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Top 5 pros and cons of split training and full body workouts

With some radical new training programme being the flavour of the month is it any wonder people get confused about the best way to get results? However broadly speaking programmes fall into one of two categories.  Split training or fully body workouts. They both have their merits but if you want to know whether split training or fully body training is right for you, well that depends… First of all lets clarify what we mean by each training type.  Split Training is essentially ‘splitting’ your workouts into grouped body parts for example on one day you may train legs another day chest and back followed by shoulders and arms in your third session. Whereas a fully body workout is just that, training all of your muscle groups in each session. [caption id="attachment_3528" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Some people for example like one day dedicated to arms Some people for example like one day dedicated to arms[/caption] Let’s look at 5 Pro’s for why you might consider a split training programme

#1 Targeted development

If you want to work on a particular area you can do just that.  Split training enables you to focus on specific muscle groups you want to develop and can work that group more intensity than an overall body workout.  Just be wary of over focussing on one area and neglecting the rest.  Don’t be that guy with a ripped upper body that never trains legs...

#2 Get in and get out

Fitting your workouts into a busy schedule can be a challenge but split training can help speed up your workouts.  By being more specific your can blitz a set of muscles and be out in a much shorter time than training your whole body.

#3 Spread the pain

By splitting your workouts into groups you can potentially train more often as you never train the same groups twice in a row.  If you’ve trained chest and back one day you’re effectively resting those the following session when training legs for example.  It’s a smart way to build rest and recovery into your programme.

#4 Switch it up

If you feel you need to switch things up there are many variations to work each body part split to bring variety to your training. So you never need to get bored of the same old lifts.  But you can’t beat the compound lifts as the foundation of your training.

#5 Gains!

The greater intensity and focus you can bring to your body with split training tends to be more effective (generally speaking) than full body workouts for building muscle size hence why they are the routine of choice for fitness models and bodybuilders. That’s not to say you can’t build muscle mass with full body programmes but a split routine can potentially recruit a greater number of muscle fibres and growth response per movement. But don’t write off full body workouts just yet.  [caption id="attachment_3527" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Some exercises work more than one muscle group Some exercises work more than one muscle group[/caption]   There’s a pretty compelling case for these too which is why ‘it depends’ on your goals/lifestyle.  So why would you opt for a fully body programme?

#1 More flexible training

One downside of split training is that if you miss a workout that muscle group may not get trained for another week or it knocks out your training schedule.  Whereas if you miss a total body session all of your muscle groups will get a going over the next time you train.  So if you can’t train regularly or your lifestyle doesn’t suit the focus required for split training this is a big plus in favour of a total body programme.

#2 Balance

A risk in split training is an over reliance on the muscle groups you want to work on (or avoidance of the ones you don’t. Leg day anyone?)  With a full body programme every muscle group gets targeted every time.  Which some people believe is a more natural way to train.

#3 Feel the burn

With a general overall intensity full body workouts can trump the split training routine for fat burning generating a greater metabolic response. If you have fat loss goals this may be a more suitable option for you.

#4 Great for starters

If you’re new to any kind of training Split training can be tough to generate the right intensity to offer any significant advantages.  Full body training however introduces your body to the rigours of working out with intensity.

#5 Train less often

One downside of full body workouts is the risk of overtraining as you are working your full body (the clue’s in the name) you need to build in enough rest.  The upside of this is that you don’t need to train as often as you whole body is recruited each time.  So if you can only train 2 or 3 times a week this may work for you. So which one is best?  Well that depends. What are your goals? Whichever option you choose don’t forget to get your nutrition right to meet your goals whether that’s fuelling your workout or getting enough protein to support your muscle development. Take a look at the GoNutrition Wizard to calculate your protein requirements in relation to your weight and goals.
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