When it comes to weight training, choosing the right workout split is a crucial decision with far-reaching impact. In recent years, the full-body weight training method has gained significant popularity and traction
Full body involves working multiple muscle groups (though not necessarily all of them) in a single session. This contrasts with body part splits (“bro splits”) and other methods such as push-pull legs, or upper-lower splits.
Full body training might seem counterintuitive, but there’s a really good chance you’ll get better results than you would with “bro splits” and potentially better results for both beginner and experienced lifters than other training splits.
A Brief History of the “Bro Split”
Full-body training has made a bit of a comeback in recent years, but for decades this was just how people trained. It was only when steroid use became prevalent in the world of bodybuilding that “bro splits” – training based around training specific body parts on a single day – became the norm.
The reason for this is that if you’re on tons of gear your arms, chest, back, or whatever can take a serious pounding, with recovery aided by anabolic steroids and other compounds. For us mere mortals, however, the body part split is probably not the best choice.
First of all, most of your volume is probably junk. You can only get gains out of about 10 sets per week on a body part. Another reason is that you’re only training the body part once per week probably, so you’re just not getting the optimal frequency of training for each body part. This is especially true of smaller body parts like arms, shoulders, and chest that can take a pounding but bounce back very quickly.
Time Efficiency: Maximizing Your Workouts
One of the most prominent advantages of full-body weight training is its time efficiency. Finding the time for extended gym sessions can be challenging. Full-body workouts offer a comprehensive approach to fitness, targeting all major muscle groups in a single session. This means that you can get an effective workout in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional splits. What’s more, full-body training is traditionally only done three times per week, but you can get away with two.
Compare this to body part splits, you often dedicate different days to specific muscle groups, generally five days per week. While this can be effective for muscle isolation and growth, it can result in more frequent and longer gym visits. Full-body workouts, on the other hand, allow you to make the most of your time by working all muscle groups in one session.
Frequency and Recovery: Striking the Right Balance
Your muscles don’t grow in the gym – they grow when you’re at rest. Full-body weight training provides greater recovery time for each muscle group when scheduled properly. This gives it an edge over upper-lower or push-pull leg splits, which are performed four or even six times per week.
Balancing frequency and recovery is critical in fitness, and full-body workouts can help you achieve this balance by allowing sufficient time for each muscle group to recover and grow.
Balanced Development: Building a Solid Foundation
Balanced muscle development is a key goal for many fitness enthusiasts. You don’t want to be the guy with a torso shaped like a Dorito sitting on stick legs. Full-body weight training helps ensure all muscle groups are targeted regularly – and you’re likely getting more good volume for those stems than you would be on a typical “leg day.” This comprehensive approach minimizes the risk of neglecting specific areas and fosters balanced muscle development.
Body part splits, on the other hand, tend to emphasize certain muscle groups more than others. This is especially true when you have a least favorite day you tend to skip a lot. Imbalance training leads to muscle imbalances, that not only give you a wonky physique, but it also increases your chance of injury over time…
Increased Caloric Burn: A Boost for Weight Loss
If you hate cardio, we’ve got some great news for you. Full-body workouts can basically act as cardio with weights. They engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which results in higher caloric expenditure. Full-body training is an excellent choice for individuals looking to burn more calories and shed excess fat. If fat loss is one of your fitness goals, full-body weight training can be a particularly effective strategy.
A side benefit of the cardiovascular aspects of full-body training is increased oxygen consumption and elevated heart rate. Thus, it can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, namely your heart.
Because full body training tends to rely heavily upon heavy compound movements, rather than the isolation focus of body part splits, it’s a great way to get strong while increasing your heart health.
Full-body weight training offers a host of benefits when compared to other workout splits. It’s efficient, effective, and adaptable to a wide range of fitness goals and levels. Different training approaches have their merits and may work better for some individuals depending on their specific objectives. But for most natural lifters, full-body training is probably the best way to train.
With that said, please remember that the best training split for you depends on your individual goals, preferences, and fitness level. Always consult with a fitness professional or trainer who can help tailor a program aligned with your unique needs and objectives.