Full-body workouts for beginners are a great way to train multiple movement patterns in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, all too often they are overlooked for more complex training protocols.
With fitness influencers preaching their favorite body part splits, these simple but effective training sessions don’t get the credit they deserve.
However, for the beginner lifter, there is no style of training more effective than the full-body workout.
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A beginner is someone new to weight training. They might have little to no athletic background and this is their first time getting serious about exercise.
In the initial consultation, most clients will say that they have some experience with exercise. That’s why it is important to assess their abilities. We have found that unless a client has trained regularly (at least 2 days a week) for a year, or if it’s been several years since their last consistent exercise program, then they are a beginner.
The main goal of training for beginners is to learn how to control their muscles to perform movement patterns. This is called motor control. You develop motor control by increasing the muscle's time under tension.
Full-body training is the best way to develop motor control. It allows beginners to train the same movement patterns multiple times a week, exposing them to a lot of time under tension.
Beginners can train movement patterns with high frequency because they will recover quickly from the session. As the beginner becomes an intermediate, after 1-2 years of consistent training, they will need to shift their session to upper and lower training splits.
Unsure of what experience level your client is? Learn our method of assessing client abilities in this free coaching course on LearnRx.
Beginners should do full-body workouts three days a week. We recommend a Monday, Wednesday, Friday training schedule. This will give them plenty of time to recover between sessions.
On each day, follow the basic functional movement patterns; squat, lunge, bend, push, pull, and core, and lift weights.
For the training day, order exercises based on the amount of energy they require. This means starting with the most complex and compound exercises and finishing with the least complex and isolation exercises.
We suggest starting with a moderate amount of reps, sets, and tempo. A good starting point is in the range of 8-15 repetitions, for 3 sets, at a slower tempo such as @2121 or @3030.
Over time you can add more volume by increasing the repetitions and sets. You can also up the intensity by increasing the load and decreasing the repetitions. How you progress a full-body training session will depend on your client and what they respond well to. Download this free guide to learn more about altering volume and intensity.
A Sample Beginner Full-Body Training Session:
A1) Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift @3030, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
A2) Dumbbell Bench Press @2111, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
B1) Goblet Squat @3311, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
B2) Seated Lat Pull Down @3012, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
C) Banded Dead Bug @3030, 10-12 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
After just a short amount of time, beginner clients will start to see the results from their full-body training. We call this stage the “newbie gains.” But this progress won’t last forever—after 1 to 2 years of training, they will plateau. Now, this is when the true merit of a coach is tested.
It’s easy to get those newbie gains, but can you continue to get your clients’ results once they pass this stage? We understand this is no easy task. That’s why we teach our coaches exercise progressions for each level of client: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Sign up for our free coaching course on LearnRx today and learn how to keep your clients progressing once the ‘newbie gains’ wear off.