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The Best Total Body Workout You Will Ever Do

by Jordan Smith, NASM-CPT - December 07, 2021

If you have big goals but you're short on time, listen up! A total-body workout is going to be your best friend. That's because it's effective at targeting all muscle groups each time you work out. It's perfect for those of us who don't have hours to commit to the gym (who does), or who schedule in around three workouts per week. And, there are so many ways you can design your workouts, you'll never get bored!

Keep reading for the full scoop, plus try this total-body workout created just for you next time you hit the gym!

best total body workout

What is a total-body workout?

Like the name suggests, a total-body workout is any workout that is programmed to work all of your muscle groups. That would mean you work your core, lower-body and upper-body all in one session. This can be done through moves that target your full body or a series of moves that hit all muscle groups. 

Do full-body workouts really work?

Full-body workouts, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are a great way for you to get a solid workout in. They are especially effective for hitting all muscle groups if you are short on time or only get a workout in a few times a week, helping you to build muscle and gain strength.

They help to ensure you hit all muscle groups every training session, versus a split workout plan (where you only work one muscle group per workout).

best total body workout

What is the best total-body workout?

This may sound cheesy, but the best total-body workout is the one that fits your lifestyle and your goals. If you only have a few hours a week to commit to the gym, you'll want to be sure you're doing a workout you enjoy and one that helps you reach your goals. Working out is all about doing what makes you feel best, and if you don't enjoy what you're doing, it's not going to be a good experience. It may even cause you to get discouraged and blow off your workouts.

One way to build community and break a sweat is by joining a class at your local gym. It's a fun way to work out and there's a trainer who does the thinking for you. All you have to do is show up. (Plus, knowing I've signed up for a class helps me to ensure I won't blow off my workout.)

"I love creating my own fitness programs. I usually stick to a specific program for 8 to 12 weeks, but sometimes it's good to change it up," Shannon Flanagan, NASM-CPT and owner of Live Laugh Move tells Lively. "When I feel like I am getting into a fitness rut (yes, trainers can struggle with their own programs sometimes), I like to take a class."

What are the main full-body workouts? 

Moves including deadlifts, push-ups, squat to press, kettlebell swings and burpees are great full-body exercises. Many HIIT workouts are designed to target the full body as they are often utilized by people who are looking to get the most bang for your buck. (Seriously, even committing 20 minutes of your day to your exercise routine can have a big impact!)

If you need help creating a total-body exercise program, Flanagan suggests working with a coach. "Coaches are very knowledgeable about movement patterns, and they are very conscience on how the body should move. They incorporate mobility, strength, and conditioning."

Especially if you want to start incorporating weights. It's important to consult with a trainer to ensure proper form, especially during more complex moves including deadlifts and kettlebell swings which can cause injury if not done properly.

"Many coaches are RKC or Strong First certified, which makes me feel confident when performing kettlebell moves," Flanagan says.

The Best Total-Body Workout

Give this total-body workout created by Flanagan a try. 

How to do it:Perform each move for 45 seconds, taking 15 seconds to rest between each. Repeat the circuit 3–5 times. You'll need 1 heavy dumbbell, 2 medium dumbbells and a treadmill (or space to complete a sprint). Lively Note: To modify or complete the circuit at home, you can use body weight.

  1. Sprint
  2. Alternating Lateral Lunge
  3. Bicep Curl To Press
  4. Alternating Dumbbell Snatch
  5. Push-Up To Row
  6. Squat Jump
  7. Single-Leg Romanian Dead Lift (45 seconds per side)
  8. Plank

Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.

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