Which Workout is right for me?
Which workout is better for me a full body or split routine, that is a question I have spent more time than I would like to admit thinking about. I’ve spent years of my life experimenting with various full body workouts and split routines. So I understand how confusing and frustrating this question can be. For example, tons of smart trainers I know who have great physiques focus their strength training workouts on split routines. But yet they train every one of their clients with full body workouts!
Why the contradiction?
Personally speaking I think it comes down two factors… Time and goals. I happen to do both… I train with a split routine 3 days a week and I train full body 2 days… but keep in mind this is my job so I make up alot of workouts for my clients …..which I do every one of and I also have the time because this is my profession and I want to make every workout unique and challenging for you all.
Lets go over what exactly is a full body workout and what is a split routine.
A full body workout means you are exercising your entire body with all muscles being used in one workout, where as a split routine (aka training split, or body part split) you separate your muscle groups, or movement patterns on different days. For example, I train chest and back exercises on one day, legs on another day, and shoulders and arms on the third day, which is a type of body part split.
I am going to review the benefits of both, because honestly I always switch things up and they both have advantages.
FULL BODY ADVANTAGES
A Balance body – You will be able to build a well balanced body by hitting all muscle groups in one workout, which is more natural and more closely mimics real life.
If you miss a workout, its s not a big deal because – If you normally workout 2x per week and you happen to miss a workout, you have already worked out all your muscle groups with just one workout. Not a big deal.
- Maximize Calorie Burn & Fat Loss – When someone has 30lb to lose, I like to keep them on their feet with their legs moving, so full body workouts can work very well. Most smart trainers out there train their clients looking to lose weight with full body workouts 2-3x per week. Regarding muscle building, a full body workout can debatably create a more powerful hormonal response to help build muscle, but it’s harder to fully stimulate a muscle with sufficient volume to spur growth.
Cons of full body workouts
- Can’t Focus On A Given Muscle Group – It’s hard to hit a given muscle group very intensely, especially legs because the intensity can be too tough to handle along with the lengthy recovery time after a workout.
- Can Lead To Overtraining – If you like lifting weights 3x per week, doing full body workouts each workout can lead to overtraining if not structured properly. Hitting each muscle group too hard will likely cause an overtraining response. A muscle that has been worked with heavy weights thoroughly (6-9+ sets) can take a good 5-6 days to recover.
Who should do a Full Body Workout?
- Cardio Fanatic- If you love doing cardio, but hate strength training, definitely do full body workouts, preferably circuit training workouts. Just a couple times per week will go A LONG way.
- Beginner – If you are a beginner, stick to full body workouts. I also like full body workouts for older adults.
- Intermittent Exerciser – If you are strength training 1-2x per week, you should strongly consider full body workouts, or an upper body/lower body split.
- Enjoy Intense Workouts – If you are more advanced (i.e. lift very heavy) but love pushing yourself to the max every workout and maximizing calorie burn, full body workouts will do the trick.
Body Part Split Routine: Pros & Cons
- Great for building muscle – if you want to spend a little extra time on increasing the width of your shoulders, then body split routine is the way to go. Just pick up a copy of oxegyn magazine … the fitness models are doing split routines… now pick up a copy of shape and you will see fitness models who do full body routines. ( Not all but a general example… so you can see the difference in the results each produce)
- Very Manageable – Lifting weights should never be easy, but if you like lifting heavy, it’s more manageable if you are only focusing on 2-3 muscle groups at a time, or less. It’s less metabolically challenging
- Easy to Switch Up Workouts – Switching up your workout routine can be as easy as changing your body part split so you focus on different body parts on different days (which is what I’ve been doing as of recent), or simply substituting different exercises for a given split.
- Less Overall Calorie Burn – If you are doing an arm workout, the calorie burn will be less than a full body workout. .
- Muscle & Strength Imbalances – Ever see the guy who has arms that are 4x as big as his legs ???? My guess is that guy is not doing full body workouts, but a body part split routine. Not quite sure why guys think this looks good but I see this very often at the gym where men just train chest hunh????.
- Can’t Skip A Workout – Well you can skip a workout, but again its a balance thing. With most training split routines, you are going to hit each muscle group once per week, so if you miss a workout, two weeks will go by before you hit that muscle group again.
Who should use a Split Routine?
An Advanced Lifter – If you’ve been lifting for a long time and religiously hit the gym, or lift weights at home 3-5x per week, then stick with split routines. I don’t see any reason to change as long as you are hitting your legs and core on one of those days AND you have your nutrition under control.
Get Nauseous Easily With Full Body – Some people after a full body workout will get nauseous,I see this often due to the intensity these workouts place on the body.
So on a personal note what split training has done for me is completely change my body. I love to do both as I love challenging my body with the cardio a full body workout provides but I also love the definition and body shaping that split training will give you.
So it all comes down to time and goals.!
I have a great series you can find right here on my blog called 10 in 10 with Yvette. Its 10 exercises in 10 minutes. I have full body workouts as well as split routine workouts.