The B-List: Your Underrated Full-body Workout Moves

By: Tim Rigby (Courtesy of Inside Fitness)

Full-body workouts are a very efficient method to train, build and strengthen your entire body from head to toe, all within the short time frame of about 40 minutes, but taking on a full-body workout isn’t at simple as it may first appear.  There are a bevy of considerations that must be addressed before you begin lifting; a little bit of careful preparation can go a long way.  If you dive right into a full-body workout without an organized list of exercises, each with their own suitable sets and reps matrix, you could very easily burn out too quickly, rendering the remainder of your workout ineffective.  Similarly, if you attempt to perform a slate of exercises with the equivalent levels of weights (i.e. the resistance) which you lift when you dedicate your workout to only one or two specific muscle groups, then you’ll very likely fall short of completing a comprehensive full-body workout.

Broaden your horizons with “B” list exercises. 

There is a tendency among fitness athletes (beginners especially) to rely on the “A” list exercises because of their popularity and basic effectiveness.  Such exercises include the flat bench press and the back squat.  While these are certainly effective exercises, they are not the be-all-and-end-all of moves you can perform to hit specific muscle groups.  By contrast, “B” list exercises include variations on these movements, like the incline bench press and the front squat.  These particular two exercises have a lot in common with the aforementioned “A” list exercises, but it’s not difficult for you to appreciate that the differences in angle and muscle fibre activation distinguishes them as producing a different result.

The beauty of “B” list exercises applies mostly to people who have already trained for a period of time, who have become acclimated to those bread-and-butter movements on the “A” list.  This is because such target muscles have already established a foundation for muscle development.  By now incorporating the “B” list exercises, you can not only hit weaker spots which need bringing up, but you can achieve symmetry and balance when it comes to relative strength as well.  Ultimately, once you progress past an intermediate level of training experience, you’ll do very well to perform “A” and “B” list exercises interchangeably.    

Think of each exercise as the members of a team. 

As you know, certain muscle groups are bigger and stronger than others; this much is obvious, but your objective in a full-body workout is to train and develop your entire body with equal effort from your calves to your traps, and everything in between.  To do so, you must appreciate that human energy is a finite thing; your stores of it are highest at the beginning of a workout, and they gradually deplete the longer you train.  This being the case, when you start your workout with an intense compound exercise like the hanging clean, you want to perform a volume of sets and reps that will work your muscles hard, but also leave a little something in the tank.  In other words, you will not use the same volume and intensity as if your entire workout was dedicated exclusively to the muscles activated in this exercise.  As you progress to the other “members of your team” (i.e. the next seven movements), you’ll avoid energy depletion so that the last couple of members get their fair share of effort.  When you wrap up the whole package, you’ll have scored a victory from the efforts of your entire team.

Plan and prepare. 

The first time you set about tacking a full-body “B” list workout, you’ll be required to perform exercises that may not be readily familiar to you.  To that end, you’ll need to complete two or three warm-up sets per exercise, in the same way you would with the “A” list moves.  Understand that “B” list moves do not involve the same level of compound involvement, and therefore you should expect to lift relatively lighter weights (especially when performing this workout for the first time).  Using the same examples above, you can see how you won’t bench as much at an incline, nor will you squat as much in a front squat.  The objective, however, is to keep at it and train with sufficient intensity to optimize your gains from a whole new slate of exercises. 

After all, you don’t train for the sake of training; you do it for the achievement of fitness goals like building muscle, gaining strength, burning fat and losing weight.  The full-body “B” list workout herein helps you do all of these in such a way that you’ll produce a far greater overall development than if you simply trained “A” list exercises exclusively.


The following workout is fairly high in terms of overall volume (number of exercises times the volume of sets and reps).  Furthermore, as a full-body workout, it’s going to be particularly taxing on your energy levels.  Therefore, it’s essential for you to use weight amounts that are realistic, and will not propagate a premature burnout.  Don’t be too concerned if the weights you use are less than a standard workout dedicated to just one or two muscle groups.  Use sound control lifting the weights and take every second of the rest periods allotted to you between sets.


Exercise                                                         Sets     Reps   Rest
HANGING CLEAN                                           4          6          1:30 mins.      
FRONT SQUAT                                               3          8          1:30 mins.
INCLINE BENCH                                             3          8          1:30 mins.
T-BAR ROW                                                    3          10        1:15 mins.
UPRIGHT ROW                                               3          10        1:15 mins.
CABLE OVERHEAD TRICEPS EXTENSION  3          12        1 min.
INCLINE/DECLINE DUMBBELL CURL            3          12        1 min.
STANDING CALVES RAISE                             3           15       45 secs.

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