Some introductory thoughts on fullbody workouts.
If there is one aspect that seems to define the Classic physique methodology, or Golden age of bodybuilding, it is the fullbody workout. While it is true that the fullbody was a popular scheme to train by, it was not the only one. However, for this post we will concentrate on this aspect. Other training schemes will also be looked at and discussed at a later time.
Working the entire body in one session has become a program that is set aside for beginners. At one time it was the way everybody trained for a majority of the year. Some people continued to train this way year round, while others transitioned to splits leading up to contest.
There is enough scientific knowledge that an entire book, or books could be written about fullbody workouts. Over the course of the next few months we will delve into this subject in small bites of information. Trying to present all of the information in one post would be like trying to drink water from a fire hose.
A common scenario for people today who try to train fullbody coming off of a typical modern bodybuilding split is that they fail at it. It is actually easy to understand why they fail. You have to realize that a fullbody program and a split are so different from one another that they simply cannot be approached in the same manner. Working a fullbody program requires that you build up the conditioning needed to complete the session without failing. It is quite literally the difference between running a sprint, and running a marathon.
In performing a traditional modern 5 day split, you are concerned with working a particular muscle hard enough to disrupt it, and have the muscle respond by growing. Typically you will hit it directly once a week and possibly indirectly again, depending on what muscle it is. This is normally done by the application of numerous sets ranging anywhere from 9-20, again depending on what muscle you are targeting.
The problem as I see it is this. Once you have worked a muscle hard enough to disrupt it, do you really need to keep hammering it to oblivion? Are you doing more harm than good? I believe that in the case of the natural trainee, yes. You’re forcing the muscle to drink from a fire hose, so to speak. You only get the one direct instance of the muscle demand to grow. It spends the rest of the time healing from the pounding you unleashed on it. In this scenario depending on the muscle involved you may have one heavy session, and possibly one or two light sessions. Again this all depends on which muscle you are working. The muscle is not going to grow any faster from working it just hard enough to stimulate growth than it will from being pounded to death.
With the fullbody approach you work the muscle hard enough to stimulate growth, and then leave it alone to grow. You come back at it again 48 to 72 hours later, and repeat the process. I like to say, stimulate, not annihilate. During the course of the weeks work you actually do close to the same total amount of work to the muscle, but it is left in better shape to recover from more shorter sessions than from the one long blasting. You still work hard during fullbody, but stop when a muscle has had enough. On a typical 3 day a week fullbody, you rest more than you work. Everybody agrees on the fact the rest is when muscles grow, so why not utilize a program that give you more rest?
In the case of the fullbody workout you also work several muscles both directly and indirectly in one session. Another scenario I see from many people is the complaint that they can’t work their arms on back or chest day. The arm muscles the want to work are too tired from the compound movements of the major muscle. They do not make the connection of the simple concept of pre exhausting the muscle. Triceps tired from benching? Well then it should not take much too just finish them off and be done with your tricep work, right? No, they want to hit the tricep from 18 different angles. Seriously, why?
In fullbody work we take advantage of the pre exhausted muscles and move from one group to another. Usually you will hit the major groups first, then, just finish off the smaller minor groups. In the golden age it was not uncommon for a bodybuilder to spend two or more hours in completing a fullbody workout. While I love fullbody work, even I’m not that much of a masochist to want to pound weights for two plus hours. I generally try to spend about an hour or up to 90 minutes on a long day to complete a session. More often than not 1 hour is what I aim for.
I generally try to structure a fullbody session to be no more than 10 movements per session, and that is a long session. 8 movements is more typical of a long session for a basic fullbody. I like to build fullbody programs where 5-6 movement’s are utilized per session with different sessions being worked through the week.
In the next post we will take a typical fullbody program and tear it apart, and analyze it. We will be looking at the ” Reeves Classic Physique” program.
Reeves classic physique
bb row........3x8-12....DL 3x5* see note
dips............5x10@BW Try for sets of 10, but do what you can.
BB calf raise 3x15-20
Last edited by glwanabe; 12-19-2010 at 04:34 AM.