Full-body workouts are often recommended for beginner lifters as they're a great way to learn the basics and get results with only two to three gym sessions a week. But with the right tweaks, full-body sessions can be highly effective for advanced lifters, too. Become queen of your gym with a full-body routine that is seriously tough, fat-burning and strength-building.
If you're an advanced lifter, you've got your basic exercises nailed -- squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pushups and rows should all be regulars in your gym repertoire. To take lifting to the next level, however, it's time to step your routine up a gear with more challenging variations. Stick with the basic movements, but vary them by slowing down the tempo, using different stances or grips or increasing your range of motion, advises personal trainer Jon Goodman of the Personal Trainer Development Center. For example, you could make a back squat more difficult by slowly counting to three on the way down, pausing in the bottom position, using a closer stance or putting your heels on weight plates to squat deeper. The same goes for other exercises, too.
Olympic weightlifting is an excellent method of developing speed, strength and power, but is not for the fainthearted. Olympic weightlifting is regarded as being the most technical strength discipline, writes strength coach Sally Moss on her website Gubernatrix.com. It takes a high degree of skill and a lot of practice, but the benefits are worth it. The snatch and the clean and jerk are the two competition Olympic lifts, but you can also perform power cleans, squat cleans, high pulls, jerks, push jerks, power snatches and overhead squats in training. The Olympic lifts truly are full-body movements as they work every major muscle group.
If you train the same, you stay the same. Gains probably came easy when you were starting out, but the more advanced you get, the harder it is to get better. Instead of simply following a routine where you aim to add reps or weight every session, consider a periodized training plan. Take four weeks to train with a high-volume approach, using lighter weights for sets of 10 to 15 reps. The next four weeks should be heavier, with the sets and reps reduced to four to five sets of six to 10, and the final two week block involves aiming to set new personal bests. This block periodization approach is far more effective for advanced lifters.
As with any type of training, no single approach is necessarily the best -- you need to find what works for you. A full-body workout is only as effective as the effort you put in, so make sure you're constantly aiming to lift heavier weights, adding extra reps and giving 100 percent every time you step into the gym. If you're looking for a cardio boost as well, give metabolic circuits a go. These advanced weight-cardio combos torch calories and ramp up your metabolism, according to trainer Jen Comas Keck of Red Point Fitness. Pick four to five exercises that work your whole body and perform each at maximum intensity for 30 seconds with no rest between. Rest 90 seconds between circuits and aim for five to 10 rounds in total.
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.