Full body workout plan: Woman doing front lungesFull body workout plan: Woman doing front lunges
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Kickoff's certified personal trainers and registered dietitians share detailed analysis, discussion, and how-tos about the questions we get most often

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Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Full Body Workout Plan

It’s time to stop overtaxing some muscle groups while neglecting others and show your muscles that you love them all equally. Enter the full body workout plan. 

This is just what it sounds like: a workout plan in which each workout targets building strength in every major muscle group in your body. Sounds pretty good, right?

In this article, we’ll talk about who can benefit from a full body workout routine, what a sample routine might look like, how to design your own, and how a personal trainer can help.

Who Benefits From a Full Body Workout Plan

Short answer: everyone! Slightly longer answer: Full body workout plans are especially important for beginner lifters. 

If you’re relatively new to weightlifting or strength training, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting all your muscles so you have a solid foundation to work from.

For newbies, the focus should be more on perfecting your form and less on gaining muscle. It’s natural to want to jump right in and push yourself as hard as you can, but going slow helps you reduce your risk of injury. You may also benefit from an online trainer, who can give you personalized advice to help you improve your form.

Full body workouts can be done at the gym or at home, and not all of them require equipment.

Sample Workouts for Your Full Body Workout Plan

What is the plan? gif

We’re going to look at two home workouts: one that doesn’t require any equipment, and one that just uses dumbbells. 

If necessary, you can substitute heavy objects for dumbbells, and you can also use any other exercise equipment you might have access to – barbell, kettlebell, etc.

Additionally, keep in mind the number of minutes or reps listed for each exercise are just suggestions. Listen to your body, and stop when you need to. 

You can also add a light cardiowarm up (e.g. walking or knee lifts) and a dynamic stretching cool down (e.g. yoga poses) to get more benefits from the workout and take care of your body.

Full Body Workout Without Equipment

This workout includes multiple compound exercises (movements that target more than one muscle at once), and you only need your bodyweight for resistance.

1. Inchworm: Two Minutes

The inchworm gently works your entire body.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Bend your upper body downwards, like you’re going to touch your toes. Put your hands on the floor with your knees bent slightly.

  3. Crawl your hands forward and slowly lower your body until you’re in a plank position. Hold for a couple of seconds.

  4. Walk your hands backwards until you’re back in the same position as step two.

  5. Slowly straighten back up. (You can skip this step to make the exercise easier.)

Modifications: To make this exercise a little easier, you can bend your knees more on the way down. To add more challenge, do a push-up when you’re in the plank position.

2. Walking Lunges: 20-30 Reps on Each Side

Lunges help to build strength in the hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Step forward with your left leg, and bring your right knee to the ground behind you. Then, return to the starting position.

  3. Repeat step two on the other side.

Modification: For more challenge, alternate twisting to each side as you lunge.

3. Squats: 10-20 Reps

Squats target core and leg muscles, and they’re also very low-impact, making them an excellent exercise in just about any workout routine.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can clasp your hands in front of you for balance.

  2. Squat like you’re going to sit on a chair.

  3. Raise yourself back to the position in step one.

Modification: For more intensity, try one-legged squats, alternating which leg you’re standing on in between each squat (or doing one set of left leg squats and one set of right leg squats).

4. Burpees: 5-10 Reps

Full body workout plan: Girl doing burpees GIF

No full body workout plan would be complete without the most infamous of compound exercises! They’re super challenging, but it’s worth doing them just to say the word “burpee.” The burpee is essentially four exercises all rolled into one, a mini total-body workout. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, and jump vertically.

  2. As you land, get into a squat position. Place your hands on the floor, keeping them inside your knees.

  3. While supporting yourself with your arms, kick your feet behind you so you’re in a plank position.

  4. Bring your upper body down until your nose is about to touch the floor, then push yourself back up.

  5. Kick your legs back to where they were in step two.

  6. On your way back up, jump vertically again.

  7. Fist bump the air in a gesture of victory. (Okay, this step is optional. 😉)

Modifications: If you need to make this low-impact, you can remove the jumps or do knee push-ups.

5. Sit Ups: 20-30 Reps

Sit-ups build strength in your core muscle groups, making them a great addition to your full body workout plan.

  1. While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms in front of you or leave them at your sides.

  2. Lift your upper body until your chest almost touches your knees.

  3. Bring yourself back down to your starting position.

Modifications: For more challenge, add a twist to alternating sides as you come up. 

6. Mountain Climbers: Two Minutes

Mountain climbers engage nearly every muscle group of the body, especially your upper body. Plus, all you need is a small space on the floor.

  1. Start in a plank with a straight back.

  2. Slowly bring your left knee towards your chest, and hold for a second.

  3. Straighten your left leg back out so that you’re back in the starting position.

  4. Repeat with your right leg.

  5. Don’t speed up. Move slowly so you can keep a straight back.

Modification: For even more focus on upper body strength, add a push-up in between each set of leg movements.

Full Body Workout Plan With Dumbbells

Jack Whitehall saying "dumbbells for breakfast"

Weight training is a great way to build muscle. You can use dumbbells in this workout plan, which effectively targets all major muscle groups. Use a weight you feel comfortable using for 10-15 reps, and progress to a heavier weight once the exercise starts feeling easy.

1. Romanian Deadlift: 10-15 Reps

The Romanian deadlift targets the hamstrings and other leg muscles even more than the traditional deadlift. It helps you build muscle in your entire posterior chain (back muscles), focusing especially on the glutes and legs.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms slightly in front of you, holding your dumbbells with an overhand grip.

  2. Hinge your hips back and lower your upper body as though you’re going to touch your toes, bringing the weights down with you. Stop when they’re just above the ground.

  3. Straighten your body back to the starting position.

2. Goblet Squat: 10-15 Reps

The goblet squat targets the quads and glutes even more than the regular squat, in addition to core and back muscles.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells at your chest.

  2. Perform a regular squat while holding the dumbbells steady.

  3. Engage your lower body as you straighten yourself back up.

3. Dumbbell Curls: 10-15 Reps

Person doing bicep curls as part of a full body workout plan

Also known as biceps curls, this exercise mainly targets the biceps (as you already guessed), but they also work all the muscles in your arms.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, holding a weight in each hand with an overhand grip. 

  2. Bring your forearms toward your chest.

  3. Bring the weights back down.

4. Overhead Press: 10-15 Reps

This upper body exercise targets the triceps, upper back, and core muscles. 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. In each hand, hold one of the weights just above your shoulder, with your elbows bent 90 degrees.

  2. Straighten your arms while lifting the weights overhead, and hold for a second.

  3. Bring your arms back down, lowering the weights to the starting position.

5. Dumbbell Bench Press: 10-15 Reps

You don’t need a special weight bench for this exercise — just a surface that allows you to lie on your back while keeping your feet flat on the floor. 

You can also raise the bench so you’re at a bit of an incline, but this is optional. This exercise targets all upper body muscles. 

  1. Life flat on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent at right angles, and lower back slightly arched. Hold a weight in each hand, just above your chest.

  2. Push the weights up, extending your arms. Hold for a second.

  3. Lower the weights back to the starting position.

Note: Using a barbell can turn this into a barbell bench press.

How to Design Your Own Full Body Workout Plan

Man stretching after finishing a full body workout plan

Now that you’ve seen some sample full body workouts, you might be wondering how to turn them into a workout routine. 

Let’s walk through how to build a full-body workout. You can start by choosing two lower body movements (like squats and lunges), two upper body movements (ex., push-ups and dumbbell curls), one core exercise (holding a plank could work), and one cardio exercise (ex., jumping jacks). 

Figure out how many reps will challenge you but not exhaust you — this may change after a week or so.

Then, you’ll need to decide how often to do them.  Do what feels sustainable for your schedule. If you can, aim for 2-4 workouts per week, with rest days in between training sessions. You can also do light or moderate cardio on rest days, but your training frequency will depend a bit on how your body responds. If you’re feeling super sore on a day you planned to do a training session, maybe take that day off, and make up for it the next day.

Workout splits are another option. These divide a full body workout into multiple training sessions, focusing on different muscle groups in each session. 

The above workouts both target every major muscle group in the body, but if you prefer, you can alternate upper bodystrength training and lower bodystrength training sessions.

Remember, setting achievable fitness goals can make the difference between keeping at it and giving up. 

Your goal in early workouts should be figuring out what’s reasonable for you right now, more so than hitting some specific number of reps. Meet yourself where you are right now to get where you want to be.

Lastly, you’ll want to focus on progressive overload as you get comfortable with your workout program – so you don’t ever get too comfortable. Hypertrophy (muscle growth) happens when we do these exercises consistently, and as our muscles grow, the same exercises get easier. But if you want them to keep growing, you’ll need to make the exercises a little harder.

After a couple of weeks, when you feel you can handle it, try making your workouts more intense. Switch to heavier weights, try for more reps or sets, or try more challenging versions of your exercises.

How a Personal Trainer Can Help

Erin from The Office saying "I haven't been trained for this"

As we’ve seen, there’s a lot to consider when designing a full body workout plan. Many effective exercises can be done at home with little or no equipment, but it can take some time to figure out where you’re starting from and which exercises are best for your current fitness goals.

This is where an online personal trainer can help. For just $3 a day – a fraction of the cost of many in-person trainers – an online personal trainer from Kickoff will help design a training program tailored to you and your needs. What’s more, their expertise will be invaluable as you try certain exercises for the first time, since they can help you perfect your form.