Both types of workout routines: Full Body and Spilt can be useful for trainees based on their training level i.e. whether they are beginners, intermediates or advanced, their goals—fat loss or muscle gain or both.
Both are just different approaches and have pros and cons. You need to decide what your training priority is. No one is better than the other!
Let’s define each type of workout routines:
Full Body Routines
A Full Body Workout Routine will incorporate your entire body in a single training session.
Usually, one start’s from top to bottom:
A Full Body Workout can take easily an hour to complete and may even take more than 2 hours to complete depending on the number of exercises and sets you to perform for each muscle group.
The training frequency is two to three workouts per week.
On the other hand:
A Spilt Workout Routine will only target one or two (sometimes three) body parts in one session.
A very common bodybuilding spilt used is:
Monday: Chest and Back
Wednesday: Shoulders and Legs
Friday: Biceps and Triceps
Usually, a split routine will allow a trainee to train at least four times per week with different combinations of muscle groups. You can learn about different types of training spilt here. [Article coming soon]
The benefits (pros) of Full Body Routines.
I absolutely love the ‘Golden Age of Bodybuilding’, and no, it’s not the 70’s but rather the 40’s & 50’s where bodybuilders like Steve Reeves, John Grimek used to workout using full body routines, 3 times a week. Just pick up a copy of The ‘Classic Physique’ by Steve Reeves and you’ll come across his 2-2.5 hours full body routines that he did throughout his bodybuilding career which allowed him to win the 1950’S Mr Universe title. No doubt, Steve had superior genetics, and coupled with his charming personality and great looks, he made it big as a Hollywood star too!
In case you are wondering, Arnold Schwarzneggar build his main bulk using full body routines and only once he had enough bulk, he moved on to spilt training to perfect it.
Full Body Workouts can (& should ) have a place in your training schedule.
Here are five benefits that will accrue to you when you incorporate full body workouts in your training:
# 1 Full Body Workouts allow you to train every muscle group 2-3 times a week.
While training intensity and overall volume (sets* reps) are the key factors when it comes to building muscle, but a systematic review done just recently in the year 2016, has shown that training a muscle group 2 times a week, is superior to training your muscle group only once a week!
But when it comes to split routines, it very rare if a muscle group comes up at least twice a week.
# 2 Full Body Workouts are ideal for people who are very busy
No matter how hard you try, when on full body workouts, it’s very tough to train more than three times per week. For busy professionals, it’s a foolproof way to train their entire body and only commit a couple of hours while reaping great benefits.
# 3 Full Body Workouts (in my opinion) should be mandatory for any beginner
For a beginner these things are super important:
-Establish a solid foundation for more years to come
-Understand and learn the important skill of how to perform key compound exercises properly i.e. motor learning.
-Not overtaxing your nervous system
-Accelerate your body recovery abilities that allow you to build a good amount of lean mass
All these are possible more with full body workouts (provided they emphasize mainly on compound lifts and are low in total volume, you can check out the beginner’s workout I have created here).
By the way, most top fitness professional will agree on this point too! So if you are a beginner or haven’t worked for a very long time, my suggestion is to start off with these workouts instead of a spilt.
# 4 Full Body Workout ensures that you don’t miss any muscle group in any given week
This ensures a balanced and a proportionate fab body.
Let me briefly explain.
Say you are performing a spilt which requires you to train Chest every Monday, Shoulder every Tuesday and so forth. Basically, each body part is assigned a day.
What happens when you go to a party on Monday night and can’t make it to the gym the next morning to do your shoulders? Let’s say you are a committed guy. But your performance will falter. The point I am getting at is this:
Most trainees, usually skip that body part, especially when it is related to your posterior chain like legs and back, and prioritize chest and arms. This creates an unbalanced physique. With full body workouts, the probability of you not training a body part is virtually ZERO.
# 5 Full Body Workouts are best for people who mostly prefer compound lifts
If given a choice of only 3 exercises which ones will you choose?
I’d go for:
and just by adding:
Incline Dumbbell Press you almost cover your entire body!
People who prefer compound lifts and wants a functional strong body, and really don’t care enough to hit their muscle from every angle (which means they could care less about building a perfectly chiselled and a bodybuilder physique) like to train their body through these compound lifts few times a week.
Full body routines does not necessary means that you need to isolate your arms every time. During chin-ups, your biceps get worked out, and when you sweating out on a heavy standing military press or perhaps an incline bench press, triceps get a good beating.
With all these benefits of Full Body Workouts, is there anything left for split routines?
Let’s find out.
Now, spilt routines can be of many types, with different training frequencies, and with different muscle combos. In this post, I have discusses the top 5 training splits. [Article coming very soon..Stay Tuned]
For now, let’s just discuss the overall benefits of spilt training over full body training.
# 1 Spilt routines are great for people needing more volume
Total volume is set * reps. If you want to know everything about how much volume you should perform for every muscle group, then I highly recommend this article.
For now, just know this: As you progress from a beginner to an intermediate and into an advanced trainee you will need to increase your overall volume. And when you do, a full body workout will take at least 2 hours to finish. And doing that 3 times a week will be virtually impossible.
Note: Inspired by Steve Reeves workout, I actually did had a phase and did long full body workouts for couple of months. I will probably explain the details in another post, but for now, it was a big failure as my body cannot handle that much volume!
# 2 Split routines are almost mandatory for people who take part in physique competitions
Physique competitions have become very competitive. And that means perfection:
-Every muscle fibre worked on
-Extremely low body fat percentage
This kind of physique is only possible by training almost every day, sometimes, twice a day!
# 3 Lastly, Spilt routines are ideal for people who simply like going to the gym, almost every day
I know many people, who go to the gym not just to workout, but make friends and socialize. For some, that’s the highlight of their day (no pun intended). In fact, one of my personal coaching clients was one such guy and when I recommended him my 3-day FBX hybrid spilt, he told me to modify it to at least 5 times a week.
Sure he could have done, cardio/HIIT on the remaining days, but somehow he wanted to weight train every day. In the end, I did modify FBX training for him! You see total volume for a given part (set* reps), your exercise selection (compound or isolated), free weights or machines and the weight that you lift (should be between 70-85% of your 1 rep max for best results), are the key factors when it comes to building a good physique, and if you do exactly the same workout based on the above parameters for 3 times a week or 5 times a week, I feel that makes little difference.
Having said that, I still strongly believe weights should be done only 3 times a week.
So there we go the benefits of full body vs split routines. If you noticed the common theme in this article is the fact full body or spilt matters not so much as long as the following parameters are in accordance with what I have suggested in the respective articles:
-Compound Exercises Vs Isolated Exercises: The Best Selection [Article coming very soon…Stay Tuned!]
-Amount of weight you should lift and the number of reps to perform for every set [Article coming very soon…Stay Tuned!]
What do you think about this post? What kind of workout do you do? Have any doubts or anything to say. Let me know in the comments below!