As we get older, we realize that time is our most precious commodity. This is most recognizable at two points in our lives: On our deathbed and in the gym.
I know that sounds a bit morbid, but it’s true. So let’s not focus on the day we die and try to remedy the situation in the gym.
I will leave trying to bargain with the Grim Reaper for some other time. I hear he is difficult to deal with.
Full Body Workouts for Time and Gains
Many of us probably try to get in the gym anywhere from three to five times a week. The time spent working out will quickly add up with that schedule, especially if your workouts have a tendency to last a while.
I have always maintained that if a workout lasts longer than an hour, then you are not pushing yourself hard enough.
Perhaps you get sidetracked with talking to acquaintances, or maybe you take too long of a rest between sets. In either case, if your workouts take longer than an hour, it is time to reassess what you are doing.
A good way to save time during your training is to incorporate more full body exercises. Often times, these are so strenuous that it is not uncommon to have these last about a half an hour. Being able to cut your workout time in half on some days without sacrificing results is ideal in quite a few of our lives as busy fathers. Spending less time in the gym and more time with the family can be a great thing as long as your fitness level does not start sliding backward.
A normal strength training workout usually focuses on only one or two body parts at a time. You may have your workout days similar to mine with biceps and triceps, back and shoulders, chest, and legs all having their own designated day. With this schedule, I am in the gym for four days a week. As most fathers can attest to, we squeeze in the workout whenever we can. It may be first thing in the morning or last thing at night, depending upon our family’s schedule for the day.
If our “Honey Do List” is a bit long for the day, once in awhile our workout gets canceled. However, with some careful planning, while your wife has you running errands all over town, you can get a quick workout in without her knowing. Just say that you were held up at the traffic lights or the post office an extra long time.
Benefits of a Full Body Workout
If you know that you will not have time to get all your workouts in for the week, this is the perfect opportunity to do a complete full body workout that will train many muscle groups during one tough session.
Being able to work chest, legs, arms, back, and shoulders all in one workout will have you feeling less guilty later in the week when you just don’t have the time to get into the gym.
So what are the benefits of a full body workout other than it can be time-saving? If you train your full body a few times a week, you are working muscles three times more often than if you just did individual muscle groups once a week. Revisiting biceps in short bursts here and there, depending on the exercise, can leave you more toned and with more muscle mass.
For those of you that slept through Science class in high school, let me put on my professor cap and revisit what you might have missed while you were dreaming of the girl sitting two rows in front of you. Muscles grow the more often they are used. This isn’t a secret.
You already know that. But here is why. As you train, you are tearing little muscle fibers all over in that muscle group. With just a little bit of rest, the muscle fibers repair themselves and in doing so they become just a little bit bigger than they were before. So you can see why training full body could produce amazing results if the workouts are taxing enough. This means leaving the 5-pound dumbbells on the rack for the women’s aerobics class and grabbing some heavier ones instead.
Another huge benefit of full body workouts is the slight bump up in the testosterone being released in your body. During strength training exercises, a little bit more of testosterone is released into your system. With a full body workout that requires all your muscle fibers to be firing away, the greatest amount of testosterone will be set free.
You may be wondering why having a bit more testosterone in your system is such a good thing. Well, remember when you were a teenager and in your early 20s and no matter what you ate, you always seemed to be in good shape. A good deal of credit for this should go to how high your testosterone level was back then. As we age, our testosterone levels decrease dramatically. Not only does it affect our fitness, but our powers in the bedroom are diminished. (I can feel the pain of many of you nodding your head right at this moment in agreement.) Men with low testosterone will seem to put on extra body fat just by looking at fattening foods. They will also have a much tougher time putting on lean muscle mass as well. When you have a chance to boost your testosterone naturally through full body strength training exercises, you should definitely take it.
Finally, a life-changing benefit from a full body workout pertains to fat loss. Remember when we used to poke fun at our father’s expanding belly when we were kids? It isn’t so funny now, is it? If we aren’t careful, our kids will be patting our bellies and making fat jokes at our expense. With full body exercises, you are fighting the battle against that extra weight.
Workouts that are training your whole body will be burning through calories and fat much faster than if you were only working one muscle group. Combine this with a fat loss diet, you could get great results. But here is something that many people do not realize. When you are burning fat, you also could be burning muscle as well.
For this reason, keep your protein intake a bit higher by consuming protein shakes or eating lean meats more than you normally would.
Examples of a Full Body Workout
Now that you know the benefits and I’ve gained your interest a bit, it is time to put together a full body workout that you can use. Let’s say that you are having a busy week and can only make it to the gym twice. This is the perfect opportunity to do two completely different full body workouts separated by a few days in between.
Most of the exercises will be compound movements. Compound movements simply mean that you will be working out two or more muscle groups with each exercise that you perform. These are the opposite of isolation exercises that focus only on one muscle group. Compound movements provide much more bang for your buck.
The first workout would be as follows:
Flat Barbell Bench Press
Main Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Front Shoulders
Do a quick warm-up with just the bar or the bar and a bit of weight. After that, stick to three or four sets for 8 to 12 reps.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Main Muscles Worked: Biceps
Guys don’t want to forsake the biceps if at all possible. While this is more an isolation exercise, it is an important one to have. Three sets of 8 to 12 reps should be fine.
Main Muscles Worked: Legs, Back, Traps, Lats, Core, and Glutes
Deadlifts are one of the best total body exercises. Completing three sets of 8 to 12 reps will have you feeling the burn.
Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Core
Push-ups aren’t just for high school gym class. The old school exercise delivers results. If you haven't done them for a while, just think of Bill Murray in the movie Stripes, don't get down on yourself if you can't do many. Do three sets for as many reps as you can.
Standing Overhead Press
Main Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Traps, Legs, and Core
The standing overhead press (or as I was taught to call them the military press) is an exercise that often is forgotten. This is a shame, too, because it produces good results. Always do these standing so your legs get a bit of a workout with the balancing and the extra weight. Try to complete three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps. This is the final exercise of this workout and it should take approximately an hour.
The second workout for later on in the week is as follows:
Main Muscles Worked: Back, Lats, Biceps, and Core
Depending on your fitness level, you might be able to do only two or three pull-ups or 20 to 30. If needed, most gyms have a pull-up/dip machine that can assist you with these so you can get enough reps. Try to do three to four sets at 8 to 12 reps.
Main Muscles Worked: Legs, Core, and Back
You can’t forget your legs in a full body workout, otherwise, it would only be an upper body workout. Plus, warmer weather is now here and you don’t want to be walking around with tiny kicks. After a bit of a warmup, do three to four sets for 8 to 10 reps.
Clean and Jerk
Main Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Back, Biceps, Triceps, Core, and Legs
The ultimate, and often forgotten, full body workout. This compound exercise will have you feeling it through every part of your body. Doing three sets of 8 to 12 reps should be plenty tough.
Dumbbell Incline Press
Main Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders
It’s always a good thing to incorporate a chest exercise into a full body workout. Completing three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps will pump that chest up.
Curl Bar for Biceps
Main Muscles Worked: Biceps
Once again, biceps are important for men, so always include an exercise focusing on them in your full body workout. Since this is your last exercise for the day, do three sets of 8 to 12 reps. Then once you are done with that, do one more set with very little weight on the curl bar for as many reps as you can possibly do.
Keep the Full Body Workout Fun
Having variety is a good way to keep it fun, so doing two completely different full body workouts will have it remain fresh. You won't have to deal with the monotony of having to do the same workout time after time.
Just like everything else in life, it's good to change it up now and then. One thing that I love to do on my full body workout days is to rope someone else into doing it all with me.
Having another person to switch in and out with will give you perfect chances to catch a quick breather. Plus, having a friend to banter with and push you through all the exercises is sometimes a must have.
This is the part of the article where I summarize everything and urge you one last time to try these two full body workouts when you are under a time crunch for the week. But I figure if you have read this far, then you are already committed to trying them out. If you weren’t interested, you would have stopped reading up there when I mentioned the Grim Reaper and possible problems in the bedroom.
If you have a difficult time committing for a full hour with your busy schedule, there are other options. There are full body workouts that take about half an hour to do. They are a bit different than the ones I created up above, so it does provide you alternatives. Let us know how these two full body workouts went for you.
Writer, The Fit Father Project
Ryan is a fitness expert from Illinois with two decades of experience under his belt. Never one to turn down a challenge, he has taken every class any gym has to offer, even the Dance Kickboxing class. If 70s disco dance music starts playing, everybody should run for cover. You have never lived until you have kicked somebody in the head to Dancing Queen.
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on a full body workout.