T Nation

Only 1 major muscle group per workout?

This seems to be a ‘rule’:

Thou shalt work no more than ONE major muscle group per workout. (these are back, chest, legs)

However, I wanted to switch things up and do a whole body split for a while. Any opinions on this?

diesel diesel diesel…

t-mag issue #9, “Big muscles, Busy schedules” by Ian King.

That’s not a rule.

Yeah… that’s a ‘rule’ of muscle magazines. Poliquin himself works chest and back, posterior and anterior delts, biceps/triceps together…

Opposing (antagonistic) muscle groups on the same day is the rule I am following now, although I suppose I might be in the minority. OVT follows these principles.


Thats not a rule. It’s more on lines of bodybuilding. If you are Bodybuiling 1 muscle per day seems to be great. ( it does get you in and out of the gym in less the 45 min) now if your not bodybuilding and your an athlete I would disagree w/ this rule. You still got a lot to learn Desiel. Damn I still have a lot to learn:)

In Health,

Silas Chen

definitley not a rule that i follow.

nor me…

Yesterday i worked hamstrings, glutes, low back, some quads, traps, abs. tomorrow im going to work triceps, delts, chest, lats, low back, abs.

Reason why I posted this was because, after an excruciating full-body workout, this big fat muth comes up to me and says ‘You should know working two major muscle groups in the same day is no good’. I said ‘fuck you’ in my mind, but it got me to wonder if I might be pushing the envelope.

I just thought what better way to confirm my belief than to check with the t-hood.

Now, Fitone, do you not agree it’s wise to consult with others when faced with a controversial theory by someone - regardless of how much you know? I’d apreciate it if you stopped insulting my intelligence, and lightened up for once.

Diesel, the only “limit” as far as I can see on this full body workout in a day thing would be how much you can handle. Talking about length of time and your bodies recovery ability.

I’ve done the full body thing a few days per week before, and honestly think it works just fine. In my case not as well as a several day split, but certainly wasn’t worthless.
Hard part for me though was just narrowing down to the essentials, seeing as how a 2+ hour workout was too much.

One muscle group per workout though is only really for the die hards who do this as a job or something. There are far too many muscle groups to separate into only one each time unless you are going into the gym a lot, seemingly at least 2x/day. Need a lot of rest time to keep that up also, I was a college student so that was easy.

That info is spurious. Someone give me a routine, lets start with chest, then maybe back, that works only the chest, that only works the back. The day I started training the body as a whole and not a sum of parts is the day my training became productive.

It kind of depends on what you mean by “working a body part”. I don’t think it’s wise, from a bodybuilding standpoint, to work certain major muscle groups together in a bodybuilding style.

For example, doing chest and legs together would not be a problem if you went in, did a few sets of bench presses, and then a few sets of squats. What would be a problem, from a bodybuilding standpoint, would be going in, performing 5 sets each of benchpresses, incline db presses, flyes, squats, leg presses, and stiff-leg deadlifts.

There aren’t that many people that can handle full-blown bodybuilding workouts for two major muscle groups. Chest and back would be much easier, though, but even then, I would think volume on both would have to be cut back a little.


I used to work out one major body part per day. i.e. Chest/Tris, Back/Bis, etc.

Then switched to more multi-joint movements a couple of times less a week working more body parts. 5x5 Style.

Currently, I am doing all upper body except shoulders Mon. and Thurs. and Lower body and Shoulders (easy to incorporate into certain leg exercises) Tues. and Fri. Workouts are a lot shorter and seem more intense.

fitone - I don’t know what you meant by your comment to diesel, but it could easily be taken as insulting his intelligence. I think/hope you were saying that everyone has a lot to learn, and that’s true, but singling someone out and saying that they still have a lot to learn is insulting someone’s intelligence (in this case).

It could even be seen as a fox pass. Wait, that’s faux pas. I love it when people read faux pas like that.

I’ve done the 1 muscle group a day only once a week thing. In fact, I did it for about 6 months this year. I didn’t really like it at all. My workouts felt incomplete, like I could do more. Yeah, I would do chest, and my chest would hurt the next day, but that’s it? When I started doing each body part 2x a week and making my workouts shorter, I noticed a tremendous difference in recuperation ability but also strength. Then, when I switched to Westside, it was great. I was sore only after ME days, but then those DE days were awesome. Now, since I can’t train chest, I have to mix thing up a little bit.

Monday - EDT Arms
Wednesday - Big Back Stack
Friday - EDT Arms
Saturday - Legs Day

See, I got more than one muscle group per workout.

I regularly do two groups to a workout. I love supersets, especially for back and chest. Also, if you think about it, that big fat idiot who told you not to work two groups in a workout probably regularly does “legs” as a workout, which is in reality two muscle groups, if you’re thinking quad-dominant and hip/glute dominant.
Sounds like the guy who came up and told me I was doing my pullups wrong since I didn’t have my thumbs wrapped around the bar.

personally, ive gotten the best gains ever, doing 1 bodypart per workout, i do arms in one workout, which is kinda 2 bodyparts. there is just no way on earth, i could go heavy on chest exercises, then do heavy shoulders or back next. just not enough energy. by doing only 1 bodypart, u can devote all ur energy to that one bodypart. when u combine other bodyparts, u certainly aren’t going to have the same energy and strength for the other muscle group or groups. and what will happen, is u might have lagging bodyparts, cause ur not devoting the same energy to those 2nd and 3rd bodyparts in the same workout. just my opinion.

A little rant here but I think the bodypart classification really does a lot to hold the average trainee back. I hate it when I hear someone say something like was already stated “You can’t train more then 2 BODYPARTS in a workout” “You can only work a muscle once/week” “What are you working today?”…etc. Too often I have to answer the question “What are you working today?”…well I’m working my body in several movements, with a focus towards specific parts.

I hate it even more when I see competitive athletes come in the gym saying “Today’s chest day”. What a waste.

The body knows movements not muscles. Most of the guys who benefit from complete isolation of bodyparts were efficient at movemements (athletes either naturally or competittively) before they tried to become bodybuilders. Most guys who’s Mondays consist of Chest, Tuesdays consists of back, wednesdays consists of legs (but something came up) Thursdays consists of shoulders, Fridays consists of arms…would be better off getting in the gym and stimulating some whole body muscle mass with a variety of whole body basic movements each workout, burn some calories, and stimulate some anabolic hormones.

I’ve always mixed it up and never erally had a set workout plan. I just recently started keeping a log. I always got the results I wanted before using ‘instinct’ but after being a lazy ass for a bit, it’s gotten a bit tough to get the BF% down where I like it. Hence the log.

as i’m getting older, the more i realize, the way arnold used to train was the way to go, maybe not to the same degree, but the one set to failure thing or even 2 sets to failure isn’t as good as doing many sets, but not to failure. i have recently read a few articles by some pretty famous strength and bodybuilding coaches, and they say its better to train long, but not to failure. its better to do 10 sets of 3, than 3 sets of 10.