Explaining Fullbody workouts
Making things clear up front, Full Body workouts deserve their name. As you may suggest those kind of exercises train the whole body in one workout. That makes the whole exercise in general way more intense. That’s why you can pretty easy overtrain and fatigue your central nervous system too much, you have to keep an eye on your regeneration.
If you want to follow the Full body approach. I would advise you to train 3 times per week, not more because of possible regeneration issues. I can give you proper advice on this one. As I for myself was working out 1 year on a full body routine and I didn’t want to train the way most people do. Instead of working out 3 times per week, I worked out every second day. With my barbell row and dumbells on a full body plan. I overtrained pretty easy and my strength increased as a result slower. But I had no real significant muscle growth.
Full body workouts are also called compound movements or multi-joint movements. Examples would be the Squat, bench press, bent over row, pull-ups or Dead Lifts.
A high frequency generally is good for training volume and exercise practise but overtraining isnt good, your body needs the rest days. After those training sessions. Compound movements can increase your testosterone levels as shown in many studies. This goes back to heavy lifting in general which also means hitting often failure. You should train with low rest periods compared to the amount of weight you lift. This means deadlifting 100kg upwards you should give yourself 10–60 seconds rest. We know now that heavy lifting increases testosterone levels.
This increase in testosterone usually holds up to 15–45minutes.
With compound movements, you can output the most force applied by the body. This means compound movements are the heaviest form to lift. Through the elevated testosterone levels, you will likely be stronger throughout your training day. No matter if those are compound movements or split exercises.
Explaining splits routines
Explaining split training and it´s various forms. The split is a popular word in every gym. Pretty much adviced by every so-called fitness guru. The word is also mentioned in various fitness magazines. Also mentioned by fitness models when talking about their routine. Splits are there to isolate the muscle growth more effective. But what are splits actually? The word split refers to the splitting of muscle groups you train on different days. The number of days you need to train your whole body (or every muscle you want to train) once is then called splitting. If you train your whole body in one day. Then you most likely doing full body workouts with compound movements.
If you train your body completely in two days you could do an upper/lower body split. This means training the whole upper body on one day. The lower body the other day and a rest day between or after the split circles. A 3 split means splitting the body parts your training into different days. So after 3 days, every muscle group should be hit once.
In rarer cases, people even use 4 or 5 split people often falsely claiming that those were used in oldschool bodybuilders routine. But this isn´t exactly true many of those oldschool bodybuilders were doing heavy compound movements and this multiple times a week. So training frequency was also back in the days higher , with results that speak for themself. So if you have good training programming a higher frequency will always lead to more workload during the week.
At all be aware that after every split circle you need a rest day. This gives your muscles the proper regeneration they need. But you don´t need to only split your sessions into body parts. You can also split them into exercises. For example, you could use a push or pull split combined with legs or isolate legs. As the name states the split let you do push exercises on one day and pull exercises on the other day. You could split the legs up into those days or train them on a separate day.
But there are of course also other split variations. A famous example would be Arnold Schwarzeneggers split. The split looks like: Day 1 Chest Back legs Day 2 Shoulders arms Day 3 lower back. So by now, you should have a pretty good overview what splits are and which split is optimal for you. The optimal split for you should be in harmony with your time and the number of rest days your muscle need. The reason for that is consistency will show which split is right for you. Because only with consistency and minimal deviations you find out your optimal split. Nutrition should also be consistent and on point of course for optimal results.
Comparing splits to full body workouts
Comparing both full body workouts are less time-consuming. As you usually train 3 times per Week. FUL of 45–60 minutes with compound movements. With most splits, you train around 4– 6-times per week 30 minutes too an hour. But some people train longer than others. So its an inaccurate estimation of time because so many factors play in. Like rest periods between the sets, the number of exercises you are performing. Or if your friends distract you while you in the gym. With compound movements, you will put more stress on your Body overall. That also has disadvantages.
Are Full Body Workouts torture?
For example, you will get way faster sore with the heavy loads if you use too high volume. Sometimes your bones need a break and you will be slacking on some days. Some famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger compared full body workout routines to torture. So with full body workouts, you also will hit plateaus more often compared to split routines. Depending on your frequency and training intensity resulting in your weekly volume. The time frame of the plateau is also generally higher. If you then exceed this plateau you can be sure that your body gained strength.
The beneficial strength gain of doing compound movements is definitely a huge plus. With most splits you train 1-3 muscle groups in one training day. For example back and biceps instead of training all muscle groups. Most people start out with full body workouts. After 3-6 months of training, they change to a split routine. The idea behind it is to build a solid muscle foundation. Afterward, you can work on the growth of the muscles. You get this through isolated split training. But there are also people doing it vice versa , but that’s the minority of people. Some people also swear on only doing splits. Other on only doing compound movements and they both can see results. So it’s more of a thing you have to find out for yourself. I‘m only telling you what’s optimal. Trial and error should be your part.
Importance of Tracking
You should change your routine with the information you collected through tracking. With tracking I mean of course, on the one hand, tracking your body weight. But tracking also involves checking your body composition. If you have an available option at your gym, doctor or even at home. With body composition, I mean your body fat percentage, your muscle mass, and nutrition. Which training is right for you? This depends on your personal preference and genetical preposition. Stick to what works best for you. Compared to full body workouts with splits, you can isolate every muscle group and its growth.
Comparing full body to isolation exercises
Full body workouts are compound movements. Which work for many muscle groups at the same time. Muscles involved in the leg while doing the deadlift are :
The Gluteus Maximus (Butt).
The Quadriceps (Upper Front Legs).
The Adductor Magnus (Inner Thigh),
The Soleus (the Smaller part of your calf muscle).
The Hamstrings (Upper back of legs).
The Gastrocnemius (Bigger part of your calf muscle),
The Levator Scapulae ( The muscle on the side of your neck from your under the jaw to your shoulder blades).
The Rhomboids (Those are right below your neck. They function as upper inner back muscles).
The Rectus Abdominis (the by many desired abs),
The Obliques ( those are the side abs)
You may notice that deadlifts engage a lot of core, back and leg muscles. Those muscles all contribute to your strength so it would be no mistake to incoperate this exercise.
Isolation exercises involve single muscle groups or sometimes a few. Like chest workouts often involve the triceps and the shoulders.
Most people believe full body workouts will make you stronger. The reason is that you will train every single muscle. Even those muscles you target with your split routine. As most people only split their major muscles. But that’s only part of the reason.
Another argument that speaks for compound movements are the higher stress levels. So if you Squat or Deadlift with heavy loads your neural pain is higher. your nervous system will more likely adapt to the high amount of pain over time. So, as a result, your pain tolerance should be higher.
3 Huge factors you should consider
Above we mentioned and explained the different splits. Also, we wrote about Compound movements. Therefore we recommended you going 3 times per week to the gym, not more. How often you go is one of the 2 important factors. The two factors are the volume and the frequency factor. Frequency is a pretty dependable factor. Most individuals hit the gym 2-5 times a week. Somebody that hits the gym 5 times a week has a higher frequency then somebody that this the gym twice a week. But that doesn´t mean that the person with lower frequency also trains with lower volume.
If we talk about volume I like to measure it in a week. So in our example lets say person one hits the gym 5 times a week with a 4 split. Second Person hits the gym with a frequency of 2 times per week. First Person doing 4 split is hitting every muscle once a week and some two times a week. Person 2 doing full body workouts will hit every muscle group 2 times a week. Also, person two has most likely a higher workload on all his exercises which results in a higher volume. The volume is the most important factor for strength progression. Which results in muscle development. But be aware of a high volume you are most likely going to overreach faster and hit a plateau. Important to consider would be to do a deload to give your muscles some rest and then come back stronger.
Weekly Volume = Number of sets multiplied by number of reps during a week
Feel free to multiply your weekly volume with your weekly intensity. Then you will find out your weekly workload. Your weekly intensity is a result. A result of adding up the training intensity for every workout during a week.
As stated above. Multiplying your weekly volume with your weekly intensity will make up your workload.
So frequency is also an important influencer for your weekly volume. It is more like a multiplier if you have a 2 split like me. You can go 2 times a week to the gym one workout upper body one workout lower body. But you can also go 4, 5 or like me 6 times to the gym this will of course higher your weekly volume. So you have to be careful and lower your volume on some days. You can´t Squat with a for you relative high workload all days of your lower body part. If you hit the gym 2-3 times only for the lower muscle. So the advantage of such a high-frequency split is that you can train every muscle 2-3 times a week. But remember your split is not always related directly to your frequency.
You could train your muscles 1-7 times a week with a full body workout. My recommendation would be 3 times a week with a full body workout.
You could go somewhere between 2-7 times a week in the gym with a 2 split. My recommendation would be 4-6 training days.
You could also go 3-7 times a week to the gym with a 3 split to hit every muscle group one to two times a week. My recommendation would be 5-6 training days.
But which frequency makes sense. Science says that training a muscle 2 times a week to 3 times a week will produce best results in muscle growth. So some studies claim working out 1.5-2 times per week others claim 2.3-3 times per week. So 1.5 to 3 should be your sweet spot. shown in studies training a muscle twice a week has more advantages then once a week. Training over 3 times a week hasn‘t any advantages compared to training 3times a week. But your muscles would fatigue faster and on the the long run, you would overreach faster.
Who should follow which routine?
I would recommend everybody to test his way through his own unique fitness journal.
Believe me, you will profit from variety and changes in your routine. Variety can be beneficial for your gains. But also in gaining experience and knowledge. While adding fun to your exercises , this should be your goal. A famous quote is “Never change a running system”. This quote got anchored by many people in their training routines. So people stick with their routine without giving something new a chance. But this shouldn´t be the case. As your brain adapts to your workout routine and could try to prepare you from pain. This would cause lesser muscle development. That’s why should keep variety in exercises, in reps and why you should rotate the order of your exercises. This could help you develop more muscles.
But routines shouldn´t be lasting systems by no means. Sports and strength training, in general, has a lot to do with exploring YOUR body. Your unique strengths and weaknesses have to found out by you. Or by someone that knows your body as good as you know it. It would be nice if the person has more knowledge in lifting weights and nutrition than you. So choosing your trainer or mentor right is a wise decision.
Some people are stronger than others in certain exercises. For example, some people prefer dumbells over barbells. Or they have a genetical alignment to a muscle like the biceps, the triceps or the chest for example.
If you are a beginner I would recommend you a routine with basic exercises. To build a solid strength foundation. You can do the exercises on machines first if free weight is too difficult. The goal should be to focus on building strength with the right execution if possible.
Sort out the machine exercises you feel contracting and think are useful for you and stick with them. Replace the machine exercises with free weights over time. First of all the ones you don´t like or think of they aren´t useful of course. After you have built some strength with the basic exercises. Including with the variety of your workouts through the machine exercises.
It’s your choice what to do next. If you like the basic exercises you could try full body workout routine. Advantages would be that it is less time-consuming. Also, it´s pretty simple and you routine doesn´t involve many exercises.
It´s also easier to higher your strength and weights. Because of the higher stress levels you put your body under. But only if you regenerating right of course. Your body will adapt to this neuronal stress but you have to give him time , so rest days are essential to a full body routine.
If you are a beginner and already build up some strength with the advised method. Then you can replace most of the machine movements with free weights. Only if you feel comfortable of course. If you like variety and the idea of training different muscle on different days of the week. Then you should consider a split routine. With splits, you may isolate your muscles better and give them a more targeted workout. So with splits, you could develop certain muscle groups faster. Depending on your genetical preposition on some areas of your body.
But most of the time you would build more strength with compound movements as a beginner.
If you are a more advanced lifter or athlete you most likely build a solid foundation of strength. You then already exhausted some of your muscle building potentials. If you following the bodybuilding approach and you´re aiming for aesthetics. Then splits are for most people the better way. Remember if you don´t like it you can always go back to the basics and its never a step back. Especially in lifting, you can always be capable of increasing your weights. But not only as an amateur also as an intermediate lifter that’s an option. As you may know that increasing of weight most likely results in more strength gains. So if you prefer full body workouts over splits then it should be no problem to stick to this training approach. As long as your making progress. But I would recommend you to incorporate compound movements into your split routine.
Overtraining Compound movements
You shouldn’t overdo compound movements because of their heavy loads on the body. I would recommend you to do one compound movement per training day. Keep the max per split day on one compound movement. You shouldn’t involve many compound movements on one day if you following a split routine. For example, you could do the bench press bench press on chest day, which is pretty common. At back days you could do deadlifts or bent over rows. On shoulder days military press or over the shoulder press. On leg days you could do squats. But it’s can be too much incorporating all those into your weekly training routine. I would recommend you to always do the compound movements as your first exercises.