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Be Like Legends : Full-Body Workouts

Full body training is very effective at bringing up weak body parts because you can hit them first three times a week.

While Arnold was known for split routines later in his training, he started his career on with full-body workouts and still recommends it for new trainees.

Bodybuilding legend Leroy Colbert was very adamant about full-body training and said he never trained productively any other way.

Vince Gironda's full body routines used a novel progression. Instead of simply adding more weight to the bar, you reduce rest times.

Workouts Without Body Part Splits

Full body training is vastly underappreciated. Too bad, because it works exceptionally well.

Consider that, occasionally, life happens and there are times when you can only hit the gym two or three times a week. Those on five to six day splits often end up missing workouts because of work or family obligations. That kind of interruption in a split can mean that body parts may go a week or more without stimulation.

Not good! These kinds of scenarios are where full body workouts shine. But even if you're simply looking for a change of pace, they won't disappoint.

Weirdly, full body training hasn't been mainstream for over 50 years, so let's do a quick refresher.

Who Trains Full Body?

If you asked this question 60 years ago when men like Reg Park and Leroy Colbert were gracing magazines, the better question would be, "Who doesn't train full body?"

The basic idea was simple  train, recover, and repeat. Guys like Colbert and Park were writing about the philosophy in every major magazine, but let's look at a guy who didn't get nearly as much press or fame : George Eiferman.

George Elferman

Eiferman was an actor, stuntman, and Mr. Universe winner who traveled the country teaching the value of physical training to high school students.

He was a huge advocate of full body training and like other champions of the time, it was his go to methodology. This was one of his favorite full-body, three times a week routines:


While Arnold Schwarzenegger was, at times, the definitive split king, he started his career on a full body routine and he still recommends it for new trainees. The program he used was named "The Golden Six":

Leroy Colbert's Method: 6 Sets Each for a Total of 42 Sets

Bodybuilding legend Leroy Colbert was very adamant about full-body training and said he never trained productively any other way.

In Colbert's time, the norm was 3 sets per body part. He explained that after 3 sets, lifters would often drop the weights like they were on fire because they believed that doing more than 3 would make their muscles shrink. Nevertheless, Colbert went against the grain, started doing 6 sets per body part, and the rest is history.

I've successfully recommended this type of routine to dozens of lifters and used Colbert's method exclusively to gain 16 pounds of mostly lean bodyweight while keeping my waist the exact same size. Here are his simple guidelines:

-Train your entire body every other day.

-Keep the reps between 6 to 10. If you get 10 reps on all sets, increase the weight.

-Perform at least 6 sets per body part for optimal growth. You can, however, perform more sets on certain body parts.

-Establish a mini push/pull setup within the workout. As such, don't train chest right after triceps or biceps directly after back. For example, training the body in this order fulfills this requirement: Triceps, biceps, chest, back, thighs, shoulders, and finally, calves.

-Do 6 sets each for a total of 42 sets.

Note: If you think 42 sets is too much, consider what Arnold's mentor, Reg Park, once said: "I realize I was doing about 90 sets a workout, which I am sure was far more than any British bodybuilder was doing in 48/49. By March/April 1949, I entered and won the Mr. N.E Britain, beating the previous national winner. Not bad for only 7 or 8 months of serious training."

The basic idea of Colbert's routine is to have a list of exercises for each muscle group you cycle through (2 per training day), increase the weight whenever possible, and get plenty of rest and proper nutrition.

For example, if you wanted to prioritize your arms, your routine for a particular day might look something like this:

Total Sets : 46
Rest Between Sets : 1 minute
Set Length : 32 seconds (4 seconds per rep)
Total Time Per Workout : 1 hour and 10 minutes

This routine stimulates every major muscle three times a week. Moreover, it's a very flexible routine and you should be able to make it your own and reap maximum benefits with the tips below.

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