Team Bodybuilding.com athlete Brandan Fokken has enjoyed a unique fitness journey, and now he's distilled some of his knowledge and expertise into a single total-body transformation workout.
This full-body workout begins with single-joint movements for the arms and legs, and ends with multijoint movements and working your whole core.
"I prefer warming smaller muscle groups up before moving on to bigger movements," explains Fokken.
Complete each exercise in this full-body circuit without resting until you complete the last move. Rest 1-2 minutes, and then do the circuit again. Your goal is to complete three such rounds. All told, this workout should take an hour to complete.
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The EZ-bar is designed to keep your wrists in a more natural angle while curling. Select a weight that you can use for both the curls and the skullcrushers, shrinking the transition time between the two moves.
For the curls, start with your feet planted shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows tucked and give those biceps a good squeeze at the top. Lower the bar under control.
Once you finish the curls, lie on your back on a bench with the EZ-bar, moving your hands slightly closer together in an overhand grip. To target your triceps, keep your upper arms locked in one position so the only movement is the hinge at your elbow. This prevents your shoulders or chest from taking over.
"Keep your elbows in as you lower the weight back," says Fokken. "Make sure you don't hit yourself in the face with the bar before extending your arms and pressing the bar back up."
If necessary, use a spotter.
After hitting the back and front of your arms, it's time to do the same to your legs. Keep your feet in line with your knees, and your ankles in dorsiflexion.
As with the leg curl, keep your knees and toes in line and your ankles in dorsiflexion. Pause at the top of each rep, squeezing your quads for a contraction.
As Fokken explains, don't discount push-ups as too basic, because they are a great chest-builder. Proper form means putting your feet together, keeping your back straight, and your core tight.
On each rep, go all the way down to where you either touch your nose or your chest to the floor, then extend your elbows to rise back up.
"At the top of the push-up, make sure you're squeezing your chest," recommends Fokken. "Then get right back down and repeat."
Standing Arnold Press
Grab a pair of dumbbells and go right into the Arnold press. The rotational movement in this exercise means you're going to activate more muscle fibers in the shoulders and upper chest than you would with a standard shoulder press.
"You're really going to feel this exercise from the chest into the shoulder," says Fokken. "That's why it's great to do right after the push-up."
Seated Lateral Raise
Fokken recommends sitting rather than standing for the lateral raise. "Sitting takes the lower part of your body out of the equation," he explains. Swinging or using lower-body momentum takes the emphasis off your shoulders.
You can slightly bend your elbows when you raise the dumbbells, but avoid a full bend in the arms.
"Stick to good form," urges Fokken. "You're going to get a lot better development in your shoulder when you do."
As Fokken demonstrates in the accompanying video, if you don't have a T-bar, you can create your own with a bar, plates, and a pull-back handle.
"The closer grip hits more of the mid-back as opposed to the outer back," Fokken explains.
You can also use the D-handle attachment from your seated row, and the lat pull-down bar works if you're trying to get a wider grip. Whichever attachment you choose, position it against the edge, or sleeve, so it doesn't slip as you row.
Seated Lat Pull-Down
Sticking with the back, move directly to the seated lat pull-down. Fokken recommends going as wide as you possibly can on the hand grip, switching focus from the mid-back to your outer lats.
Make sure your back is slightly arched and that you're pulling back into your lats.
"A lot of times you'll see people leaning back and swinging with this exercise," says Fokken. "Don't do that. Keep your back slightly arched, lock it up, pull down and squeeze, and repeat."
Hanging Leg Raise
The final exercise of the circuit is the hanging leg raise.
"This is one of my favorite ab exercises," says Fokken. "Not only are you targeting lower abs, but you're hitting your core as a whole."
Stabilize your core as you lift your legs. Don't swing back and forth. If your core is not strong enough to lift your legs, bend your knees and tuck them to your chest instead.
Rest and Repeat
If you're not getting to the gym very often, do this workout 2-3 times a week. But if you are a gym regular, Fokken recommends doing this total-body transformation once a week or every other week.
For more full-body workout ideas, or for a complete list of comprehensive programs, visit our workout plans page.