Work your whole body!

I have been a bodybuilder for years, but now that I’m not competing (at least not at the moment, things could change in the future) and I’m getting a little bit older I’m coming to the point where I’m tired of spending an hour or more on one or two muscle groups. As we all know, to maintain a large amount of muscle AND balance that with keeping lean, takes a LOT of clean calories – which can seem like a full time job, and even worse when you’re not getting ready for a competition. I’m not in the mindset right now to make getting huge clean meals a priority nor do I feel like devoting an hour to my chest tomorrow. That being said, I’m attempting to scale back on my food to some degree as well as explore the idea of changing my training regime to a whole body workout. Realizing that I’m going to lose some muscle mass and therefore slow down my metabolism to some degree, I need the benefit of a workout that will burn more calories if I want to stay lean through this change.

As a bodybuilder I must admit I’ve always had a poor view of whole body workouts, but I also must admit that I’ve typically viewed them as someone training on a circuit of machines in a gym such as Bally’s. That doesn’t have to be the case.

As I began thinking about this, I wrote a list down of the advantages of doing a whole body workout, assuming it’s done correctly.

-Improved cardiovascular endurance
-Increased calorie expenditure
-Less chance of over training
-Shorter workout (45 min maybe rather than an hour or more)
-Increased recovery time

These are some of the advantages I came up with. No, I don’t plan on holding onto the same amount of mass I do when I blast my back or any other muscle group for an hour, but I also feel that I’ll benefit from the points above and give not only my body but my mind a little break. It’s hard to get mentally geared up for an hour under the squat bar lately, maybe a few per workout might make my visit to the gym a bit more enjoyable and less stressful at this point in time!

For maximum calorie burning and to be the most efficient with time, it seems that a variety of compound movements would be the best choice when deciding which exercises to do. This would eliminate exercises (for the most part) such as dumbbell flyes for chest as well as leg extensions for quads. Some exercises, which involve more stabilizers, core strength, and force an increase of balance, would also be a fantastic idea. In an effort to keep as much muscle as possible through this, it seems it would also be best to not get too light with the weights. I feel a rep range anywhere from 10-12 reps would be best.

Here are a few examples of exercises which I feel would fit into what I’ve just talked about. Initially I felt two exercises per muscle group would be the right amount, but if doing this three times a week one exercise per muscle group may be a better idea. Trust me, if you are going to failure then one exercise per muscle group should most definitely exhaust you by the end of the workout.

A few examples:

Barbell squats

Dumbbell press on swiss ball
Bench press
Push-ups on bosu ball (flat side up)

Chin ups
Barbell rows
Close grip bench press

Military press
Overhead dumbbell press
High pulls
Dumbbell shrugs

Alternating dumbbell curls
Hammer curls

Lying leg raises
Swiss ball crunch

Single leg tanding calf raise (holding dumbbell)

As you may notice, I didn’t incorporate a single machine. MOST of these exercises are compound movements, most of these exercises require no more than a bench press or squat rack. Taking into consideration that there are eight general groups, which you are targeting, three sets of each will definitely wear you out and burn a lot of calories. For beginners, one to two sets should be enough depending on your level of fitness. For more advanced, I would recommend three to four sets, doing super sets of opposing muscle groups to get the most out of your time. Picking different exercises each workout would be a good idea.

Don’t limit yourself to the exercises I gave examples of, but if you aren’t sure of which would be the correct ones to add then do some research. Keep in mind that there are compound movements I did not mention such as the clean and press, that I would only recommend for the advanced, as it is a fantastic exercise but could be dangerous if not done properly. Remember it’s always better to have someone who is well versed show you rather than just following pictures you found in a magazine.

Jason Michel

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