Full Body Sessions or Body-part Splits?
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
If you go into a commercial gym, odds are, you will see the majority of people training body part splits. Why?
Body part splits have been popularised by fitness magazines and bodybuilders. This has led to Full body training sessions being completely overlooked.
Bodybuilders are advanced athletes with years of training under their belt. They can train multiple times per day and hit each muscle group harder than most people and can still recover for the next session. They can recover because they have a long training age, Impeccable diets and a lot of the time, use Performance enhancing drugs to speed up the recovery process.
For the general population, full body sessions are going to trump training separate body parts. Our muscles grow by creating micro trauma to the muscle cells and with appropriate fuel and rest, grow back bigger and stronger.
Muscles recover within 24-72 hours after a training session. Typical body part splits hit each muscle group once per week. This is inefficient as the muscles are ready to be trained again after two to three days.
Full body sessions hit each major muscle group multiple times per week. This increased training frequency and volume are key drivers to muscle growth and aid in fat loss.
Full body sessions ask more of our bodies as you train mainly compound lifts. This increases energy expenditure. This increase in energy expenditure can increase your cardiovascular performance and aid in fat loss.
Full body sessions are time efficient as you hit the major muscle groups with no time wasted on unnecessary movements.
Training full body every two or three days allows for improved recovery. Improved recovery leads to increased muscle growth. You don’t grow when you’re at the gym, you grow when you are out of the gym!
Training full body multiple times per week allows you to practise the main compound lifts more frequently. This will train your nervous system to work more efficiently, allowing you to lift more weight, recover faster and in turn, grow more muscle.
So how do you set up a training program to hit each muscle group multiple times per week?Instead of thinking about exercises we should think about movement patterns.
Horizontal push (bench press)
Horizontal pull (Barbell row)
Vertical push (Shoulder press)
Vertical pull (pull ups)
Knee dominant (Squat, Leg extension)
Hip dominant (Deadlift)
Sets 1-2 per body part / Reps 6-12 per set
You should focus on linear progression ( adding weight onto the bar / adding more reps over time ) to become stronger and more muscular. If you have a lagging body part that you really want to improve, add 1-2 extra sets twice per week at the end of your session.