While bodybuilders and serious lifters will often split their muscle groups into separate workouts, beginners and novice lifters will see significant improvements with workouts that focus on the entire body. Lifting every other day is an appropriate training schedule for a full-body workout program. As you advance, however, while you can still lift every other day, you may want to make other adjustments to prevent hitting a plateau. In addition to lifting, fit in regular cardiovascular and flexibility work to comprehensively build fitness.
The major muscle groups that you’ll want to target in your full-body workout includes your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs and lower back. ExRx.net recommends selecting one exercise per muscular group when you’re organizing a full-body workout. This helps to prevent you from becoming too fatigued and performing poorly toward the end of your workout. An example of a full-body routine includes leg press, leg curl, calf raise, bench press, row, shoulder press, biceps curl, lying triceps extension, crunch and back extension.
Selecting Volume and Intensity
Before working out, do a 10-minute dynamic warm-up to wake up your neuromuscular system and prepare your muscles. If you’re just starting out, begin by performing one set of each exercise, with each set consisting of 12 reps. Focus on mastering exercise technique. After four weeks, increase your volume to two and eventually three sets. Once you’ve been consistently lifting for a month, you can further tailor your workout for your goals. To build strength, make each set consist of six or fewer reps. To focus on building muscle, each set should consist of six to 12 reps.
Allowing for Adequate Rest
For your weight-training workouts to be effective, you’ve got to provide them with enough recovery time so that they can fully heal between sessions. Forty-eight hours is typically long enough for the healing process. Therefore, working out every other day, such as in a Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays schedule, would be an effective training routine. Facilitate your recovery by getting at least eight hours of sleep per night, consuming nutrient-dense foods and staying active on your days off.
Changing it Up
After you’ve been training for six to eight weeks, it’s important to add variety to your routine to continue to see strength and size improvements. ExRx.net recommends changing up the exercises you do every one to two months. In addition, vary your workout volume and intensity. Consider focusing more on selected muscle groups each session. For example, although you’d continue to focus on full-body, on Mondays lift heavier on your chest and shoulders and then use lighter weights when working those two muscles on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, focus on your legs and on Fridays focus on your arms and core.
Cardio and Stretching Work
Incorporating cardio exercise and static stretching into your weekly routine will develop your heart health, help you reach and maintain a healthy body composition and maintain your flexibility. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardio, like brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise, such as jogging. This equates to performing 25 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise, or 50 minutes of moderate intensity cardio, every other day. Add bouts of static stretching every other day to improve your flexibility and facilitate healing. To stretch the major muscles throughout the body, incorporate the hamstring stretch, lying glute stretch, standing quad stretch, door chest stretch, shoulder stretch and reaching-forward back stretch.