Full-Body Workout for Muscles & Fitness

Full-Body Workout for Muscles & Fitness

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Full-body workouts help you burn more calories in less time.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Typical gym exercises tend to isolate muscle groups rather than training your whole body to move with rhythm and coordination. Full-body workouts and exercises emphasize more than one body part, which help you improve functional strength and movement, and burn more calories in less time than training your muscles in isolation, says fitness professional Rodney Corn. The right type of full-body workout for you depends on your exercise experience, goals and fitness status.

Creative Combos

Full-body workouts offer an almost endless list of ways to move your body for a variety of goals. You can combine traditional upper-body and lower-body exercises together to create hybrid movement patterns, such as a dumbbell squat and shoulder press, or a front lunge with a torso twist while holding a medicine ball. Full-body workouts can also be done with just your body weight, such as burpees, jump squats with pullups, martial art katas, basic gymnastics, yoga and parkour drills. Experiment with different full-body exercises and modalities to see which ones work best for you.

Burn More Fat, Build More Muscle

Even if you're not as coordinated enough to combine movements, you can still perform a full-body workout by using the superset method. This involves doing two exercises that train different muscle groups without rest in between, allowing one group to work while the other rests. Superset training can help you develop muscles while increasing your fat-burning ability. For example, do one set of barbell squats or lunges followed immediately by a set of pushups or pullups. A study published in the April 2010 issue of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" showed that subjects who performed superset training had a significantly higher metabolic rate after their workout than those who performed traditional training.

Cardio Circuit Training

Full-body workouts can be incorporated into circuit training in which several exercises are performed to train different movement patterns with minimal rest in between. The exercise intensity is usually moderate, allowing you to perform the workout without early fatigue. Circuit training provides similar benefits as aerobic exercise. A study performed at the Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania showed that circuit training elicited a higher oxygen intake, which resulted in a higher level of caloric expenditure than traditional, moderate aerobics during the first 30 minutes of recovery. Any full-body exercise can be used in this format. For example, perform the following exercises for 30 seconds each without rest: Dumbbell squat press, medicine ball diagonal chop, lunges with torso twists, cable squat row and kettlebell snatch. Rest for one minute between each circuit and complete the circuit two or three times.

Torch Fat with Interval Training

Interval training is similar to circuit training except the exercise intensity alternates between high and low rather than maintaining a steady state. Although traditional aerobics are performed in interval training, such as running or cycling, you can incorporate full-body exercises with this method. Interval training can improve your oxygen intake better than traditional aerobics. An eight-week study performed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, showed that men who performed interval running had a significantly higher oxygen uptake than those who perform steady-pace running at a consistent heart rate. A sample full-body workout would have you perform 20 seconds of kettlebell swings at a high intensity followed by a resting interval for 20 seconds of low-intensity exercise, such as jogging or rope-skipping. The number of times you repeat this workout cycle per training session depends on your fitness level.

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