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The Superhero Full Body Workout: Build An X Shaped Physique In 4 Hours/Week

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Do you reckon superheroes follow a split routine? 

Does Batman do back day? 

Is Superman worrying about his shoulders? 

Of course not!

They don’t have time for that – they’re full body workouts all the way I bet… So that’s why we’re doing the same!

I’ve been a personal trainer and weightlifting coach for almost two decades. And in the fitness space, we’re occasionally guilty of over-complicating fitness and workouts. 

So this workout keeps things simple by balancing upper and lower body training in one session.  

I’ve got a confession… This type of training is my favorite. It’s simple, it can be done in a lunch hour, it removes all of the fluff and doesn’t rely on novelty or over-complication to make itself appear sexier. 

It’s the kind of program I personally follow in the lead up to beach season!

In this superhero full body workout, I’m going to show you how you can use a simple yet brutally effective approach to build serious muscle and challenge your conditioning in your own home gym. 

Do this superhero full body workout program 4 days per week and look back in 3 months. I’ve seen dozens of clients that have done this and create the classic X shape – broad shoulders, narrow waist, and strong, thick legs.

Table Of Contents
  1. The Superhero Full Body Workout: Build an X-shaped physique in 4 hours per week…
  2. 5 Steps to Use the Superhero full body workout to get jacked in 4 hours per week…
  3. Training program notes for the Superhero full body workout
  4. Superhero full body workout – what you’ll need
  5. Superhero full body workout – the exercises
  6. Superhero workout – the warm up
  7. Abdominal Exercises
  8. Full Body Workout 1
  9. Full Body Workout 2
  10. The full body workout FAQs…
  11. The Superhero full body workout: The bottom line

The Superhero Full Body Workout: Build an X-shaped physique in 4 hours per week…

The Superhero Full Body Workout Infographic

…Leaving you plenty of time to save the world 😉

My idea when writing the superhero full body workout program was to standardize a lot of the workouts, making it a simple program to follow. It’s based on sound training principles and a need to put some serious effort into your workouts!

Here are three of the benefits of the superhero full body workout program…

The Superhero Full Body Workout Benefits

Benefit 1: Reduced mental fatigue aka more likely to stick with it!

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about recently – how mental fatigue can impact our decision making around exercise.

If you consider that a lot of people train after work, does the increased mental fatigue impact our understanding of the workout, training decisions and perception of exercise intensity?

Research from 2019 suggests it does. Ph. D. Sheeren Harris concludes that…

‘Mental fatigue affects exercise decision-making by elevating subjective evaluation of the costs of engaging in exercise as opposed to sedentary alternatives.’

To combat this, I’ve kept two elements of the workout the same – the warm up and the abdominal work. These won’t change.

Then there are only two workouts to perform.

Benefit 2: Build muscle, gain strength and improve cardio in one aka save time

Where a lot of programs focus on a single fitness outcome (strength, cardio, hypertrophy), the superhero full body workout is designed to push your strength, build muscle and give you a cardio challenge at the end. 

This style of concurrent training has been misunderstood over the years, with some prominent voices in the space arguing that it’s not possible to do. 

Another 2019 research suggests that it is possible. Author, researcher, and Ph.D. Brad Schoenfeld says…

‘Marked increases in strength and endurance can be attained by resistance-trained individuals with just three 13-min weekly sessions. Muscle hypertrophy follows a dose–response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.’

Our programming here is longer than 13 minutes because we have additional needs, but the point remains that in the same program, multiple elements of your fitness will be improved at the same time. 

But all you need is 4 hours a week to work out.

This is an efficient way to train.

Benefit 3: Create an X shape physique in 12 weeks 

When you perform this program 4 times a week for 12 weeks, you will gain muscle mass and lose fat (learn even more about fat loss via our guide on how to lose fat). 

This naturally will create wider shoulders, a narrower waist, and thick strong legs. 

I’ve done this exact program with many clients over the years and every single one of them has noticed a significant change to their physique in 12 weeks. 

5 Steps to Use the Superhero full body workout to get jacked in 4 hours per week…

This section is the roadmap on how to use the Superhero full body workout program to garner the most impressive results from it.

These 5 steps will help you to structure the training correctly, balance the workout to ensure enough rest, and approach the program in general.

Get these steps right and you’ll enjoy the benefits…

Step 1: Work a 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off pattern

The Superhero full body workout program is designed to tick a lot of boxes across two separate workouts. 

Workout 1 is a volume workout, designed with muscle building in mind. It’s all compound movements with the exception of an isolation finisher for the arms… (you can’t have noodle arms if you’re a superhero).

Workout 2 is a strength workout, with a full-body superset finisher at the end for the cardio boost. It’s all compound lifts across 4 sets of 6 to build your strength each week. The exercises are designed to be easily scalable.

Here’s how I suggest you break up your training week…

Monday: Superhero Workout 1

Tuesday: Superhero Workout 2

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Superhero Workout 1

Friday: Superhero Workout 2

Weekend: Rest

By following this pattern you’ll only ever be two days from a rest day, and your weekend rest allows you to be fresh come Monday.

Of course, this is just a suggestion…

Step 2: Treat the warm up with intensity

When it comes to training, quality is a very important metric. In the warm up, I want you to treat it as part of the training, not just a ‘starter’. 

The warm up for both workouts remains the same. This is to keep things simple – we’re performing a general workout, not a specific one.

This means the warm up can be generalized. If we were training for something technical (such as weightlifting), our warm up would be specific for that.

The other benefit of the same warm up is you don’t need to think as much (remember decision fatigue from earlier in the article?) It just simplifies everything.

In your warm up I want you to go hard. The cardio element is longer than it would be in most warm ups (10 minutes), but this is to tick the cardio box for you. 

Across 4 workouts per week, you’re hitting 40 minutes of cardio – I think of that as the equivalent of 2 x 20-minute cardio sessions.

Bear in mind because it’s only 10 minutes, I want the intensity to be high. Wear a heart rate monitor to help you track that intensity if you need to.

The warm up is split into two stages – a cardio element, followed by a bodyweight session.

The Superhero Full Body Workout Warm Up

More on this later…

Step 3: Manage your rest periods strictly

In an efficient workout, there’s no time for indulgent rest periods. Reading between the lines, this means… keep your phone out of the gym. You’re there to work, not to check Facebook and take selfies.

In the volume workout, you are to stick to 30-45 second rest periods. I appreciate this means that the weights will be lighter than you might normally be lifting, but that’s ok. We’re after volume and density here. 

This research from 2019 concluded that volume is a key metric for creating hypertrophy, so don’t worry about weight so much.

The reason you can relax on the weight front is because there’s another workout in the program which encourages you to lift as heavy as you can manage, so strength is taken care of too.

In the strength workout, rest periods of 60-90 seconds are optimal. 

The entire warm up should take around 60 minutes to complete. With 4 sessions per week, you can have all of your training done in 4 hours… leaving you 164 hours in which to eat, sleep, work, have fun etc. 

Step 4: Keep the exercise order in place

If you look carefully at the exercises in the workout, you’ll see they mostly go from high complexity to low complexity in terms of technique. This isn’t an accident – the exercises that demand more from you technically are done when you’re fresh.

Research by Gates and Dingwell in 2008 showed that ‘fatigue negatively impacts biomechanical movement patterns.’

When we translate this into an exercise paradigm, it suggests that a tired athlete will execute technically challenging movements less well when fatigued.

The common sense approach to coaching, therefore, dictates that we move from high complexity movements to low complexity movements through the workout.

Trying to perform technically challenging exercises such as clusters when fatigued is at best, challenging and at worst, downright dangerous and likely to cause injury.

Step 5: Prioritize volume over anything else in the workouts

In the superhero full body workout we’re aiming for the x-shape, so muscle building is our priority, closely followed by keeping the body fat in check. 

That explains the nature of the work we’re doing here. There’s an upper and lower body balance, and a limited amount of direct abdominal work so we don’t ‘thicken’ the abs. We hit the cardio element hard, keeping the calorie burn rate high.

By prioritizing volume on these workouts, it means I want you to hit every rep on every set. Even if that means dropping the weight. 

Don’t drop the weights a huge amount – just enough so you can manage to get the reps done. Usually, dropping the weight by around 10% will be sufficient to allow you to manage the extra reps when you’re fatigued.

If you’re worried that you can’t build muscle on lighter weights, don’t be. As long as you train to failure with the lighter weights, you can still build muscle with them.

You can’t build muscle with reps you haven’t done. 

Remember that. 

Do the work.

Training program notes for the Superhero full body workout

As I’ve said before in my writing for Strong Home Gym, I like to educate you as a reader as we go along. In this section I let you into some of my thinking with the program design, so you learn a thing or two about programming.

In addition, it’s evidence that these workouts aren’t just thrown together and there’s actually a method behind the madness!

High-intensity warm ups to increase overall calorie burn

I’m going to use an analogy here, so bear with me – I promise it’s relevant!

In a steam engine, the stokers had to get enough heat in the furnace to build up a head of steam to power the engine.

It was hard work getting to the point that there was enough steam to power the train, but once the engine was up to temperature it was a case of maintaining that. It was harder to get to temperature than it was to maintain it. 

Think of the warm up/cardio here on the same lines. We’re going in hard early, making the warm up part of the workout.

Once we’re warm, throughout the weight training we simply ‘maintain’ the high heart rate and calorie burn by keeping the rest periods short.

This is unlike a slower warm up which takes longer to get the body to temperature, the more intense warm up here warms the body and provides a cardio workout.

The abdominal exercise is the same both times

When you look at the abdominal work in this program it’s very simple – two exercises, three sets of ten.

The reason we haven’t invested much more time in core work is because the exercises selected in the rest of the program incorporate core work in them too.

The movements I’ve programmed are the ones that train the abdominals in ways that the other exercises in the program don’t.

Finally, by keeping the ab training element the same in both workouts, you don’t have to go thinking about what you’re going to be doing – simply repeat the same as last time. It’s a case of it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Volume and strength are trained on different days

I’ve done this so you can focus your efforts and attention on one type of lifting per workout. Rather than mix modalities where you have a pre-fatigue effect from a previous exercise impacting your lifting ability, we keep them separate.

In workout 1, the hypertrophy session is all about volume at the heaviest weight you can cope with. This part is important.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted you to hit all the reps in all the sets, but that can’t be at the expense of weight. I don’t want you to have an easy time hitting your rep targets because you selected a weight that didn’t challenge you. 

Strength day – upper and lower variation

On the strength day, you’ll notice that the upper and lower body exercises alternate. That’s because although your overall rest periods are short, by splitting the exercises up each body part rests for MUCH longer than you appreciate.

If you go lower/upper/lower for example, your lower body is resting the entire time your upper body is working, so your legs are far more recovered than they would otherwise be. 

This approach allows you to still maintain a great level of strength for the exercises you’ll be doing. You won’t be running on empty exercise after exercise. You’ll still be able to hit good numbers with each new exercise.

Superhero full body workout – what you’ll need

Here’s the full kit list you’ll need to complete the program without any alterations. It’s all relatively standard equipment you’d find in most well-equipped home gyms… 

If you have all of these you’ll be able to perform the program without any alterations of the exercises.

Superhero full body workout – the exercises

This is the programming section of the article, where we’ll run through the exercises in the workouts. To make things easier to follow I’m going to split it into four sections…

  1. Warm up
  2. Abdominal exercises
  3. Workout 1
  4. Workout 2

This is because the warm up and the ab exercises are the same for both workouts. By giving them a section each it saves me repeating the whole section each time.

It saves me a job and it saves you from reading something you’ve already read. It’s a win for both of us.

Superhero workout – the warm up

The warm up for the superhero workout is split into the cardio section and the resistance exercise section. Each is designed to be done with intensity – this isn’t a gentle start, it’s the first part of the program.

We’re starting with a run because it’s great bang-for-your-buck cardio, you don’t need any equipment and everyone can run. Basically, it ticks every box!

The Superhero Full Body Workout Warm Up

Cardio section:

10-minute high-speed run. The first minute is a jog pace to ease into the speed, then the following 9 minutes are to be done as fast as you can keep going for.

ging leg raises alsoYou’ll have to pace yourself – nobody can sprint for 9 minutes, but you want to keep a good speed up throughout the run.

Think of it as a shorter version of the Cooper test.

Resistance exercise section:

The 3,2,1 workout for 10 rounds without a break.

3 Air squats

2 Jumping pull ups

1 Push up

Repeat for 10 rounds, without a rest in between each round.

Here are the exercises in more detail…

1. Air squats

A great leg warm up exercise – a fundamental human movement requiring very little technique to learn. There’s no equipment involved and it trains the legs and glutes, but warms up the lower back, hips, knees and ankles.

Equipment needed for air squats:

  • Floor

How to do air squats:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your chest up
  • Lower yourself into a deep squat, until your thighs break parallel with the floor
  • Keeping your chest up, drive your feet into the floor, standing back up straight
  • At the top of the movement, pause and then repeat

2. Jumping Pull ups

This is a great way to warm up the back and the shoulders, without the full engagement of the shoulders and back. It also includes the legs, so it doesn’t fatigue the back muscles ahead of the work they’re about to do later on in the workout.

Equipment needed for jumping pull ups:

  • Pull up bar

How to do jumping pull ups:

  • Stand underneath the pull up bar, ready to jump up
  • As you jump up to the pull up bar grab the bar with an overhand grip
  • Use the momentum from the jump to pull your chest up to the bar
  • At the top of the movement, control the movement down and then let go of the bar, so your feet drop to the floor
  • Repeat as necessary

3. Push ups

Push ups are the king of simple home exercises. Easy to set up in a home gym, take almost zero equipment and there’s very little technique to learn. Trains the chest, shoulders, scapula and core and can be adapted to suit abilities. 

Equipment needed for push ups:

  • Floor

How to do push ups:

  • Start with arms fully extended and lower yourself down through the movement.
  • Lower yourself until you’ve reached full depth. You’re looking for more than 90-degree elbow bend and a full stretch of the chest.
  • Slowly press yourself back up to a straight-arm position.
  • Repeat as many times as required.

Note: Check out our push exercises article to see an upgraded version of this exercise and 26 others to help you target your pecs, shoulders, and triceps.

Abdominal Exercises

In this full body workout, we’re only doing two abdominal exercises, for reasons I’ve explained earlier. These two exercises are to work the abdominals in ways that the other exercises in the workout programs don’t.

Given it’s the same two exercises in both workouts, I’ll write them here.

4. Hanging leg raises

As well as the abdominal benefits, hanging leg raises also help to strengthen grip and stretch the shoulders, so offer multiple wins.

They’re a much more challenging exercise than they first appear because you’ve got to move in a slow and controlled manner to stop your body swinging back and forth!

Equipment needed for hanging leg raises:

  • Pull up bar

How to do hanging leg raises:

  • Hold on to a pull up bar, dangling with arms and back at full extension
  • Keep a stable, still position (no swinging forwards and backwards)
  • Lift your legs up to horizontal with the floor. Keep them straight throughout, unless you’re a beginner, in which case lift your knees into your abs and allow the legs to bend
  • Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower them back to the starting position
  • Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout, otherwise you’ll introduce a lot of swinging back and forth into the movement, which you want to avoid

5. Barbell roll outs

I like the anti-extension element of a barbell roll out, because they require perfect stiffness of the lumbar spine to prevent sagging and they force the abdominals to work two ways – they prevent anti-extension on the way out, and they draw the body in together on the way back.

This one’s a truly versatile exercise.

Equipment needed for barbell roll outs:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar

Rogue Ohio Bar Cerakote
Read our best Olympic barbell guide here

This is the bar that we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 120 hours of research and tested over 100 barbells.

It is affordable but comes with some high specs. The Rogue Work Hardening and 190k PSI tensile strength mean the bar will last a lifetime in a home gym.

It is a multi-purpose bar with a 28.5mm diameter shaft and composite bushings in the sleeves. This means it’s balanced for heavy slow bench presses but you can also perform snatches and fast overhead lifts.

How to do barbell roll outs:

  • Start on your knees, holding the barbell with an overhand grip, hands a tiny bit wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Roll the barbell away from you, maintaining perfect stiffness and stillness in the torso – only the arms move here
  • Push away until you feel the abs really engage, and make sure the lumbar spine stays straight and stable – if you feel your lower back start to sag, you’ve gone too far
  • Pull the bar back towards you by bringing the hands closer to the body, maintaining the straight arms as you do
  • Repeat

These two exercises are to be performed for 3 sets of 10, back to back in both workouts. When the program says ‘ab exercises’, you just do this.

Full Body Workout 1

This is the first of the two workouts in the program. Remember the rules here are simple – warm up with intensity (hard run followed by 10 rounds of the air squats, pull ups, push up). Once that’s done, it’s into weight training.

You should be hitting every rep on every set – if that means you reduce your weights slightly, go for it. Volume is key here.

Keep rest periods around 30-45 seconds between the exercises, with the exception of the last two before the ab exercises (hammer curls and close grip push ups). These are to be done as a superset, one after the other.

1, 2 & 3. Warm UpSeeAbove
6. Clusters410
7. Snatch grip deadlifts410
8. Back squats410
9. Incline dumbbell bench press410
10. Chest supported dumbbell rows410
11. American kettlebell swings410
12. Hammer curls (superset)410
13. Close grip push ups (superset)410
4 & 5. Ab exercisesSeeAbove

The Superhero Full Body Workout 1 Infographic 1

6. Clusters

Clusters are one of my favorite exercises, because they’re a legit whole-body movement. The name comes from the combination of two exercises – the CLean and the thrUSTER.

They’re technically more challenging than most others, but they really leave no stone unturned from a training perspective.

They’re equally useful when performed using a light with higher reps, or a heavy weight with fewer reps. 

The description for this exercise is wordy, so make sure you pay attention to the video…

Equipment needed for clusters:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plates

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plate
Read our best bumper plates guide here

Bumper plates are ideal for a home gym.

They can last a lifetime and allow you to do additional lifts which require you to drop the bar.

Our team has compared over 100 types and the Rogue Fleck plates came out on top.

They are great value, use color allowing you to quickly see how much you’re lifting and the pattern will give your home gym a unique look.

How to do clusters:

  • Load your bar and stand centrally. Assume an overhand (or even better, hook) grip
  • Bend your legs, keep your back straight and your chest up
  • Drive through your legs, keeping your arms straight – this will lift the bar to hip height
  • When the bar reaches hip height, pull the bar to chest height, driving your elbows underneath and ‘through’ the bar
  • As you’re doing this, ‘drop’ under the bar into a deep squat position – you should ‘catch’ the bar with bent legs to absorb some of the weight
  • Stabilize the bar at chest height, with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your elbows pointing directly in front of you (this is known as the rack position)
  • At the bottom of the squat, stand up powerfully and extend the bar overhead in an aggressive 
  • Drop the bar to the floor and repeat

7. Snatch grip deadlifts

I like snatch grip deadlifts because they’re a nice variation on standard deadlifts, and they really push the lats and upper back harder. The wider grip also makes them tougher.

This helps grip strength and also allows you to get as much benefit with lighter weights, so is arguably safer for some people. 

Equipment needed for snatch grip deadlifts:

  • Barbell
  • Weight plates

How to do snatch grip deadlifts:

  • Assume a wide (index fingers on the barbell line marks) overhand grip on the bar
  • Bend your legs, keep your back straight and your chest up
  • Drive through your legs, keeping your arms straight as you lift – this will lift the bar to hip height
  • At the top of the movement squeeze the glutes together and push the hips forward slightly
  • Reverse the movement on the way down – start by pushing the hips back and lowering the weight down by bending your legs, keeping your chest up and back straight throughout
  • Repeat as many times as required

8. Back squats

The back squat is arguably the most functional and important leg exercise of them all. It works the quads through a huge range, can be adjusted easily for weight and doesn’t require much equipment.

It’s really safe and well known – and benefits the hips, lower back, core and glutes too. It’s also a pretty simple exercise to perform.

Equipment needed for back squats:

  • Barbell and plates
  • Squat rack

REP PR-4000 Power Rack

REP-PR-4000 Power Rack
Read our best squat rack guide here

Looking for an affordable yet high quality power rack?

Look no further!

After comparing over 100 types of squat racks the PR-4000 came out on top.

You can add any attachment to it (including cables, dip bars and plate holders). You can even add additional uprights to back to make it even more of a beast!

The 1 inch westside hole spacing means you can position the spotter arms to the ideal height when you bench press. So you can safely drop the bar and have a full range of motion when you lift.

And the 3×3″ 11 gauge steel make this the best value rack we could find.

How to do a back squat:

  • Place the bar across the upper back – not the neck
  • Take a breath in and engage the core – this keeps the lower back safer
  • Keeping the chest up throughout, push your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Drive feet into the floor and stand back to the start position
  • Repeat as many times as required.

The Superhero Full Body Workout 1 Infographic 2

9. Incline dumbbell bench press

I like the unilateral element of dumbbells, and they keep your ego in check – you’ll be lifting a lot less with dumbbells than a barbell. There’s also a suggestion they may be better.

The results from a comparison study between dumbbell, Smith machine and barbell bench presses showed that the dumbbells had an equal pectoral activation to the others, but had a higher bicep activation.

unilateral element of dumbbells, anThis is because of the stability element provided by the biceps. 

Equipment needed for incline dumbbell bench press:

  • Dumbbells
  • Bench

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

How to do an incline dumbbell bench press:

  • Set your bench to an incline – the steeper the angle the more shoulder activation you get, so keep it fairly low
  • Lie flat on the bench with your arms bent and the dumbbells at either side of your torso
  • Planting your feet into the floor, drive your arms straight up, maintaining an overhand grip throughout the movement
  • When your arms are fully extended, pause and return the dumbbells to the start position, controlling the descent as you go
  • At the bottom of the movement, you should feel a stretch. Hold this position for a second or two
  • Repeat as many times as required

Note: if you enjoy using dumbbells, check out our full body dumbbell workout.

10. Chest supported dumbbell rows

This is a horizontal row pattern that allows you to lift a lot of weight. There’s also no need for the lower back to support a heavy weight, because the bench takes care of that for you. The ability to move freely and adjust grip are also benefits of the exercise.

In addition, the fact that it’s unilateral means that both arms will work as hard as each other, minimizing any imbalance in effort and strength/muscle gain.

Equipment needed for chest supported dumbbell rows:

  • Bench
  • Dumbbells

REP AB-3000 Bench

REP AB-3000 Weight Bench
Read our best weight bench guide here

This is the weight bench we recommend for ‘most people’.

We compared over 70 benches against 12 criteria. This is our highest-ranked flat, incline & decline (FID) bench.

Some adjustable benches can be a bit wobbly when on the incline. But the AB-3000 is very sturdy.

With a height 18mm it’s comparable to benches that cost twice as much.

How to do chest supported dumbbell rows:

  • Set the bench to an incline and lie chest down – you should be able to reach dumbbells placed on the floor
  • Hold the dumbbells with the grip of your choice – overhand, underhand or neutral
  • Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together at the top
  • At the top of the movement pause then slowly lower the dumbbells, but don’t let them touch the floor
  • Repeat as many times as required

11. American kettlebell swings

The American kettlebell swing is the kettlebell swing I use when I’m looking for a conditioning benefit from a workout, rather than a simple posterior chain benefit. You’ll likely have to sacrifice some of the weight for the American swing, but that’s no big deal.

We’re looking for volume and intensity in this workout, so if we have to drop the weight, so be it.

Equipment needed for American kettlebell swings:

  • A kettlebell

How to do American kettlebell swings:

  • Assume a double overhand grip on the kettlebell and stand upright with the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Initiate the movement with a slight hip drive forward, putting momentum into the kettlebell
  • Bring the hips back as the bell swings towards you, keeping your back straight throughout (tilting at the hips doesn’t mean the back bends)
  • Drive the hips forward with more force, driving the kettlebell to a full overhead extension
  • Keep the arms straight throughout the movement
  • When the bell reaches full overhead extension, allow it to swing back down under control
  • Repeat as necessary

Note: the kettlebell swing is an important exercise. However, if you don’t have a kettlebell at your disposal, our kettlebell swing alternatives can help you pick an alternative or two to replace it.

The Superhero Full Body Workout 1 Infographic 3

12. Hammer curls

Hammer curls are a great exercise for the arms. Not only do they train the biceps, but they also activate the brachialis muscle too. It’s a simple exercise, doesn’t need much in the way of equipment or technique, offers great benefits and in this case, has a nice aesthetic benefit.

Who doesn’t want bigger arms eh?!

Equipment needed to do hammer curls:

  • Dumbbells

How to do hammer curls:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms pointing inwards, towards your body on each side
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in by your sides, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the biceps to maximize contraction
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position at the sides of your body
  • Repeat as necessary

13. Close grip push ups

The close grip push ups are the tricep-dominant version, which makes them perfect for this workout plan. They’re simple, effective, need no equipment and don’t destroy your triceps so allows you to effectively pair them in the superset with the hammer curls.

Equipment needed for close grip push ups:

  • Floor

How to do close grip push ups:

  • Keep your hands directly under the shoulders, or just inside (depending on comfort), palms flat on the floor
  • Start with arms fully extended and lower yourself down through the movement.
  • As you lower yourself, track the elbow backwards, keeping them close to the body
  • Lower yourself until you’ve reached full depth. You’re looking for more than 90 degree elbow bend
  • Slowly press yourself back up to a straight arm position.
  • Repeat as many times as required

You then complete the workout with the ab exercises…

Full Body Workout 2

This workout is the strength element of the program. You still follow the same warm up – this is the prep work for the effort you’ve got ahead of you. Still work hard, still do the cardio.

The main difference is when you get into the training. The intensity here isn’t the same, but the power and strength element are dialed way up. Push your weights as far as you can. Lift heavy, lift hard, and give yourself the minute between each set.

The exercises are all compound movements in a 4 sets of 6 pattern, with the exception of the superset at the end. This consists of alternating dumbbell snatches paired with plyo lunges. A full all-body power combo to finish you off!

Ab exercises the same as before, reducing the decision making. 

1, 2 & 3. Warm UpSeeAbove
14. Hang clean to press46
15. Front squats46
16. Pull ups46
17. Stiff legged deadlifts46
18. Military press46
19. Hex/Trap bar deadlifts46
20. Alternating dumbbell snatch (superset)420
21. Plyometric lunges (superset)420
4 & 5. Ab exercisesSeeAbove

The Superhero Full Body Workout 2 Infographic 1

14. Hang clean to press

The hang clean to press is a less technically challenging version of the clean and press. When the technical demands are lower, we can add extra weight without compromising form. In this version of the exercise we’re working on upper body explosive power and strength, plus doubling up – it’s two exercises in one.

Equipment needed for hang clean to presses:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

How to do hang clean to presses:

  • Load your bar and stand centrally. Assume an overhand (or even better, hook) grip
  • Deadlift the bar off the floor, to hip height
  • Tilt your torso forward, making the bar track your thighs. Keep your back and arms straight throughout
  • When the bar reaches your knee height, drive through your legs and push your hips forward, standing up straight as you do
  • When the bar reaches hip height, pull the bar to chest height, driving your elbows underneath and ‘through’ the bar
  • As you’re doing this, ‘drop’ under the bar into a quarter squat position – you should ‘catch’ the bar with bent legs to absorb some of the weight
  • Stabilize the bar at chest height, with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your elbows pointing directly in front of you (this is known as the rack position)
  • Bend your knees back into the quarter squat position, then straighten the legs powerfully, pressing the bar directly overhead as you do
  • Return the bar to the chest, then back to the hips and repeat the movement

15. Front squats

I love the barbell front squat – I believe it’s the most functional of all squatting patterns because it has excellent athletic carryover and it engages the core very well.

It’s also easier to do without additional equipment because you can clean a weight into position to front squat it, which is easier than lifting a heavy weight over and behind your head!

In time your front squat will almost match your back squat in terms of weight.

Equipment needed for barbell front squats:

  • Barbell 
  • Weight plates
  • Squat rack

How to do a barbell front squat:

  • Hold the bar in the rack position – open hand grip, elbows up, chest up
  • Take a breath in and engage the core – this keeps the lower back stable 
  • Keeping the chest up throughout, push your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Drive feet into the floor and stand back to the start position
  • Repeat as many times as required

16. Pull ups

The Everest of bodyweight exercises for many. Pull ups combine the huge muscle building benefits of training a lot of muscle in one go, with the physical challenge of being pretty damn tough.

They also train grip and at the bottom, they stretch the lats. This stretch helps with shoulder health. They’re a simple technique to learn, but hard to do. If you can do pull ups well, add weight to ensure you fail at the 6 rep mark.

Equipment needed for pull ups:

  • Pull up bar

How to do a pull up:

  • Jump up and grab the pull up bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Lean back slightly and pull your chest to the bar, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do
  • When your chest reaches the bar, slowly lower yourself down to a full extension of the arms
  • Repeat the movement

17. Stiff-legged deadlifts

I don’t know of a better exercise for strictly focussing on the hamstrings through such a simple movement pattern than the stiff-legged deadlift. It’s functional in the sense it’s a deadlift, so lower back, hip and glute engagement is there, but the hamstrings are doing the majority of the work. Huge return on investment with this exercise. 

Equipment needed for stiff-legged deadlifts:

  • Barbell
  • Weight plates

How to do stiff-legged deadlifts:

  • Hold the barbell with an overhand grip, shoulder width
  • Deadlift the bar into your starting position, which is where you’re holding the barbell with straight arms
  • Keeping your back and legs straight, tilt your hips back as your torso starts to point towards the floor
  • Keep pushing your hips back, with your legs straight as you lower the bar towards the floor
  • As you feel your hamstrings stretch fully, push the hips forward and lift the bar back to the starting position
  • At the top of the movement squeeze the glutes together
  • Repeat as many times as required

The Superhero Full Body Workout 2 Infographic 2

18. Military press

The military press is the go-to vertical press movement for the vast majority of lifters… and for good reason. It builds muscle and strength very effectively.

It’s also impossible to give you a false sense of your overhead strength (like the push press can) because there’s no involvement of the legs.

 (they’re the same thing, just different names) dDone correctly it’s also an excellent core exercise – the core is fundamental to overhead stability, which is a useful athletic ability. 

Equipment needed for military press:

  • Barbell 
  • Weight plates

How to do a military press:

  • Position the hands with a slightly-wider than shoulder-width grip. 
  • Set your position – keep your feet firmly pushed into the ground, squeeze your glutes tight to lock your lower back. Keep your chest up and upper back engaged
  • Smoothly press the barbell overhead until your arms reach full extension
  • Slowly lower the barbell down to your chest
  • When the bar reaches your chest, drive it back directly back upwards
  • Repeat as many times as required.

19. Hex/Trap Bar deadlifts

The Hex/Trap bar (they’re the same thing, just different names) deadlift is often seen as a safer way to deadlift, because the weight is distributed alongside your body, not in front of it.

This changes the forces placed on the lower back. If you use the handles in their ‘bottom’ position, you involve the legs more as well, so if you have a lower handle option, go for it.

Equipment needed for hex/trap bar deadlifts:

  • Hex/trap bar 
  • Weight plates

How to do hex/trap bar deadlifts:

  • Stand in the middle of the bar, with your hands directly in line with the barbell sleeves – the weight should be in line with the legs
  • Bend your legs, keep your back straight and arms straight and your chest up
  • Drive through your legs, keeping your arms straight as you lift – this will lift the bar to hip height
  • At the top of the movement squeeze the glutes together and push the hips forward slightly
  • Reverse the movement on the way down – start by pushing the hips back and lowering the weight down by bending your legs, keeping your chest up and back straight throughout
  • Repeat as many times as required

20. Alternating dumbbell power snatch 

The alternating dumbbell snatch is a great way to add power and cardio into a workout. It’s unilateral, so trains both sides. It’s also a high rep exercise, so can increase the intensity and the heart rate (great for upping the calorie burn at the end of the session).

Finally, it’s another good way of training the abs indirectly. This is supersetted with the next exercise, the plyo lunges.

Equipment needed for alternating dumbbell power snatches:

  • Dumbbells

How to do alternating dumbbell power snatches:

  • Set a dumbbell between your feet
  • Take an overhand grip, squat slightly and drive up with the legs, putting upward momentum into the dumbbell
  • Use the momentum to carry the dumbbell up, then lift it the rest of the way overhead
  • Once the dumbbell is overhead, lower it back down to the floor, under control
  • Switch sides and repeat
  • Continue for as many reps as required

Did you know?

To diversify your workout routine and optimize your muscle gains, our push-pull-split routine routine and our push pull workout articles are great next steps after mastering the basics of full-body workouts.

If you want to continue with more full body workout ideas, be sure to also check out our full body split and bro split workouts.

21. Plyometric lunges

The plyometric lunge is a functional exercise that builds single-leg power and strength. It’s another with great sports carryover. It’s a great compliment in the superset to the alternating dumbbell snatches, because it’s a power exercise that unilaterally trains the lower body, making it the total opposite of the snatches.

This combo is a complete power superset for the whole body.

Equipment needed for plyometric lunges:

  • Floor space

How to do plyometric lunges:

  • Assume a deep lunge position, with your torso upright
  • Drive off both legs at the same time, lifting your body in the air
  • When in the air, switch the front and back legs around, so your back leg becomes the lead leg and vice versa
  • Land with bent knees and repeat

You then complete the workout with the ab exercises…

4. Hanging leg raises

5. Barbell roll outs

The full body workout FAQs…

Answers to questions you may have about the program and its execution…

Do I have to run for the cardio warm up?

Ideally yes, you have to. If it’s a no-go then as long as there’s some full body, high-intensity cardio then you will be fine. A rower is a great example.

I’m struggling to hit the reps – can I reduce the weights?

Yes, but only if you’ve reached genuine failure on the reps. Don’t drop the weight before you need to. The idea is to do as much as you can, as heavy as you can.

How should I eat to fuel this plan?

The obvious answer is ‘healthily’. The better, more detailed answer is to base your diet around a high protein intake – you’ll need it. Shoot for protein with every meal. You’re also going to need lots of vegetables for health support.

Finally, keep your carbs clean – rice and potatoes rather than cakes and doughnuts.

Drink lots of water, a cycle carbs up or down depending on training or rest days. If you’re training, have more carbs. If you’re resting, bring them down.

How hard is this program?

Very, if you’re doing it properly. Do you want to look like a superhero? If the answer is ‘yes’, well do the work…

Can I do an extra session, or should I stick to 4?

My advice is to stick to 4, but if you want to add a 5th session into the week, my suggestion is you go for a very low intensity cardio session, such as a long walk. Something that doesn’t require much in the way of recovery, but still burns plenty of calories.

If you’ve got a lot of fat to lose, this will be helpful.

How long should I follow the program for?

Go for 12 intense weeks, then take a week off to rest and recover. Take progress pictures every 2 weeks to track your improvements.

The Superhero full body workout: The bottom line

This article has been a bit of an epic, but it’s an involved program that I would love you to follow properly. 

Get this right and it will transform your fitness, as it has for many of my clients over the years.

I may have introduced a new concept to you here, with the high-intensity warm up. This is a tough opener to the session, but it’ll help you achieve the most that you can from the program. 

It’s written for a home gym, so don’t waste any more time – get in there and get busy! Your superhero body won’t happen by accident! Look back in 12 weeks and see how far you’ve come. I promise if you get it right, it’ll be a long way! 

Want to try an upper and lower body split instead? Check out our upper body workout and lower body workout here. 

Or bookmark these pages to come back to these sessions in 12 weeks time to keep things fresh!

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Steve Hoyles is a certified personal trainer and gym owner. Since graduating with his Sports Science degree in 2004 he's worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. His writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries as he inspires to help as many people as possible live a healthy lifestyle.

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