This M&S mass building routine is perfect for lifters who want to give full body workouts a try. All major muscle groups are trained, and the program includes a 20 rep set of squats.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Full body workouts have always been popular.

Many bodybuilding greats (including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Reeves) used them to build the foundation of their lean muscle mass.

The reason for their effectiveness is they allow you to train hard and only 3 days a week. This type of programming allows most to optimally recover between training sessions.

They’re perfect for any experience level. Beginners will thrive when using full body workouts. Intermediates will continue to notice progress towards their goals. And advanced lifters will be able to maintain their size and slowly build upon their established foundation.

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 of the most important exercises you should include into your full body workout routine. Then, we will give you an excellent full body workout routine to help you achieve your goals.

Lastly, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding full body workout.

5 Best Exercises for Full Body Workouts

When it comes to writing an effective full body workout, exercise selection is key.

Since you aren’t training frequently throughout the week, the exercises you choose to do should provide a lot of bang for your buck.

The best way to accomplish this is by including compound exercises in your workouts. Compound exercises are exercises that require multi-joint movements to achieve the full range of motion. As a result, they recruit more muscles to perform resulting in a higher calorie burn and more muscle stimulation.

The 5 we’ve listed below are arguably the best to perform. We’ve listed them in their most traditional variations, however, most can be performed a number of different ways to meet the individual needs of the person using the program. Experiment or work with a trainer to find the best variation for yourself.

1. Deadlift

The deadlift could very well be the most important movement you learn throughout your lifting career. It is a hip-hinge movement that builds the entire posterior chain. Perfecting your deadlift form and becoming relatively strong at the exercise lends itself very well to keeping one healthy and injury free throughout life.

As a result, the deadlift will be included in most workout routines you find online. That being said, not everyone is comfortable performing the conventional deadlift. Luckily, there are many deadlift variations out there and most people can find one they’re able to comfortably perform.

The most popular among beginners is the trap bar deadlift, as it puts the lifter in a more favorable upright lifting position. If you struggle with the deadlift, seek out the help of a trained professional to find an appropriate variation to perform.

2. Squat

The squat is another classic exercise you’ll find in most workout routines online. It is a compound exercise that trains a very fundamental movement pattern. Like the deadlift, the squat is a movement pattern that requires a lot of mobility and it is important to build and maintain efficiency throughout life.

The most popular variation of the squat is the barbell back squat. It also happens to be one of the more advanced variations one can perform – so if you need to, begin with an easier variation such as the goblet or front squat.

The squat is a complete lower body builder. Simply by getting good at squats, you’ll notice that your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves all grow. And since they are one of the toughest movements to perform, you’ll also burn a ton of calories in the process of your workouts by including them.

3. Row

The barbell bent over row is an often overlooked exercise, but there’s a reason the golden era bodybuilders performed them consistently. They’re an absolute back mass building exercise.

If you want to build the coveted V-taper, perfecting the row movement pattern is key. The stronger you get at them, the denser your back will appear.

Most don’t have issues performing the barbell bent over row. However, if you notice your shoulders or elbows build up nagging injuries there are plenty of alternatives you can perform.

One could build an impressive and strong, albeit not completely aesthetic, physique simply by utilizing these first 3 exercises alone.

4. Bench Press

To round out the aesthetic appearance, you need to include some of the press movements into your routine. Unfortunately for some, especially beginners, it’s easier to focus on the press movements while neglecting the three prioritized higher on this list.

That being said, they are still very important to train. The horizontal push is very much a foundational movement pattern and the bench press is the easiest way to become super-efficient at the movement.

Like the barbell row, if you suffer from some nagging joint discomfort, you may want to research and experiment with alternate variations of the horizontal push until you find a variation you’re comfortable performing.

The bench press works the muscles of the chest, shoulders (primarily front delt) and triceps. By perfecting the movement and becoming stronger at it, you will build all of these muscle groups.

5. Overhead Press

The final movement pattern everyone should include into their full body workout routines is the overhead press. The overhead press trains the important vertical push movement pattern.

Overhead presses primarily target the muscles of the shoulder but will also indirectly target the triceps and require a ton of core stability to perform efficiently.

Perfecting this movement pattern and getting stronger at it equates to better shoulder development and a strong and sturdy core.

Again, the barbell variation isn’t for everyone. You may find it bothers your shoulders or elbows. If this is the case, research and work with someone to find an appropriate variation for yourself. Then, proceed to perfect the movement pattern.

M&S Full Body Schedule & Overview

This is a muscle and strength building program for beginner and early intermediate lifters. It is designed to target all major and minor muscle groups, allowing you to maximize hypertrophy (the muscle building process) through the use of progressive resistance.

You will be training 3 days per week, resting at least one day in between sessions. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Wednesday - Workout B
  • Friday - Workout C

M&S Full Body Workout Notes

How to work ramped 5x5 sets

The first 2 sets are "working warm up" sets. The weight you use for your warm up sets will be based upon the resistance used during your 3 working sets. Here is the set up:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3-5 - 100% (working weight) x 5 reps

So if you are using 200 pounds as your working weight for sets 3, 4 and 5, your workout would look like this:

  • Set 1 - 120 pounds (60%) x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 160 pounds (80%) x 5 reps
  • Sets 3-5 - 200 pounds (working weight) x 5 reps

Ramped 3x5 sets for deadlifts

This is performed in the same way you worked your 5x5 ramped sets, but with only one working set:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3 - 100% (working weight) x 5 reps

Workout C - Ramped 3x5 squats

If your squat sets during Workout A felt manageable, try to add 5 pounds to your working set during Workout C. Here's how your Workout C squatting would look like:

  • Set 1 - 60% x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 80% x 5 reps
  • Sets 3 - Workout A's working weight + 5 pounds x 5 reps

How much weight to use per set

For a given exercise, use the same weight for each set. When this amount of resistance feels manageable, add another 5-10 pounds to the bar. You want to focus on progression at all times, so when you are able to, load the bar.

Progression of weight drives gains. It is essential, and this program will not yield gains without it.

Rest between sets

For major lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and barbell rows, rest about 2 minutes in between sets. You can use 60 to 90 seconds rest between sets for all other movements.

Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Squats (Ramped) 5 5
Bench Press (Ramped) 5 5
Barbell Row (Ramped) 5 5
Upright Row 3 10
Skullcrushers 3 10
Dumbbell Curls 3 10
Leg Curls 3 12-15
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3 10-15

Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts (Ramped) 3 5
Romanian Deadlift 2 8-12
Seated Overhead Press 3 8-10
Pull Ups or Inverted Rows 3 10-15
Dips 3 10-20
Barbell Shrugs 3 10
Standing or Seated Calf Raise 3 12-15
Plank 3 60 seconds

Workout C

Exercise Sets Reps
Squats (Ramped) 3 5
Squats 1 20
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10-15
Seated Arnold Press 3 10-15
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10
Barbell Curls 3 10
Leg Curls 3 12-15
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3 10-15

FAQs about Full Body Workouts

In this section, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about full body workout routines according to google.

If you have any additional questions about the routine listed above or full body workouts in general, please feel free to leave us a comment below.

1. Can you do full body workouts every day?

You can, yes. However, for most, it won’t provide that much benefit.

Those who primarily perform a full body workout every day are generally on contest prep. If you’re simply looking to improve your physique and/or health, performing a full body workout 2-4 times per week is plenty.

If you’re thinking working out more frequently will equate to you achieving results faster, think again. Building muscle, getting stronger, and losing body fat all take time. It’s a process and takes consistent dedication.

Instead of opting to go to the gym every day, look to modify other behaviors in your life to ensure you get the best results possible and seek out other hobbies that are conducive to the overall lifestyle you’d like for yourself.

2. Is it better to do a full body workout?

Better is subjective. Full body workouts are a good fit for most recreational lifters as they provide a sufficient amount of work in an efficient amount of time for most peoples’ lifestyles.

However, for those who have goals to become completive lifters or competitive strength athletes, once you surpass a certain training threshold, you may require more stimulus to achieve the results you’d like.

That being said, getting to this point will take quite a bit of time and it’s important when weight training to always opt for the lowest total amount of work it requires to achieve the maximum amount of results.

3. How many times a week should you do full body workouts?

For most performing a full body workout routine anywhere between 2-4 weight training sessions per week is sufficient to build strength and improve body composition.

This particular routine calls for 3 full body workouts per week. That falls into the range listed above and will result in great progress for most individuals.

Start out slow. Improve upon your lifts. Build up your strength and lean muscle mass slowly over the years. Once things stop working, look to modify slightly.

4. Can you build muscle with a full body workout?

Full body workouts are extremely effective for those looking to build lean muscle. They accomplish everything required to stimulate hypertrophy.

They allow you to maximize your workload in any one training session. They allow you to train each muscle with a higher training frequency throughout the week. And they provide an optimal amount of time in between training sessions to promote muscle recovery.

However, to build muscle, you will need the nutritional stimulus as well. You’ll have to eat in a caloric surplus and you will have to eat a sufficient amount of protein each day.

Taking things a step further, to completely optimize your muscle growth you’ll want to consume your protein periodically throughout the day and at ~25-40g per meal.

Lastly, you’ll want to ensure you get your sleep as it may very well be the most critical part of the muscle building equation.

5. How long should full body workouts be?

It depends on the total amount of work being performed in the session. Most full body workouts will generally take anywhere between 45-90 minutes to complete.

This will depend on several different factors including weight used, rep tempo, rest times, rep and set counts, etc.

6. Should you perform cardio on your rest days?

Yes, you can perform cardio during the rest days of a full body workout routine. You will want to be conscious of your individual ability to recover and your overarching fitness goal, however.

For those looking to build lean muscle mass, performing HIIT on rest days doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not only are you increasing the amount of calories you’ll need to consume to build muscle, you’ll also be jeopardizing your ability to recover in between training sessions.

For most, a light cardio session such as walking on rest days seems to work best. It can help alleviate muscle soreness, promote recovery, and burn calories without sacrificing muscle tissue.

7. Are full body workouts or splits better?

It depends on your goal, experience level, and the split you’re talking about. As mentioned throughout this article, full body workouts are great for most individuals. It allows you to get in a lot of work to promote muscle growth without having to dedicate your entire life to the gym.

If you have competition goals or are more advanced, however, you may require more stimulus to achieve the results you want.

Most will be able to progress from their full body workouts into an upper/lower split and see phenomenal results. Others who are even more advanced may need to increase their training frequency and progress from upper/lower splits to push/pull/legs splits.

Most will want to avoid body part splits as they require a lot of time to perform and don’t allow you to get as much work in as you could utilizing the other split styles.

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2024 - 04:35


What is meant by working weight?

Is it 1repmax? Or my typical 85% of my 1repmax for strength exercises?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/29/2024 - 17:34

Whatever weight it is that is challenging to work with, yet you can stay in the rep ranges. For some that is 85%, for others it may be less.

Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 07:35

Hey! What is the weight I should be using (in Workout C) for the one set of 20 reps?…I wasn’t sure if it should be the same weight as a he final working set of the first ramped section on this day.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 10:19

I would suggest dropping it down to a warm-up weight, Al. I would rather you get through it with minimal risk of injury. Pushing heavier weight may be intense in the moment, but it could also lead to issues later. Start low and work up each week if it is too easy.

Posted on: Sun, 04/07/2024 - 16:31

are these the same excercises for the entire 12 week or does it switch up every 4 weeks thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2024 - 20:14

Hi Fabian, same for the entire 12 weeks. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 15:32

My gym doesn't have a leg curl machine, what can I do instead?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 06:15

Hi Chris, thanks for reading M&S!

If your gym has a cable station, you could hook an ankle strap to the low pulley and do standing leg curls that way. If your gym doesn't have that, let me know what you do have, and I will do my best to find other options.

Posted on: Fri, 03/22/2024 - 09:50

Is this enough volume for each muscle?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2024 - 19:59

For beginners or people new to full-body workouts, yes. If you've been at this a while, then you may need to do an extra exercise or two for the areas you feel need the most improvement.

Posted on: Tue, 02/06/2024 - 03:20

Can you fix the link for Squats in workout C. The 1st squat (ramp) linked to barbell back squat. The second squat (1x20) also links to barbell back squat. Is it correct? I thought the 2nd squat should be another variation of squat, not barbell back squat . Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 02/10/2024 - 12:26

That actually is correct, Tim. It's intended to also be the barbell back squat.

Posted on: Sat, 12/09/2023 - 21:51

Hello - what's the best alternate to dips if there is not a resistance band available? Unable to currently perform a good dip. Thanks in advance.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/12/2023 - 21:28

Training at home or in a gym, Ray? If at home, what do you have access to? I just want to offer the best alternative possible.

Mike Andrew
Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2024 - 17:25

I do close grip bench. Dips agitate an old should injury for me.

Joshua Glossa
Posted on: Thu, 11/30/2023 - 22:08

Hey Roger,
What are you thoughts on training with this program two days in a row? For example workouts A & B on Saturday and Sunday respectively followed by C ON Wednesday.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/12/2023 - 21:28

What's good, Joshua? If that would help you stay consistent, then go for it. Just make sure you're recovering well so your future workouts aren't affected. Let us know how it goes, and thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Mon, 11/20/2023 - 05:57

Hi there was wondering after the 12 weeks could you keep this kind of routine but change exercise eg bar to dumbbell etc ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2023 - 19:27

You sure can, Jarrod! Awesome idea. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Tue, 10/24/2023 - 20:15

What do the rest times look like on this program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/25/2023 - 08:55

60-90 seconds.

Posted on: Fri, 10/13/2023 - 08:56

On workout days, do you do cardio? Or do you do cardio on non lifting days?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 11:22

Please see FAQ number 6 for your answer.

Posted on: Wed, 10/04/2023 - 08:17

Would it not be better to do this routine in this format:
Week 1 - ABC
Week 2 - BAB
Week 3 - CBA
Week 4 - BAB ?
It seems like that way I'd have completed the same volume of squats and deadlifts over a month, as opposed to doing twice as many squats than deadlifts. Am I wrong?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:18

We suggest doing the workout as written, but if you feel this would be better suited for you for your own personal reasons, then feel free to do so.

Posted on: Sun, 10/01/2023 - 16:10

Hi, how you do progress after the 12 weeks is over? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:17

You can either keep doing this program with the goal of getting stronger, or you can choose one of the other many programs we have here on M&S.

Ken Wendyllyf
Posted on: Mon, 09/04/2023 - 09:43

Good morning.
I'd like to know, please, if it's OK to replace dumbbell incline and dumbbell row for their Barbell variations.
Incline barbell bench and underhand grip row 10-12 reps (lighter than the A day row
Also I have pain with the upright rows. What could I do instead?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/20/2023 - 19:47

Hi, Ken. Those changes are fine. As for upright rows, face pulls would work well as a substitute.

Posted on: Fri, 08/18/2023 - 12:40

What is the best 3 days full body workout plan for build muscle in Intermediate level

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/24/2023 - 21:29

We have and the "best" would be based on the individual. You can see good results from this, but we do have other options.

Posted on: Fri, 08/11/2023 - 14:29

hello i wanted a intermidate level full body workout
is this good or u recomend something else?
cause it says beginner

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/24/2023 - 21:29

This would serve an intermediate lifter well also, John. Thanks for reading M&S!

Peter D
Posted on: Fri, 08/04/2023 - 21:44

Hey Steve,
Been doing this for a couple months.
I was gonna do it for 12 weeks total.

Then move to a 4 day upper lower split.

Do you have a link to one you recommend?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/21/2023 - 20:42

Steve has moved on, Peter, but this article can help.

Posted on: Fri, 07/28/2023 - 18:42

I just did my first day of this workout and loved it! I am doing it at home and don't have a leg curl machine. What would you recommend doing instead? Today I rigged up a band and bench, but I did not love that option.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2023 - 12:57

If you have a dumbbell, use that. If not, get some ankle weights. If you do the reps slow, it will work.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 17:01

i wanted to go to gym 4 days per week how can i adjust this to 4 days?
Also im a beginner and i want to gain most advantage of my noob gains so do u think this plan is the best for me?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2023 - 12:56

If you're a complete beginner, then I suggest sticking to three days for the first few weeks. Quality over quantity.

After that few weeks, simply train every other day and repeat the workouts. It doesn't have to be in a fixed seven-day plan.

Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 17:56

Amazing program, I've been trying it out for some weeks now. Would you recommend dumbbell overhead press or barbell overhead press for Workout B? Should I stand up or sit?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 07/22/2023 - 12:20

I would alternate between barbell and dumbbell, but do both seated until you feel strong enough that you can do them standing. Sitting allows you to concentrate more on the shoulders, but standing does help with stability and power.

Iain Carroll
Posted on: Wed, 07/05/2023 - 02:55

Hi there. I have been doing the PPL routine for sometime now, all is going well, but fancy a change. Would going from PPL to FBWO be considered a backward step in terms of training level, or will this help me push on and keep gaining? Thanks for all your help and routines, massively appreciated!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/10/2023 - 08:15

Hey, Iain. Thanks for reading M&S! I don't think this is a back step at all. Go for the change, and let us know how you like it!

Posted on: Sat, 06/24/2023 - 11:03

Would you recommend Cable Tricep Extensions or Straight Bar Tricep Extensions for Workout C?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 06/25/2023 - 09:24

I suggest going with cable for this program. The handle you use is up to you, but I like a rope attachment, myself.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2023 - 07:45

Is there normal pull ups or wide grip pull ups for this program? What would you recommend?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/22/2023 - 06:52

There is a pullups or inverted row in one of the workouts. If you can do wide grip, then that would be your best bet.

Jean-Paul Kaiser
Posted on: Wed, 05/24/2023 - 13:53

Can you superset this routine to be more time efficient?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/30/2023 - 21:00

That would be pretty intense and may alter your recovery. If you can't get the workouts in on your schedule, you may want to find a different program.

Posted on: Tue, 05/16/2023 - 15:45

I had two questions: my first one, with the squats 1-20 what weight will I be doing this at? The same weight I finished the ramped sets with? Or a lower one?
My second question, which might be a dumb question, for the sets that aren't ramped, I'll be treating them like straight sets, and just using the same weight for it all or something different?