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Full Body vs. Bodypart Days


Whoever said you had to work a muscle group only once every 7 days on a split...?

day 1: chest/triceps
day 2: back/biceps
day 3: legs
day 4: shoulders/traps
day 5: repeat from day 1.

This way each muscle group is hit every 5 days, which is about as long as it takes your large muscle groups to recover from 3-4 exercises at anywhere from 12-15 sets total.

A split also does not mean you are half-assing your exercises just because you know you have more to do afterwards. A well designed training program would have you doing a number of exercises for the purposes of getting to all the muscle groups and hitting the important angles, lifting for strength, and lifting for a pump.

In other words, let's say I were to do 4 exercises for my back workout. First I would do chinups, then T-bar rows, both different angles and significantly different muscle usage throughout the back. I do these to increase the load I can handle by strengthen my upper/middle back, and lats. Then I might do lat pulldowns, and seated rows, both to achieve a pump throughout my back.

Now if I left out any one of those exercises, and kept the other three, it would be an imbalanced program in my opinion. So each one serves a purpose, and I could still go all-out on every exercise for at least 1-3 work sets each.

The amount of ignorance in this thread makes me wonder how many people have actually made any progress with the methods they are proposing.


Sentoguy again wrote up most of my thoughts on this thread so far but I have a little more to add.

People need to stop looking at the differences in training programs and look at the similarities. Arnold trained this way, Mentzer trained that way etc etc...
Forget sets reps compounds vs isolation. Forget everything. Break it down into the simplest terms possible and you'll find your answers.

The largest guys in the gym very likely are not lifting the same weights now that they were when they started. If someone is using 5 plates a side on squats for 10-12 reps and you want his leg size what are you going to do? Find out his exact set reps and rest periods? Or are you going to figure out a way to get your squat up to 5 plates a side for 10-12 reps with whatever means necessary?

Let's use some logic here and break things down to the elementary level and not make it quantum physics. Try to train as often as possible that you can contiunally make progress in whatever style of training you choose.

Beginners can train more frequently, the more advanced you get the less frequent you can train. Figure out where you are on the scale(and don't fool yourself) and work on being the strongest guy in your town on squats, deads from the floor, overhead presses, close grips, incline presses, barbell rows standing barbell curls, and eat your way up to a a new level of size. Who cares if you got there with HIT or HST TBT BFF TTYL Max-OT, just get it done.


I was just generalizing that many people use the 7 day split where they train a body part once a week. IMO the above example is exactly where people get into trouble. At some point having the chest and triceps and shoulders in back to back days without any rest anywhere in the week will not work very well for many people.

And if you are really hitting legs hard on monday they often will not be ready to go on 5 days rest. Might feel good at first but you will run into many problems doing that type of split IMO, you might get into situations where you have to ration your effort for fear of what it will do to your future sessions.


You mentioned how if you miss any exercise that the program would be unbalanced. That sounds right in theory, but if you are not at the level where you can work very hard on multiple exercises (3 and up) for most body parts, than what is the point. Hitting all the angles and that bullshit, that is fine, and you have a point there, but you have to be pretty advanced to need to worry about these things.

Add some deadlifts in to your back or leg day and do that routine you suggest, it will fall apart in two weeks. Oddly enough, your routine looks good for a rank beginner because they would not be strong enough to use the type of weight that would require additional rest, if you had any experience at all, you would not want to go near that split. Very sloppily made. Try Flex issue 96 instead might have better luck there. Oh and you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.


Great point Scott.

I agree that people get too hung up on the names of programs, or what's the "in" program and forget about basics. Way to break it down to the foundational elements.

Good training,



Glad to see that you have made gains. Whatever you are doing, if it works, keep doing it until it doesn't work anymore.

What does adaptation mean? In terms of muscle growth, it means changes in your energy system, muscle tissue itself (fiber size increases), and neural enervation (nerve-muscle connection). All of these things change as a result of a stimulus. And they are all interrelated, i.e. one limits the other.

So the reason that continuing to increase the load will stop working at some point is because your CNS becomes overworked. When the CNS is overworked it will not allow the MU's to fire to the degree required to cause the muscle fiber to increase in size and strength. In other words, getting your muscles to receive the most effective stimulus to cause adaptation in the muscle fiber requires a fresh CNS.

Doing the same program over and over again (assuming that it is challenging to the CNS) will gradually knock down the CNS, which will in turn not allow the muscle fibers to be stimulated to the degree required to build muscle. Remember, your muscles only work to the degree that your CNS allows them. And it is the CNS that takes the longest to recover. So it is your CNS that needs a change, not your muscles. Again, this is why just continuing to increase the weight as a means of program "change" will not work if your CNS is tired of the same repetitive program.

In any case, a number of the authors and trainers on this site also support this approach, but you can believe what you want.

But like I said, work it as long as it works. But be smart enough to know when it is no longer working and make a change.


As each persons CNS is different in terms of recovery, try that and see if it works. Finding the right variation in your program that allows for continual growth is what it is all about.

And believe me, when you hit the right combination or programs (moving from one to another - the time when your body is adapting to the new program) or change that your CNS needed the results can be amazing.


Yes, it is not possible to simply increase the weight indefinitely without giving the CNS a break. I was not trying to suggest otherwise. But, a simple deloading (or complete rest) period will take care of the CNS. Afterwards one can once again begin overloading the system again and most likely continue to make gains (by adding weight, or doing more reps with the same weight).

It is not necessary to change programs at this point, it is only necessary to give the CNS a break. Sure, changing programs could also serve that purpose, but heck if you find something that you enjoy and that is giving you the results that you're after, why on earth would you want to stop doing that program? I find it hard to believe that people aren't goal based when it comes to bodybuilding/strength training.

Sure, if you're just going to the gym for the social aspect then you may not care about results. But for the other 90% of us, I'd say that results are the #1 litmus test when it comes to sticking to a program.

Now, if you do plateau (and of course you will, everyone does) on an exercise it's not necessary to change up the program, only to change up the exercise itself. The set/rep/rest/frequency has worked well up to that point with the exercise you've been using, what makes you think that it won't work with the new exercise?

Also, chances are you're not going to be taxing your CNS as hard when you switch to the new exercise, as you should have been performing the old exercise for a significant amount of time and added a significant amount of weight to the bar. Chances are your new exercise will allow comparatively low poundages, thus allowing your CNS a "break" while at the same time causing your muscles to grow from this new stimulus.

But, in the end I agree, do what works for you. In the end results should be all that really matter.

Good training,



I train 3 days a week.

Monday = legs

Wed = Abs, back and Bis in that order

Sat = Shoulders, chest and tris in that order

In other words push/pull/legs. About 80% compounds with some isos afterward.
bland and boring

I pound those groups on those days and there is some crossover. I may do more volume and weight for less reps or like today a blitzkrieg HIT... esque style super heavy triple drop set burn festival for a few sets. Or something in between. The routines vary in style, but the program remains the same.

I find this gives me plenty of stimulus and also plenty of rest. Combined with plenty of manfood I'm sure I've gained right around 25 pounds lean in the last 20 months at 43 years old.

So I guess this would qualify as switching up while sticking with the same program. At one time I was convinced that any set not taken to absolute, dial 911 failure was a waste of effort. Chad influenced me into the viability of cycling that kind of ferocity though I'm sure he didn't intend to.

Just thought I'd throw all this in for no actually discernible reason other than it might give some ideas.


Probably the best post on this website.

We are so saturated with millions of training programs and training philosophies that we often forget about the only real factors that lead to muscle growth (progression, recovery, etc).

At the end of the day all that matters is that you are adding more weight to the bar and more muscle on your frame. If that isn't happening, it's time to change your training, bub.


i just spent a few hours looking through articles here on this site..and i've come to the realization that my program is fine as it is for the most part, i just need to work hard at it, eat right, and sleep (which i've messed up today).

I'm including 2 rest days per week, with that same 3 day cycle. I just added some ab workouts that were recommended by Christian T., as well as a few tips from that "Diamond in the Rough" but its just a few exercises, my routine will stay the same as it is now at least until December. I'll def. post back as to what results I got.


What I provided was merely a sample program to demonstrate how you don't need to hit a muscle only every 7 days on a bodypart split. I personally don't use that particular split.

Did you think I was recommending it or something? It was an EXAMPLE. How can you even form an argument around "throw in some deadlifts on back day and that program would never work!"? If someone wanted to train their deadlift, the routine would change. In my example, that wasn't the focus, so there weren't any deadlifts in there.

OBVIOUSLY if the particular program you are using isn't working for your own body, you change it. Does this really need to be stated...?

And I don't consider 4 exercises for back day to be advanced at all. Like I explained, you pick two lifts to get stronger (since you have both horizontal and vertical pulling to compensate for), and then you pick two other lifts to pump the target muscle group full of blood in order to stretch the fascia, damage the muscle, and force nutrients into it.


I guess I misunderstood your position. I thought that you did not advocate deloading either. To me, deloading, using different exercises, etc are all program changes. So I think we are saying the same thing.

My point was that I see guys who have been training for a few years, made some initial gains, and then stopped gaining. But they continue doing the same thing with no changes at all. No deloading phase, no changes in volume, using mostly the same exercises, etc.

So as long as you advocate some sort of cycling or program change, I'm all for that. Heck, periodization was built around the very concept that adapting to new change is what builds muscle. So if people never change anything in their routine they will stop progressing.

But I guess that if you build into your program a regular rotation of the major parameters in your program, then you may not need to change that for a long time (because change is built into it).


I prefer and recommend split training.Gives your system time to recover.


My opinion: You have to consider your own circumstances honestly and use those judgments to make your training decisions. Some important things to consider:

  1. To grow muscle, you have to Stimulate, Supply, and Signal. (Kelly Baggett is responsible for this concept). Training will stimulate, food will supply, hormones will signal. If you use AAS, the signaling is profoundly magnified. You just have to eat and coax growth along with training. You have much more leeway in terms of what will "work" training-wise.

  2. The natural lifter must has less leeway w/ regards to training options. He needs to stimulate growth with his training and also take whatever measures he can to enhance the growth signal. For this reason, total-body training is very valuable to a natural lifter seeking more size because of the tendency of this kind of training to support higher production of anabolic hormones. This is much less important to a lifter using AAS.

  3. Protein synthesis is usually complete in 36-48 hours. The CNS takes longer than the muscles to recover. Muscles are stressed from loading. The CNS is stressed by heavy work, failure, very high volume and density, heavy eccentrics, life stress, etc... The key to growing naturally is to provide as much growth stimulation as possible without dampening the CNS.

When you put all this together it becomes clear that the key is maximizing frequency, keeping volume per session relatively low, keeping failure training to a minimum, and steadily increasing loading on the muscles. What you end up with is a total-body plan 3-4 times/week.

  1. Training for pure strength is different insofar as the need for heavier loading, the presence of more general fatigue throughout the training cycle, and the need for dual-factor periodization. DFT doesn't apply to bodybuilders in the same way.

  2. Exercise variety is not as important as many make it out to be. You can do the same basic movements three days per week for months on end and grow. You have to cycle the loading properly and you have to take time off every 6-12 weeks to resensitize the growth machinery. But it will work better for most people than adding in variety for variety's sake. What matters for growth is increasing loading on the muscles.

  3. If you want to take the basic formula and tweak things to maximize your rate of gain, look first at your nutrition and recovery modalitites. Do everything possible to keep the CNS fresh so you can load more often. Train the muscles to recovery faster so you can load more often.

  4. Volume is important, and more volume will equal more growth, everything else being equal. However, frequency is more important, and the tradeoff of higher volume for decreased frequency is never worth it for gains in size. Once the stimulation for growth is there, you experience diminishing returns with more work.

The further stimulation is not worth the price you must pay in terms of waiting to train again. It's like a level 10 stimulus once a week versus a level 7 stimulus 3x/week. (I think Chad Waterbury has used this example).

  1. Everyone needs to take general principles and customize them to fit their own situations. Some people can squat and deadlift in the same workout 3x/week. Some will have to alternate between the two from one session to the next. Some will have to squat on Monday, pull on Friday, and do something less intensive on Wednesday.

  2. If you're after pure strength gains, use fewer exercises, consider cluster training, stay fresh, keep your reps low, and use DFT. If you want size, use slightly more exercises, use a wider rep range, load linearly, consider cluster training at the end of a cycle, and ignore DFT...just make sure to take time off once in awhile to resensitize your growth machinery.

That's my take on the matter.


And a pretty good one at that. I agree with almost all of it except I think there is more than one way to go about training for the natural than full body, but some would do well with this. And I personally like training to failure, but things have to take place to allow that to happen ie lower volume and few exercises per bodypart, but yeah I'd say we agree on many things.

Maybe I'm just a bad reader, but what is DFT you are referring to?


Here's is where have an example of disagreement with respect. I have a high regard for both you guys, but at least for myself, have not found frequency higher than once directly a week to work as well as what I've posted above. Actually "disagree" isn't even the right way to put it because I'm not saying you're wrong.


Absolutely agree, and something that it seems people often forget, either when giving advice or judging their own program.

Hadn't actually heard of it referred to in those terms before, but that is a very simplified and easy to understand way to put it.

What exactly do you mean by less leeway? I'd agree that a natural lifter must follow the progressive overload principle in terms of diet and exercise, and follow a systematic approach to get results. I'd also agree that an AAS user might be able to be much less consistent and still make good gains. But beyond that, I'm not sure that I'd agree that total-body training would really be any more valuable.

Now, yes if we were talking about using total body training versus using only isolation exercises then I'd completely agree. But honestly, how many people who use body part splits (or any splits for that matter) and have even a clue how to train don't use compound exercises?

This is once again also true, the muscles have an incredible ability for adaptation, while the other systems of the body have less ability to adapt (though certainly still some). That's one of the reasons why I stated in a previous post that as your strength increases, more recovery time is needed between training sessions for the same muscle.

Sure, your quads, hams and glutes may have the ability to triple in their cross sectional area, but your liver doesn't. And, since other bodily systems play an important part in the recovery process, as you build your strength and are able to cause greater and greater systemic demands, it is often these other bodily systems that limit your recovery potential.

Well, maybe that's what YOU come up with. :wink:

Seriously though, if total body 3-4 times/week is working well for you then that's great. But, just also realize that there are other methods which may be just as effective for others.

I've tried total body 3-4 times/week. In fact that's pretty much what I did for the first year or two that I lifted, and I've tried different variations throughout the years with different protocol, set/rep ranges, frequencies. etc...

And I did make some decent gains on those programs. But, I also have used several splits and have made good gains on those as well.

Really, when I looked back what I realized was that the periods that I made the best gains were when I made significant improvements as far as strength, and was eating enough to support growth. This was regardless of what program I was on.

At this point I'm using a split, am making steady yet significant gains in terms of strength, am training 3 times per week, am eating enough to gain weight, and am taking every single set to complete muscular failure. I'm enjoying it a lot (another key factor when considering which program would be best for you) and haven't experienced any of the "negative" effects that failure training supposedly brings with it.

I'm not sold on the dual-factor approach as far as optimal mass gains (in regards to bodybuilders) either. But, yes I would say that there is evidence that it does work for strength athletes.

Once again I agree, although I'd disagree that you HAVE to cycle the loading. It's possible to use the same basic set/rep scheme/loading parameters, and same exercises for quite a long time and still make progress (while increasing the load when necessary of course).

I'd say that the basic formula can pretty much be boiled down to:

Progressive overload + Caloric surplus + sufficient rest and recovery = muscular hypertrophy

I'm not so convinced that we need to worry as much about the CNS as some might have us believe either. I assume that you're once again referring to failure when you say that (since you mentioned it earlier).

Countless bodybuilders have built some damn impressive physiques using training to failure. Arthur Jones was quoted as saying, ""Training to failure is the most important factor in stimulating muscular size and strength." I'd say that his results with Casey Viator, Sergio Oliva, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, etc... are pretty good examples that he at least knew a thing or two about building muscle.

Believe what you will, and like I said, if not training to failure is giving you good results then do what works for you. But, to suggest that it is counterproductive isn't necessarily a true statement.

I agree with that statement as well. And honestly, I'm not even so sure that more volume will equal more growth. The same can be said about the relationship between volume and intensity (or "intensiveness" as some call it), or intensity and frequency. In other words, if you're busting your ass and really pushing yourself to the limit (failure), then you need to keep the volume down, or else your recovery time will be greatly increased.

I think your first sentence is once again spot on. I don't disagree with the rest, it's just a more or an illustration of your individual preferences.

I agree with that last statement. Good post.

Good training,



Hi Scott,

Dual Factor Theory (DFT) is basically a method of "planned overtraining" or "overreaching". Several coaches have mentioned the basic principles in their articles, but I hadn't heard it referred to as that until I read an article by Kelly Baggett.

Basically in a DFT approach the trainee attempts to accumulate a huge amount of stress/stimulus over a given period of time (CP's "Super Accumulation" program called for a two week period for example). During that time the muscles are never allowed to fully recover and the trainee's performance will actually decrease, as well as exhibit signs of overtraining (mood changes, trouble sleeping, etc...).

Once the alloted time has passed the trainee takes a period of complete rest, eats like a starving coyote and hopefully the result is that the body supercompensates to a great degree, thus leading to results (strength, speed, some have suggested muscle, etc...).

Here is the article of Kelly's that I read where he describes it:


CW also talked about the phenomenon in his "30 Day Mass Plan" article. As did CP in his "Super Accumulation Program" article.

Good training,



Man I love it when the DC guys get on these threads and say "Oh yeah, I train to complete failure on a muscle group every 4 days. Iv gained 15 lbs in the past 3 months. Stuff it."

More than one thing works, and often, what is not supposed to work does.