Whether or not a full body workout can be done once a week or twice a week depends on some variables. I’m a certified personal trainer. A full body workout means that in one session, you have hit all the major muscle groups with various strength training, or weight lifting, routines.
A full body workout will mean using resistance to recruit the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, abdominals, chest, shoulders, triceps and biceps. So if you’re going to lift weights using these muscles all in a single workout, I don’t advise doing this just once a week.
Unless it’s not highly intense, and instead, the full body workout is either of medium intensity, or low intensity. In that case, you can do one or two more full body workouts in the same week. If it’s twice a week for this low to medium intensity full body workout, the workout days should be as far apart as possible, such as on Mondays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Saturdays.
If the full body workout is three times a week, the workout days can be Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (or Saturdays).
Another way of doing full body workouts is to do just one per week (low to moderate intensity), and then on other days, focus on specific muscle groups. For instance, a full body routine is done on Mondays. On Wednesdays is back and biceps; on Fridays is legs; on Saturdays is chest, shoulders and triceps.
What about a highly intense full body workout? I don’t recommend this at all. There is no way you can do chin-ups to failure, heavy deadlifts that pummel your entire body, leg presses that scorch your thighs, chest workouts involving bench presses, pushups and dumbbell presses, shoulder routines that sear your deltoids, plus parallel bar and seated dips … without sacrificing effort in a significant number of these routines.
A highly intense back routine alone will compromise your ability to move on next to a highly intense chest routine. And then you still have triceps to do, which will already be filleted from the chest workout.
So do your shoulders, not triceps, after chest, but a very intense shoulder routine will further exhaust your triceps. So by the time you get to dips, good luck. And oh, don’t forget, you still have deadlifts, squats and leg presses!
Forget high intensity with full body workouts. You’ll be at the gym all day because you’ll need loads of time to recover, and even then, your output will be very much compromised. Plus, it’s too demanding psychologically.
A full body workout is okay at a low or medium effort level. If it’s done once a week, then more specific training must be done on other days, as I’ve outlined already.
If a full body workout is done twice a week, you can still do more focused training on a third day. For instance, perhaps you’re particularly week with the upper body. That third day can be spent on just back and chest, and maybe a little shoulders thrown in.