For a workout that burns fat and ramps up your strength gains, you can't beat full body training. The metabolism boosting properties of weightlifting, combined with the calorie burn from training each muscle group in every session will mean your fat cells won't know what's hit them. For best results, hit up your full body workouts three days per week.
Lower Body Lifts
The legs tend to be the most demanding body part to train, so get them out of the way first. They also burn a ton of calories though. Alternate each session between a squatting exercise and a deadlifting exercise for four sets of six to eight repetitions. Squats hit your quads, hamstrings, calves and core -- use a barbell in the front or back squat position, or do dumbbell squats. Deadlifts are the ultimate exercise for your posterior chain -- the butt, hamstrings and lower back. If you're not comfortable with regular deadlifts, try stiff-legged, trap bar or rack deadlifts, advises strength coach Nia Shanks on her website. After your squats or deadlifts, perform three sets of 10 on forward or reverse lunges and glute bridges or leg curls.
Upper Body Exercises
Just because your pecs, shoulders and back may not be as glamorous to train as your slender thighs and killer calves doesn't mean you should avoid upper body training. Perform two pushing exercises such as pushups, bench presses, dumbbell presses or dips, and two pulling exercises -- pulldowns, chinups, or rows with dumbbells, a barbell or cable machine. Aim for three sets of 10 to 12 reps on each.
Your core muscles benefit from full-body exercises like squats and deadlifts, but if you want to really build those stomach muscles, there's no harm in adding a couple of core exercises too. Instead of situps and crunches, perform stabilization exercises such as planks, rollouts and side bridges, writes trainer Cassandra Forsythe in "The New Rules of Lifting for Women." These are far more effective for your abs and put less strain on your lower back. Perform a mini-circuit consisting of two to three exercises and complete as many rounds as you can in five minutes.
Leave at least 48 hours between sessions to allow your muscles to recover, advises the American Council on Exercise. This means that a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule is best. In each session aim to lift heavier weights, perform more reps or add extra sets. Keep your rest periods short to maximize calorie burn and keep your heart rate high -- 45 to 60 seconds between exercises should be sufficient.
- Built Lean: Full Body Workout Vs. Split Routine: Which Is Better?
- Nia Shanks: Ode to Deadlifts
- The New Rules of Lifting for Women; Cassandra Forsythe and Lou Schuler: December 2008
- ACE Fitness: What Causes Muscle Soreness and How is it Best Relieved?
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.