The ultimate full body workout

Learn how to create your own ultimate full body workout.

April 19, 2019
The ultimate full body workout

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When doing a fitness transformation, despite our own preferences and personal fitness goals, ultimately we all want the same things; to look better, to be healthier and to become stronger. To achieve those, we experiment with various types of training, not necessarily knowing what we are doing and what effect we are going to achieve (if any).

We end up learning (sometimes the hard way) that the body needs a specific stimulus to make a specific adaptation. Therefore, we need to choose a specific type of training method to help us achieve our goals. Those training methods could be strength training, muscle building training, endurance training, cardio, etc.  

Each of these types of training has a set of benefits that go along with it. But, what if there was one type of workout that included all of the benefits each specific method offers?

What if there was one type of workout that could make you stronger, increase your endurance, build muscle mass, improve body composition, and improve your cardio capacity (as well as the rest of the energy pathways in the body)? We bet you would be happy to at least try it out!

This type of training is often referred to as High-intensity functional training (HIFT).

High-intensity functional training

HIFT has become a very popular training method for improving most of the components of general fitness. It is a training method often mistaken with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and understandably so. HIFT and HIIT have a lot of similarities, but also some differences. 

HIFT and HIIT both include high-intensity work (exercise) intervals alternating with short resting intervals. 

However, HIFT uses multimodal (done with different props and more complex), functional exercises (multi-joint movements found in everyday life and sports) with high intensity to improve strength, body composition, endurance, etc.

Create the ultimate full body workout

Using the HIFT method as a structural foundation can help you create your ultimate full body workout. 

Here are practical recommendations to incorporate into your ultimate full body workout:

1. Include every muscle group

Many bodybuilders and seasonal fitness enthusiasts choose a split or a single body part routine when planning their fitness routines. This approach has its benefits, but a full body workout can often be more challenging, less time-consuming and make better improvements to your overall fitness

One exercise per body part should be enough. Especially if you are a beginner, this is the best option for you. But even for a seasoned athlete, this can be an effective way to work out, depending on what phase you are at with your fitness regimen.         

2. Do a circuit form of workout

A circuit form of a workout means you are doing a combination of exercises in a sequence, one right after the other, and repeating that sequence for a given number of rounds. 

Try to aim at having 7-10 exercises in a workout (one per body part). Incorporate exercises for every muscle group, including the core. Have a 10-20 rep range and include resistance exercises with 50-70% of your maximal intensity.

Use exercises like squats, push ups, pull ups, or a plank for a start. With time, add full body movements like burpees, box jumps, thrusters or even Olympic lift techniques and variations (light weights recommended).

A great way to sequence the exercises in a workout:

  • From large to small muscles

  • From more complex to less complex exercises

  • From multi-joint to single-joint

  • From full body to basic exercises. 

You can also rotate upper and lower body exercises as well as opposing (front-back) exercises.

3. Choose functional exercises

Functional exercises are typically multi-joint (compound) exercises that are often very similar to movements we do in everyday life, and can easily transfer to movements in professional sports. 

They can be as effective for building muscle as the traditional exercises with weights. For example, a push up would be a more functional version of a bench press because you are using the whole body, as well as the core stabilizers, to keep the correct posture and perform the movement. 

It's also important to point out that movements in everyday life and sports are performed in multiple directions. So, for example, instead of just doing a squat try doing a combination of front, side and back lunges to get the best possible activation out of your glute muscles. 

Remember, more activated muscle fibers means more muscle mass.

3. Have a high intensity 

Higher intensity during workouts (HIIT, HIFT, Tabata) of shorter duration (5-20min) have been shown to produce a similar effect to the body as a longer, but far less intense, traditional cardio workout.

In addition, exercises with lighter resistance (50-70% of maximum effort) have been shown to increase muscle mass if performed to failure (complete fatigue).

What these two findings mean is you can use a short HIFT workout to build strength, muscle mass, burn fat, and improve your cardiovascular capacity.

The best way to get a higher intensity is to increase the number of exercises in a workout (which we discussed already), decrease the rest time to about 0-30 seconds between exercises and have between 45sec to 2min of rest between rounds. In addition, you can include full body movements, as well as exercises with lighter resistance (bodyweight or external weights). Having high repetition numbers and a lot of rounds also helps.

This way the workouts can be more challenging, more interesting and more effective.

Madbarz workouts

If you download the Madbarz app, you can find a variety of exercises and workouts to choose from. There are plenty of workouts that fit the profile of high-intensity functional training.

Workouts like the Full Body Money Maker, Body Killer, and Full Body Hype focus on all of the muscles by repeating a certain number of rounds in a circuit format.

Also, you can create your own workouts to fit the HIFT standard by using the practical recommendations in this blog. Here is an example of what a HIFT workout should look like. You can create this workout using the Madbarz workout creator.

  • 12 Alternating Lunges

  • 14 Incline pull ups

  • 12 Side lunges

  • 12 Archer push ups

  • 12 Glute bridge

  • 30-sec Plank triceps get ups

  • 30-sec Flutter kicks

  • 20 Heel touch crunches

Do 4 rounds, 20 sec between exercises, 45 sec between rounds.

You can see that the start and middle of the workout include dynamic exercises that involve large muscle groups and multiple joints (alternating lunges, inclined pull ups, side lunges, archer push-ups, plank, triceps get-ups). The workout alternates between upper and lower body exercises, which gives your muscles extra time to rest without having to rest in general. All of the exercises include a form of stabilization during the movement, which allows the body to work as a unit. As the workout progresses, the exercises become single joint movements for smaller muscle groups (flutter kicks, heel touch crunches).

The rest periods are short, which increases the intensity and therefore stimulates cardio and muscle improvements. The high repetition number in general (12-20), and a high number of rounds will stimulate the muscle to grow (if performed to muscle fatigue).

Remember, this is not an easy workout, but the benefits are worth the effort!

Aside from the possibility of creating a countless number of custom workouts, Madbarz Premium offers you workout plans with workouts made in a format similar to HIIT and HIFT. Great examples of those are Cardio Mix and Pure Burn - get Madbarz Premium to try those workout plans out!


A circuit workout with an interval format, done at a higher intensity is a great way to increase muscle mass, improve strength and power, burn calories but also improve cardiovascular capacity.

Main points: 

  • Do circuit workouts with 7-10 exercises for every muscle group

  • Choose functional multi-joint exercises that include a form of posture stabilization

  • Follow a sequence from more to less complex exercises and start from bigger working your way to smaller muscle groups

  • Include resistance exercises with a high number of repetitions and lighter loads (50-70%max)

  • Have short resting periods between exercises and between rounds

Remember, with every workout you better yourself. You are not the same person you were before the workout, and you took a step in the right direction. Keep at it and after enough workouts, you just might find yourself in the place you imagined before the first workout -  the finish line.

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