T Nation

Body Part Split or Total Body

I just wanted to get some feedback from ppl on whether or not they have experienced better gains (size wise) from something like a 5 day body part split or a 3 days total body split

I know there seems to be a big push recently for total body, but i just never see much size increase on this method

5 days body part splits it seems make me grow relatively quickly

ive also talked to other people who feel the same way

so whats the deal am i the anomaly or is total body training crap for putting on size for most people?

TBT is probably better for overall mass, however, split training will really help you develop specific muscles and w/e. I’m personally using a TBT routine right now called HST. (hypertrophy-specific.com/hst_index.html)

I’ve received better gains off of HST this past year, however i’d recommend rotating between TBT and split routines every so often.

In my experience total body training will add size but splits tend to add more. I don’t think it’s because full body workouts are crap. I think it’s because you end up doing higher volume per body part with splits.

It also seems that full body workouts suffer from a lack of intensity - as if they dilute a finite amount of recruitment energy.

Just my experience.

I personally feel that splits are superior for gaining mass in most cases, but experience/training age will also play a role in determining whether splits or TBT are a better choice.

When I first started training I did a full body routine (1 basic mass building movement for each major muscle group done for 3 sets of 8-12 reps) done 3 times per week.

For beginners I personally like TBT (Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength” is a great beginner TBT program) because it allows for a lot of practice on the “money” lifts.

Like CT said in his recent article, resistance training definitely has a motor learning/skill component that needs to be developed first and foremost. The more you practice a skill (more frequently) the faster you will get “better”/more neurologically efficient at it.

But, once you pass a certain point, I feel it’s best to start splitting your program as to allow for more recovery (since your improved strength will allow you to tax your nervous system/recovery systems more). You don’t have to go right to a 5 day split though. Two way splits (push/pull, upper/lower, etc…) are a good next step.

The stronger, more experienced and more capable of stressing your CNS/recovery systems you get though, the more you’ll have to either split your routine, or decrease your volume to be able to continue to progress.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t just jump right into a 5 day split right off the bat. I know quite a few people who did just that and grew just fine on it. The above is just my personal preference.

[quote]HotCarl28 wrote:
I know there seems to be a big push recently for total body, but i just never see much size increase on this method

5 days body part splits it seems make me grow relatively quickly[/quote]

^All you need to know.

It really depends on your time and goals. I can only lift 3 times a week because of other training, so doing a full body routine made more sense then a split. If you are doing more workouts, you should probably split into upper/lower or push/pull.

This will be in part II of my current article series:

''The more emphasis is placed on developing the neuromuscular system, the higher is the frequency and the lower is the total volume of daily work for the muscle/movement pattern.

The more emphasis is placed on stimulating muscle growth, the higher the daily volume for a muscle and the lower frequency should be.’’

Or in simpler words: when you want to improve the neuromuscular aspect the most train a muscle often but do not fatigue it too much. When you want to increase the size of the muscle the most put more stress on the it during each workout, but give the muscle more time to recover.

thanks for the responses

I tried body split training and had issues making good progress. I encountered alot of over-use injuries as well. I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted so I tried to do more and more and that didn’t work so well for me. I am currently doing a variation of TBT and am making good progress. For me, I think a beginner might do better on a TBT program because they are not that good at lifting heavy weights and they need to do the exercises more frequently. I think once a person develops a good base, a body split might be better for making progress. Just my thought on the subject.

Total body training is a lot more efficient and versatile in my experience. I always found that splits always seem to end up training your legs less than your upper body, and I found this created an imbalance, not always though.

As long as you can maintain a balance in your frequency for each bodypart then splits are okay, but some guys do a few days on upper and only one on lower.

With total body training you can focus on your favourite and most productive exercises in every session,and you don’t have to do redundant exercises.

I prefer and upper/lower split. I find as sort of a compromise between the two philosophies, good intensity and fatiguing of the muscles with 3-4 days recovery. Easier to fit in some of the bigger compound movements and body part specific training also.

Didn’t grow much from TBT. Doing a push/pull and I’m growing. Just me though

Splits get me in the gym 4 or 5 days a week and work better for growth. TBT is great when you have an irregular schedule but if I have the time splits are better. (At least for me) No doubt in my mind.

sometimes i do both, i never train my whole body just once a week, so if i wanna do a 3 day split for example… then i will chuck in 2 full body days too.

Everyone wins.

Joe

I look at it this way. There is no way in hell that i can hit my legs, back, and chest with benching, squats and deads, all in the same workout. I just couldn’t do it, and forget about isolation movements.

Using a split, i can target 1-2 bodyparts per session and hit them with max intensity, using more then 1 exercise, and max weight.

I also train using instinct so I generally hit each muscle twice per week, but if something feels really fresh,or something doesn’t, I’ll accomodate my body’s feelings. It’s easier to do this with a split then TBT.

I’m a Born Again Splitter.

I switched from TBT to Upper/Lower splits about 3 months ago.

It’s revitalized my training enthusiasm and kick started hypertrophy/mass gains… I think a simple upper/lower split is idiot proof.

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
I look at it this way. There is no way in hell that i can hit my legs, back, and chest with benching, squats and deads, all in the same workout. I just couldn’t do it, and forget about isolation movements.

Using a split, i can target 1-2 bodyparts per session and hit them with max intensity, using more then 1 exercise, and max weight.

I also train using instinct so I generally hit each muscle twice per week, but if something feels really fresh,or something doesn’t, I’ll accomodate my body’s feelings. It’s easier to do this with a split then TBT.[/quote]

Squats, Dips and Chins leaves nothing untouched, you can hit everything with maximum intensity every workout, you don’t need isolation movements. You can do more exercises in each session if you wanted to.

Or squats, bench, bb row…

A beginner, whether a strength oriented person or a bodybuilder, should be on a total body routine. As CT once said in previous articles, a beginner needs to “learn” how to use his muscles. Only after this can he be successful with a split routine. I followed a TBT program as a beginner and grew like a weed for months. Now I follow a 4 way split.

You just said “I seem to grow better on a 5 day split than on a TBT routine”. Doesn’t this answer your own question?!

Good christ, Carl. There are tons of threads on this already. And each turns into a shitfest. You must know this. This thread can only be for entertainment value to watch it unfold. But I’ll give my take on it…again. I prefer split training and find it yields the most growth. However, I will still use fullbody sometimes. I will go back to it because I enjoy training that way. Because I find there are metabolic benefits. I find it a great way to train when focused on fat loass and muscle maintenance rather than gains are the goal. It can boost fitness when done right. That’s about it. From a pure gains perspective, I think splits work better once you’ve built a solid base. But I still do grow on fullbody when that is the goal, even if not quite as well.