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The Best Full Body Workouts for Men

author image Ragnar Danneskjold
A classical Rennaissance man since serving in the U.S. Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, Ragnar Danneskjold has worked as a ranch cowboy, a Department of Defense contractor, a strength and conditioning coach, a martial arts instructor, a freelance writer and a horse trainer.
The Best Full Body Workouts for Men
Some workouts will tone your whole body. Photo Credit halterofilia image by caironbohemio from Fotolia.com


Men generally want workouts that reduce body fat percentages while increasing muscle. While not necessarily seeking a bodybuilder-type physique, men seek some traits of the bodybuilder physique in order to appear more attractive. There are numerous workouts that will lead to the powerful broad shoulders, thick chest and thighs, and the trim, "V"-shaped waist of the classical masculine man.

Starting Strength

Mark Rippetoe is a man’s man. Gruff and outspoken, he pulls no punches in his disdain for the typical bodybuilder. Nor does he lose any sleep for the typical gymgoer doing endless sets of bicep curls. According to Rippetoe, in his book on weight training for novices, “Starting Strength,” an abbreviated full-body workout of three to five exercises per workout, no more than three times per week, is perfect. You have to lift strong to be strong. The veteran strength coach, with over 30 years in the world of conditioning and weight-lifting, advocates the barbell squat as the basis of any serious strength-training program. He follows the squats with sets of either bench presses and power cleans or overhead presses and deadlifts, alternating between the two in every workout. These exercises, when used to lift weights heavy enough to make five repetitions the most you can possibly lift, will provide the stress your body needs to produce large amounts of muscle mass in a hurry. Rippetoe developed this program specifically for beginning athletes interested in building real, functional strength.

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Bill Starr's 5X5

The 5X5 bodybuilding program has been used by legendary bodybuilders since the days of Reg Park in the 1950s. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the 5X5 to build his Olympian physique. The most enduring interpretation, though, has to be Bill Starr’s. Described in his classic weightlifting text, “The Strongest Shall Survive,” Starr originally developed the program as the strength coach for the Indianapolis Colts during the 1970s. Rippetoe even advocates it as a follow-up to his Starting Strength Program for intermediate and advanced lifters. Featuring the use of the barbell squat, bench press and power clean, Starr’s 5X5 uses three workouts a week of low, medium and heavy intensity, to ensure continued muscle growth. Since increased lean body mass will lead to reduced body fat as well, this is one of the best full-body workouts available for men.

From the Ground Up

Dan John is a competitive strongman athlete and a high school football coach, as well as a fitness and conditioning author. In his eBook, “From the Ground Up,” John describes the importance of a minimal, but heavy weight-training workout. He explains that weight lifting for conditioning has gotten too complicated, since we’ve known what works for decades. Lift heavy weights, from the ground up, to over your head, and you will get stronger throughout your body.

John’s program is based on a minimal use of equipment--just a barbell. No benches, no cages, just a simple, inexpensive barbell and plates that pretty well anyone can afford. Simply perform a set number of power cleans. On the last repetition, leave the weight racked in your hands, on your shoulders, and immediately perform a set of front squats. On the last squat, extend the lift into an overhead press for the appropriate number of repetitions. Perform this workout two or three times per week, according to John, and you’re bound to see results. Its simplicity and minimal expenditure for equipment make this the best full-body workout for men on a budget.

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