Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Look, nobody NEEDS a gym. Not really. When you’re trying to build a better body, tone up, or lose flab, having a facility with a variety of equipment certainly helps, but it isn’t a must. You can get in enviable, even jaw-dropping shape with a few light weights, a suspension trainer, or even your bodyweight alone, if that’s all you’ve got. (And if you don’t believe us, visit your local penitentiary, and get a look at the bodies you see in there.) Our number-one suggestion for anyone training at home: do full-body workouts. First, read up on the advantages of full-body training below, and then see four of our favorite routines for getting in shape, whether you have minimal equipment (such as a single light dumbbell or kettlebell, or a suspension trainer), or your bodyweight only
Why Should You Work Out Your Whole Body?
Working the whole body in one session offers three big advantages over body-part workouts. For one thing, it ensures that you train the entire body evenly. You can’t neglect any one muscle group, or simply forget to do it for a week (ahem, like leg day). For another, working all your muscles together ramps up the calorie-burning effect, and trains your heart, so that you can maximize fat loss in your workouts and get aerobic benefits as well. A study in BioMed Research International found that subjects who performed just three 30-minute, full-body circuit-training sessions per week lost fat and improved their resting heart rates and blood pressure.
Lastly, hitting every muscle in one workout can lead to faster muscle gains for each body part. One reason why is that the volume you do per muscle group must be kept low. Think about it: if you do five or more sets of squats, how could you also fit in rows, presses, curls, pushdowns, hip bridges, etc., within a reasonable period of time? To avoid a marathon workout session, you simply have to cut back your volume. At first, reducing the workload for a muscle may sound like a liability, but it’s actually an advantage. Because you can’t do a lot of volume for one muscle in a single session, you can be sure it will recover again quickly. That means you can train it again sooner. For example, if you do three sets of squats on Monday, you could do two sets of lunges on Wednesday, and then maybe four sets of stepups on Friday. It may not seem like a lot of leg work in each training session, but that’s nine total sets for the quads alone inside of one week. Provided you can recover from your workouts, the more frequently you train, the faster you can build muscle. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that subjects who trained the whole body three days per week gained more arm muscle than another group that trained each muscle group just once (a standard body-part split).
“Full-body training is the most efficient way to stimulate and develop your major muscle groups”
“Due to the greater metabolic demand, it’s terrific for improving body composition.”
Go get it!