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Total Body Exercise Selection

Total body workouts are the most time efficient manor in which to design a resistance training program. The entire body is designed to work in synchrony, with some muscles stabilizing while others contract to create movement.

Most trainers and trainees look for a list of muscles stating whether they are prime movers or stabilizers to design a body part split. Unfortunately, this fails to recognize that the role of muscles often change depending on the bodies position and the joint in action.

This leads to un-balanced programming issues such as imbalances in flexion versus extension, more upper body pushing than pulling, and neglecting deeper muscle tissues and focusing solely on the superficial muscles of the body.

To combat against poor programming total body workouts are designed based upon movement patterns.

Some of the patterns I typically use are as following:

Upper Body

Horizontal Pushing

Vertical Pushing

Horizontal Pulling

Vertical Pulling

Lower Body

Knee Dominant

Hip Dominant

*** Also included are various unilateral variations of each movement, core stabilizing (mostly anti-rotation exercise), additional mobility work and total body combination exercises such as a clean and jerk or thruster.

A sample program I may design would be based upon having an upper body push, upper body pull, and a lower body lift.

Day 1:

1a.Pull (Horizontal) – 3 Pt Dumbbell Row

1b. Core Stabilization- ½ kneeling cable lift

2a. Lower Body (Knee Dominant)-Front Squat

2b. Mobility- Wall Ankle Mobilization

3a. Push (Vertical) – 1 arm Standing DB Press

3b. Upper back work- Rope Face Pulls (90% of all trainees could use more!)

Conditioning Work

Body weight circuits, sled work, strongman circuits

Day 2:

1a. Push (Horizontal) – Low incline bench press

1b.Mobility/Corrective Movement- Scapular Wall Slides

2a. Lower Body (Hip Dominant) – Conventional Deadlift

2b.Core Stabilization- Squat Stance Palloff Press

3a. Pull (Vertical) – Neutral Grip Chin Up

3b. Upper back work/rear delt- DB Rear Lateral Raises

Conditioning Work

Stairs, Sled Pushing/ Pulling

Upper Body workouts are my preferred method of program design for most populations. I have seen good success on as few as 2x per week using this template, but have also gone up to 4x per week with more trained individuals.  Mix and match exercises to get a well rounded workout and include necessary non-fatiguing assistance work to bring up weak areas. Use multiple rep ranges for each body part to hit more muscle fibers and develop a well rounded and trained body.

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

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