:59

What about something with higher reps and then come back to this one. Any suggestions?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 06/15/2021 - 08:57

How many days are you looking to workout each week? That'll help me suggest programs!

Kamal Bhandari
Posted on: Sun, 06/06/2021 - 00:17

As a beginner who wants to lose fat and build lean muscle, how long should I stick to the above, thrice a week full body workout program?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 06/07/2021 - 10:34

Hey Kamal - this is a 12 week program.

Steve
Posted on: Wed, 05/26/2021 - 16:05

What would be the best alternatives for the cable machine exercises? Lying leg curl?

Thank you

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 05/28/2021 - 10:30

Hey Steve - are you looking for alternatives for the cable exercises and the lying leg curl?

Leo
Posted on: Tue, 05/25/2021 - 14:52

Hi - I haven't been to the gym for about a year now, as I had to focus on my degree.. should I do preliminary exercising or preparation before I start this plan, or is it better to just go straight into the plan?

Thanks

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 05/26/2021 - 09:32

Hey Leo - you can go straight into this plan. Keep your weights manageable and really focus on form.

paul
Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 06:04

Hi - for workout C, whats the recommended weight for the 20x burn squats? same as final 3 for ramped or a lower %?
Cheers

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 09:23

Hey paul - the weight for the set of 20 will be lower than the other squat sets. I would use 50% of your working weight for the set of 20.

Iain Rudd
Posted on: Tue, 04/20/2021 - 21:07

Can I substitute machine squats for barbell squats?

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 09:27

Hey Iain - Ideally you'll want to do barbell squats, but you can substitute if needed.

Chris
Posted on: Mon, 03/01/2021 - 15:02

Hi, I just completed this 12-week routine and loved it. I'm amazed at the gains I've made in a short period of time.

Is there another full-body routine that you can recommend as a follow-up to this? Or would recommend continuing with this past the 12 weeks. Thanks!

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 03/02/2021 - 16:39

Hey Chris - you can repeat the program, especially if it's working for you. I would take a deload week in between finishing the first 12 weeks and restarting.

KRAI
Posted on: Sat, 01/30/2021 - 19:12

How many weeks should any particular program be followed and if taking a break after so many weeks of working out, how long should that break be?

Thank you

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:10

Hey Krai - this specific program is meant to last 12 weeks.

George
Posted on: Fri, 01/29/2021 - 12:30

Is it ok to swap out squats for front squats on workout C but still do regular squats for the burnout 20 reps?

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 01/29/2021 - 14:06

Hey George - yes that is fine

Andrew
Posted on: Mon, 01/11/2021 - 22:52

Hi - thanks for great article. Wanted to ask - how do you define “working weight”? What % of your 1RM would that be? Thanks.

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 01/12/2021 - 11:05

Hey Andrew - working weight can be 90% of your 1RM

Triston
Posted on: Mon, 05/10/2021 - 22:53

90% of your 1RM for 5 reps? That doesn't make much sense, unless I'm misunderstanding something?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 05/11/2021 - 09:32

Hey Triston - 90% of your 1RM equals 100% of your working weight. The above comment was asking for clarification on the definition of 'working weight'.

Robert Stewart
Posted on: Thu, 12/17/2020 - 12:29

Could I get a meal plan for this routine potentially? I would like to know what meals to prep through the week. I plan on doing this workout for the 3 days and light/moderate cardio on my rest days. I’m going to add abdominal/core workouts as well. I want to know daily calories and protein intakes. Thanks!

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 12/18/2020 - 09:50

Hey Robert - we can't provide you with an exact meal plan to follow. You can use our BMR calculator (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator) to determine your daily caloric needs and then check out this article about calculating your macros (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/determine-daily-calorie-macro...).

Tom
Posted on: Sun, 12/13/2020 - 07:03

Hi,
I don’t have an ez bar accessible, or a leg curl machine. Can I replace the skullcrushers and leg curls with another exercise? I was thinking leg extensions for the leg curls but I’m not sure about the skullcrushers.

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 12/14/2020 - 09:44

Hey Tom - you can do overhead dumbbell extensions in place of skullcrushers. For the leg curls, you can do Romanian deadlifts.

Artem
Posted on: Tue, 12/08/2020 - 15:21

I've been training with split sessions for a couple of years now. And I have made some mass results.
Recently I feel like stopped to gain.
Will this routine help me to progress in muscle building, considering I've used some volume for insane pump on a trainings with the split routine?
Will it be enough for for me?

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 12/09/2020 - 09:11

Hey Artem - diet plays the largest role in gaining mass. You can always try out the routine and monitor your progress.

Amaury
Posted on: Thu, 10/29/2020 - 09:21

Is there an intermediate or pro training level?

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 10/29/2020 - 09:25

Hey Amaury - this workout can be done by intermediate and pro lifters

Avinash
Posted on: Wed, 10/28/2020 - 11:05

Can I do 20min of cardio after every session?

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 10/29/2020 - 09:10

Hey Avinash - yes you can

Jagatjeet
Posted on: Sat, 10/24/2020 - 05:28

I am skinny-fat
Will this workout help me in reducing fat around belly and building muscle at the same time ?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:37

Hey Jagatjeet - sadly, you can't spot-reduce fat. To lower your body fat, you should be eating in a caloric deficit. You can find out your daily caloric need with our BMR calculator: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Sam
Posted on: Wed, 10/07/2020 - 20:22

Any tips or advice on how to modify this to be a little more lower body focused? I'm a woman and my goal is to achieve more of an hourglass shape.

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