By Thomas King, CSCS, MSc
I get it. For many people, time is a resource more precious than gold. Between full-time jobs, kids’ activities, and chores around the home, time is at a premium. With all these things going on, many people struggle to find the extra time to maintain an exercise regime.
And, who could blame them? Take a look at any of the popular websites for exercise programs or in the latest fitness magazines and you will likely see one type of workout: the bodybuilder’s trusty body part split.
You know the type of workouts I’m talking about, the ones that have you do chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday and, so on, for 5 days per week. In our time deprived society, who really has 1 and a half hours to spare five days out of the week?
So, let’s just say you decide to try this workout. You make it to the gym as planned Monday and Tuesday, but bam! Wednesday comes and your kid is sick and home from school meaning no gym time for you and no legs day this week. “I’ll get to it next week”, you say to yourself. But, by the time next week rolls around it’s been 2 weeks since your last leg workout and you can’t possibly progress at this pace. “There has to be a better way,” you think to yourself, and luckily, there is!
Enter Full-Body Training
Full-body Training is a workout split that has you work your whole body in each workout 3 times per week. So now, when the kid is home from school or the boss needs you to work some overtime, you still have the opportunity to train each body part 2 times that week and keep progressing.
So, how would this almost magical workout scheme look?
Luckily for you, I have included a sample program below. These workouts are the bare bones essentials of what you need to keep progressing in the gym. There are no vanity exercises like bicep curls and crunches in them. The idea with these is to hit the whole body as hard and efficiently as possible and get out of the gym. These workouts should take no longer than 40 minutes to complete. If they do, have a hard look at how you spend your gym time. You may realize that: sending that text, talking in the change room, or spending 15 minutes in the sauna is seriously eating up your gym time!
The Busy Person’s Workout Plan
A1) Deadlift (Can be Conventional, Sumo or Trap Bar): 5 Sets of 5 Reps
A2) Barbell Bench Press: 5 Sets of 5 Reps
B) Single Arm Dumbbell Row 4 Sets of 16-20 Reps
- Do not rest between A1 and A2. Take 2-3 minutes rest after A2.
- For the Single Arm Row, alternate arms without resting. Using the opposite arm is rest enough.
A1) Front Squat or Safety Squat Bar Squat: 5 Sets of 5 Reps
A2) Barbell Overhead Press: 5 Sets of 5 Reps
B) Chin-up or Assisted Chin-up: 4 Sets of max reps
- Same as above, no rest between A1 and A2, but rest 2-3 Minutes after A2
- Why not back squats? This workout is all about bang for your buck and the front squat (or Safety bar squat) requires much more core and upper back activation than the back squat
- Log your total number of reps each week for the chin-ups. Aim to beat it the next week. When you break 40 reps, add weight and start again. Rest about 2 minutes between each set.
A1) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS): 5 Sets of 5 Reps
A2) Incline Barbell Bench Press: 5 Sets of 5 Reps
B) Barbell Pendlay Row: 4 Sets of 8 Reps
- You get the idea now, no rest between A1 and A2, rest 2-3 minutes after A2
- The RFESS is a JKC favourite. As a glute, hamstring, and quad developer, it easily ranks with any bilateral squat.
- The Pendlay row is a bent over barbell row that has the barbell start and stop on the floor between each rep. Great for building whole body tension and taking some stress off the low back. Rest 2 minutes between each set.
There you have it. Everything you need to have a great workout even when you are short on time. If you find 3 workouts per week a struggle to fit in, it is fine to just do two per week, just alternate the workouts such that you have completed each workout twice in a 3-week cycle.
Thanks for reading!