Muscle & Strength Full Body Workout Routine

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

Build Muscle
Full Body
12 weeks
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female
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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
Fullbody Workout
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
Fullbody Workout
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
Fullbody Workout
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!

189 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 03/03/2020 - 10:48
Albert L Burguete

ONE OF the Best break down on Full Body Workout articles I've seen ! Thank you for the Awesome details !

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Posted Sun, 02/02/2020 - 11:21

What would be an intermediate version of this? Would cardio or Hits for abs be to much?

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Posted Tue, 01/21/2020 - 09:41

due to crowd in the gym- is it OK to change order of the exercises or given order should be followed for specific reason?

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Posted Tue, 01/21/2020 - 12:26

Hi GoRan,

You gotta do what you gotta do. The order is the preferred order, but if it's not feasible to do, you'll have to call some audibles.

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Posted Mon, 01/06/2020 - 18:48

it looks like lower back (deadlift, romanian deadlift) is only hit one time per week? I thought muscles had to be hit at least twice a week to see real progress?

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Posted Mon, 11/25/2019 - 21:10

Quick question. Whats the weight on workout C for the 20 rep set?

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Posted Mon, 11/11/2019 - 00:40
Philip Domenichiello

Hay so do I need to change workouts ever. I just don’t want to plateau with my muscle growth

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Posted Wed, 10/30/2019 - 19:07

Hi josh i ve been doing this workout fot about 4 weeks , since 2 days ago i have a cast on my ankle for about 3 more weeks , dr told me i coud do gym but seated , can i still do this workout without squats deathlift and legs excersice??or what d you recomend

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Posted Thu, 10/31/2019 - 09:42

Hi Ivanjk,

With injury, I always recommend seeking the advice of a trainer in person vs asking over the internet. There are too many unknown variables to provide adequate recommedations.

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Posted Thu, 10/31/2019 - 11:56

Thank you very much
I have another question i am 32 years old my height is 5'10 and my weight 79kg and i have some fat on my.belly and pecs do you recomend this workout to loose fat and gain muscle o what workout do you recomend?

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Posted Mon, 09/30/2019 - 12:57
Casey Drogin

Is this a good program to start with for building strength? Or would you recommend a simpler program focused on compound lifts (Blahas Ice Cream, Stronglifts, etc). Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 08/21/2019 - 02:49
Mahmudul Hasan

Full body workout with only compound moves?

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Posted Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:58
Frankie K Wilson

Why can't you do a full body workout with only compound movements?

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Posted Sun, 08/04/2019 - 23:04
Mehdi Mollahosseini

I am on week 11 and I have been very satisfied with the results, great gains in major lifts. Do you have any suggestion for next after this is completed? I was planning for Bill Starr's 5x5 linear ... any other or better plans to suggest? that would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 08/05/2019 - 15:21

Hi Mehdi,

That would be an awesome program to transition into after this one.

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 14:37

Hi josh am 53 and been weight trainning on and of since i was 23. Am i too old to do this routine

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:36

Hi Patrick,

Absolutely not. You can perform this routine at any age. Just be sure to be aware of your individual recovery levels to monitor your work load. I'd say you'd probably be fine though.

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Posted Sun, 06/09/2019 - 06:21

Could use this supplements with this workout?
Height: 178
Weight: 74


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Posted Fri, 06/07/2019 - 09:17
Austin Foust


I am about to start this workout program. But how many cals should I be taking in while doing this? I am trying to build muscle. 26 YO male, 6'3, 174 pounds - probably about 14% body fat.

Thank you!

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Posted Fri, 06/07/2019 - 14:16

Hi Austin,

Here's a helpful tool for figuring out your calorie needs:

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Posted Thu, 05/02/2019 - 19:53

I've been doing this routine for about a month now and strength has increased a little, I have a question though, for the 3x10 lifting movements I can do the 10 reps okay with a certain weight however i know i could complete 7-8 reps with a heavier weight. I've found a lot of my dumbbell lifts have increased the least because of the high rep range, would it be of benefit for me to lower the reps and increase the weight and working up on the new weight until I can complete the 10 reps again before changing to a heavier weight again?. I'm fairly new to lifting, I've only been lifting for 5 months.

thanks in advance!

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Posted Wed, 05/01/2019 - 13:25

I do Kung-Fu a few times a week (generally T/Th/Su), which at 40 already makes my legs sore. Would this routine still be advisable for M/W/F ? I know I need more strength training for a multitude of reasons.

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Posted Sun, 04/14/2019 - 07:09

Hi josh,

Would this routine be fine for me to follow if I plan on doing it Monday, Tuesday, Friday nights and CrossFit Monday-Friday?

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Posted Mon, 04/15/2019 - 09:23

Hi Harley,

I would not recommend doing this in addition to CrossFit M-F.

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Posted Mon, 04/15/2019 - 17:07

What would you recommend than ?

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Posted Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:21

Hi Harley,

If you're doing crossfit M-F, I'd recommend just doing crossfit. If you're not doing crossfit, I'd recommend doing this program.

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Posted Thu, 03/07/2019 - 09:59

What are some exercises I could swap the ab wheel roll out for that still has the same benefit?

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Posted Fri, 03/08/2019 - 09:50

Hi James,

Planks, hand walk outs, dead bugs. Any of those should do the trick.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 03/08/2019 - 23:14

Thank you for the reply. Just got one more question, what about doing exercises like sit-ups, leg raises or rope crunches instead of those body weight ones you suggested So i can keep adding weight over time?

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Posted Mon, 03/11/2019 - 09:27

Hi James,

Sure, those are fine too.

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Posted Fri, 02/01/2019 - 23:46

what week is the deload week?

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Posted Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:44
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Posted Sun, 01/27/2019 - 11:44

Is it Worth adding more forearm exercises?

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2019 - 09:46

Hi Gov,

Sure, if your goal is bigger forearms.

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Posted Sun, 01/27/2019 - 11:20

How should I fit this work out around running?
I'm currently doing 5 miles once and 2.5 miles twice a week.

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2019 - 09:47

Hi Gov,

You can perform it on days you don't run or run in the mornings and lift in the afternoons.

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2019 - 22:10

Just a diet question... I'm starting your program this coming Monday and I was wanting to know which of your diets works best.... Thanks


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Posted Fri, 01/25/2019 - 09:41

Hi Norm,

Whichever diet will allow you to be most consistent given your individual lifestyle will be the best diet for yourself.

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Posted Mon, 01/21/2019 - 01:23

I have been lifting for 2 years but never seen much growth in muscle will it help me in increasing my muscle mass.

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Posted Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:12

Hi Shuvam,

Yes, full body workouts or upper/lower workouts would be a nice change of pace to your current routine.

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Posted Sun, 01/20/2019 - 23:51
Juan Rubalcava

New to this site. Ive been going to the gym for 6 months just wanting to get into the groove. Ive been doing a 3 day on 1 off 3 on chest tricep day 1 then back bicep on day 2 and legs and shoulders for day 3. My goal is weight loss or mainly losing my big gut and gaining muscle. It seems full body is the way to go for that so tomorrow im starting this routine. Im 6'1" 270 i will keep track and report back. Thanks for the info and any tips.

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Posted Fri, 01/18/2019 - 23:46

Can i used dumbbell only. What can you recommend for gain muscle for female?

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Posted Thu, 01/03/2019 - 19:08

Hi Josh
I’ve completed the 12 week program absolutely loved it great results do you have another program you recommend after this one
Many thanks

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Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 16:14
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Posted Sat, 04/20/2019 - 22:54

Hey Jake, do you mind me asking how much muscle did you manage to build ? How long have you been lifting for? Did you do anything else on rest days ?

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Posted Fri, 11/16/2018 - 12:12

Can I swap the ab wheel roll out for cable ab crunches? If not what are some other substitutions for the ab wheel roll out?

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Posted Sat, 11/10/2018 - 21:59

Can I do barbell rows instead of one arm dumbbell rows?

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Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:17

Hi Tom,

Yes, that is fine.

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Posted Tue, 10/30/2018 - 00:05

Love the program! I'm seven weeks in and have had tremendous results. One question I have is should I incorporate ab routine? Everything is getting bigger...... including my abdomen.