T Nation

Going From a Full Body to a Split


Hey All

I'd like to think aloud for a moment and see what input you can have on this.

I'm on a full body routine right now. Three days each week fits nicely into my schedule. I am enjoying seeing results but they're a bit lacking around my arms and abs.

The FBR is a bit taxing because it involves doing 3 or 4 sets per exercise, seven different exercises in total (chest press, shoulder press, rows, pulldowns, squats, leg curls & calf raises). That means 20 to 30 sets each time I go into the gym. My energy level is low when I leave and sometimes, I can't finish the routine for a lack of energy. Furthermore, I now feel the need to add more exercises because I'm not directly hitting the bicepts, tricepts or abs.

I feel 10 different exercises would better hit all areas of my body, but in one workout, that's just too much. Maybe I could do a split and find the time to go in to the gym six days a week but that's a bit daunting. The other option I see is to do it all at once but up my carb intake by using energy drinks and just grinding thought it.

Any thoughts or suggestions? What do you boys do?


I do full body splits 3 times a week (Waterbury program). I usually have 3 big/compound lifts and 2 small/isolation lifts per workout.

i.e. i do deadlifts on one day, with decline bench and chin-up, with calfs and abs. next day is squat with incline db press and bent over rows etc.

check out a few of Waterbury's programs for good total body workouts or get one of his book.

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/antibodybuilding_hypertrophy_program isn't bad


6 days a week would be hardcore. lol.
sample 3-day split routine (but not limited too):
day 1) legs
day 2) back and chest
day 3) arms (usually chin ups, dips).


My split currently goes:

3-4 exercises per group, 3-4 sets per exercise.
Works beautifully, the scale is going up and so is my strength.
It puts me in the gym about 6 days a week.


Yeah I'd recommend you bump it up to 4 days a week. Try a M,T,Th,F split. The muscle groups and exercises are yours to choose so be creative and thoughtful, ie. more work for lagging muscles/muscles you want to stimulate more hypertrophy in.

I'm in the same boat and was actually having the same thoughts as you!

I really want to develop my back and delts so I'll probably devote an entire day to shoulders and back. Something like this...

M - Delts (shoulders)
Tues - Legs/abs
Thu - Chest/arms
Fr - Back/abs


The second program (linked above) is the one I'm presently doing, though I've added in for calves. The second one seems to differ mainly in that you work the whole body, twice a week with one high volume day and one low volume day. Looking at them, I truly can't tell if one would be better than the other!

I think the answer for me is to stay with what I have been doing, just aim for greater consistency with my diet in order to fuel my workouts.

Thanks for sharing your ideas fellas. It has given me good food for thought. Cheers!


What you and Sharpe mentioned make me wonder about your frequency. Are you guys on a one day per week per body part routine? The advice I had read in various beginner articles mention the need to workout each mucle more frequently, say three times per week. Are you a beginner or higher up? To stay in context, I am a beginner still, though I weight 205, stand 6'3" at maybe 15% body fat.


I'm a beginner, and a 3 day split:

Chest + Tris
Back + Bis
Legs + Shoulders

worked just fine for me. I would do 3 days/week. Sometimes I'd go in an extra couple of days one week, and cycle over, essentially gaining a week.

Currently I'm doing a 5 day split, simply because I want to go to the gym more. Anyway, with that split, since you're not working the same muscle groups 2 days in a row, if you wanted to work each muscle group more frequently you could do 3 days on 1 day off, 2 days on 1 day off, 3 days on 2 days off, 3 days/week, it's completely up to you. I've never heard of "needing" to work each muscle more frequently as a beginner though.

The 4 day split phatkins suggested is a little better, because you're devoting a day to your legs (and shoulders). I found grouping legs and shoulders to not be a problem though (just depends how much time you have). One thing I dislike about phatkin's split suggestion is doing arms right before back day. I'd split that into doing tris on chest day, and bis on back day.

I would just train abs at the end of your workouts. You don't need to have a specific day for them.


Exactly...creativity at its finest!!! I still would recommend upping to 4 days if you're tired of the 3 day TBT.


For a while I was on a split that had me working each group once every 7 days, and I decided that my body could handle more frequency. The split I'm on now has me working each group once every 5 days instead.
I've only been lifting seriously for about 10 months now, and I've found that my best gains have come during the times I was doing body part splits.
My first 5 months of lifting were all TBT. My main goal was strength and not so much hypertrophy since I was swimming at the time, so I only gained 5 pounds during that period. Following that I did CT's Pillars of Strength for 6 weeks and gained about 20 pounds in that time. I then did TBT for another 6 weeks, didn't gain any weight, and went back to splits for another 6 weeks. Gained 10 pounds.
It could all be attributed to "gains aren't linear," but I just enjoy doing a split more anyways!