Why should I work my whole body?

May 5, 2012

Q: How important is it to work the entire body? I like working out but have trouble getting motivated to do legs as I am not that good at it. I find that on most weeks I end up skipping leg work and concentrating mostly on upper body. What are your thoughts on this?

A: When the average person goes to the gym they spend the majority of their time working their favorite muscle groups and neglecting the rest of their bodies. You know the old routine Mondays are for chest, Tuesday’s biceps and Thursdays shoulders and then Friday its chest again and the process starts all over.

The problem with this philosophy is over time they develop weaknesses, become unbalanced and are much more likely to get injured. Think what would happen if you bought a new car and changed the front tires every thirty thousand miles but never changes the back tires. Not only would the car run terrible but eventually it’s going to break down leaving you stranded on the side of the road. The same idea holds true when it comes to training your body; if you want to have success and stay injury free, you must plan carefully and take a balanced approach. Here are a few things to consider helping you achieve that goal.

Turn weaknesses into strengths
The first step to strengthening your weaknesses is to figure out what they are and then make a plan to target them. If you have a strong upper body but your legs are weak, then design a workout with specific leg exercises designed to work on making your legs stronger. Don’t wait until the end of your workout when you are tired; instead prioritize your weaknesses by working them at the beginning when you are fresh and have the most energy. It won’t be easy but with practice and hard work you can turn your weaknesses into your strength.

Include all body parts in training
Don’t assume that you only need to work certain body parts and avoid others. Remember each part of your body has a function and if you neglect certain areas you could end up being the cause of your own injuries. A good example would be consistently working abdominals but neglecting the lower back or erector spinae. If you develop strength in the front of the abdominals but remain weak in the lower back you could put pressure on your spine and disks, and cause a very serious injury to your back.

Do unto the back as you do front
One of the most common mistakes I find people making is working the mirror muscles in the front of the body and neglecting the muscles in the back of the body. Mirror muscles are the glamorous muscles that people love to flex and work while admiring their own reflection such as biceps, triceps, chest and abs. A good rule of thumb is to match each set you do for the front of the body with equal sets for the back of the body. For example if you do 3 sets of 3 different exercises for chest and biceps make sure to do the same for your back and triceps as well sometime during the same week. Failure to do this will cause muscle imbalances that not only look strange but that can severely limit your ability to function properly as well as cause a host of unpleasant injuries.

Try the above suggestions and give your training the balanced approach it needs to make progress and stay injury free.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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