T Nation

A Few Quick Ignorant Questions

Hey guys. A few quick questions. I have been working in my own house for years, because I have social anxiety, and my therapist, psychologist, and I think I am ready to go to an actual gym now.

  1. This first question is obviously a stupid one. But what is the rationale for dividing days into ‘leg’, ‘arm’, ‘back’, days? Rather than doing it all at once?

  2. What is the optimal amount of time that should be spent in a workout period for any given body part day, or is it different for say, leg day or arm day?

  3. Is there a general consensus now regarding working out a body part until full muscle fatigue (I forgot the term), where you can no longer move it, or is this a bad idea?

Thanks for your help and have a great day.

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[quote]Haymaker33 wrote:

  1. This first question is obviously a stupid one. But what is the rationale for dividing days into ‘leg’, ‘arm’, ‘back’, days? Rather than doing it all at once? [/quote]
    The rationale is typically to allow for sufficient time between working major muscle groups to allow for recovery before hitting them again. Typically you see these types of splits in more of a bodybuilding routine rather than a strength routine, but not always the case. For a novice, you are not lifting enough weight to need a full week’s recovery between working any muscle, so these types of splits are not as much use as they may be to a more advanced lifter. For novices, a program built around maximizing strength gains is typically best, and these tend to be more oriented around compound lifts, i.e. squat and press on one day, deadlift and clean on another, etc. Starting Strength and Stronglifts are good examples of these.

[quote]
2. What is the optimal amount of time that should be spent in a workout period for any given body part day, or is it different for say, leg day or arm day?[/quote]
Enough time should be spent to perform the required sets/reps for the program you are following. Rest between sets, at lease for a novice, is not that critical as long as you have sufficient time to recover your breathing and heart rate, and not too long so that you waste time or stiffen up. Typically, you want to get in and out of the gym in about an hour.

[quote]
3. Is there a general consensus now regarding working out a body part until full muscle fatigue (I forgot the term), where you can no longer move it, or is this a bad idea?[/quote]
Going to failure is when you cannot perform the last rep without breaking form or dropping the weight. There is some controversy as to wether or not this is a good idea as a matter of practice or not, but I feel that for beginner this should be discouraged. You should be doing enough reps with enough weight so that the last rep feels hard, but not so hard that your form degrades drastically and you are forcing the weight.

I’m getting some serious deja vu. Same kind of questions, same people replying, same kind of replies.

So, that’s “odd”.

Anyhow, to be brief: “full body training vs bodypart splits” is one of the biggest debates in bodybuilding. There have been tons of articles and threads about the pros and cons of each. There’s no right answer or best way.

You should train a bodypart for as long as you need to. Your goal will dictate the volume, intensity, load, exercises, and frequency. The specifics will vary a little depending on the bodypart (if you are even doing bodyparts, considering the first question), but in general, the “out of the gym in 60 minutes rule” isn’t considered as important as it used to be. Go in, train appropriately, and leave when you’re done.

Training to failure is another thing that’s often discussed/debated. Training up to, or beyond, muscle failure used to be the way to train for size, but the last few years people seem to be noticing more overall benefit from keeping a rep or two in the hole most of the time and treating muscular failure like a special technique.

Kudos to you on getting to the gym, anxiety in all of it’s forms is hell so it takes serious guts to confront it and then also talk about it on the internet.

Not really sure how much experience you have lifting (you said that you have been working out at home). At this point, if I could go back and start weight training again I would probably do something simple like 5x5 (Any variation really) or Starting Strength and just plug away at it for a year-ish. They are both solid programs that do a good job of covering the basics and they don’t really require too much thinking. Also, following either any of these programs will take care of pretty much all three of your questions.

Good luck!!

For the first couple of years you will get all the progress you could ask for by sticking to fixed templates like texas method or 5/3/1 etc

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
For the first couple of years you will get all the progress you could ask for by sticking to fixed templates like texas method or 5/3/1 etc[/quote]

x2 get on the 5/3/1/ bandwagon

A good length of time is 1 hour.
You do separate body part on separate days because it works.
For a movement, focus on getting more reps than the last time.
Don’t pay attention to other people.