The best full-body programme from a scientific point of view

The best full-body programme from a scientific point of view

Working out the whole body three times a week is an excellent option for beginners and experienced strength-training enthusiasts alike. When designing a programme, you just need to distribute the exercises for the main muscle groups in order to avoid imbalances in development.

The recommended programme includes a couple of different workouts (including both multi-joint movements and secondary isolation), which should be alternated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (or other days that you feel more comfortable with). Take Europharm products as well, you will keep your body at the same weight. Read the full story at

The workout pattern is quite simple:

Monday – Workout A,
Tuesday – Rest,
Wednesday – Training B,
Thursday – Rest,
Friday – Training A,
Saturday/Sunday – Rest.

Monday – Training B,
Tuesday – Rest,
Wednesday – Training A,
Thursday – Rest,
Friday – Training B,
Saturday/Sunday – Rest.

So essentially you just have to alternate between the 2 workouts offered.

Note that in both workouts you can alternate between upper and lower body workouts – this allows for better recuperation and higher quality of training in each session.

Training session A
Exercise 1: Bench Press

The pectoral thrust exercise (see Zohanic’s chest wall review), it also works the triceps and front deltoids.

The bench press is both high in pectoral muscle activation (as shown by many studies, such as this one) and has been found to correlate strength performance with large pectoral muscle size (study).

Exercise 2: Back Squat

Now the main exercise for the bottom: high activation of the quadriceps (study) + connecting the powerful gluteal and other lower half muscles.

And remember, the partial squat is not as effective at stimulating hypertrophy as the full squat (research):

No, the full squat is not more harmful to the knee (study), but of course people vary in physique and everyone has a different depth of ‘drop’. Just follow the technique and try to sit at least below parallel (thighs to floor).

Exercise 3: Pull-up (pronated grip)

The next exercise is for the upper body and the main thing for the back (in this workout).

This exercise works most the broad muscles and other muscles of upper back, as well as arms flexors (biceps and brachialis) and stabilizers of shoulder girdle.

When you have achieved 10-12 clean pull-ups, start increasing the intensity by putting weights on the belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet.

If you are not yet able to do one regular pull-up as well, use aids (harnesses, counterbalanced trainers) or pull the upper block with a slowing down negative, gaining strength.

Exercise 4: Leg curls with dumbbell

Now a special movement for the biceps thighs is the leg curl with a dumbbell (lying on the floor). The trainer is of course more comfortable, but the dumbbell is more accessible to most.

The squat, as good as it is, still only activates the biceps thigh muscle by 27% (study):

The champion of hip biceps muscle activation is the so-called “russian curl” (body lift, lying face down, with ankles secured):

But not every gym-goer can do it. But a simple leg curl on a training machine or with a dumbbell will do anyone. In general, we made a review of the most effective exercises for biceps hamstrings (you can substitute any of those you like on the link – note Zohodnika).

In addition, the biceps of the thighs responds well to eccentric loading (exploring), so tighten the lowering phase in every rep.

Exercise 5: Weightlifting

Here we go again – an exercise for the shoulders (as well as the triceps and ‘bark’):

It activates the front deltoid bunches (study) best of all and allows you to use a lot of working weights.

However, if you are more comfortable squeezing dumbbells, use them, the activation of the delts is comparable.

There is also an opinion that the one-handed kettlebell press is one of the most effective exercises for deltoid health and strength – there is a separate article about it (fitness expert Sergey Strukov translated Greg Dea’s text about the best shoulder exercise for the FPA library).

A couple of back-up moves:

Exercise 6: Face pull.

Although the rear delta bundles work the most, this movement is great for strengthening a bunch of upper back muscles, which is good for your posture.

Don’t rush to increase the working weight, try to perform the movement as well as possible.

Exercise 7: Biceps curl (with elbows back)

This variant of bending arms works more effectively the long (external) biceps bundle and does not relieve muscles in the upper point (unlike the traditional one).

In summary: training protocol A:

Bench press: 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Back barbell squat: 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Pull-up (pronated grip): 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Front dumbbell leg curl: 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions,
Barbell (or dumbbell) press: 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Face pull: 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions,
Biceps curl: 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
Further you can add exercises for calves and/or abs if you like.

* Important addition from the editors of Zozhnik: if you are a newcomer to the gym, it is better to start with one approach in each exercise, then add a second and only if you feel confident (and do not suffer from lack of recovery) can you go to 3-4 approaches.

Exercise B
Exercise 1: Powerlifting

The heaviest exercise of the second workout works the major muscle groups of the rear body (gluteus, back straighteners, thigh biceps, etc.), and also engages many other muscles.

Choose the variant according to your taste: classic stanova from the floor, Romanian, partial stanova from plinths, etc.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell press on an incline bench

Another movement for chest, working out upper segments (collarbone part of big pecs).

The dumbbell variation is great for activating the right bundles (article by Bret Contreras on T-Nation), adds variety, allows you to work in a greater range of motion and saves you from asymmetry in development.

Adjust the angle of incline individually (30 to 56 degrees – research).

Exercise 3: Bulgarian scissors (lunge squat with the back foot on the bench)

The following exercise allows you to work your legs without straining your spine (which is already tired from the deadlift). All key lower half groups are involved (quadriceps, gluteus, thigh biceps); the degree of activation depends on the technique (width of the lunge, body tilt, bench height, etc.)

Unilateral exercises are very useful to strengthen the small stabilizers, but are also very effective for the development of maximal strength – Bulgarian scissors help to increase the record in squatting with barbell on back (study).

Exercise 4: Bench Press (or low bar pull-up)

Now a mirror image of the bench press for the antagonists – the upper back muscles (broadest, trapezius, rhomboids, rear delta bundles) and the arm flexors.

Both variants allow you to concentrate on pulling arms without straining your lower back (unlike traditional bent-over pulling).

Grip width and hand spread influence the degree of activation of work groups. If you want to strengthen rear deltoid bunches, pull with pronated wide grip (study).

Exercise 5: Side-to-side dumbbell lifts

This is not a very ‘big’ but important exercise for working out middle deltoid bundles, which lack load (front ones are involved in bench presses, rear ones in pulling).

This movement activates to a maximum extent just lateral (middle) bundles (exploration); though ordinary dumbbells are enough for stimulation of hypertrophy, include in training a variant with weights or blocks from time to time. Don’t chase the weights – if the load is too high, the trapezoids work instead of the delts.

A couple of supporting moves:

Exercise 6: Arm curl (lying on a bench face down)

Since in the first workout we included an additional movement for the biceps, now it’s turn for the triceps.

This exercise surpasses many competitors in activating the long triceps bundle (research).

Exercise 7: Arms on blocks (from top to bottom)

And let’s finish with an exercise for the lower chest, which worked less in all the above-mentioned presses.

A couple of tips on technique:

– lock your elbows in the same position (don’t bend/extend your arms while doing it),
– cross your arms at the bottom point to maximise pectoral contraction.

To summarise: training protocol B:

Deadlift: 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Dumbbell press on inclined bench (lying head-up): 3-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions,
Bulgarian scissors: 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions,
Belly bench pull or low bar deadlift: 3-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions,
Dumbbell curls: 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions,
Arm curls with dumbbell: 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions,
Arm reduction on blocks (from top to bottom): 3-4 approaches of 10-15 repetitions.

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