It’s amazing how more focused and intense my workouts are when I have a plan. Too many people go to the gym and just bounce from one exercise to the other without any real strategy behind their actions.
Have you heard the saying, “Those that fail to plan, plan to fail.”? Well that applies to working out as well.
So now that I’ve convinced you to get workout plan (or have a customized plan designed for you by a certified personal trainer…hint hint), the question is…should each workout target full body or 1-2 muscle groups (usually called a split routine)?
As with all things fitness related, this topic is often debated.
Here are a few things to think about when deciding which approach is best for you:
Beginner Fitness Level: if you’re just starting out, you should ease yourself into your new found passion by working out 3 times per week. Lifting weights will put a new stimulus on your muscles and nervous system that you’re not previously used too. Therefore it is imperative to give you body sufficient recovery time. Since you’ll only be working out 3 times per week, hitting a full body routine makes good sense to ensure you hit all the major muscle groups with enough volume and frequency to begin seeing results.
Time: if you can only make it to the gym 2-3 times per week, a full body routine is a great option to ensure you hit all the muscles with enough volume and frequency (similar to the beginner mentioned above).
Goal Is To Increase Cardiovascular Health: if this is your goal, you’ll be spending more of your sessions in the cardio room. On your off cardio days, you can fit in a good full body routine.
Goal Is To Lose Fat: working your full body can help burn more calories since the more muscles you recruit to lift the weight the more calories you can burn.
Looking to Target Muscle Growth: Most intermediate and advanced individuals train with higher volume per muscle group to help stimulate more muscle growth. This just makes sense since you’re overloading the specific muscle with more volume (exercise/sets).
Train More Frequently Without Overtraining: people that go to the gym 4 or more times per week tend to prefer split body part training because they can continue to train other body parts and still allow previously trained muscles the necessary 48 hour recovery window.
So if you’re looking for a generic answer I can’t help you. It really depends on your specific situation, goals, and preferences. That’s why having a customized workout plan is so important. Find or design a program that suits you.
Yes, I really did just refer to myself in 3rd person. I tend to prefer the split training approach. This allows me to train one muscle group per day and train it with a lot of intensity and volume. Since I train one muscle per day it allows my other muscles sufficient recovery time. There are times I super set bigger muscles groups with complimentary smaller muscle groups (i.e. chest/triceps or back/biceps), but for my goals and preferences, I prefer one muscle group per day.
Day 1: Chest (push)
Day 2: Back (pull)
Day 3: Arms
Day 4: Shoulders
Day 5: Legs