Full Body Routines
• Greater training frequency for each muscle group. This can help expedite results, provided that you are recovered from the previous workout.
• Greater energy expenditure per workout. This could lead to faster fat loss and less need for extra cardio work.
• More efficient use of time. In most cases, you don’t have to train as many times per week.
• More schedule flexibility. For example, if you had to miss a workout due to an unexpected schedule change, you wouldn’t neglect a particular muscle group completely for the entire week. This can happen sometimes with split routines.
• Additional conditioning component. For anyone who wants to improve their fitness without integrating additional cardio workouts, full body workouts would get the edge here.
• Greater hormonal response, which could potentially encourage additional muscle growth and fat burning. Although I’m not completely convinced that these hormonal fluctuations are enough to create an improved training effect, taking advantage of this phenomenon can’t be a bad thing.
• Warm ups take longer because you have to perform a specific warm up for each muscle group trained.
• If your program is not designed/performed properly, your performance on the last few movements could be compromised due to an accumulation of fatigue.
• More difficult to specialize on weaknesses. You obviously can’t afford to spend much time on each muscle group.
• Gives some people more psychological freedom to miss a workout without a valid excuse. It’s much more common for someone to blow off a workout consisting of muscle groups that were already trained that week.
• Each joint is exposed to a more frequent training stress.
• Easier to specialize. If you’re only training 2 muscle groups per workout instead of your full body, it’s easier to concentrate your efforts on those specific muscle groups.
• Easier to warm up for the workouts. For example, on a leg day, once you warm up your legs you don’t have to spend any time to specifically warm up your shoulders like you would on a full body routine.
• Less frequency per week is required for each muscle group due to the higher volume that is performed on that particular muscle group’s designated day. This allows you to rest your joints. For example, if your knees are getting sore, you can rest them for 3-9 days in between leg workouts.
• Allows you to perform conditioning (running) workouts in a fresher state for sports (or hobby) because you can more easily work your leg workouts (which are less frequent in a split routine workout) around your running/sports schedule.
• Low frequency of specific muscle stimulation, since a muscle might only get trained once a week. This is more of a concern for beginners, who might benefit more from the higher frequency of muscle stimulation that a full body routine offers.
• Less frequent rehearsal of technique for specific movement patterns. Again, this is particularly important for beginners, or those performing particularly complex exercises.
• Could involve a greater time commitment to your weekly training program.
I’m sure you are wondering, “Which type of routine is best for me?” Well, that depends on your goals. Some important considerations when deciding on what type of routine to perform are:
• Level of training experience- Typically, I prescribe full body workouts for beginners. Beginners are usually learning proper form and are relatively weak. Both of these qualities warrant more frequent exposure to the training stimulus.
For advanced guys, I generally recommend following a split routine. Advanced trainees are relatively stronger, requiring more recovery time in between exposure to the same movement patterns. You can bend these particular rules sometimes, but be aware of the above considerations.
• General or Specific Desired Effect- Generally speaking, if you want to specialize in any specific muscle group, more often than not you would opt for a split routine. If you want a more general “balanced” training effect, you could opt for either a balanced split routine or a full body routine.
• How many sessions you will be performing each week- If you choose to train 2-3 days per week, you have a choice between full body and split routines. If you can only train 1 day per week (due to sport schedule for example), you would have to opt for a full body routine. If you choose to train 4 or more days per week, you should use a split routine or a combination of the two.