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Home » OSL Blog » Best Full Body Workout and Exercises

Best Full Body Workout and Exercises

April 25, 2019

You know the feeling when you wish each night that there was just a few more hours in the day to get it all in?

Between work, family, friends, and the mundane tasks of everyday life, it can be hard to find the time needed to get in a quality workout. Even the most seasoned bodybuilder can get tired of spending hours at the gym most days of the week.

But what if we told you that you can get in an effective full body workout in 30 minutes or less?

Yes, even bodybuilders. Now, we’re not saying to replace every gym day with these full body exercises, but it can be a great way to shake up your current routine.

The key to an effective full body workout & exercises is not the time you put in, but the effort you put in, that gets you real results.

Getting a great workout in less time

One of the best ways to get in a great workout in 30 minutes or less is through High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. Some might say that Vince Gironda, of Golden Era bodybuilding gym fame Vince’s Gym, originally created the idea of HIIT workouts. High intensity interval training is a specific way to workout. You go as hard as possible for a specific amount of time, take a short break of 30 seconds or less, and then do your next set.

Vince Gironda at Vince Gym

Vince Gironda in front of Vince’s Gym.

1966 Mr. America Bob Gajda developed a similar system of training that he called PHA (Peripheral Heart Action). Bob’s routine utilized six to eight exercises done consecutively without rest. To make the program even more effective, Bob would use exercises for different muscle groups (legs, chest, calves, deltoids, back, triceps, biceps, abs), forcing the heart to work even harder by pumping blood to different muscle groups without any rest between exercises.

Bob Gajda winning the Mr. America.

Bob Gajda winning the Mr. America in 1996.

Some of the health benefits that a HIIT exercise routine can offer includes burning more calories, help lose unwanted body fat, and increase your metabolism for hours after exercising. It can even reduce blood sugar, blood pressure and lower risk of heart related diseases.

Now, when you first start working out this way, you might find that you need to take longer breaks in between each set. That’s okay! Just make sure that as you progress, you are taking shorter and shorter breaks in between. Your goal will be to get yourself to the point where you are taking 30 second or less breaks in between, so you can really maximize the effectiveness of your short duration full body workout routine.

Keep track of your progress

To make sure that you are making progress, count how many reps and sets you can do in the time limit for each exercise. Write them down and then see how you progress over time by shortening your recovery period between each set and adding more reps per set. You can also increase the amount of time you spend on each exercise to challenge yourself even farther.

Not only will this be a great motivator to keep you working out, it can also help build muscles that aren’t being used during your normal bodybuilding routine at the gym.

Whether you are looking for a full body workout for mass, for weight loss, or just to shake up your current routine, you’ve come to the right place. These full body workout routines are great for beginners and seasoned bodybuilders alike.

We are going to show you an assortment of the best full body workout & exercises that you can do at the gym and at home with the right equipment.

1. Plank

We will start with the plank so you can get this exercise down. You will be using it as a starting position for a few of the other exercises. The plank looks very easy, but this is one of the best full body workouts. It is actually quite difficult to maintain and will work your body from head to toe. This exercise does not require any equipment, but you might want to use a mat to protect your elbows.

Plank exercise
Planks are one of the most common full body exercises.

How to do it: Start on all fours. Raise yourself up on your toes and elbows, with your forearms on the mat and your firsts facing each other.  You will want to keep your elbows on the ground or mat, in line with your body.

Activate your core, glutes, quads, calves and shoulders so that your body stays aligned throughout the pose – your body should be a straight line with no bend throughout the pose. If someone were to put a plate or book on your back, it would stay in its position because your body is in the correct plank position. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and then take a 15 second rest. Do as many sets as you can in five minutes.

Variation: One variation you can try to the plank is the high plank pose. You will still hold the pose the same way, except that you will rest on your wrists with your arms fully extended, rather than resting on your elbows. Flexing your abs while holding the pose, rather than keeping them engaged the entire time, will also increase the amount of core muscle groups used.

2. Mountain Climbers

This exercise offers cardio as well as working out chest, arms and core. You can do mountain climbers anywhere – at home, the gym, or even in your hotel room if you are traveling.

mountain climbers
Mountain climbers activate almost every muscle in your body.

How to do it: Start in a high plank pose. Engage your core and pull one knee up to your chest. In rapid succession, put that leg back at the starting position and immediately pull up your opposite knee to your chest. Continue for one minute, counting each rep as you go. If you can’t do a full minute at first, start with 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds – 1 minute between each set. See how many reps and sets you can do in five minutes.

3. Bear Crawls

This is another full body workout that requires no equipment, so you can do it anywhere that has enough space for you to stretch out on the floor and move forward. This exercise is a great way to activate multiple muscle groups, and is harder than it looks.

Bear crawls exercise
Bear crawls is a unique spartan move that activates your core.

How to do it: Crouch down on all fours. Put your hands down shoulder width apart, keep your hips in the air, and have your toes planted firmly behind you. Keep your head up, eyes forward, and your back straight. Move forward while crouching down, as though you are sneaking up on someone, but make sure your knees never touch the ground.

Move forward ten steps or as far as your space will allow and then go backward in the same position to your starting point. Count each forward and backward motion as a rep. See how many you can do in a five minute period, taking a 30 – 60 second break after you’ve completed each minute.

4. Rope Waves

For this full body exercise, you will need two heavy ropes attached to an anchor point. You will typically find this setup at the gym, so you might not be able to do this advanced full body workout at home.

Rope waves
This exercise focuses on training upper arms and shoulders.

How to do it: Stand at the free end of the ropes, with one in each hand. Your feet should be shoulder length apart and your hips and knees should be slightly bent. Make sure that your elbows stay bent and close to your hips at all times while performing the exercise.

Raise one hand with the rope and quickly lower it, making a wave down the rope to the anchor point. As you lower the rope with one hand, quickly lift the rope with the other hand and lower just as quickly. Alternate the ropes so you have two asynchronous waves going at all times during this workout.

Count how many reps you can do for 30 seconds and then take a 30 second break between each set. See how many sets you can do in three minutes. Create a goal to increase your reps to 60 seconds with a 30 second break and a total workout of seven minutes.

Variation: You can vary this exercise by using both ropes at the same time to create simultaneous waves. You can also try grabbing both ropes together with both hands and waving them side to side, creating lateral waves. Another variation includes holding both ropes close together with one in each hand, and snapping both ropes to the ground as you complete a lunge.

5. Burpees

You will find people who love this exercise, and those who hate it. Whatever camp you are in, burpees are a great workout that uses all the major muscle groups and can bring you real results. Plus, you can do it with no equipment, making it a great exercise to do at home or anywhere you don’t have much space to workout.

Burpees
Burpees are a full body exercise focused on strength training.

How to do it: Start in standing position with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms hanging at your sides. Bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position. Put your hands down on the floor, kick your legs back into plank position and do a push up.

Then, pull your legs back up so your feet are just outside of your hands, and jump up in the air. You have now completed one rep of burpees. Continue doing reps for 30 seconds and take a 30 second break after each set for a total of five minutes. Work your way up to doing reps for 60 seconds with a 30 second break and each set lasting seven minutes.

6. Downward-facing Dog

You may be surprised to see a yoga pose as a full body workout exercise, but don’t let it fool you. This exercise may look easy, but it works your legs, arms, core, back and hips. You can also do this exercise with no equipment.

Downward facing dog
The famous downward facing dog is surprisingly a great full body exercise.

How to do it: Start in a high plank position. Make sure that you keep your core engaged at all times throughout this exercise so that you don’t arch your back. Your hands and feet should stay in the starting position at all times. Keeping a rigid torso, exhale your breath and begin to shift your weight so that your hips can move back and up.

Continue this movement until your body looks like an upside down V. Pause, and then inhale as you move backwards to get back to the starting position. Do as many reps as you can for two minutes and then take a 30 second break before you start the next set. See how many you can do in eight minutes.

7. Figure Eight

This pose is easy to do at the gym or at home, provided you have kettlebells at home. You will work your arms, legs, back, core, and glutes doing this exercise.

How to do it: Start with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, and hold a kettlebell in your right hand. Bend down so that your knees are parallel to the floor. Reach your left hand behind your left leg and pass the kettlebell under your left leg, passing it from your right hand to your left hand.

Swing the kettlebell around the outside of your left leg and in towards your right leg, while reaching your right arm behind your right leg to grab the kettlebell as it comes around. At this point, you will have completed the figure eight motion. Continue doing this same figure eight motion and see how many reps you can do in 60 seconds. Then, take a 30 second break before doing another set. Complete for a total of five minutes.

8. Inchworms

This is another full body exercise that requires no equipment, other than a little bit of space to complete it. It may seem easy, but this exercise is a great way to work your core, back , arms, chest and shoulders.

Inchworms is another yoga inspired that engages most muscles.

How to do it: Stand with your feet just apart and tighten your core muscles. Exhale as you bend at the hips until your hands touch the floor, keeping your feet planted in place. A slight bend at the knee is okay, but make sure to keep your spine in alignment throughout the exercise.

Slowly start to walk your hands forward as you keep your feet in place, until you reach a starting push up position. Complete a full push up, maintaining a neutral spine. At the top of the push up, with your arms fully extended, start to walk your feet forward until your feet are close to your hands. Start the movement over.

If you don’t have enough space to keep moving forward, you can go back to the original start position to continue the exercise each time. See how many you can do in 60 seconds, and take a 30 second break in between each set for a total of six minutes.

Variation: A good way to increase the difficulty with this exercise is to add more push ups in the lowered position.

9. Lunge with Overhead Press

This full body workout routine involves a light-to-medium weight medicine ball. You will complete a forward lunge while pushing the medicine ball or barbell overhead, allowing more muscles to work simultaneously. This exercise works your shoulders, arms, core, hips, glutes, and legs.

lunge with overhead press
This exercise will take your lunges to the next level.

How to do it: Stand with your feet together, pull your shoulder blades down and back, and activate your core muscles so your spine remains neutral throughout the exercise. Hold the medicine ball with both hands at chest level. Starting with your right leg, lift up and start to move forward, as if you were taking a step forward.

Maintain a strong core and press your left foot into the floor so that your body doesn’t sway as your leg is in the air. Continue the movement until your right heel is planted firmly on the floor, and your weight has shifted from your left leg to the right leg. Make sure that your left knee does not touch the floor at any time as you lower it to allow your body to complete the full lunge.

As your right foot touches the floor, push up with the medicine ball straight overhead. While still in the down position pull the medicine ball back to your chest and put all your weight on your right leg so that you can bring your left foot to meet the right and stand back in the starting position. Count how many you can complete in 60 seconds and then take a 30 second break before you start the next set. Continue for six minutes.

10. Overhead Slams

For this full body workout you can do at home, you just need a medium-weight medicine ball. This exercise works the legs, shoulders, back, hips and glutes. Be sure that you are on a stable floor so that it can withstand the force of the medicine ball being slammed down while completing the exercise.

Overhead slams
Each slam activates your legs, shoulders, back, hips and glutes.

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip width apart and hold the medicine ball to your chest with palms facing each other and elbows bent facing the floor. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise so that your spine stays neutral.

Shift your hips forward and begin to bend at the waist, continue to do so until the ball is under and behind you, with your face parallel to the floor. Make sure that your feet are firmly planted. Now, bring the ball up over and behind your head while shifting the weight on your feet so that your standing on the balls of your toes in a triple extension.

With an explosive motion, slam the ball down on the floor, maintaining core engagement and using your hips as a hinge to keep your spine stable. Complete this exercise for 60 seconds and take a 30 second break between each set. Count how many reps you can do per set for a total of five minutes.

11. Push up with Single Leg Raise

This variation of a standard push up provides a great way to get your full body involved in the exercise. You will use your arms, shoulders, back, glutes, legs and hips to perform this exercise. It requires no equipment but you can use a mat on the floor.

Push up with single leg raise
This variation of a push up will involve your full body.

How to do it: Get down on your hands and knees onto the mat or floor with your feet together. Bring your knees up so that your toes and hands are the only body parts touching the mat. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and your fingers facing forward. Engage your core and keep your spine straight throughout the exercise.

Begin to lower your body down while bending your elbows but maintaining a straight spine. Use your glutes and thighs to help your core do the work. While you are lowering your body, raise one leg up in the air and keep it there until you complete the motion.

Once your body is close to the floor but not touching, begin to push yourself back up using your arms and shoulders until you reach the starting position. Begin again but this time raise the other leg while doing the push up. Continue to switch legs and see how many reps you can do in 60 seconds. Take a 30 second break between each set for a total of seven minutes.

Conclusion

Don’t feel that you need to try ALL of the best full body workout & exercises at one time. Pick a few each day to vary your full body workout plan. Not only does this reduce the risk of boredom by doing the same routine each day, it also keeps your brain healthy, prevents overuse injuries, and can even build new muscles.

Have you tried any of these full body workouts? Do you have any that you love but aren’t listed here? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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