Full-Body Strength Training – Six Recommended Movements

For anyone, it can be bewildering to walk into a gym not knowing exactly what you’re going to do for full-body strength training workouts.

Full-body strength training at least once a week will help build a stronger foundation for the work you’re asking your body to do.

If you are an endurance athlete, or want to become one, strength training helps you run or ride faster, with more endurance, and more power. But what do you do, and how do you fit it in to your regular training?

So if you want to develop strength and build muscle for your sport, the six movements of full-body strength training are an easy and effective structure for your workout. 

The six movements, which I’ve adapted from Menachim Brodie‘s work on strength training, can be done with a variety of exercises, depending on your experience and comfort with free weights. Plus you can alternate the movements to maximize your efficiency in the gym. 

So full-body strength training for endurance sports does not need to mean long hours in the gym.

The Six Movement:

The six movements are:

  • Chest Push – to develop chest and arm strength
  • Chest Pull – to develop back and arm strength
  • Shoulder Push – to develop shoulder, arm, and upper body strength
  • Shoulder Pull – to develop shoulder, arm, back strength
  • Hinge – deadlift-type movements that strengthen glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, and lower back.
  • Squat – to develop leg, hip, and back strength.

You can always add additional exercises to this routine, but if you use these six movements as the structure of your workouts, you?ll make sure your full body gets stronger. 

I’ve seen some trainers alternate with Push and Pull days.

That’s fine if you want to spend more time in the gym.

But if your goal is to build strength for endurance sport, the more time you can spend on your sport, the better.

One Movement Might be Several Exercises

Full-body strength training workouts done by the six movements can be a big variety of exercises.

For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flies, seated cable press, machine chest press, or TRX bands.

And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent over rows, reverse push up on barbell, etc. 

As long as you do at least one exercise for each of these movements, you’ll get a full body strength workout. 

Full-body strength training can be done using six movements: chest press and pull, shoulder press and pull, hip hinge, and squat.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Less Stable Equals More Strength

And the less stable the exercise, the more of your body will have to work. 

For example, if you do a one-arm dumbbell chest press, that exercise utilizes not only your chest and arm, but the whole side to keep you from rolling off the bench! The dumbbell is very unstable, and you have to use more stabilizer muscles to keep the dumbbell stable. 

Alternatively, if you do a machine chest press, you primarily use just your chest and arm muscles in isolation. Those stabilizer muscles aren’t as required. 

That said, sometimes you just want to focus on one body part, or you have limitations that require more stability.

So if possible, I recommend using dumbbells, barbells, TRX, bands, and/or kettlebells for the majority of your full-body strength training workouts.

Full-body strength training can be done using six movements: chest press and pull, shoulder press and pull, hip hinge, and squat.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

What to Consider for Full-Body Strength Training

Here are some more ideas to consider for your full-body endurance sport strength training workout:

  • You can alternate movements, such as hinge and chest pull, to create supersets and maximize your time in the gym. Avoid doing the shoulder pull and press at the same time, though!
  • Do 5 to 8 repetitions of each exercise for 3 to 5 sets each. If you get to 8 repetitions, move up in weight. This is strength training, so you should be doing some heavy weights!
  • The goal is to fatigue the muscles, not jack up your heart rate. So if you’re breathing hard after a set, take a few moments to let the HR come back down. 
  • You can do multiple exercises for the same movement. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX to really fatigue your legs and hips. 
  • The older you are, the longer it takes to recover from strength work. I’ve been doing an interval session on the bike in the morning, then strength training in the evening two days a week, giving myself a full two days of recovery.
  • Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles.

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Thanks for reading!