Full-Body / Half-Body Workout Program


Today I wanna talk about the full-body and half-body workout. When you start bodybuilding for the first time, this method is widely appreciated by most websites or personal trainers, a kind of initiatory rite for whatever your goal might be (mass, strength, endurance …).

Some of the most experienced bodybuilders are using this technique only. I personally think that it is an excellent method to develop a beginner’s potential and learn the basic movements but it quickly reaches its limits.

You will be able to save time which is great but again, if you have firm goals in mind, you must put every means in your power to reach those objectives without focusing on the time spent at gym.

I kinda like this workout especially when I took a break in my training (recommended rest after a cycle or recovery after injury). I systematically start again with one or two weeks of full-body despite my years of experience.

What is Full-Body / Half-Body?

18797526-les-gens-homme-athl-tique-gymnase-body-gym-building-training-exercise-workout-saine-connexion-pictog As you could guess, full-body means the training of all your muscles (back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs and abs) during your workout day. For the half-body, it is the same principle except that one day we will be focusing on the upper body and the other day on the lower part (meaning a more complete training for your legs).

Full-Body Program When?


The first question you should ask yourself is Full-Body or Half-Body?

Both methods are similar; the choice will mainly depend on your schedule. The half-body will tend to increase the intensity of your legs’ workout but also the rest of your body.

As we have seen before, rest is essential for muscle growth (and it is better not to exceed 5 days of workouts per week), full-body will take place every 2 days with two consecutive days of rest (weekend for example).

Here is a typical full-body schedule. If you cannot do this organization, the program can be shifted by one day. The important thing is to have at least one day of rest between each session and two consecutive days of rest during the week.















As you can see, a full-body program requires only three days of workout per week. Optionally, you can add a training on Sunday, but 3 sessions is a good start.



Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday







Upper Body

Lower Body

Upper Body

Lower Body

With a half-body program, you need at least 4 days. You always have the option to skip a day but it’s better to keep a balance between the upper body and the lower body. With good foundations, you can reduce the imbalance that can be seen in many people.

Indeed, I will write a future article about why you should not skip legs’ day.15277382-homme-touchant--la-cuisse-lors-de-la-course--cause-de-la-douleur

Simply adapt this above organization depending on your schedule to have the best optimization.


If you opt for a full-body workout, you will have to train all the muscles of your body at once. That’s a lot!

Obviously, you won’t be able to use several exercises for the same muscle. It’s a matter of time but also energy (be careful of overtraining and muscle fatigue).

So we gonna focus on the main exercises to get the maximum stimulation on the trained muscle.

We will begin with large muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders) and then the small ones (biceps, triceps) to finish with legs and abs.

I can hear you saying: ‘but legs are a big muscle group?’

Indeed, but it is a muscle that requires a lot of energy. With such a busy schedule, it’s generally the last muscle you gonna train. That’s why it might be interesting to adopt a half-body workout.

As you have a dedicated session for the upper body and the lower body, you will be able to focus more on your legs and also use two exercises for each muscle.

Why full/half-body?

When you start bodybuilding or come back to gym after a while, it is an excellent mean to get into the swing of things.

The full-body and half-body program uses compound exercises, in other words the action of several muscles and not just one. For example, the bench press will tend to work your chest but also your shoulders and triceps a lot.

Therefore, this program will help you to fully develop your body without any imbalance from the beginning.

This last point is very important because not followed by most beginners.

I skipped training my legs for a long time as I thought that football was enough. I also forgot to train my back at the very beginning.

Lower back injury

I used to do the most common exercises for chest and triceps. That made me stronger but one day, as I was training my arms, I took a bit heavy and my lower back didn’t follow leading to an injury.

Besides the aesthetic aspect that can be really horrible, an imbalance in your muscles will therefore result in serious injuries. It’s also harder for your weaker side to catch up than building it from the beginning. So do not make this mistake!

On the other hand, I think that this method quickly shows its limits. Using only one exercise for each muscle is not intense enough to stimulate a real muscle growth.

It’s also quite boring to repeat the same exercises over and over again. As I said before, your body will quickly adapt to this program followed by stagnation.

You will also have less strength when arriving at the end of your workout. When it’s time for your biceps to work, you won’t have as much energy as if you had a dedicated session to your arms.

How long?

Well, again some people will adopt this program only.  They can use it for cycles going up to 12 weeks or even more.

Like anyone would tell you, as long as you have results you can keep a program.

However, when you start bodybuilding, this program is suitable for a period of two to six weeks. It will get your muscles ready before optimizing muscle gain.

If you start over after an injury, one or two weeks would be enough before using your usual workout.

Full-Body Program

I know this is the moment you’ve all been waiting. I am giving you a full-body and half-body program that I created and used myself. You’ll notice that it looks like most of the programs you can find online.

Full Body Program
Muscles Exercises Serie/Rep Rest
Chest Barbell Bench Press 4×10 1min30
Back Barbell Row 4×10 1min30
Shoulders Arnold Press or Upright Row* 3×10 1min30
Biceps EZ Curl Bar 3×12 1min30
Triceps Dips 3×12 1min30
Legs Squat 4×15 1min30
Calves Machine 3×15 1min30
Abs Crunches 3xmax 1min30

 *The Arnold Press is an excellent exercise because it works the three parts of your shoulder. But this exercise remains very technical and therefore is not recommended for beginners. If you start, go for the Upright Row that also works the three parts of your shoulder.

Half-Body Program

Day 1
Chest Barbell Bench Press 3×8 1mim30
Dumbbell Incline Fly 3×12 1min30
Back Pull Ups or Lat Pulldown* 3×10 1min30
Barbell Row 3×10 1min30
Shoulders Arnold Press or Upright Row* 3×10 1min30
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3×15 1min30
Biceps EZ Bar Curl 3×10 1min30
Hammer Curl 2×12 1min30
Triceps Dips 3×12 1min30
Triceps Pushdown 2×12 1min30

*Pull ups would be one of the best exercises for a wide back but might be difficult for beginners. Instead you can use the Lat Pulldown which will have the same effects.

Day 2
Legs Squat 3×15 2min
Leg Press 3×12 1min30
Barbell Lunges 3×12 1min30
Leg Extension 2×15 1min
Leg Curl 2×15 1min
Calves Machine 3×15 1min
Abs Crunches 3xmax 1min
Side Bend 3×15 1min
Sit Ups 3×15 1min

Final Word

Full-Body and Half-Body programs are excellent for beginners. There are great for those who have busy schedule or want to hit the gym again after a break. However, if you are looking to achieve your maximum muscle potential, I advise you to opt for a split routine program.

Enjoy your training guys!

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