One of the most common questions people ask when they first start their fitness journey is, “Should I do full-body workouts? Or should I focus on just body part routines only? Like with most debates in the strength and conditioning industry, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question.
Both training methods have their own advantages and choosing between the two depends on a variety of factors such as your conditioning, availability, preference, and more. To help you make an informed decision, we’ll discuss the benefits of both full-body workouts and body part routines down below. Should you require any further information, get in touch with BDPT, the number one gym in Mandurah, WA.
As the name suggests, a full-body workout consists of training every major muscle group in your body such as your chest, back, arms, shoulders, and legs. Full-body routines involve compound exercises which are movements that activate more than one muscle group. One example is the barbell bench press where it engages both your chest muscles and shoulder muscles.
Total-body routines work great for people who want to get in shape and are looking for a simplified workout program that they can confidently perform. Since you’re working out every major muscle group, it’s easy to build good symmetry with your body. Here are a couple of advantages to doing full-body workouts:
Let’s face it; not everyone can go to the gym every day. The good news is that even with a tight schedule, you can still make time for full-body workouts since you only need to train 3x a week. Full-body routines cut down the number of hours you need to spend in the gym without compromising your results.
As such, full-body workouts incorporate both upper body and lower body exercises to trigger an anabolic response. Both beginner and advanced lifters benefit greatly from a full-body routine since it’s less complicated and requires less time investment compared to a body part routine.
- Induces greater hormonal response
Full-body movements engage more muscle fibres than a body part routine. This, in turn, induces a greater hormonal response to help you achieve your desired body. Full-body routines release great amounts of testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 hormones that help with building muscle and burning fat.
- Ideal for fat loss
Full-body workouts that leave you gasping for air and crawling out of the gym are known to beat your muscles up. What happens during an intense full-body session? Your heart rate skyrockets, you activate more muscle fibres, and you end up burning more calories. Compound lifts, metabolic intervals, and circuit training are great for fat loss and will help you shed those extra pounds. In addition to that, hitting your full body all the time can benefit your conditioning as well.
Body part split
The guy it benefits: Specific upper and lower body splits are excellent for guys looking to bulk muscle mass in certain areas of their body, gain a PR in a major lift, or sustain a training program for the long haul. These are generally less exhausting and are ideal for major bulk-ups.
More focused strength gains
“Body part-specific training sessions (ie. chest day, back day, leg day, etc.), while less time-efficient, can definitely dial in the specificity of the goals of your training program,” Krajewski says. “If your goal is to deadlift 450lbs or bench 300lbs, you have to train accordingly,” he adds. “If you weigh 165lbs and have a current bench PR of 225lbs I can guarantee you that full-body workouts 3x/week won’t get you there.” Getting in your major lifts and accessory work catered to that muscle group will. Just be careful you don’t over-emphasize one muscle group over the others; that’s when muscle imbalances and weaknesses can occur.
Better for building mass
“If you’re looking to build mass, I really see little benefit to constantly doing full-body workouts,” Arent says. “Not to say it couldn’t work, but in terms of the volume you can accomplish and the ability to focus on certain muscle groups, I tend to prefer upper-lower body part splits.” The upside is these focused workouts let you rotate your heavy versus light days more consistently; you don’t want every day to be heavy and/or hard. That’s important for progression and it’s part of the periodization model.
“When programmed properly, the split workout routine results in considerably less overall fatigue since the focus is only on one or two body parts—max,” Krajewski says. Full-body routines torch more calories and tire your body out faster, which can compromise your strength-specific training focus. “This isn’t implying that after an intense leg day your stems won’t be rendered useless for the remainder of the day,” he explains. But you’re at a lower risk for overtraining and overloading your whole body because your legs have time to recover.