When it comes to bodybuilding, there are 2 main styles of training: full body and split.
Full body training means you target all of your major muscles groups every single workout. Split training means you only target 1 or 2 muscle groups per workout. For example:
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In this article, I’ll explain 3 reasons why full body training is superior to split training for building mass and getting stronger.
#1: Elevated Muscle Protein Synthesis
Studies show that when you lift weights your rates of muscle protein synthesis are raised for about 36 hours. This is what leads to muscle growth and increased strength.
In other words, your body is building muscle for 36 hours after each time you hit the gym.
When you do a full body routine you’re raising these rates of muscle protein synthesis for your entire body 3 times per week. When you do a split routine, you’re only raising the rates of muscle protein synthesis for each muscle group once or twice per week. Simple math tells us that 3 is greater than 1 (or 2).
More frequent spikes in muscle protein synthesis will lead to quicker growth and development.
#2: More Quality Reps per Week
There’s one major point of contention every proponent of a split routine will make in response to my above argument. This is that with a split routine, even though you only hit the chest once per week, when you hit it, you hit it hard.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to equal spikes in muscle protein synthesis over the course of a week. For example, you might only be targeting your chest with five sets of bench press in a full body workout. On a chest day in a split you would do those five sets of bench press and then follow it up with multiple sets of incline bench press, chest flies, and push-ups – a lot more volume than the five sets of bench press you would’ve done using a full body routine.
The problem with this argument is that after five sets of heavy bench press, your chest is already quite fatigued. You won’t be able to bring the same intensity to subsequent chest exercises.
In a full body routine, you get the five intense sets of bench press, and then switch body parts and do something like heavy rows using your back (that’s still fresh). In a split, you switch to incline bench, but can only do a percentage of your true capability, because your chest is already beat up from the flat bench press you started with.
The result is that you get significantly diminishing marginal returns. You extract far less value out of each subsequent exercise. This problem is side stepped with a full body routine, where you get the intense, bang-for-your-buck reps and then rest so you can get another dose of them a couple of days later, rather than having to wait a full week.
#3: More Passion and Intensity
The last reason that full body training routines are superior is a mental one.
Because you’re only lifting weights three times per week, your enthusiasm will be higher each time you’re at the gym. This will translate to more intensity… and this will ultimately lead you to pushing yourself harder and making more gains.
Also, because you’re constantly switching between muscle groups, you’re more likely to stay acutely focused on the exercise at hand.
Conclusion: Full Body Training is Superior
The benefits of using a full body routine should be obvious to you at this point.
If not, consider this: all professional bodybuilders before the 60s or 70s used full body routines to build their impressive physiques. This includes guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Reeves, Reg Park, and Leroy Colbert.
And while it’s true that today’s bodybuilders are bigger than they were back in the day, you must realize that the amount and variety of steroids used today is exponentially higher than ever before. This is the reason for the bigger physiques, not because some of them have switched to split routines.