Why Full-Body Workouts Make You Stronger

Why Full-Body Workouts Make You Stronger

Are you setting yourself behind the eight ball by training either too rarely or too often? Here’s how to build your week so you can take your strength where you’ve dreamed!

Here’s something that makes sense on the surface, but is very, very hard for many trainees to grasp: The stronger you are, the more your workouts will mess you up.

Think about it: When Layne Norton deadlifts 500 pounds for 10 reps, it takes a far greater toll and necessitates more recovery time than when you (please don’t take this personally) deadlift 185 for 10. Yes, I know; a hard set of 10 is tough no matter how weak or strong you are, but you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me that 1850 pounds of work requires the same amount of recovery time as 5000 pounds.

So how do you get from point A (you) to point B (Layne)? Or put another way, how can we use this sort of objective information to figure out when you’re subjectively recovered and ready to train a movement or muscle group again?

Of course, you’ll find coaches that run the gamut, from “squat every day” to “squat when you can’t remember the last time you did it.” Here’s what I’ve found to work best throughout my career.

The 100 Pounds/24 Hours Recovery Rule

In my experience, the following rule of thumb is a great way to start envisioning recovery and training frequency: Most lifters need a minimum of 24 hours to recover from strength training, and another 24 hours for every 100 pounds on the bar during a hard working set. Here are a few examples:

  • Nancy can do 4 sets of 10 with 35-pound dumbbells on the dumbbell bench press. Recovery time: 24 hours
  • Erica can squat 135 pounds for 5 sets of 5. Recovery time: 48 hours
  • Tim can incline press 245 pounds for 4 sets of 6. Recovery time: 72 hours
  • Josh can deadlift 265 pounds for 6 sets of 3. Recovery time: 96 hours.
  • Benni Magnusson can deadlift over 1000 pounds. Recovery time: Over a week.

Of course, this is just the start of the conversation. There are also factors related to specific movements, muscles, and populations:

  • The hamstrings are more or less the biceps of the leg, but hamstring-intensive workouts require longer recovery times than biceps workouts.
  • Bench pressing 10 reps with your 10RM requires less recovery time than squatting or deadlifting 10 reps with your 10RM.  
  • Bench pressing 10 reps with 225 requires a longer recovery than floor pressing the same weight for 10. Why? Less ROM means less work.
  • A 56-year-old guy benching 225 for a set of 8 needs a longer recovery than a 23 year-old guy doing the same thing.

Now, a few points of clarification on these estimates: First, recovery times are affected by a number of factors, including not only age, but also nutrition habits, sleep quality, muscle-fiber-type makeup, work and family obligations, and so on. I can’t quantify any of that for you without meeting you, sorry.

Second of all, the total training schedule must be considered. A lifter who only competes—and therefore, trains for—deadlift-only competitions can train the deadlift more frequently than his identical twin brother who is training ambitiously for all three big lifts.

Finally, taking sets to or near failure necessitates longer recovery times than leaving a few reps in the tank on most sets.

Even with these caveats, the basic rule remains: The stronger you are, the less frequently you should train any given exercise. The next question, then, is this: How do you use that information to actually get stronger?

Finding the Optimal Training Frequency

For anyone out there who’s been wondering if they should trade in their customary whole-body workouts for the new-car smell of an upper-lower split, or vice-versa, let’s dig into the details.

If your max bench is 195 pounds, and you can do 5 chin-ups on a good day, your upper-body exercises require perhaps two days of recovery. So, if you use an upper-lower split where you train your upper body once every 4-5 days, you’re not taking full advantage of what’s called the stimulus-response-adaptation curve, or SRA.

In short, once you present the target muscles with a stimulus in the form of a workout, your body initially struggles to adapt to the challenge, but, provided you allow enough recovery time, you supercompensate and become stronger than when you started. However—and spoiler alert, this is why you shouldn’t use upper-lower splits unless you’re pretty strong—if you wait too long, your strength levels fall back to their original levels.

This means if you wait long enough, you’ll be starting all over again from scratch every single workout. If you train too frequently, however, you’ll actually tend to get weaker with each new workout, because you’re not allowing yourself to recover.

As with most things in life, the trick is finding the sweet spot between these two extremes.

Split or Full-body?

There’s an old standard that coaches and gym rats have long used as a measure of “strong”: the 1200 Club. That’s a 300 bench, a 400 squat, and a 500 deadlift. I’ve long used this standard as a way to assign the appropriate type of training split when barbell strength is the goal.

Sure, there are athletes who end up being exceptions, but I suggest trying this rule before you start breaking it: Lifters who bench less than 300, squat less than 400, and pull less than 500 should perform full-body workouts about three times a week.




Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you should squat or deadlift every workout; it just means that both upper- and lower-body muscles should get hit roughly three times a week. Here’s a quick hypothetical example of what that might look like:

Once you’ve graduated from the 1200 Club, it’s probably time to consider a different type of training strategy: the upper-lower split. The stronger you get, the more recovery you’ll need from your workouts, and the upper-lower split provides just that.

Here’s a sample week:





Notice that although each body region is trained less frequently than in whole-body workouts, you’re actually training more frequently overall. And by this point in your strength career, you should be able to handle it.

You’re Not a Master Until You Master the Basics!

Start with the examples I’ve outlines here, and over time, as your understanding increases, you’ll be able to devise unique solutions based on your own evolving needs and circumstances. Build a strong foundation, and then feel free to improvise on top of it.

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Alex Silver-Fagan's City Circuit Workout

Alex Silver-Fagan's City Circuit Workout

Artist, actress, dancer, singer—Alex Silver-Fagan did it all. But when life took over and her myriad passions started to feel like jobs, the one thing she found she could still lean on was fitness.

Going to the gym and sharing her journey on BodySpace kicked off Alex’s journey toward becoming a trainer. She competed onstage briefly, but these days, she’s fully focused on exploring and teaching the full spectrum of fitness. Look around online, and you’ll see her alternately doing yoga, moving barbells or dumbbells, blending bodyweight strength training with rowing, and plenty more.

As Alex says, there’s no way you can’t feel good about bettering your body and improving your health. Check out her story.

Now that you know her better, try her tough City Circuit Workout. All you’ll need is a park bench, determination, and a water bottle to keep you hydrated.

The workout starts with a quick dynamic warm-up, after which you’ll l go through two rounds of two different circuits, each with a cardio “burst” as a finisher. “The best part of this workout? You can customize it to fit your needs,” Silver-Fagan says. “If you have time in your schedule for a longer workout, repeat it 2-3 times all the way through. Find yourself short on time? Go hard and give one round your all.”



High Knee

10 reps, per leg

Circuit 1: Repeat for 2 rounds before cardio burst



Lateral Bound

1 “cardio burst” of 30 sec.

Circuit 2: Repeat for 2 rounds before cardio burst


Lateral lunge

5 reps, per leg



1 “cardio burst” of 30 sec.

Exercise Techniques and Tips


Also called an “inchworm,” this is a classic move where you walk your hands out until you’re in the plank position with your shoulders right over your wrists. Keep your legs straight as you walk your feet back.

Knee hug

Standing solid, drive your knee into your chest, giving a little stretch to your glute, then switch sides. Looking to get some extra bang for your buck? Add a calf stretch by coming up on your toes.

Straight-leg kick

This exercise is also known as the “toy soldier” because of the marching motion it mimics. Keeping your legs straight and torso upright, take your left hand and reach for your right foot in front of your body. After each rep, reset and switch legs.

Walking lunge with twist

This move will engage your legs and core while also stretching your hip flexors. Start with a forward lunge, making sure your knee doesn’t lunge far past your toes. At the bottom of the lunge, bring your hands out in front of you, and twist toward the side of your bent leg. You should feel the stretch in the hip flexor of the leg that’s behind you.

Walking lunge with twist

Walking lunge with twist

High knee

High knees are a great way to get your heart pumping, and they’ll be the finishing movement for your warm-up today. For high knees, focus on driving your knees into your chest quickly. “Pay close attention to form and the quality, not just quantity, of your movement,” Silver-Fagan says. If you can’t get your knees all the way up, slow down.

Reverse lunge to step-up

Your first circuit exercise is a reverse lunge to a step-up. Facing a bench while standing on the ground, perform a reverse lunge by bringing your left knee as close to the ground as you can. Then, drive up with your right leg, stepping onto the bench and lifting your left knee to your chest.

Incline single-leg push-up

Bring your hands toward the bench and come into a plank, placing your shoulders over your wrists. Make sure your butt and hips are in line with your chest so you work your lower abs, too. Lift your right leg off the ground slightly, and lower your body to the bench to do a push-up. After 5 reps, switch legs.

Decline knee tap

Place your feet where your hands were during the push-ups, and put your hands on the ground. Drive your knee to your chest as you pick your right hand up off the ground, and tap your left knee, then alternate sides. You should definitely feel this movement working your core.

Decline knee tap

Decline knee tap

Lateral bound cardio burst

From a standing position, lift your right leg off the ground and hop to the right, landing and balancing with your left leg slightly off the ground. Then, do the same motion to the left. “If elevating your opposite foot makes it too hard to maintain your balance, it’s fine to gently tap your foot on the ground after each rep,” Silver-Fagan recommends. “During this 30 seconds of hopping side to side, try to get as high and far as you can.”

Box (bench) jump

You may have heard of versions of a bench jump where you jump over a bench, either facing to the front or the side, but this version is basically just a box jump done on a park bench or other raised surface. Find a bench that’s sturdy, level, and can support your weight. Hinge at the hips, sitting your butt back. Use your arms to explode and jump onto the bench, landing softly to protect your knees and ankles. Step back down softly, reset, and do it again.

Bench dip

Place your hands behind you on the bench, with your fingers pointed toward your toes. Bend your knees, or for an added challenge, keep your legs straight. Push through the palms of your hands as you keep your elbows tucked tight behind you—not flared out to the side. By keeping your butt as close to the bench as you can, you’ll be able to keep the focus on your triceps.

Bench dip

Bench dip

Lateral lunge

Start in a standing position, then lunge to the right with your right leg, pushing your butt back and keeping your knee over your toes. Sit all the way into that hip, then push off the bent leg to come back to standing. Repeat on the other side.

Burpee cardio blast

Your final cardio burst for this workout comes in the form of 30 seconds of—get ready for it—burpees. No need to count; just get as many reps in as you can to make this a true finisher. Don’t worry; for these burpees, you don’t have to complete a full push-up. The goal here is to get down to the ground and back up as quickly as possible. Start from a standing position, then place your hands on the ground, bring your chest to the floor, pop up as fast as you can, and hop at the top.

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3 Ways To Increase Your Pain Tolerance In The Gym

3 Ways To Increase Your Pain Tolerance In The Gym

When your body sends a message that it wants to quit, what’s your response? Do you breathe a sigh of relief or push even harder? Learn to dig deeper and build a stronger relationship with pain.

Pain is one of the inarguable realities of life, but that doesn’t mean you have no say in how you encounter it. You can wait comfortably, for years and years, until the day when pain finds you—and maybe never leaves. Or you can voluntarily get on familiar terms with pain and visit it on a regular basis. I think you know which approach I’m going to advocate.

In order for training to be effective for the long term, you must increase your perceived intensity—and the discomfort that accompanies it. From the 20-rep “breathing squats” of old, to the classic bodybuilder’s double and triple dropsets, to today’s CrossFit and HIIT, pain-promoting training circles in and out of vogue over the years. And it’s definitely “in” right now.

“Sure, but that’s not for everyone,” someone is saying right now. I disagree. Everyone can and should get comfortable with pain. By avoiding it, you are missing out on the hormonal and physique benefits that strength training can provide. No, it doesn’t feel “good.” But your body has the ability to withstand loads of hurt and extreme levels of fatigue. The problem is that most gym goers don’t have a strategy for how to deal with the pain when it hits them.

Here are three mental tips to help you deal with discomfort in your upcoming battle in the gym. By managing your perception of pain, you can take your body beyond what you thought you were capable of.

Get ready to feel unstoppable.

1. Understand the Benefits of Pain

Anyone who has spent a few years under the iron knows that the line between “good pain” and “bad pain” takes time and practice to understand. To be clear, high-pain-tolerance training is not about working through an injury; it is about working through the physical discomfort and stress of a challenging task. It’s important to understand this distinction. If you’re injured, get well before you do anything else.

That said, building your pain tolerance begins with acceptance. Understand that when you’re doing a workout and your legs are burning and your lungs are pounding, you’re at the right place where good things will happen. Being confident in the benefits will help you stomach the agony.

When you work out this intensely, your body undergoes an important neuroendocrine adaptation or hormonal change. It releases human growth hormone, testosterone, and other fat-burning, muscle-building hormones to enhance your body composition. But it doesn’t happen to any meaningful degree when things are easy. In order to get these amazing physical benefits, you have to occasionally push your body as close to your limits as possible. Taking a slow jog or casually pumping up just won’t get you these hormonal advantages.

Likewise, your body builds up a lactic-acid tolerance with repeated exposure, so the first time you do heavy high-rep squats, you may feel like you’re going to croak after just 5 reps. Over time, however, you’ll be able to do more and achieve more in the gym.

I know this doesn’t sound fun, but many people who have successfully undergone transformations will tell you that it’s only through this physical discomfort that profound change is possible. Over time, you’ll realize that the benefits you’ll get from the pain will outweigh the suffering.

2. Get Angry

Like pain, there is “good angry” and “bad angry.” I’m not suggesting you train in an uncontrolled or chemically enhanced state of anger, because that can quickly get out of control. In the gym and in life, you never want your emotions to get the best of you.

However, anger—at yourself, or at someone who has doubted or crossed you—can be a powerful tool to employ when you find yourself ready to quit prematurely. Personally, I know I’m susceptible to giving up when I could go further. When I catch myself fading at the first sign of discomfort, I get incredibly upset for potentially wasting a training day.

Being upset at myself instantly fires me up to the point where I can bulldoze through a workout no matter how difficult it is. The discomfort is still there, but training while being pissed off can override plenty of the negative sensations of your muscles hurting.

Get mad. Then, get better.

3. Recall Your Past Painful Workouts

When you’re in the heat of the moment in training, the pain and discomfort can seem so intense that you can’t think about anything else. But with practice, you’ll remember at least one thing: The last time you did this to yourself, you survived.

When the suffering comes, open up your mental Rolodex of past training sessions that were just as uncomfortable as this one. Maybe there are some that were worse—way worse. Knowing that you got through those will help make the current temporary challenge seem a lot easier.

You seriously have no idea where the limits of your potential truly are. Nobody does. All you have to guide you is what you’ve done before and what you’re willing to believe right now. Revisiting your past victories will give you the closest thing you can get to concrete proof that you have the ability to endure and outdo pain.

The past is gone, but it has one use: It can help you feel more awesome in the present and be more awesome in the future. Let it!

Source: Bodybuilding.com (Feeds API) – Daily Exercises

Exercise May Cut Alcohol Health Risks

Exercise May Cut Alcohol Health Risks

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

By Diana Phillips
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD

Sept. 8, 2016 — Exercise may offset the increased risk of death associated with drinking large amounts of alcohol, new data suggest.

In an analysis of data from eight British population-based surveys, the link between drinking alcohol and risk of death from all causes was weaker among people who met or exceeded minimum weekly physical activity recommendations, Kadija Perreault, PhD, from the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues report in an article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Specifically, the added risk for dying of cancer tied to drinking was nearly erased among regular exercisers.

The findings appear to support previous studies suggesting that drinking alcohol and physical activity are both linked to chronic disease but work in opposite ways, the authors write.

In a previous study, heavy drinking was shown to increase the risk of death by 31% to 54%. A recent review strongly linked alcohol to multiple types of cancer. High levels of physical activity, in contrast, have been linked to a significantly reduced risk for breast and colon cancer in multiple studies.

The current study is one of the first to examine whether an association exists between the health benefits of physical activity and the increased death risk associated with drinking alcohol.

Using data from the annual, nationally representative Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey that included information about drinking and physical activity, scientists looked at 36,370 adults aged 40 and older.

Of them, 4,845 people drank more than recommended weekly alcohol limits — 14 drinks for women and 21 for men. Among people who reported having had a drink during the previous week, the average amount was slightly more than six drinks. Across the study population, more than a quarter of the participants (27.5%) reported no physical activity, meaning they didn’t get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise weekly. Thirty-nine percent achieved the minimum amount and about 23% reported exercising more.

Occasional drinking appeared to help protect against deaths from all causes and heart disease deaths among adults who got the recommended amount of exercise, according to the researchers.

The study emphasizes the role exercise can play in health, even if people engage in unhealthy behaviors, the researchers write.

SOURCE: Perreault, K. British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online Aug. 31, 2016.

©2016 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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The Football Injuries Most Likely to End an NFL Career

The Football Injuries Most Likely to End an NFL Career

News Picture: The Football Injuries Most Likely to End an NFL CareerBy Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

THURSDAY, Sept. 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) — When the NFL season kicks off Thursday night with a rematch between last year’s Super Bowl teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, football fans will be focusing on which franchise claims victory this time around.

But fears of career-ending injuries lurk in the back of the minds of professional football players every time they take the field, and a new study sheds some light on exactly what kinds of injuries can be most devastating.

It turns out that tendon and ligament injuries are potentially worse than broken and dislocated bones when it comes to complete recovery, the new study showed.

Tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and injured tendons in the kneecap and the Achilles heel seemed to keep players off the field or diminish their future performance more than other orthopedic injuries, the researchers found.

“While these injuries [of tendons and ligaments] are relatively straightforward to repair, they are often the hardest to recover from for multiple reasons,” explained Dr. Brian Feeley. He is an associate professor in residence at the University of California, San Francisco, who is familiar with the findings.

The new study analyzed 559 NFL players who underwent procedures to repair a variety of orthopedic injuries from 2003 to 2013. Researchers tracked them for at least two years after their procedures.

Overall, 79 percent of the players studied returned to the field. The return rate was highest, at more than 90 percent, in those who were treated for broken arms, broken legs and sports-related hernias.

Players fared worse after they underwent repairs for certain injuries to ligaments and tendons — at the ACL, kneecap and Achilles tendon.

Only half of those treated for “patellar” injuries to kneecap tendons returned to play; 73 percent of those with Achilles tendon injuries did. The number was 82 percent for those treated for torn ACLs.

Those treated for ACL tears and kneecap tendon injuries were also the most likely to suffer sustained declines in their level of performance.

“These injuries have the greatest impact on NFL careers because of their relative role to the stability of important joints such as the knee and ankle,” said study co-author Dr. Wellington Hsu. He is director of research with the department of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

And while they’re not the hardest to repair, Hsu said, it can be difficult to restore them to their “full, pre-injury capacity.”

Dr. Robert Brophy is an associate professor with the department of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He cautioned that the results aren’t definitive. Other factors can affect the prognosis for injured NFL players, such as their age and the length of time they’ve been playing in the league, he noted.

“This isn’t a final answer for anyone from an athlete to a general manager to a fantasy football fan,” Brophy said. “This is a snapshot that gives us information, but you can’t apply this across to everyone in every point in their career.”

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Wellington Hsu, M.D., professor, orthopedic surgery, and director, research, department of orthopedic surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Brian Feeley, M.D., associate professor in residence and fellowship director, sports medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Robert Brophy, M.D., associate professor, department of orthopedic surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; June 16, 2016, American Journal of Sports Medicine, online

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