Full-body exercises place an emphasis on multiple areas of the body during one exercise. They are being used more by fitness enthusiasts and are popular for a variety of reasons. First, they are efficient. Combining upper and lower body moves into a strength routine cuts down on workout time and the frequency to the gym. It’s more feasible for most people to commit to a strength routine using two total-body workouts per week opposed to four to five using a traditional split-routine approach (i.e. Chest & Triceps on Monday, Legs, Shoulders & Abs on Tuesday, Back & Biceps on Wednesday, etc.). Second, full-body exercises increase the metabolic demand on the body. Typically, the higher the metabolic demand, the higher the calorie expenditure per workout. Plus, you get more challenge to your cardiovascular system as well. In other words, you’re getting more bang for your buck. And lastly, our bodies were designed for total-body movement. If you watch an athlete or people move in general, most movement involves multiple regions of the body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball in, picking up your kids, or putting the groceries away, these actions require multiple muscles to fire and work synergistically. So by using full-body exercises, we experience a better carry over effect for our day to day living.
So if you’re looking to mix up your routine or are short on time, try this four exercise circuit for a quick full-body blast!
Isometric Lunge w/Cable Chest Press
Muscle Focus: Chest & Legs
Begin by grabbing both cable handles and positioning your body into a split stance with your left leg forward. Lower your center of gravity just like you would for a stationary lunge and position your arms in line with your body with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Straighten your arms by pressing out in front of you while maintaining your leg position. Return your arms back to the 90 degree position and repeat the chest press for 10-15 repetitions before switching legs.
Squat w/Lateral Dumbbell Raise
Muscle Focus: Legs & Shoulders
Standing with a dumbbell in your right hand, lower into a squat position while positioning your arm across your body with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and slightly rotating your torso. Perform a backhand like motion by returning to an upright position and performing a lateral raise with your right arm simultaneously. Remember to keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions before switching arms.
If you want more challenge, try this exercise with a single leg squat!
Barbell Deadlift w/Bent Over Row
Muscle Focus: Legs & Back
Stand with your feet hip width apart while holding a barbell. Use an underhand grip and position your hands on the bar just outside of your stance. Keeping your chest out and back flat, contract your abs and slowly lower your upper body by hinging with your hips while slightly bending your knees. Continue lowering until your upper body is almost parallel to the ground. Keeping your abdominals contracted and a back flat, pull the barbell towards your mid-section and roll your shoulders back, then slowly lower the barbell away from you. Once your arms are fully straight, contract your glutes and unhinge back to the upright position. Repeat this sequence for 10-15 reps.
This one is a little difficult to master, so remember start with lighter weight and master your technique before going heavier.
Stability Ball Tricep Extensions
Muscle Focus: Hamstrings, Glutes, Triceps
Begin by lying on a stability ball while holding a pair of dumbbells. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment with the rest of your body with your hips fully elevated and legs bent at 90 degrees. Now, position your arms above your chest with your palms facing in. Keeping your hips elevated and upper arms straight and slowly lower the dumbbells by bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle. Return your arms to the straight position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
For modification, use a wider stance to make balance easier or use a BOSU if you are uncomfortable using a stability ball.