T Nation

Anybody Favor Splits Over Full Body?


I've been doing full body workouts for a the past several months, while I have enjoyed them greatly, even keeping spreadsheet records of them, I'm still itching to try split routines again. Prior to the full body routines, I was doing something like 2 days on 1 of, 2 on, 2 off type deal. It was periodorized so that the first month would be 8-12 rep range, 2nd month 5-9, and then the 3rd would focus mainly on power, with reps falling in the 1-5 bracket. All months would generally be a set of 4, so volume would decrease as weight got heavier.

The main reason I like this so much, is that I was able to see progress from session to session. When I broke out of my desired rep range, I would go up in weight. This would almost always result in adding anywhere from 5-10 lbs a session. In other words, felt as if I was putting everything on the line and training with maximum intensity,whereas with full body programs, where I do a set amount of reps without hitting failure kinda leaves me feeling I'm holding something back. Any thoughts?


This was talked about last week or so. It seems that you should do what results in the greatest gains for you. If it is a split, so be it.


I'd be curious to know what kind of long term strength gains you made. Seems to me the main disadvantage to linear periodization like you described is that you lose the strength qualities you trained in the previous parts of the cycle.

I'd be curious to know your experience in that regard.


Are you improving in the long term? If you manage to hit all the sets and reps in a given week, increase the weight next time. And if a few months go by, and you have increased your lifts by 20-30lbs, who cares whether you were going all out each time or not.

You split programs sounds good though. If you did the main compound lifts in it, I would imagine it worked well.


As Conorh said, if you're going to do a split, micro-periodization has been shown (and I've experienced it firsthand) to be much more effective than linear periodization. I.e., say you're hitting each bodypart twice per week. Have the first time be a heavier, lower rep day and the second time that week be a higher rep day. When doing a split, I would aim for failure on every set.

If you've got the time and recovery ability (i.e. if you can almost dedicate your life to it!), I've found a 6-day per week schedule, where you hit each bodypart 3 times per week, with low rep, medium rep and higher rep days for each bodypart each week, to be ideal. (And yes, I'm talking about natural training). That's probably not feasible for most people, though.

The first time I switched to a total body scheme I was surprised that I actually did make some progress -- I was convinced that I would at best just maintain, and probably even lose some. However, I can't say that the progress was at quite the same rate as doing a good split routine. I just find that the splite routine requires more time (workouts per week) and recovery ability (got to be getting enough sleep, eating and supplementing right, etc.).

Just my .02.


I have the fortune of being a college student who lives about a minute from my gym. It is actually feasable to do the 3 times a week split, though I feel I will have to keep an eye out for Mr. Overtraining. My quesiton becomes, on micro-periodization such is this, would all three training sessions consist of the same excercises, say would you hit flat bench one day heavy, one light, and one medium. Or would you hit flat bench on a light day, incline on a heavy day etc. I love the sound of this, however if anyone could elaborate a little more I would appreciate it. Thanks.


For most bodyparts I would stick to one exercise (3-5 sets -- varying) per workout, believe it or not. The point is that your frequency of hitting each bodypart is way up (3 times per week) so your volume each time you hit that bodypart (i.e. number of sets) will be lower than normal.

I would stick to major compound movements and alternate between two major ones each time. For example, flat bench on Day 1 of the week, incline bench on Day 3 and flat bench again on Day 5. Over the course of multiple weeks, since there are 3 chest sessions per week, you're doing flats and inclines an equal number of times. Over the longer term, of course you might want to switch exercises (eventually).

Also, although it's only 3-5 sets per bodypart (and usually only that one exercise), OCCASIONALLY I'd thrown in one additional set of another excercise, like one set of hammer curls or concentration curls after my 3-5 real sets of some major type of curls.

Oh, and this whole scheme involves going to failure on every set. (Which means you might have to lower the weight slightly on the later sets in order to hit the target number of reps).