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whole body workout vs part-specific days?

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  • whole body workout vs part-specific days?

    So, for a while I was doing whole body workouts, primarily bodyweight and weighted bodyweight exercises (e.g., weighted dips and pushups). I've had a few sessions with a trainer to work on my squat and deadlifts, and he's pushing me into a three day a week routine (chest/arms/shoulders, legs, back). So on my back day, I'm doing deadlifts, pullups, rows and the like. Legs are squats, good mornings and some isolation exercises (I may be ditching those, not pleased with sitting on the leg extension machine!) and chest days are weighted dips, chinups, and some chest, biceps and triceps work.

    My goal is two-fold: Get stronger and add muscle mass. I'm 5'11", 182 or so, and nearly 40. I'm not really interested in doing a Starting Strength routine, since my body needs more time to recover, but am I better off doing three days a week with just a little overlap on the body parts, or two days a week whole body (can't do three days a week, I wouldn't be able to move). Thoughts? Thanks.

  • #2
    id go with 2 days a week full body barbell lifts. you build muscle while you sleep so the recovery is very important. you can do SS with just 2 days a week. the body builder split usually doesnt give you adequate rest, lift heavy twice a week and just get some play time in on rest days.
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    • #3
      +1 to above.

      I'll be 38 in May, am 5'11" and hover about 175-180.

      I've been doing a modified StrongLifts 5x5 program for a while now with good progress. I started out doing 3x per week on the recommended exercises but as I got up higher in weight (~1.2-1.3 BW squat) I stopped doing squats every workout and went to 2x per week with a HIIT, intense play (mountain biking or trail running mostly) or a sprint workout in place of the third.

      I recently went back to 3x per week but still only do the squats on the "A" day and lead with deadlifts on the "B" day. I've also gone to 3x5 on squats and OHP so the volume is decreased a bit and recovery is good. 1st time buyer $5 discount code: GIS836


      • #4
        I'm not merely talking about 2 vs 3 days. The two days would hit the same bodyparts (full body). The 3 days work different bodyparts, with some overlap on 2 of the days, not all three. Basically, I'd be doing the big three (squats, deads, bench (but modified to be weighted pushups or dips)) on three different days, with some minor overlap between the exercises on one of the other days, but not both of the other days.


        • #5
          I dont know it feels like a 3 split is just an excuse to not work the legs enough. People don't like squatting. Other than that, with the chosen exercises there is a bunch of overlap anyways: Pullups and rows are going to work your arms, proper deadlifts are going to work your legs, glutes, hips, good mornings are a back exercise not a leg exercise... The split is very artificial. Upper/lower body split (legs and lower back / chest, arms, middle and upper back) has less overlap and I quite liked doing it myself, but the olympic lifts don't really fit in if you are so inclined.


          • #6
            Actually, I like squatting quite a bit.


            • #7
              Life doesn't require us to split our bodyparts up so why follow that in your training?
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
                Life doesn't require us to split our bodyparts up so why follow that in your training?


                • #9
                  I'm going to be the voice of dissent and say there is nothing wrong with a 3 day split. I've worked out both ways, and both are effective. If you've been doing a whole body schedule, changing up to a split may shock your body back into progress if you've been stalling. I'm getting ready to shift into a 3 day split myself after doing full body workouts for about a year now, then when I feel the time is right, I'll shift back.

                  If you are fit, your age really shouldn't matter too much. I'm 45, workout 7 days a week, sometimes more than once a day. Just be smart and don't hit the same exercises over and over again during the week, and you'll be fine.
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                  • #10
                    I tend to do a 3 day split. Push/Pull/and lower body.


                    • #11
                      Have you tried something like:

                      Monday - Squat, Bench, Deads, Overhead press (3x5)
                      Wednesday - Hill Sprints (10x100meters)
                      Friday - Power clean and press, weighted dips, weighted pullups (3x5)

                      I think that would build a beast.


                      • #12
                        I do a hybrid variation (currently...about every 6 weeks or so I change my pattern)

                        I aim for 3 days a week because life usually turns it into 2 so lets just say 3 rotating workouts that I do somewhere in the span of 7-10 days

                        Day 1 is full body with a push emphasis. So I pick a push exercise (let's say pushups) I do a superset as follows:
                        Next push exercise I do the same thing (push/pull/push/leg/rest)

                        So at the end of the workout I have usually done 4exercises x 3 sets of push exercises interspersed with 4 x1 sets of random pull exercises and random leg exercises. The pulls and legs are totally random. Sometimes I'll do 4 of the same, usually I'll do 2-3 different ones depending on what is nearest where I am in the gym.

                        The next workout is leg emphasis. (leg/push/leg/pull/leg/rest)
                        The next workout is pull emphasis

                        I put my hardest effort onto the emphasis. I find that this light full body seems to help warmup/recover the muscles better. Or at least it is more fun.

                        And of course some exercises are more multigroup than single group. I just assign them a category based on what they stress the most for ME and put them early in the workout. i.e. for me walking lunge carrying a medicine ball over my head is legs.
                        Last edited by runnergal; 04-07-2011, 10:14 AM.
                        MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Coach Palfrey
                          Life doesn't require us to split our bodyparts up so why follow that in your training?
                          Originally posted by primalclubber

                          Your body is ONE unit - treat it as one.
                          Last edited by Bissen; 04-07-2011, 11:44 AM.


                          • #14
                            How about something like this, then:

                            Day 1: Squat, bench, Deadlift
                            Day 2: Dips, pullups/chinups
                            Day 3: Squat, Military press, barbell rows, Good mornings.

                            Part of it is I can't get to the gym three days a week, and I can do day 2 at home. So, two days of mostly full body, and one day upper body. Even Rippetoe doesn't want you deadlifting every time.


                            • #15
                              Day 2: Pistol squats, dips, chinups.