This fullbody workout focuses on the basics, while utilizing minimal isolation work. You will hammer the body with effective compounds lifts that will stimulate plenty of muscle growth, and you will add strength rather quickly.
This program works well for lifters who train alone, or at home, and must constantly shuffle and strip weight from barbells and dumbbells. The added downtime from changing weight can lengthen a workout. With the Beastly Basics approach, you will use only 5 lifts per session, keeping workouts to approximately 60-70 minutes each day.
Perform this workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Rows. Rows can be either:
- Barbell Rows – 5×5
- Dumbbell Rows – 3×10
For dumbbell rows, warmup as required. I find that dumbbell rows seem to work better with slightly higher reps, so resist the urge to use a 5×5.
Curls. You may use any dumbbell curling variation you prefer.
5×5. 5×5 protocols incorporate 2 ramped sets. The percentages of these working warmup sets are based on the working weight used during the final 3 sets.
- Set 1 – 60% x 5 reps
- Set 2 – 80% x 5 reps
- Sets 3-5 – 100% x 5 reps
4×8. The 4×8 sets will involve a slightly lighter weight when compared to Monday’s workout. The first 2 sets are ramped.
- Set 1 – 60% x 8 reps
- Set 2 – 80% x 8 reps
- Sets 3-4 – 100% x 8 reps
Use this same ramping structure for seated overhead dumbbell presses on Friday.
Seated Dumbbell Presses. You may use either the double arm version, or perform them one arm at a time. As the weight gets heavier, it may be easier to use the one arm version. Swinging two heavy dumbbells into place can be a cumbersome task.
Pull Ups. Make sure you are performing pull ups (palms facing away) and not chin ups. If you can’t perform any pull ups, substitute in dumbbell rows or seated cable rows, and perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
Weighted Sit Ups. Hold a 10, 25 or 45 pound plate on your chest. Perform up to 25 reps per set. While weighted sit ups are a very effective choice, you can really use any abdominal exercise that allows progressive resistance such as rope cable crunches.
Calf Raises. These are performed standing while holding a barbell. You may choose to perform calf raises with the balls of your feet upon a 5 or 10 pound plate, but this is not a requirement. You may also use a standing or seated calf raise, or calf raises on a leg press machine.
Dips. If 3 sets of dips become too easy, meaning you can perform 10 dips on each set without effort, add 2 more sets. You may also want to consider either adding resistance via a dipping belt and keeping the set total to 3.
Progression – Adding Weight
Important Note: Never train to failure on any set. Stop each set when you feel like you may not be able to complete the next rep, or stop a set when you feel your exercise form is becoming sub-par. Performing sloppy reps leads to injury. It’s ok if you can’t make the rep goal/target for each set. Try to get it the next time!
Your goal each workout is “beat” your previous performance on a given exercise by at least one rep. This will not always happen. Expect at least one to two unproductive workouts each month.
For exercises that utilize the 5×5 structure, you can add weight in a number of ways:
- Weekly. If you are an experienced beginning lifter, you can attempt to add 5 pounds each week.
- Bi-Weekly. Adding 5 pounds every other week is also a great way to approach progression. Over the course of a year you will have the potential to add 120 pounds to a lift.
- Monthly. For intermediate lifters who will not experienced rapid strength gains, try adding 5-10 pounds per month.
At some point you will be unable to hit 5 reps for the last 3 sets. At this point you will need to make some adjustments. If after a couple weeks you are unable to perform a 5×5 with a given weight, you will need to follow some advanced progressional approaches.
All other exercises. For these exercises, when you can perform the top level number of reps for all of the sets, add weight the next time you perform this exercise. It is wise to add only 5 pounds.