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!

291 Comments
frederic fernandes
Posted on: Mon, 05/02/2022 - 06:31

bonjour une idee de variante en fullbody j ai 46 ans je entraine depuis un bon moment mais j ai moins de temps qu avant entre boulot et enfants je voudrais passer sur trop jour d entrainement toutes l annee une idee d entrainement evolutifs ou varier merci

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:24

For those that don't understand French, Frederic asked "hello an idea for a fullbody variant I am 46 years old I have been training for a while but I have less time than before between work and children I would like to spend too many training days all year an idea for training that can be changed or vary thank you."

Frederic, thank you for the question, you can try the following workout and see if it will help you out with your schedule. All the best!

Frédéric, merci pour la question, vous pouvez essayer l'entraînement suivant et voir s'il vous aidera avec votre emploi du temps. Tous mes vœux!

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-workout-for-b...

Saro
Posted on: Sun, 05/01/2022 - 10:23

In Workout C, it indicates to do a set of squats with 20 reps after the ramped squat set. Any guidance on the percentage of working weight to use for this 20-rep set?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:25

Hi, Saro. Start with 50% of your one rep max. If that is too easy, then next time you do the workout, start with 55%. Repeat each workout until you find your sweet spot!

Evan
Posted on: Wed, 04/27/2022 - 10:49

I've been at this program for almost 12 weeks, what would you all suggest as the next routine to do? Is there an 'intermediate' version of this program?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:05

What are your goals now that you've completed the program, Evan? Let me know and we'll try to find something that can suit your needs. Also, you training at home or a gym?

Evan
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:12

Roger, thanks for the reply! I’m looking continuing to build that lean muscle mass through full body workouts. This program was great because it was all encompassing, and really the most efficient. I work out of a home gym mostly with a power rack, barbell, dumbells and a large pull down attachment. I guess really the question is, should I change up the routine or just keep progressing by adding weight incrementally as I have been?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:26

I would say give it a go again, and this time, add weight as often as you can to beat your previous marks on the last run. Aside from getting bigger, you'll also get a little stronger!

PS Sorry for my delay in responding, I got locked out of the system and just got back in! lol

Ronnie
Posted on: Mon, 04/18/2022 - 06:20

Hi Roger. Just starting and looks like a great workout. Can I use a trap bar instead of barbell for deadlift? Less stress on neck. Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:08

Hey Ronnie, you can! I would do the same myself. Love the trap bar!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:08

Hey Ronnie, you can! I would do the same myself. Love the trap bar!

RUDY
Posted on: Thu, 03/17/2022 - 10:30

I’m new to all this. I’m wanting to start working out. My question is supplements. I want to take some but only what is really “needed?”

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 03/26/2022 - 17:55

Hi, Rudy. Beginners could take a multivitamin and whey protein as the foundation. The rest of the choices would be based on goals. If you're looking to get bigger and stronger, creatine would be great to have. If fat loss is your goal, then stick to the multi, protein, and focus on your nutrition.

Dan
Posted on: Mon, 03/07/2022 - 19:49

If I cant do pull ups, is using an assisted pull up machine ok?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 03/13/2022 - 20:00

Sure is, Dan! Go for it!

Philip
Posted on: Mon, 03/07/2022 - 11:12

Hey, I'm a newbie to weightlifting and going to the gym in general. What's the idea behind having different exercises on each workout? Would it be detrimental for me to do the same exercises each workout?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 03/13/2022 - 20:00

The purpose of doing different movements is to help you learn how to work all the muscles properly. It also helps keep the workouts interesting. You could do the same movements over and over, but eventually, your results will not be as significant. Best bet is to stick to the plan as written.

Emre
Posted on: Thu, 03/03/2022 - 09:13

no squat rack can i use the smith machine? Or what would you recommend?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 03/11/2022 - 21:18

The Smith Machine works in your case, Emre. It beats not doing them at all. Just give them all you got.

Phil
Posted on: Sun, 02/13/2022 - 13:57

The Arnold Press is a little rough on my shoulders. Do you recommend any other shoulder exercises? Would the bent over dumbbell reverse fly be a good substitute? Thanks for your help!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 02/17/2022 - 18:59

Hi, Phil. The Arnold Press works the front delts primarily, while the bent over dumbbell reverse fly focuses on the rear delts. If you want to focus on the front delts, the front raise would be a better choice. The forearm wall slide could also be of help.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/forearm-wall-slide

Jonathan Pugh
Posted on: Mon, 01/10/2022 - 15:01

If the ramped set says 5 sets of 5, does that also include the 60% and 80% set, meaning that you only do 3 sets at your max weight? Or does 5x5 mean 5 sets at your max weight? For example, if my max weight for bench is 200lbs, would I do 1 set of 120, 1 set of 160, followed by 3 sets of 200? Or would it be 5 sets of 200?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/13/2022 - 16:33

Hi, Jonathan! 3 sets at the max weight. The 120, 160, 200x3 example you used would be correct.

Edgar
Posted on: Sat, 01/08/2022 - 17:42

I started this program about a year ago and I got to say it has absolutely been life changing. Been cycling through different workouts with little success. But with this workout, I’ve seen great gains throughout my whole body. Absolutely recommend, keep up the great content.

Abdullah Ali
Posted on: Tue, 01/04/2022 - 13:27

I have been training for 7 years, but irregularly, but my level of fitness is good. Will I train with this program without changing anything in it and will it be useful for my level because I am not a beginner .. Or will there be some change ... Thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/06/2022 - 17:39

Hey there, Abdullah! Take on the program as is without any adjustments.

Abdullah Ali
Posted on: Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:22

Thanks for your help it's useful

Ahmed Alhammadi
Posted on: Sat, 01/01/2022 - 05:04

Hey just curious can I do the big lifts on smith machine or by using dumbbells

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/03/2022 - 20:19

Hi, Ahmed. You can. Free weights offer more benefits in terms of strength and size, so the dumbbells would be the better bet. That said, if the Smith Machine is the best option for you, go for it.

Maor
Posted on: Wed, 12/22/2021 - 12:51

In the first 2 ramped sets should I go near failure with it? or stop at 5 reps?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/22/2021 - 14:36

Stop at 5, and you shouldn't hit failure. Save that for the last set.

warenjames
Posted on: Thu, 12/09/2021 - 06:34

This is a pretty powerful and inspiring blog. It really motivated me Too much to start again my workout journey. Thank you for such a masterpiece of information.

Kalle
Posted on: Tue, 11/23/2021 - 06:01

Is there any disadvantage of doing this program every second day? So 3-4 days a week instead of sticking to 3. Is there a risk that the body don't have proper time to recover?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 11/23/2021 - 19:17

Hi, Kalle! No, there is no real risk to that. Training every other day will work fine for you.

Shah R
Posted on: Fri, 11/19/2021 - 17:12

Can a complete beginner to the gym use this? I'm new to lifting but general exercise-wise I'm not.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 11/22/2021 - 18:47

Hi, Shah! Yes, beginners to the gym can do this one. It would actually be a good choice.

Abdullah Ali
Posted on: Mon, 11/08/2021 - 19:58

Can advanced and intermediate use this program or only begginers ?....

Can I replacement the seated overhead Press with the standing military

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 11/09/2021 - 17:19

Hello, Abdullah. Yes, advanced and intermediate level lifters can do this one if desired.

You can do the standing military press instead of seated if you like.

Alex Juntunen
Posted on: Thu, 11/04/2021 - 15:32

Dumb questions, but is it ok or needed to add another deadlift day?
I was just wondering as there's two variations of squats and bench press on two separate days, and only one deadlift per week?
Second, can I add Military Press to one or more days?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 11/05/2021 - 18:47

No dumb questions, Alex. Thanks for asking!

You shouldn't need to add another deadlift day to this. If it's something you want to do, you could add it to one of the workouts that doesn't have one, but give this a go without the second deadlift day to see how you progress.

There are already Seated Overhead Press and Arnold Press in this program. If you want to use the barbell version, replace one of those with it, and let us know how it works!

Cindy
Posted on: Mon, 11/01/2021 - 19:30

What does "rampmed" mean?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 11/01/2021 - 19:39

Hi, Cindy. "Ramped" means adding more weight or sets to the workout. In this case, it's more weight.

Desat
Posted on: Mon, 10/18/2021 - 16:43

When the weight starts to feel manageable should I increase the weight for all sets of the exercise or should I increase weights in a step by step manner, i.e. for a particular set and then for another, till I reach max given sets. For example, after completing Dumbbell curl (3x10), if I feel that it was manageable and I need to increase weight, then in my next time doing this exercise should I increase weight for 1 set and then do the remaining 2 with original weight and then next time do 2 sets with added weight and 1 original and do this once again till I do all 3 with the added weight; or should I just use the added weight for all 3 of my sets?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/20/2021 - 16:24

Desat, this is one that is actually up to you. The goal is to feel challenged. If going step-by-step is better for you, then go for it. The way I like to train is by going heavier for each set as soon as the weight becomes manageable. I then use that weight for all three sets until I complete them with no trouble.

Lasse
Posted on: Thu, 09/30/2021 - 07:16

Forgot to include this in my last question.. Is it necessarry to do the big lifts in a ramped fashion? If my goal is just mucle build and a little strength, cant i just find a rep range that fits me for lets say 3 sets, and then still see gains?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/13/2021 - 16:07

Hey Lasse, will answer questions from both comments here. First, yes, do the big lifts in ramped fashion. They will help you build muscle as well as get stronger.

As for the squats, that set of 20 will light the quads up if done properly. They will be enough on their own.

Ashnan Kirithar...
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 14:04

Hi, how many calories do you burn in this workout routine?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:44

Hi, Ashnan. That is individual based. One person may burn more calories than another depending on their experience, weight, speed, etc. The best option is to wear a heart rate monitor with a calorie tracker to figure out what you burn when you do the workout.

Charles
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:17

Hi, I'm an intermediate lifter, just need something to get me back going without hurting myself. I haven't been to the gym for 2 months, is this a good way to start again? Should i change the reps?
Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 13:43

Go with this one as is, Charles. I'm sure you'll see positive results.