StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine, 3x/Week

A full body workout routine offers numerous benefits for strength, muscle gain, and overall fitness. 

By training your entire body two or three times per week, you engage all your major muscle groups each session, allowing for maximum workout intensity, recovery, and muscle growth. It’s also a very time-efficient way to structure your training week and might be the best option for building muscle on a busy schedule.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine is the ideal 3-day split for intermediate and advanced trainees who want to build muscle the full-body way. It is 100% free and available in our workout log.

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What Is a Full Body Workout Routine?

As the name suggests, a full body workout routine is a training program targeting all body parts and major muscle groups in a single training session.

Instead of focusing on specific muscle groups on different days, full body routines incorporate upper body exercises, lower body exercises, and your core muscles in each workout.

Full-body workouts have been around since the golden age of strength training. They are great for both strength gains and bodybuilding purposes.

Classic bodybuilder Reg Park built his physique mainly with full body workouts.

A full body workout plan remains the ideal beginner’s strength training program and the best way to get started with weight training. However, they are incredibly effective at any fitness level.

Many legendary bodybuilders and advanced lifters built fantastic physiques with full-body workout routines. They have stood the test of time and remain popular to this day for very good reasons.

Top 10 Benefits of a Full Body Workout Routine 

A total body workout routine offers many benefits for strength and muscle gains as well as time optimization.

Time Efficiency

Full body workouts target multiple muscle groups each training session, allowing you to maximize your time in the gym.

Rather than focusing on isolated exercises for specific body parts on different days, full-body training covers all major muscle groups in one workout, giving you the maximum bang for your time buck.

A full-body program is ideal if you live a busy lifestyle with limited time to spend in the weight room.

Maximum Muscle Recovery

One of the reasons many lifters struggle to put on lean muscle mass is because they don’t recover fully. Your muscles don’t grow while you’re lifting but during the hours and days after a workout.

With a full body workout routine, you get at least one rest day between training sessions. Because you’re not overloading specific muscle groups with excessive volume each workout, you can maximize your recovery time and be ready to hit the heavy weights to force your muscle fibers into growth each time you step into the gym.

Higher Training Frequency

When you train your whole body each workout, you can keep muscle protein synthesis (the addition of new muscle tissue) elevated all week long, even with a limited number of weekly sessions. 

You stimulate muscle protein synthesis more frequently, creating more opportunities for muscle growth. Everything else being equal, increased muscle protein synthesis means bigger muscles over time.

full body workout routine: protein synthesis and breakdown

Greater Hormonal Response

Full body workouts trigger a more significant release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. Engaging all major muscle groups in a single session stimulates a larger hormonal response compared to isolated exercises for a body part or two.

Even though the jury is out on whether the hormonal response from a resistance training session leads to improved muscle-building potential over time, there is no doubt that these anabolic hormones play critical roles in muscle growth and repair.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Full-body workout routines allow for greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and frequency than most other training plans and bodybuilding splits.

You can easily adjust the frequency of your sessions to meet your needs, whether that means training two to three times a week or even more.

Have you missed a workout? No big deal – you’ve just trained every muscle group and will work them all again next session. If you follow a bro-split where you train a single muscle group each time and miss a bicep workout, you’ll either not train the most important muscle for another week or throw your entire schedule out of whack.

Ideal for Burning Calories and Fat Loss

Full-body workout plans typically include plenty of compound exercises that simultaneously target multiple big muscle groups. That makes them highly effective for increasing the number of calories you burn during your training sessions.

Read more:

>> How Many Calories Do You Burn Lifting Weights? 

In addition, two or three weekly strength training workouts are ideal for most people during a weight loss diet when you’re eating fewer calories, and your recovery ability is lower than usual.

A full body program allows you to hit each muscle often enough to maintain your hard-earned lean mass and lose only body fat, which is great on a cut.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Full-body workouts can be challenging and tax your muscle endurance, especially when you are not used to them.

But if you keep at it, you will find that your muscle size and strength improve, as will your fitness level and energy.

Improved Focus and Clarity

When you’re tasked with training your whole body within one workout, you must focus on the exercises that give you the most bang for your buck.

Thus, by design, this program compels you to focus on what’s important and forget what’s not.

More Days Off

The price you pay with a full body routine is the effort you must put out during the workouts. Training your entire body in one session is not a walk in the park.

But what you gain, besides your newfound size and power, are more free days at your leisure. This enables you to combine your training with other obligations like school, work, and family.

Progressive Overload

Full body workouts provide ample opportunity to apply progressive overload, the most fundamental principle for muscle hypertrophy.

With full body workouts, you are always only a few days away from challenging your muscles and progressively increasing the workload to stimulate further growth and strength gains.

Introducing StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine is designed as the ultimate full-body training program for muscle hypertrophy. It is intended for intermediate to advanced lifters, athletes, and bodybuilders.

Because it’s not a beginner’s program, I suggest our Beginner Barbell Program or the Bodybuilding for Beginners routine if you are just starting with weight training.

You can find them in your StrengthLog workout tracker, and both programs are completely free. Either of them is a good option for a beginner hypertrophy program, and you can come back here after gaining a few months of training experience.

In this program, you train thrice weekly, rotating between three different full-body workout days.

Workout 1

The first training day is based almost entirely on compound movements that allow you to use heavier weights and fewer reps for optimal gains in strength and mass.

Here’s where you find major lifts like the squat and the bench press.

Strong muscles mean big muscles. This workout lets you add pounds to the bar and pounds of mass to your body.

Workout 2

The second workout is also based on compound lifts but introduces more isolation movements using different exercises into the mix.

This is pure hypertrophy training at its best: moderate rep ranges, high volume, and only the best exercises for the best results.

Workout 3

The third and final workout of the week is the pump workout. You’ll leave the gym with bursting sleeves, ready for the weekend. 

In this session, you’re not focusing on how much weight you can move. Instead, you’re going for good form, mind-muscle connection, and a rep scheme that calls for a lighter weight and complete control of your motions.

The week as a whole gives you a complete program for your entire body, trains each muscle group in a highly effective manner, activating all muscle fibers, and provides you with a varied and fun series of hypertrophy workouts.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine: The Exercises

This is what the program looks like, day by day.

Each workout starts with compound movements that target multiple muscle groups, then moves to isolation exercises for individual smaller muscles.

The main reason for this order is that compound lifts are hard work and require you to bring your A-game to handle the heaviest amount of weight. That’s why you want your mind, muscles, and nervous system to be fresh when you take them on.

You’ll use a combination of free weights and machine exercises, meaning having gym access makes things much easier unless you have a well-equipped home gym.

Workout 1

  1. Squat: 8, 6, 4, 4 reps (increase the weight the second and fourth sets)
  2. Bench Press (alternate exercise: Dumbbell Bench Press): 8, 6, 4 reps (increase the weight every set)
  3. Barbell Row: 8, 6, 4 reps (increase the weight every set)
  4. Overhead Press (alternate exercise: Push Press): 8, 6, 4 reps (increase the weight every set)
  5. Romanian Deadlift (alternate exercise: Stiff-Legged Deadlift): 8, 6 reps (increase the weight the second set)
  6. Close-Grip Bench Press (alternate exercise: Bar Dip): 2 x 8 reps
  7. Barbell Biceps Curls: 8, 6 reps (increase the weight the second set)
  8. Hanging Leg Raise (alternate exercise: Hanging Knee Raise): 3 x max reps (do as many reps as you can!)

Workout 2

  1. Deadlift: 8, 6, 6 reps (increase the weight the second set)
  2. Incline Bench Press: 3 x 10 reps
  3. Lat Pulldown With Pronated Grip: 3 x 10 reps
  4. Leg Press (alternate exercise: Front Squats): 3 x 10 reps
  5. Lying Leg Curl (alternate exercise: Seated Leg Curl): 2 x 10 reps
  6. Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 10 reps
  7. Barbell Lying Triceps Extension: 2 x 10 reps
  8. Hammer Curl: 2 x 10 reps
  9. Cable Crunch (alternate exercise: Machine Crunch): 2 x 10 reps

Workout 3

  1. Barbell Lunge (alternate exercise: Dumbbell Lunge): 3 x 12 reps per leg
  2. Leg Extension: 2 x 15 reps
  3. Standing Cable Chest Fly (alternate exercise: Dumbbell Chest Fly): 3 x 12 reps
  4. Dumbbell Row: 3 x 12 reps
  5. Lying Leg Curl (alternate exercise: Seated Leg Curl): 15, 12, 12 reps (increase the weight the second set)
  6. Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 3 x 12 reps
  7. Tricep Pushdown: 3 x 12 reps
  8. Barbell Preacher Curl (alternate exercise: Dumbbell Preacher Curl): 3 x 12 reps
  9. Kneeling Ab Wheel Roll-Out: 2 x max reps (do as many reps as you can!)
  10. Plank: 1 x max time (keep going for as long as you can!)

According to up-to-date research, you need at least ten weekly sets for each muscle group.

optimal training volume

Any additional weekly volume offers little further benefit for muscle growth.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine has you covered on the training volume front.

Remember that you get significant overlap for several muscle groups. For example, your biceps are heavily involved in pulling movements for your back, and any pressing shoulder and chest exercise also targets your triceps.

Adapting StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine to Two Weekly Training Sessions

No time for three weekly gym sessions? No problem!

If you want to train two days per week instead of the default three, you can do that.

In that case, keep Workout 1 as a foundation every week, then pick either Workout 2 or Workout 3 to supplement it with accessory exercises. Pick whichever you enjoy the most. Switch them around from week to week if you want.

It’s always a good idea to base your training on basic, compound exercises. By keeping Workout 1 in your weekly rotation, you train heavy every week, even if you only have two training days at your disposal. 

Also, this makes it easier to track your progress from week to week. If you constantly switch up all three workouts, keeping track of your progress and reaching your fitness goals becomes harder.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine: Training Days and Rest Days

The basic premise of StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine boils down to training three times per week, on alternating days, and with a day of rest in between workouts.

If your life and schedule require you to miss a workout now and then, it’s no cause for alarm.

This is a flexible workout plan with a high enough training volume and frequency that an extra day of rest now and then makes no difference in the long run.

So which weekdays should you train?

That’s entirely up to you. You can adjust your training week to suit your life and everyday schedule.

Let’s say you want your weekend off from training. Easy: just hit the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

If you want or need any other training schedule, that’s fine, too.

Also, every week doesn’t have to look the same. You can train three days one week, then three different days the next. Just try to squeeze in a day of rest in between workouts. The great flexibility is one of the primary benefits of a full body fitness plan.

Workout Intensity & Progression

To get the most out of your workouts, you don’t want to make it too easy for yourself. You must challenge your muscles to force them to adapt by growing bigger or stronger.

Here are basic guidelines on how to approach the amount of reps to perform and how close to muscular failure you want to take your sets.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine: Workout 1

Perform the sets in the first workout with as heavy a weight as possible without sacrificing proper form.

Don’t take them to the point where you fail the last repetition. The last rep should be a struggle, but not impossible, to complete.

Lift the weight in an explosive but controlled manner, and lower it slowly and with complete control of the movement.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine: Workouts 2 & 3

During the second and third workouts, the focus is on control and maintaining a good so-called mind-muscle connection.

You should try to increase the weights when you can, but always ensure you feel the proper muscles working throughout the sets. Keep tension in your muscles, and don’t sacrifice that feeling for more weight if more weight means sloppier form.

Especially during the third workout, use a full range of motion, try to squeeze the muscle during the movement and feel it working.

Training to Failure or Not?

You don’t need to reach muscular failure in your sets in order to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.

When you reach the point where you think, “I can’t do another rep without sacrificing form and focus,” – that’s when you terminate the set.

You can go to failure now and then if you want. That’s fine, just don’t do it all the time.

It’s also a good idea to limit sets to failure to isolation lifts. Regularly going to failure in heavy compound exercises in a full-body program like this can severely tax your ability to recover in time for your next workout.

Lastly, if your form gets sloppy in your desire to hoist the most weight possible, you increase the risk of injury, the bane of training progress.

StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine: Set Progression

During your first month of StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine, don’t stray from the suggested amount of sets. Acclimatize yourself to the new routine and get familiar with the exercises. It’s even more critical if you’re new to full body training.

Once past the first month, you can add one set per exercise if you recover properly from your workouts. This slight increase in total volume gives your muscles a small but significant extra stimulus to grow.

However, each set you add gives you diminishing returns: the benefits you gain from additional work decrease as you add more and more.

Adding some extra volume offers significant benefits. Adding even more volume does not necessarily equal greater muscle mass or strength gains. Training volume is one of the most important factors for muscle growth, but there is a limit. 

Also, more training taxes your ability to recover, and your workouts may take up too much time.

Don’t feel like you must continually increase your training volume if you don’t want to or don’t have the time or energy. The default is the default for a reason, and you’ll get the results you want as long as you add weight to the bar when you can and keep your training intensity up.

Recommended Repetition Ranges

Shoot for the number of reps recommended in the program, but remember that the suggested number of reps means just that: suggested. 

  • If the program calls for eight reps and you can only do seven, that’s fine. Simply lower the weight a bit for the next set or next workout.
  • If you underestimated yourself and did more than eight, that’s great. Then the next step is to increase the weight.

When you can do the recommended number of reps in two workouts in a row, increase the weight you use in that exercise. Progressive overload over time is the key to muscle growth.

If you keep using the same weights forever, you’re not telling your body that it needs to improve.

It’s essential to keep in mind that you don’t need to increase the weight every week or even every month. As you grow more experienced, doing so becomes hard or impossible in the long run.

As a beginner lifter, you might be able to add more weight every workout, but sooner or later, that becomes a slow and gradual process. But slow and steady wins the race.

Weight Progression: Choosing the Proper Load

When selecting which weight to use for an exercise for the first time, you can guesstimate how much you need to reach the recommended number of reps. 

You can use the previously mentioned “the last rep should be a struggle, but not impossible” statement as a guideline. 

You’re golden if you already know your rep max for any specific lifts. Use those, and you’re good to go.

If you pick too heavy a weight and don’t reach the recommended amount of reps, it’s no biggie. Adjust the load in your next set or your next workout.

You don’t have to perform the exact number of reps the program tells you every time. The important thing is that you challenge your muscles. That’s what makes them grow bigger and stronger over time.

If the program calls for fewer repetitions set by set, you should increase the weight for each set. This type of training is called pyramid training and provides a built-in warm-up to prepare you for your heaviest sets.

Rest Times

To perform your best, you must recover adequately between sets.

While you don’t need to time your set rest to the second, some research suggests a benefit for resting longer than two minutes, although it’s more important for strength gains than muscle hypertrophy.

  • For multi-joint compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, I suggest you take at least 2–3 minute rest periods. Doing so allows sufficient recovery of the involved muscles and helps maintain performance and strength throughout the workout, ultimately leading to a greater training volume.
  • For an isolation exercise targeting specific muscle groups, like bicep curls, shorter rest periods of around 1–2 minutes are enough. These exercises involve less muscle fatigue and don’t stress your nervous system as much.
full body workout routine: rest times

If you want to speed things up with as short a workout as possible, feel free to limit your rest times to 1–2 minutes throughout.

Your performance in heavy compound exercises like the squat and deadlift will likely suffer with only one minute of set rest, but your rest times are not the most critical factor for muscle hypertrophy.

However, if maximum strength gains are imperative, you should rest until you recover enough to do yourself justice, at least in compound lifts.

If you are in no hurry, you can take as long as you want between sets, within reason. You don’t want your muscles to cool down, but there is no rush.

How Long Should You Follow StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine?

After only a handful of weeks, you will likely notice the results of StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine, feeling and looking bigger and stronger.

If you don’t have extensive lifting experience, you can expect to gain significant amounts of muscle quickly. If you’re a lifting veteran, gains come slower, but if you put in the hard work, the results will follow.

Regardless of your training experience, if you enjoy the program and the results, feel free to keep going. StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine is designed to be a long-term endeavor. It doesn’t stop working after a certain number of weeks or months.

As long as you enjoy it, it can be your go-to workout plan for as long as you want.

Follow StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine

Want to start StrengthLog’s Full Body Workout Routine?

It’s available in our workout app StrengthLog!

This program does not require a premium subscription, and the StrengthLog app is also entirely free.

You can download it and use it as a workout tracker and general strength training app – and all basic functionality is free forever. It’s like a personal trainer in your pocket.

However, we also offer other, more advanced programs exclusively for premium users.

Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.

Download StrengthLog for free with the buttons below:

Good luck with your training!

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Andreas Abelsson

Andreas is a certified nutrition coach with over three decades of training experience. He has followed and reported on the research fields of exercise, nutrition, and health for almost as long and is a specialist in metabolic health and nutrition coaching for athletes. Read more about Andreas and StrengthLog by clicking here.