Can I do total body workouts and still see strength results?

Yes, you can still do total body workouts to increase strength as long as you maintain the required sets (1-3), repetitions (8-12), intensity (load should be challenging enough so the last couple of repetitions are challenging to finish), and rest between sets (30-90 seconds) required to see adaptations in strength. It will also be important that you give yourself at least 1 day in between workout to recover before you perform another total body workout again. This will decrease your risk of over-training.

For the goal of muscle hypertrophy(mass) and strength, total body workouts can be an effective workout for the individual. Total body workouts are an excellent choice for the individual that can commit to formal training 2-3 times per week. It is important that the workout is built upon the training variables to elicit strength or mass. 

Reps: 6-8 for strength / 9-12 for hypertrophy

Sets: ~ 24 sets per workout (2-3 sets per exercise), 1 set efficient for beginner(0-6months)

Intensity (%of max effort): 78-83% for strength / 70-76% for hypertrophy

Rest: 1-3m between sets based on intensity

Duration: Workout should be completed in 45-60m. from the time of end of warm-up to beginning of cool down to maximize hormonal response.

As with anything the individual dictates the amount of recovery necessary in between workouts. A general rule of thumb is 1 days rest at least.


The info provided above is great and accurate but I want to look big picture about strength and total body strengthening.  Breaking your body up into multiple days for multiple body parts is good because it allows you to put greater emphasis on individual muscles and the potential to increase density of skeletal muscle due to greater volume for that particular muscle group.  Ok with that said....

Total body training can be used extremely effectively for increasing overall strength results and it can be extremely effective.  If you are progressive and making improvements every workout then guess what?  You are getting stronger!

Very simply the goal with your training is to be progressive every workout and if you are training your full body 3 times per week and each workout improves then you will increase your strength.  Total body training can be extremely effective because unlike hypertrophy training, total body training relies more on multi joint movements.  The more body parts you use in one movement the more of your central nervous system is stimulated and the more potential for growth and strength.

If you want to be a bodybuilder stick to hypertrophy training but if your goal is to improve strength then total body training with the right system (mentioned above) can be extremely effective.  

Note:  Most strength athletes incorporate total body training and it is body builders only (not strength athletes) who use the single body part training philosophy.

Absolutely! If you challenge your body and give it a reason to change you'll become stronger.  

Including the guidelines that the NASM mentioned will also insure strength improvements.

  • 1-3 sets 
  • 8-12 repetitions, 
  • intensity (load should be challenging enough so the last couple of reps are difficult to complete 
  • rest between sets (30-90 seconds)
  • rest at least 1 day between workouts to allow the body to recoup and repair

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.