Honestly, people ask me this question so many times a day; it’s not even funny!
Since the dawn of time, men and women in the fitness community have all been searching for the best way to structure and schedule their workout routines in ways that will help them achieve their goal weight/physique faster.
For most people, it’s simply not enough to just lift weights and run a few miles on the treadmill.
Most people want the exact process, system, or solution that will get them to where they want in the fastest, most comfortable way possible!
And that’s okay! We’re all wired this way – our brains are always looking for the best (and most of the time this means easiest) solution to the problem we’re facing, so it’s only natural that we like to separate things in a binary way and choose the right path.
We’re either doing weightlifting or bodyweight, weights or cardio, isolation or compound movements, high-reps or low-reps, full-body or split training and so on.
Today, you’re going to learn all you need about full-body workouts and split training regimes so you can rid your routine of that binary, limited way of thinking.
As with all our binary-thinking tendencies, what’s truly “right” for you can only be determined after you have all the information.
Whether you’re entirely new to the gym or have been going there religiously, we’re all always looking for the “right” way to organize our regime.
Some people love going all-in, training their entire body, and busting a sweat every time they step in a gym. Others, on the other hand, prefer to maximize the attention they give to every single muscle.
For you to find the best possible routine that will help you achieve your goals faster, you need to know what you’re getting into down to the tiniest detail. You have to find out what best fits your schedule, fitness level, and the goals you set, and I’m here to help you do just that!
I’m going to list all the pros and cons of both types of training, so you’ll be able to sculpt and train your body just the way you want to.
Let’s get into it!
A full-body workout means you are exercising your entire body and stimulating all of your major muscle groups in one session.
It’s an excellent option for people who engage in different sports or types of fitness besides resistance training. It’s perfect for beginners, and coaches often recommend that everyone who is new to the gym starts off with two weeks of full-body workouts as a way to “warm-up” the body before entering a split day routine. However, this doesn’t mean that full-body isn’t just as effective on its own.
It’s also the best option for those looking to lose a lot of weight.
In this type of training, you’re working on your body as a whole. Statistically, more women prefer this method.
1. More energy expenditure – more calorie burn!
The first (and in my opinion most important) benefit of full-body workouts is that you’re maximizing the number of calories you burn every workout. This makes this method of training perfect for those looking to lose a significant amount of weight.
When you’re training your entire body in one session, you’re expending more energy than you otherwise would because all of the major muscles in your body are getting taxed.
A workout consisting of squats, deadlifts, dips, and shoulder presses will take more out of you than your regular old biceps/triceps days.
By working on all of your major muscle groups in one go, your body is naturally going to release more energy, resulting in way more burned calories!
On top of that, that session is going to be like a reality check for your whole body. All the glycogen depletion, muscle stress, and microtrauma you’ve just caused your body gives you the perfect opportunity to load up on rich nutrients and achieve a super-compensatory recovery!
2. Higher frequency per muscle group and overall body balance.
Bodybuilding is about frequency. The more times you stimulate a muscle to grow, the more it will grow. (granted you get enough rest)
If you’re working out full-body three days a week, that’s a frequency that will always keep your major muscle groups stimulated and growing! If you want to use training splits to hit all your muscles three times a week, you’ll likely be doing at least two workouts a day. Sort of impractical, if you ask me.
When you’re training full-body and putting the same amount of emphasis on all your muscles, you’ll be growing your body in a balanced, more natural way. Chances are you’re not going to worry about muscle and strength imbalances.
3. Helps you save time.
If you travel a lot or you’re always juggling a busy schedule and can’t dedicate more than 2 or 3 days a week for the gym, full-body training is for you. Even though workouts tend to be long, you’ll be saving time in the long run. The time and energy you need to go to and back from the gym are also a part of this equation.
In terms of saving time, going to the gym twice a week is always better than going to the gym 5-6 times a week, regardless of how much time you actually spend in there.
- Extremely taxing on energy.
- Increasing the training volume is hard. – Adding more intensity and exercises over time without making your workout too long can be tricky.
- Long workouts.
- Higher chance of overtraining. – For some people, even training full-body three days a week is a lot. The added frequency in which you hit different muscle groups can easily lead to overtraining. Don’t train full-body two days in a row.
Working out on a split means you’re separating your muscle groups into different workout days. This way, you can put more emphasis on specific muscles and reach intensity levels that you wouldn’t be able to achieve in a full-body workout.
For example, you can train your chest on day 1, back on day 2, legs on day 3 and so on. You can combine muscle groups into different split days, but the golden rule is working out the bigger muscle group first. (For example, do back and biceps instead of biceps and back.)
This higher intensity and focus on specific muscles naturally makes split training more appealing to men.
1. Heavier weights.
And a lot of them!
Think about it – because full-body workouts tend to burn more calories and use up more energy, they’re a lot more fatiguing overall. But for those who want to develop strength in specific exercises like the squat or bench press, this overall fatigue is counterproductive.
Consider the fatigue caused to individual muscle groups when compound movements are performed. After 3 or 4 compound movements, it’ll be harder for you to lift as heavy as possible. If you’re working on strength and size, you have tax each muscle group enough to overload it and let it adapt. Unlike full-body regimes, split training allows you to control that fatigue, and perform your best on specific exercises.
2. Focus on individual muscle shaping and definition.
If you want to spend more time getting broader shoulders, you can.
If you want to spend more time getting stronger, leaner legs, you can do that too.
Training on a split gives you freedom! It allows you to choose for yourself which part of your body you want to work on and improve. You have full control over the development and definition of your physique.
And if you have only two muscle groups to worry about, instead of your entire body, you’re going to give more concentrated attention to those two, which will result in specific muscle overload and adaptation. Split-based training helps you prioritize.
3. Better recovery.
If you’re working out all muscles groups 1-2x a week, you’re giving your body enough time to recover and grow.
With full-body training, anything more than three workouts a week will burn you out and make you wish you went for a split routine. With split-based training, you are far less likely to overtrain.
4. Making changes is easy.
Switching up your workout and adding/removing new exercises is easy when you’re only targeting one muscle group instead of your whole body.
Making these types of adjustments in your training split is as easy as focusing on different body parts on different days – but you have to be responsible with all that freedom!
- Going to the gym 5-6 times a week.
- Less calorie burn.
- Possible muscle and strength imbalances. – just like we’ve seen with the gazillions of fitness models that are walking around with arms five times the size of their calves.
Full-body training is for the beginners who want to set a great foundation, for those who want to focus on cardio and weight loss, for those who don’t have as much time to work out, and for the advanced lifters who want to push themselves to the absolute max.
Split routine training is for fitness models, bodybuilders, and advanced lifters. It’s for those who need that extra degree of control over the development of their own body and those who don’t mind going to the gym 5-6 times a week.
I want you to stay away from that binary way of thinking (this vs. this) and realize that different periods of your life are going to require different versions of you.
Today, you might be completely comfortable with your split.
Tomorrow, the full-body training option might seem more viable.
That’s why in this post I wanted to lay out all the information in front of you so that you can make the right decision for yourself.
It’s a fact that both of these methods offer great benefits, so don’t let your coach or anyone else downright tell you what’s best for you in your situation.
So I urge you, regardless of where you’re at in your fitness journey, try both of these for a week, see which one you like best, then stick to it until you’re sculpted sexy!