What is a Total Body Workout?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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A total body workout can refer to two different things, both considered an essential part of overall fitness. The term can refer to a variety of total body workout routines, which are performed with a different exercises to complete a fitness program for muscles throughout the body. It can also refer to single total body workout exercises that are performed by themselves as one workout to train the whole body. Whether performing single exercise or entire routines for the body, a total body gym workout burns more calories and works more muscles than most standard workouts.

The total body workout program, or routine, can be completed in various amounts of time, either in the gym, with a personal trainer, or at home. Total body workouts are most often performed with light weights, and low exercises for each muscle. In a total body workout, a person will likely do one exercise of three sets for each muscle, doing biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, back, and the different muscles of the legs in the same workout. This kind of total body workout can be performed with free weights, machines, barbells, or resistance cords. It is also likely accompanied by an abdominal workout and a cardiovascular workout, such as running or time on a stationary elliptical machine.


Usually completed three or four days per week with one day of rest in between, the total body workout is used to gain muscle and definition quickly and allow the body to work all of the muscles in conjunction. While other workouts are performed to failure while trying to build muscle, full body workouts are not. That method requires recovery time in between and a full body workout with recovery time could take as long as two or three hours.

Total body workouts can also be completed on machines and workout benches designed specifically for this kind of workout. Total body workouts on these kinds of machines can be done by working more than one muscle at once. The benches also isolate sets of muscles instead of just one muscle, so that it is possible to work various muscles at one time, getting a total body workout completed more quickly that regular workouts.

In addition to the routines and programs designed for a total body workout, the name was also used for the one of the earliest and most popular workout videos released by fitness celebrity turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. The view is also one of the most popular of its kind and among the highest selling total body workout videos since the 1980s.



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