Full/whole body workout routines seem to have fallen out of favor as many trainees try to
emulate the 5-6 day split routines of professional bodybuilders. But the way genetically gifted, steroid-using professional bodybuilder trains is not relevant for most of us. This is especially true for a genetically typical, natural trainee who walks in a gym with the goal of putting on his first 10-20 lb. of muscle.
A novice lifter should make pretty rapid gains in strength and be able to lift a little more or do a few more repetitions with each session. For this reason it makes sense to train every major muscle group 2-3 times a week. Otherwise you are missing out on opportunities for growth.
I wish I had understood this back when I first started lifting weights. I could have gotten bigger and stronger much faster if I had done a properly designed full body workout routine.
A beginner should stick to a few basic exercises in order to build his/her foundation of strength. It’s pretty simple: you need to train your legs, push, and pull. Balance these three things and you’ll be on your way to safely building muscle. You should be pulling as much as you push, for example, to avoid muscle imbalances. You should also not neglect leg training.
A beginner routine may look like this:
1. Squat (or leg press)
2. Deadlift (or rack pull)
3. Bench Press or Dips
Do each exercise for 4-5 sets of 5-8 repetitions. Do this workout 2-3 times a week for a month or two and you’ll be well on your way to building the foundation.
I’d highly recommend you check out Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets if you are new to lifting weights or trying to learn how to put on muscle. This program will guide you through your first 4-6 months and keep you from wasting a lot of time on inefficient training methods. Another HUGE bonus is the supplement e-report—it will keep you from wasting your hard-earned money on worthless supplements.
More intermediate/advanced trainees may want to check out Minimalist Training. This material includes both whole body routine and split routines.