When embarking on an exercise regime, we all want to achieve maximal results in a short amount of time. Thus, it is important to evaluate the way we structure our routine in order to achieve optimal results. In regards to resistance training, there are two main approaches. On one hand, a full body routine is one which favours compound movements in order to target all major muscle groups. In contrast, split routines focus on one or two body parts per session.
The bottom line is that your training split should depend on your overall goals and preferences, time commitment to training, weight lifting experience and fitness level. In my opinion, if you are committed to weight lifting 2-4 times per week and your goal is to optimise muscle functionality as well as aesthetics, a full body training routine is highly effective. Below I have outlined three key benefits of training your body as a whole.
Training the body as a whole allows you to target each muscle group more frequently throughout the week, thereby promoting faster adaptations
Traditional split routines generally target each muscle group once per week. During the session, you perform a number of exercises on the same muscle in order to damage the fibres and promote growth. The body thenhas an entire week to rest that particular body part before it is trained again. While this style of training will signal your body to grow more muscle, full body training achieves this in a more time efficient manner by focusing on a different adaptation technique: frequency.
Full body routines enable you to hit each muscle group 3-4 times per week. Thus, compared to split routines, full body training causes your body to generate muscle at a faster rate to meet the increased training frequency.
Moreover, split routines generally begin with compound movements and finish with isolated movements as the body fatigues. In contrast, full body routines generally focus on one or two compound movements per muscle group. Therefore, a full body routine maximises time spent in the gym by focusing on movements which are more physically demanding.
Training the body as a whole promotes better muscle functionality
Our muscles are designed to work in unison to create movement. Performing compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts and pullups promote a more natural plane of movement compared to isolated exercises such as leg extensions. Such compound movements are far more transferable to everyday activities such as lifting up your child, moving a sofa or picking up heavy groceries. Furthermore, favouring muscle functionality over purely aesthetics will promote greater mobility over the lifespan.
Training the body as a whole causes greater energy expenditure per workout
Training the body as a whole helps to increase the number of kilojoules burnt per workout. This is because the overall training volume is higher, thereby causing a greater energy demand. Training volume refers to the total weight lifted per training session. Specifically, volume is measured by multiplying the number of reps performed by the weight lifted during each exercise.
Performing compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses and chin-ups produce a higher training volume compared to a split routine focusing purely on shoulders, biceps and triceps. Hence, full body workouts will yield a greater energy expenditure per workout compared to split routines due to the greater training volume per session.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to training the body as a whole. Thus, if your progress at the gym has hit a plateau, why not give total body training a go, believe me, the results will speak for themselves!
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