T Nation

Full Body vs. Bodypart Days


#1

This last month I have been following a All Body Workout routine, but I want to change up my routine now. I want to gain mass (i'm on a strict diet, and exercise regime as well), so which is better for gaining mass? Working out the entire body 3x a week, or a routine such as the following:

Cycle 1 �?�Day 1: Triceps and Shoulders, Forearms
Day 2: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs
Day 3: �?�Biceps and Chest
Cycle 2 �?�Day 4: Triceps, Shoulders , Forearms
Day 5: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs
Day 6: Biceps, Chest
Day 7: Abs/off day

�?�


#2

That totally depends on what style of training YOUR body responds best to. We cannot tell you what will work best for you.

Expirement and see whats more effective


#3

alright, but does this routine sound fine for a individaul body workout plan?


#4

I may be wrong but you sound a lot like a beginner, you should post in the beginners forum and read articles on here, there are a lot of articles discussing differences between full body and body part splits. Read some of them, try some programs and see what works for you, no body on here can tell you what is best for you. A lot of things sound "fine" on paper...


#5

yeah i have posted there too, but i was hoping to get some more advice from other experienced ppl here.


#6

the experienced vets go to beginner section too to help out the newbs.

if you are new, I suggest staying with the fullbody for a while


#7

I have made my best gains, and still do to this day, from full body routines:

Squat
Bench
Row
Overhead

Nothing else.


#8

Heres my program ive been doing for about three weeks now.I have gotten stronger every week.Its a full body workout every day but the different lifts each time still keep it fresh and im able to lift as heavy as possible because of no pre exhaustion.
I do mon,tue,thur,fri then on saturday i go in and do arm work.Kept under an hour each time.

DAY 1

Incline Hammer Strength Bench
T-Bar Back
DB Shoulders
Squat
Chins

DAY 2

Cleans
Push Press
Cable Rows
DB bench
Lunges
dips

DAY 3

Deadlift
Hammer Strength Back
Side/Front Raises
Shrugs
Biceps ?
Chins

DAY 4

Bent Rows
Flat Bench
Hammer Strength Shoulder Press
Hack Squat
dips

All 5x5!!!!!


#9

thanks man. i think i'm gonna switch to that program by december. i've started this one so i am gonna stick with it now.


#10

I agree with this but would also say that no one methodology works forever. So changing from full-body to splits and back is probably the best approach. So when full-body stops working, change to splits. When splits stop working, change back to full-body. In the long run, you have to continue to change your program to continue gains. Your body adapts to the changes in your routine, not what is consistent.


#11

I'm honestly not so sure about the need to change up programs. Changing the stimulus is important for adaptation, but one doesn't necessarily need to change their program to achieve this.

For instance, increased weight is a change of stimulus, and it causes adaptation (muscle growth). Now is your body ever going to out grow adding weight to the bar? No. Adding weight to the bar (supposing that you keep the reps about the same of course) is always going to force your muscles to adapt. Of course, you will eventually reach a plateau on your lifts where your body seemingly cannot continue to keep up with the demands you're placing on it.

But, when you do reach such a plateau, it's not imperative that you change your entire program. Simple changes like switching to different variations of the same exercise, or switching from barbells to dumbbells, or free weights to machines, or changing grip width, etc... can be enough of a change to stimulate further muscle growth.

If muscle growth is the primary goal, then why go making things more complicated than they need to be. Once you find a program that gives you the results that you want, and that you enjoy doing (an important aspect of a training program) then stick with it for as long as it continues giving you results. Don't worry about switching up routines every (insert arbitrary number of weeks).

Finally, as far as total body vs. splits goes, I personally feel that total body is more suited towards beginners (not that it has no benefits for more advanced trainees, just more for beginners). As you continue to build strength it's going to become more and more difficult for you to be able to continue to progress from workout to workout (which is the goal).

Remember that your muscles have an almost unlimited ability to adapt to overload, but your recovery systems don't.

If you're doing a full body routine and your lifts look like this (beginner)

Deadlift- 200 lbs, 5x5
Chins- BW, 5x5
Flat bench- 135 lbs, 5x5
biceps curls- 40 lbs, 5x5
dips- BW, 5x5

then chances are you're going to be able to progress a day later (or a few days later).

But, if your lifts look like this (advanced)

Deadlift- 600 lbs, 5x5
Chins- BW + 100 lbs, 5x5
Flat bench- 405 lbs, 5x5
Biceps curls- 145 lbs, 5x5
Dips- BW + 150 lbs, 5x5

then you're probably going to have a hard time progressing a few days later, and you're definitely not going to be lifting more weight a day later.

So, in my opinion, as one progresses in strength, they will most likely eventually reach a point where switching to a split (there are many out there) will become necessary in order to continue to progress optimally.

Good training,

Sentoguy


#12

I agree that this works, to a point. But if you are going heavy all the time, plateau, and then switch to heavy dumbbells, etc as the change and stay heavy all the time, that will not work, or not work for very long.

I don't mean this in a bad way, but chances are that you have not been training for a long period of time. Because over the long haul you will need to change EVERYTHING about your program at some time or another. If you don't believe that now, keep training and you will figure this out in the future.

Switching routines should be based on your body's ability to adapt, not some arbitrary date or time sequence.

My experience is that body FB and splits work for a time and that they should be changed when you stop progressing. The idea that you can't perform full body training using heavy weights with enough volume is not the issue. The issue is, should you be performing that kind of volume or intensity that requires a split all the time?

I would say no, and if people are honest with themselves about how much progress they are really making continuing using the same split or FB routine for YEARS, they would know they should make a change.

Remember how quick you progressed as a newbe? You can get close to that again, all the time, if you would just make the right changes at the right times to your workout regimen. Again, adapting to change is the ONLY time your muscles grow. And at some point just increasing the load does not do it.


#13

Don't mean to hijack, but what about changing from heavy 5x5 to, for example, lighter 4x8 or 3x10, while still keeping the same workout? Isn't that a stimulus change?


#14

I've been training for 9 years, I've tried a lot of programs, I've put on 50 lbs of muscle (not anything earthshattering, but considering 2.5 of those years was dedicated to better MMA performance, and about a year and a half was dedicated to gymnastics type exercises, and considering I've only really gotten serious about diet within the past year, yeah I know stupid, I'd say it's not bad either).

Believe me, I've cycled all kinds of programs. High volume, low volume, high frequency, low frequency, total body, splits and everything in between.

There are guys out there who have been using the same program for years, have gained 50+ lbs, and are still continuing to make gains. Personally I believe that had I not suffered from program ADD (and realized long ago just how important diet was) that my results would far exceed what I have accomplished at this point.

If you like cycling programs and feel that it gives you good results more power to you. But believe me, I've been in this long enough to realize that constantly changing up programs is not a necessity for progress.

Agreed, if even then.

Well, volume is actually another topic. Once again, I know of quite a few guys who have been following pretty much the same program (in terms of frequency, set/rep ranges, organization of exercises) have made great progress, and still continue to make progress. They don't train regularly in the 1-3 rep range (so if by "heavy" you meant a high percentage of 1RM then I'd agree that using that for extended periods of time does require much more frequent changes), but they do lift some heavy ass weights.

Also, I really don't think that, short of going "on", there is anything you can do that will cause newbe gains. Sure, some things can produce great gains, but newbe gains are much harder to achieve (in terms of the neuromuscular improvements, extreme overload, etc...).

Increasing the load will always work. This idea that your body adapts (and really what the heck does that mean anyway, we want our bodies to adapt, building muscle is an adaptation) to a program is a load of crap in my opinion. Yeah, if you were to do the exact same program (i.e. same weight, same reps, same number of sets, same exercises, same rest periods, same exercise order, exact same routine) then it would stop producing results. But, increasing the load makes it not the exact same program, and will lead to building muscle.

Good training,

Sentoguy


#15

In my opinion there is two major flaws with full body training and bodypart splits like you have shown.

With full body training compound exercises and heavy weights are usually used, the exercises change, but the intensity usually doesnt change enough.

With bodypart splits, unless you have been in the game for a LONG time you are not going to be able to work yourself out effectively enough only working a muscle once every 7 or so days. It is not the best way to get stronger.

Here is an example of typical exercises done for chest during a body part split. These are the only chest exercises done this week and they are all done on one day.

Barbell Bench Press
Incline Dumbell Press
Machine Incline Press
Dumbell Flyes

Now here is an example of all the chest exercises done during a full body routine, there is one chest exercise done each of the three days.

Day1 Day2 Day3
Dips Barbell Bench Press Incline Dumbell Press

Usually these exercises are all done within a certain rep range, usually on the heavier side. Many people would do between 5-8rep sets for all of these exercises.

The problem is that while you are getting frequent stimulus you are not getting a different stimulus.

Thib has talked about this and I have had terrific results using a different exercise on each of the three days I work out, doing a constant tension exercise (flye) A semi constant tension short rest exercise (incline Dumbell Bench) and Heavy long rest exercise (barbell Bench press).

The fact that I only do one exercise for chest (I split it up slightly different for back) means I can give a tremendous amount of effort to each exercise and method, but over the course of the week I am getting the same volume in, with better quality.

The only drawback from a bodypart split IMO is that doing bodypart splits create some hypertrophy from the fact that you have to do so many exercise with the same muscle and building up the ability to get through these types of workouts probably results in hypertrophy seperate from the individual exercises. It may not be enough to outweigh the fact that you can do the exercises better, doing only one per day.


#16

I do each body part 2x a week, any more then that, and I have heard working out the same muscle 3x a week or more can actually hinder growth.


#17

I do not think a newbie should switch from Fullbody straight into a split.

I think an ideal progression should be like this:

Full Body -> Upper/Lower or Push/Pull -> Split.

And actually, splits are only effective if you are and advanced bodybuilder.


#18

Shadowzz,

I think that you make a good argument for FB if comparing it to traditional body part splits. But, those are basically on opposite ends of the spectrum as well. I'm personally not telling people to go from A straight to Z. There are splits that fall in between those two extremes that are (at least IMO) more productive, especially for intermediate lifters (and honestly probably even for a lot of advanced trainees).

One thing to remember about building muscle is that it doesn't occur when you're in the gym (I realize you already know this), it occurs when you are resting. The more days that you have off during the week, the easier it becomes to put on weight (muscle). Of course there is a point of diminishing returns, as only lifting once a week period (think Mentzer) does allow for plenty of rest, but the growth stimulus is so infrequent, that it will probably not produce optimal results.

On the other hand, if you're going to the gym with a very high frequency than you give your body less time to rest and grow. If on top of that you're trying to overload the muscle on a high number of those days it's once again probably going to lead to suboptimal growth. As once again, you are not allowing the body sufficient time to repair and build your muscles.

Splits like "Upper/Lower" or "Push/Pull" on the other hand tend to fall somewhere in between the extremes. With these programs you generally wind up doing each workout twice (either each week or every other week depending on how you've got it set up). This allows you to still have a fair amount of days outside of the gym for rest, but also a fairly frequent training stimulus.

Also, it's not necessary to do a huge amount of volume or exercises for each body part. One exercise for say Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, quads and perhaps calves would be sufficient for a "Push" day. Sure, your shoulders might be a little tired after doing chest (especially if you chose similar exercises like incline and military). And sure, your triceps might be a little tired after doing both chest and shoulders (once again depending on how you organized things) but as long as you're progressing, then who cares, they'll still grow.

The other advantage to splits (at least for my preferences) over FB is that Full Body training pretty much forces you to tone things down. In other words, there is no way that you can truly push yourself to the limit while training a body part 3 times per week (unless you're a beginner since they aren't generally strong enough to make deep enough inroads into their recovery abilities to worry about overtraining/burnout). If you don't care about this then fine. If not pushing yourself doesn't bother you then more power to you.

But I personally feel that unless I'm pushing my body to the limit, how am I going to know that I'm actually putting a high enough demand on my muscles to force them to grow? Really pushing things also allows me to be much more efficient as I don't have to perform umpteen number of sets while avoiding fatigue to eventually reach fatigue.

Now for beginners I feel that volume is important, both because they aren't neurologically efficient enough at stimulating their larger MU's/muscle fibers to recieve good results from low volume training, and because greater volume allows them more practice at performing the lifts. This is also one of the reasons why I like full body for beginners, more practice.

But once you are more advanced you can make great progress with far less volume, far more intensity, and lower frequency.

Good training,

Sentoguy


#19

This is true. I see your points. Now the question is, If you are doing 4 exercises for a given body part you may need 7 days rest. Doing full body given that only 1 day will you really be lifting heavy, how much rest do you really need? I personally always felt that 7 days was too much rest even when hitting a muscle very hard with splits.

I always felt better with less rest, but then other body parts needed the 7 days so it was quite a mess. Now even if you arent doing the Mentzer style of 1 set lifting, Should you be able to push your body enough each day you lift, given the goal of that training session, whether it be strength, TUT, volume etc, to improve?...

So, maybe you arent totally fatiguing the muscle, but you will be using it again sooner rather than later which is another thing to keep in mind... I feel you can get kindof stale waiting a week between training the same bodypart as well.


#20

I agree, and once again I'm not really a huge fan of the only working each muscle group once every 7 days camp either (whether it be Mentzer style, or traditional BB style).

The thing is with splits like "Push/Pull" or "Upper/Lower" or even things like the "DC" split (which I am currently using) you can train hard and "heavy" every time you hit the gym. Personally I like this a lot more than the 1 heavy day and the other two light days (light being in terms of stress). And honestly, even then most FB proponents are failurephobic and rightly so, since once again using that kind of frequency (unless you're "on") and actually pushing yourself is probably going to lead to stagnation or overtraining fairly quickly.

I'm also not suggesting that someone do 4 exercises per body part per session. I'd honestly suggest for people to do 1 exercise per body part per session, for the very reason that you stated earlier; it allows you to give that one exercise your total effort without having to worry about saving some in the tank for the exercises to come.

Of course, I still know many people who perform 4 (or more) exercises per body part, train each muscle group once every 7 days and have built impressive physiques. So, there are once again examples to support that this type of training does in fact work. It just doesn't work optimally for me.

Good training,

Sentoguy