For years there has been a debate in the fitness industry about whether training splits or full body workouts are best. It is a common train of thought that for bodybuilding training splits are ideal while for sport performance full body workouts may be better. However, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which was carried out by Brad Schoenfeld, there is significant difference in muscle gain over short periods of time, but that there is a difference.

When it comes to bodybuilders, whether the individual works out using training splits or full body workouts, they do make progress, however, the progress made with full body splits may be just a little bit better.

THE STUDY: FULL BODY VS TRAINING SPLITS

The study saw 20 male students, who had already been weight training for several years; perform either a 3 day training split or a full body workout for a period of 8 weeks. The workouts were as follows:



FULL BODY WORKOUT


Day 1


Exercise
Sets
Squats
3
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
3
Bench Press
3
Lat Pulldown
3
Shoulder Press
2
Hammer Curl
2
Cable Pushdown
2

Day 2


Exercise
Sets
Leg Press
3
Hamstring Curl
3
Incline Press
3
Lat Pulldown
3
Hammer Shoulder Press
2
Barbell Curl
2
Skull Crusher
2






Day 3


Exercise
Sets
Leg Extension
3
Good Morning
3
Hammer Chest Press
3
Seated Row
3
Upright Row
2
Preacher Curl
2
Dumbbell Overhead Extension
2


SPLIT WORKOUT



DAY 1 – CHEST & BACK


Exercise
Sets
Bench Press
3
Incline Press
3
Hammer Chest Press
3
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
3
Close-grip Lat Pulldown
3
Seated Row
3


DAY 2 – LEGS


Exercise
Sets
Squats
3
Leg Press
3
Leg Extension
3
Stiff-Legged Deadlift
3
Hamstring Curl
3
Good Mornings
3


DAY 3 – SHOULDERS, BI’S & TRI’S


Exercise
Sets
Shoulder Press
3
Hammer Shoulder Press
3
Upright row
3
Hammer Curl
3
Barbell Curl
3
Preacher Curl
3
Cable Pushdown
3
Skull Crusher
3
Dumbbell Overhead Extension
3

While the workouts differed between the two groups, the participants stuck to the same loads, rest periods and training volume.



THE RESULTS: FULL BODY VS TRAINING SPLITS


After the 8 weeks of either split training or full body workouts, each group managed to gain a small amount of muscle mass and strength. What was interesting is that in almost all participants, the individuals who performed the full body workout gained slightly more muscle, however, the differences were not statistically significant (except for in the forearm flexors of the full body group).


THE CONCLUSION ON TRAINING SPLITS VS FULL BODY WORKOUTS


While the evidence does show a very slight increase in muscle mass in the full body group, we need to keep in mind that this was only in a short-term study and that the results may not be continuously noted over the long term, plus, the results were relatively insignificant.

Until this type of study is performed in a long term study, I personally still prefer to perform a split body training routine as I find it takes my muscles up to 72 hours to recover properly. This means that if I was to do a full body workout, I would be training muscles which were not properly recovered as this protocol requires 48 hours between training sessions.That being said, that may not be the case for you, so my suggestion would be to experiment with various training splits and full body routines to find out what works best for you.

 



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