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  • Split vs full body?



    The last post I was writing (about Body by Science) got me thinking about this. With strength training I found I reached a point where a full body workout 3x per week was just too much and I wasn't recovering properly, so I've switched to 1x per week and I'm progressing again.


    Many people do a split routine, where for example they'll go to the gym 3x per week but work different muscle groups each time so each muscle group is only being hit once per week.


    My question is, what's the advantage of a split routine like this over a once per week full body routine like mine? Either way, all the muscle groups are being trained once per week, so you might as well do them all in one session and save yourself a couple of trips to the gym? I'm wondering because split routines seem a lot more popular than what I'm doing.


  • #2
    1



    I prefer split routines because then I'm getting my heart rate up more than once a week (in your situation). Working all the muscle groups at once would fatigue my body to the point where I'm not operating at full capacity by the time I get to the last muscle group.


    I would also not want to wear out my whole body if I did a really hard workout. Sometimes my lower body gets really sore if I haven't done some squats and lunges for a while. I can deal with that alone, but throw some sore arms on top of that, and I wouldn't want to move much the next day.


    I'm no expert ... just my two cents.

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    • #3
      1



      gazb, I'll be watching this thread with interest, as I too have found myself tending toward overtraining lately due to overly-frequent intense/heavy full-body work.


      The problem I have with split routines is that I try to focus on compound lifts rather than "body parts." Therefore, a good heavy-lifting workout will involve my whole body whether I like it or not.


      I think part of my problem is that when I moved my workouts indoors for winter, I replaced much of my relatively light metcon work (hill sprints, escalating quarters) with more demanding work like bodyweight exercises for time. Doing too many pushups, pullups, and air squats seems to interfere with my recovery from heavy lifting.


      I'm working on modifying my schedule so that I do heavy lifting no more than every 4 days, and intense bodyweight work no more than every 4 days. On other days, I'll go back to sprints as weather permits, throw in more play and moving slowly, and see if that cures it.


      Meanwhile, I'm willing to consider splits...reluctantly...if anyone can convince me...

      Nightlife ~ Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm ~ Idaho's Primal Farm! http://inthenightlife.wordpress.com/

      Latest post: Stop Being Stupid

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      • #4
        1



        @gazb


        I did the exact opposite. I was doing the once a week to failure thing for Aug-Oct. I noticed that 7 days turned to 8 then 9 then 14. I still do full body routines(Big 5) but I stop one rep short of failure, wait 10 seconds, push out a few more reps, wait another 10 seconds, push out a few more reps. I also try for 3 times a week but usually 2 times.


        So for me it is about getting my butt into the gym consistantly. Sure it takes me 1-1.5 hours a week rather than 15 min a week but at least I am going on a regular basis.


        I was progressing at 15 min a week or two but now I am progressing faster now that I have a bit of routine.

        Don't be a paleotard...

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        • #5
          1



          I do split but I take a different approach. I split the big 5 into three. one week I do the upper row, chest press and leg press. The next week I do the lower row, shoulder press and then leg press.


          I was finding that the compound upper body was fatiguing some muscles too much because they were getting two workouts to fatigue within minutes. The second exercise would not challenge the appropriate muscles. Now I'm starting to see gains again across the board in my upper body.


          This is a once a week routine. I also do 4 x 30 second sprints on a stationary bike twice a week.

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          • #6
            1



            You may just be lifting too much too quickly... ATP takes between 3 and 10 minutes to replenish after a set of heavy lifting, so unless you want muscular endurance (repeated contraction when ATP is depleted) instead of size and strength (lifting to muscular fatigue with full ATP stores) it is best to rest for somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes in-between each set.

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            • #7
              1



              I've been doing the "Body by Science" workout since October. The hardest part of the full body workout is, of course, the full body PAIN the next day or two. I think the important part is to make sure you add the low-level cardio throughout the remainder of the week. I supplement my week with swimming and some bike sprinting.

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              • #8
                1



                I've seen a good amount of research on full body being more valuable than splits, but of course it's up to you as to what keeps you interested and progressing.


                I'd recommend Beyond Brawn by Stuart McRobert if you want to get some information on full body workouts vs. splits and the benefits and issues with each. While McRobert definitely has some detractors around his emphasis on chiropractic and trigger point therapy (areas where I do not agree with him) the rest of the book is quite good if very long. Short version is that he recommends either a once a week or so serious full body session, or a twice a week split where, as BarbeyGirl states above, you are doing major compounds so you are actually using all your muscle groups albeit not full bore each time. When I've done such splits, I get plenty of work for my shoulders and arms through my deadlifts, for example.


                An article that may be of interest from a source that I generally don't use (Men's Health):


                http://www.menshealth.com/men/fitness/muscle-building/muscle-building/article/f8fb200525cca010VgnVCM100000cfe793cd?print=true&ur l=http://www.menshealth.com/men/fitness/muscle-building/muscle-building/article/f8fb200525cca010VgnVCM100000cfe793cd


                I'm a fan of Alwyn Cosgrove who is part of the above article, his stuff is here:


                http://alwyncosgrove.com/articles/


                lots o' links, sorry about that, but worth reading up on this stuff.

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                • #9
                  1



                  I keep hearing that 'full-body is best' from trainers, but I always did split because of the consistency of going to the gym every day (cardio/ HIIT one day, then a split session of weights, alternating).


                  Personally, I am doing full-body days with light cardio, but still go to the gym every day and do light cardio with intermittent days of HIIT. I am planning on keeping this up until my muscle soreness is mostly gone and then I will do another full-body session again (ie, listen to my body, to allow for full recovery).


                  My gym is in my office building and if I leave my house at 5 AM, I save 20 - 30 minutes in my commute, (opposed to leaving at 7 AM) as well as in gas money (sitting idle in stop/ go 8 AM traffic on the freeway = YUCK!).

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                  • #10
                    1



                    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't being Primal all about full-body workouts? Or at least exercises that engage the entire body at the same time...aka natural movement.

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                    • #11
                      1



                      Well, I guess for me, I used to do squats, walking lunges, etc. for 'leg days' and then I would do the abs for the remainder (I started my exercise regime in my mid-20's from "Body For Life", he he!), then, the other days would be focused on 'upper', even if it is pull ups, push ups, etc.


                      I still do 'compound' movements (if doing a split day), which DOES involve the 'core', but the focus would still be 'above waist' vs. 'below waist' for the concentration of the movements.

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                      • #12
                        1



                        The one thing that is getting overlooked here is your kidneys and liver. These organs can only clean up so much of the "garbage" that is created by exercise.


                        Causes of fatigue is your not getting all the crap out, so your muscles are not ready to go again.


                        It may be slowing down my progress some but I consider these as my my pace setters.

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                        • #13
                          1



                          That's interesting, Vick. Can you point me to a resource to read more about organ ivolvement?

                          Nightlife ~ Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm ~ Idaho's Primal Farm! http://inthenightlife.wordpress.com/

                          Latest post: Stop Being Stupid

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                          • #14
                            1



                            @Barbeygirl


                            Page 71 of "Max Contraction Training" Little refers to a study by Dr.s John Howell, Gary Chleboun, and Robert Conaster at Ohio University.


                            "Muscle strength declined by almost 40% percent after the exercise, and recovery was only slight 10 days later: the first half-time of recovery appeared to to be as long as 5-6 weeks.


                            on page 201 " Recovery always precedes growth, and growth will not take place unless your muscles and subsystems that replenish them have completely recovered."


                            There are studies out there about chronic exercise on rats....


                            http://tinyurl.com/yfyaeh4

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