The What and Why of Full Body Resistance Training

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.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
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In This Resource
  • What Is Full Body Resistance Training
  • Why Full Body Resistance Training
  • For All Populations and Abilities
  • Time Efficient + Lower Frequency
  • Sustainable Training
  • Emphasis on Health, Not Performance
  • What The Literature Says
  • Sample Health Focused Training Week
  • Sample Full Body Resistance Training Session
  • Advanced Full Body Resistance Training Session
  • Beginner Full Body Resistance Training Session
  • Final Thoughts
  • References

What Is Full Body Resistance Training

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.

Why Full Body Resistance Training

For All Populations and Abilities

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.

Time Efficient + Lower Frequency

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.

Sustainable Training

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.

Emphasis on Health, Not Performance

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.

What The Literature Says

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.

Sample Health Focused Training Week

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.

Sample Full Body Resistance Training Session

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.

Advanced Full Body Resistance Training Session

A) Back Squat

B1) Press Up On Rings

B2) Front Foot Elevated Lunge

B3) Suitcase Hold

C1) Tripod Stance Row

C2) Alternating KB Press

Beginner Full Body Resistance Training Session

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:

  • Squat
  • Horizontal Press
  • Lunge
  • Resisting Rotation
  • Horizontal Pull
  • Vertical Press
  • Final Thoughts

    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.


  • Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 4;16(24):4897. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244897. PMID: 31817252; PMCID: PMC6950543.
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    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.

    Sean Klein


    Programme is a workout app that plans every workout for you

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