Here's some food for thought saying the same thing as I'm saying:
The whole article can be found here:
I have come to the following conclusion, after considerable research and study of much of the available material regarding the training methods and results of the so-called ‘old timers’, as well as current training methods and results: the ‘split’ routine has been the death of productive strength training and muscle building. Allow me to explain the reasoning behind this possibly shocking revelation…
Benefits of Whole-Body Routines vs. Split Routines
First, the endocrine response. According to modern sports science, the more muscle mass one uses in a training session, the greater the endocrine response; in other words, the more hormones that your body will release in response to your training. The old-time programs trained all the muscle groups in each workout; that’s a lot of muscle mass. Consider the gush of hGH and testosterone that would be sent coursing through the body after a workout that included heavy squats, deadlifts, standing presses, bent-over and upright rows, bench presses, DB swings, snatches, etc. And consider the muscle-building and fat-burning effects of all this hGH and test free-flowing through your system. Now, try to imagine how very little the squirt of hormones would be after a shoulder workout of seated DB presses (at least standing you would be getting some leg work, however minimal), lateral raises to the front and sides, bent laterals, and maybe some cable laterals for a little extra striation-training. Or worse, a ‘heavy’ arm workout: preacher curls, incline DB curls, maybe 21s to get a good burn; then ‘skull crushers’, seated French presses, and some pushdowns for the outer head, man. Diddly in the way of muscle-building and fat-burning! The training effect upon the endocrine system may also explain why the trend in full-body routines went from as many as ten or more drills down to half that: The abbreviated routines allowed the lifter to finish the session within 45-60 minutes, which maximized hGH and testosterone while minimizing the catabolic hormone cortisol. The old-timers may not have fully understood why the shortened routines seemed so much more productive than the original two-plus-hour marathon workouts, but they knew what worked and they stuck with it!
Second, bone and joint strength. Again, modern sports science tells us that the bones in the body are strengthened best when subjected to a heavy load. This is where the big, multi-joint lifts come in, lifts like squats, deadlifts, cleans-and-jerks, snatches, standing presses, etc. It is quite impossible to put the skeletal frame under significant resistance when using so-called isolation exercises; as far as I’m concerned, these type drills are little more than ‘poor-leverage’ drills. Lateral raises, flyes, cable cross-overs, leg extensions, etc, all put the weight at the end of a relatively long lever, making it more difficult to lift that weight -- even a very light weight. And at no point in any of the isolation exercises does any real resistance actually fall fully on the bone structure; the skeletal system does little, if any, real supporting of the weight. The same applies to the connective tissues: To fully strengthen the tendons and ligaments, it is necessary to subject them to tremendously heavy weights, often through a partial range-of-motion. Again, this is not something that is adequately accomplished with the isolation-type, poor-leverage drills. Clearly, split routines and the accompanying isolation drills are not the most efficient way to build strength in the bones and connective tissues.
The talk of strength leads us to the next point: muscular strength. Maximum muscular strength is best developed via the lifting of very heavy weights. The heavier the weight, the greater the tension generated in a muscle, and the more tension generated by a muscle, the more force it can apply -- thus, it gets stronger! And while isolation drills -- aka, poor-leverage drills -- may generate what appears to be a lot of tension (even with very light weights), it is typically far less than would be required with whole-body exercises. The goal of strength training, after all, is -- or should be -- to lift the heaviest weight possible. Think of it this way: Would you have more confidence and more pride from doing a set of ten reps in the lateral raise with 25 pounds, or five reps in the clean-and-press with 205? Which drill do you really think would do more for your bodily size and strength? The answer, I hope, is obvious.
Finally, we come to the issue of functionality. The isolation exercises that are the staple of most split routines are not functional in the least (beyond, perhaps, for training around an injury, or for rehab). When was the last time you needed to put something heavy on a shelf above your head and you chose to lift it at the end of your stiff, outstretched arm? Hopefully never. You would, I have to believe, do something that would resemble a continental clean and press -- deadlifting the load to waist height, struggling it up to the shoulders, and finally pressing it up overhead and sliding it onto the shelf. Whole-body routines using the big, multi-joint drills train the whole body as a unit -- as the name might imply. They teach your many muscle groups to work together in a unified, athletic fashion, and in the proper sequence: typically from the ground up, transferring force from the lower body, through the midsection, into the upper body, and out through the arms (more often than not, anyway). These drills also teach the muscles of the legs and core to stabilize the upper body against resistance, which is especially important not only in lifting but in many combative/contact sports.
There’s a popular saying, something to the effect that “Form Follows Function”. How you train will determine how you look, that’s true enough; but it will also determine how you perform. Training for functionality will dramatically improve your performance, first and foremost, and your ‘form’ right along with it. Cosmetic-oriented training -- bodybuilding -- may improve how you look, but it will not, I submit, do much to improve your performance in any endeavor. Besides, what will be more valuable to you in your life: looking puffed-up and pretty, or having high levels of strength and work capacity? Train like an athlete, not a bodybuilder! To train any other way is to invite injury and weakness.
If you are a young guy -- or even a not-so-young guy -- whose sole desire is to get bigger and stronger, drug-free
, I beg of you: Do not fall for the popular hype that you’ll find in nearly every one of the muscle and fitness magazines and Internet websites today! Reference the materials cited above (MILO, Brawn, Dinosaur Training, PTP, etc.). With any or all of these books and magazines to guide you, you can’t go far wrong with your training. Please, don’t waste your time trying to prove that you are an exception, that your genetics are ‘good’ -- chances are they’re not. Do yourself a BIG favor and stick with what works, what’s been working for over 100 years -- hard and heavy training on full-body routines using the big lifts. The results may amaze you!
Kurt J. Wilkens is the founder of Integrated Conditioning, Inc., a South Florida-based personal training company that emphasizes Functionality and Wellness over simple ‘fitness’. Integrated Conditioning specializes in combining Old-School Physical Culture with Modern Sports Science to develop the most effective programs possible for any individual’s specific case. Training is available to you online, or in the convenience of your own home. Kurt is an ISSA-Certified Fitness Trainer, an ISSA-Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning, and a Certified Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor. He can be reached via his website: www.IntegratedConditioning.com