So we have established that resistance training is good for us and we are motivated to get started lifting weights. In this article I will define and discuss the benefits of full body resistance training, helping you understand what this training style is all about and why you should give it a try.
Full body resistance training is where you train multiple muscle groups / movement patterns within one session in order to work a large variety of the key movement patterns throughout one session and a week. This is with the intention of increasing muscle strength and or size, along with the myriad of health benefits can come along with resistance training.
Full body resistance training is a relatively new practice in the world of strength and conditioning, in the sense that a lot of people are still doing strength sports training or body building style resistance training, full body resistance training is an approach much more closely related to the goals of the general population striving towards health and athletes towards performance.
The beauty of full body resistance training is that it is beneficial for all populations and all abilities. From teenagers looking to improve their athletic performance, to elderly individuals looking to maintain muscle mass. Full body resistance training involves performing a number of working sets per week on a variety of movement patterns (muscle groups). It can be written and structured to work on strength or hypertrophy, or both in conjunction with one another. Unlike powerlifting, weightlifting or Crossfit, it is extremely approachable at any age. It is also an excellent stepping stone to these move challenging strength sport endeavours.
One of the major benefits of full body resistance training is how time efficient it is. Most of us a busy people, with lives that are already packed with multiple obligations. Imagine taking an hour out of your week to train your arms or your chest with you have a total of 4 hours a week to work on your health, it is just a ridiculous use of resources. Full body resistance training can ensure progress on all your key movement patterns (squat, hinge, pull, push etc) in just two to three sessions a week. If you were to train 5 times a week, breaking the body into muscle groups, for example, leg, arms, chest, back, shoulders and your goal is to improve your health then your missing out cardiovascular training, which should make up a large component of your training time if your goal is health related. If you want to do bodybuilding, then thats great, but you need to be very clear about your goal from the outset.
Full body resistance training is very easy to make sustainable, we are not putting emphasis on hitting Back Squat personal records and pick up the heaviest deadlift possible. We are moving our body through movement patterns with enough load to create adaptation over time. As mentioned before, most of us have a lot going on and sometimes we need to move and not make training an extra stressor in our lives. There is something brilliant around building a practice of training around the principle of slow productivity, slowly and sustainable making progress towards your goal.
When we take performance out of the question, the entire atmosphere changes around our movement practice, in CrossFit we are constantly trying to move as fast as possible, in powerlifting to lift as much as possible, but this just is not required to be a healthy, thriving individual. Yes, we need to work hard when we are training and challenge ourselves, but let go of the frustration of comparing ourselves to others throughout our movement practice.
The current science of resistance training is all based on how many working sets of movement patterns / muscle groups you need to perform per week in order to maintain or increase muscle strength and size. This study showed that performing 4 sets per week allows you to maintain muscle mass in a muscle whereas performing 12-24 sets allowed for good progress in muscular strength and size. This link between the dose of training and the effect of outcome is not surprising, the more we work a muscle group the stronger it get or the more it grows, to a certain point. When striving for health, if we can hit the key muscle groups between 6-12 times a week we can be sure to be in excellent shape.
Monday - Full Body Resistance Training
Tuesday - Tempo Run
Wednesday - Yoga
Thursday - Off
Friday - Full Body Resistance Training
Saturday - Bike Ride
Sunday - Dance
In this example, we take someone who has a lot of time to dedicate to their movement practice. This allows them to progress their strength, their cardiovascular ability and emphasis relation and mobility through yoga. This is an example of someone who has achieved a timetable that allows them to be exceptionally healthy.
I want to give two example of a training session that targets the same movement patterns, one for a beginner and one for an advanced individual. That way you can better conceptualise how full body resistance training can be used by any population and ability.
A) Back Squat
B1) Press Up On Rings
B2) Front Foot Elevated Lunge
B3) Suitcase Hold
C1) Tripod Stance Row
C2) Alternating KB Press
A) Goblet Squat
B1) Press Up On High Box
B2) Wall Supported Squat in Lunge
B3) Suitcase Hold
C1) Ring Row
C2) Half Kneeling Landmine Press
In these two workouts we target the:
If you are someone who knows how important lifting weights is for your health but are unsure of what practice you should start with, I suggest you give full body resistance training a try. This style of practice will allow you to build a base of strength and a healthier version of yourself whilst also putting emphasis on other important areas of health like cardiovascular training.
If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.
This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.