How much of your body is involved in your typical workout routine? If you’re like most average gym-goers, you have one or two exercises you favor, with minimal attention paid to other areas of your body. For example, you might be an avid runner, sticking to the treadmill but never venturing beyond the cardio area. Or you might work heavily on your upper body strength, but neglect your legs (resulting in “chicken legs” syndrome).
It’s important to give your entire body a workout, one way or another. And even if you’re picky about which exercises you like to do, there are so many options, you’ll have no excuse.
The Benefits of a Full-Body Program
Let’s review some of the most important benefits of a full-body workout:
- More calories burned. The more muscles you work, the more calories you’ll burn. Spending time on your entire body will help you burn more calories and get more out of your workout than isolating your exercises on a handful of muscle groups.
- The “ideal” physique. Working your entire body also helps you gravitate toward the “ideal” human physique; you won’t have any muscle groups standing out from others, and you’ll look more physically fit overall.
- Balance and injury resistance. If you aren’t working your entire body, you could suffer from muscle imbalances; some of your muscles will be stronger than others, and when you attempt to use those muscles together in everyday life, you’ll do it inefficiently. At best, you may discover slight problems with your balance and coordination. On the flip side, you could be more likely to suffer injuries. Working out your whole body corrects many of these imbalances.
How to Get It
These are just some of the ways you can get that full-body experience:
- Invest in a full-body trainer. Some pieces of equipment are specifically designed to help individuals get a full-body workout, like the Bowflex MAX Trainer. Because it offers resistance training for each of dozens of different exercises, you can use it to get a full workout from top to bottom. Once you get used to this circuit of exercises, you can gradually increase the weight to keep challenging yourself.
- Go swimming. Swimming is one of the best-known full-body exercises, and it’s ideal—as long as you have access to a pool or open water. All four swimming strokes require you to use your legs, back, arms, and core to propel across the water, though each stroke may work out your body slightly differently. Incorporating all four would be an ideal way to give attention to practically every muscle group in your body.
- As long as you’re including complex moves and are challenging yourself, dancing can also be a full-body exercise. You’ll need your legs to keep time with the music, your arms to support yourself during ground moves, and your core to stay balanced throughout the routine.
- Focus on compound lifts. Compound lifts are weight lifting exercises that target multiple muscle groups at the same time; most of them won’t target every muscle in your body, but they’ll individually cover a ton of ground, and if you use them together, you should be able to cover most of your body. Deadlifts are your best option here, since they’ll target your legs, back, core, and arms all at once. Squats will target your entire lower body, and the clean and jerk lift will target your lower body, back, and shoulders.
- Spend time optimizing your routine. If you don’t want to work out your body all at the same time, you’ll need to construct a weekly routine that works out different parts of your body on rotation. For example, you might use a push/pull lifting routine to cover your entire body, or do a 3-day split for different muscle groups.
Your entire body deserves your attention, whether you’re trying to build the most attractive physique or are simply trying to get the most out of your workouts at the gym. Start investing in a full-body routine, and you’ll notice a difference in how you look and how you feel in a matter of weeks.