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  1. #1
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Full Body Workout vs. Split Routines

    Whats up guys,

    Just thought I'd throw this in here for fun and for the sake of debate, because I'm a little bit curious also. I overheard some guy talking today in the gym that full-body, 5x5 type routines are more effective for muscle building and overall strength than doing split routines. Any truth to this? I'm curious to hear what everyone's opinions are.
    "When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

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  2. #2
    74kg Open PL softpounder's Avatar
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    I'd say full body routines are a must for beginners (people under a year of serious training) in order to build a foundation. Full body routines normally offer linear progresses and will help build muscle faster than splits (compound vs isolation - also proven fact).

    When beginners/novices/whatever you call them starts to plateau on full body workouts or feel that they are experienced/advanced enough to go to splits, they'll work on muscles that are weaker in order to fix muscle imbalance.

    Beginners are spinning their wheels by doing splits or advanced methods of training because they would've gained way more muscle by doing compound rather than isolation and would have saved way more time in doing so.

    My friend and I started training in November. Eating the same amount of calories, I've gotten stronger with Starting Strength as opposed to him going right away with PHAT. He has increased his lifts on his bench from 60lbs to 95lbs, and I went from 45lbs to 140lbs (actually 145lbs today haha).

    Anyhow, there's much more proof about this but yeah.
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  3. #3
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Okay, I definitely understand the logic behind that. I'm just curious if maybe I should take on a full body routine. Right now, I like my splits but I'm always looking for new ways to train and to make progress. My split right now is:

    Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
    Legs, Abs, Cardio
    Back, Biceps
    Off (cardio + abs)
    "When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

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  4. #4
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    Originally Posted by szappa View Post
    Okay, I definitely understand the logic behind that. I'm just curious if maybe I should take on a full body routine. Right now, I like my splits but I'm always looking for new ways to train and to make progress. My split right now is:

    Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
    Legs, Abs, Cardio
    Back, Biceps
    Off (cardio + abs)
    That split is okay too. Just make sure you do compound movements before anything else.

    Example;

    - Close Grip Bench Press (chest/tricep and some shoulder), Overhead Press (front, side, and rear delt), Dips (chest/tricep and a little bit of lats and shoulders)
    - Squats, Deadlift (Conventional/Sumo/RDL/SLDL or Rack Pulls)
    - Bent Over Rows (or Yates/Pendlay), Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups (Neutral Grip, Overhand or Underhand)

    And focus on improving those strength before anything else. Use more muscle fiber recruitment on those lifts rather than isolation movements.

    Hope it helps.
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  5. #5
    Mr. Fluff cumminslifter's Avatar
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    you must spread some reputation around before giving it to softpounder again
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by cumminslifter View Post
    you must spread some reputation around before giving it to softpounder again
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to cumminslifter again.

    Yeah, it's hard to rep others when you're the only one I'm trying to rep.
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  7. #7
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Basically, a workout for me would look like this:

    Chest
    - Flat barbell bench (or DB, I change it up)
    - Incline Bench (barbell or DB)
    - Decline Bench (barbell or DB)

    Shoulders
    - Overhead press
    - Lateral Raises
    - Front Raises
    - Shrugs

    Triceps
    - Close Grip BP
    - DB Overhead Extensions
    - Skull Crushers
    "When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by szappa View Post
    Basically, a workout for me would look like this:

    Chest
    - Flat barbell bench (or DB, I change it up)
    - Incline Bench (barbell or DB)
    - Decline Bench (barbell or DB)

    Shoulders
    - Overhead press
    - Lateral Raises
    - Front Raises
    - Shrugs

    Triceps
    - Close Grip BP
    - DB Overhead Extensions
    - Skull Crushers
    Chest day looks good. I have no complaints. Just make sure you don't load up too many sets for all those exercises. It's 3 compounds for your chest.

    I would remove Front Raises for your shoulders and replace them by Rear Delt Flies. Overhead Press already emphasizes a lot on your front deltoids. Btw, Shrugs are a Trapezius movement, not shoulders :P.

    Triceps, I'd rather replace CGBP by Close Dips to emphasize more on Triceps. You're doing 3 Bench movements already, you don't want a 4th on the same day. You're killing yourself.
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  9. #9
    Registered User steve1578's Avatar
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    I'm only a beginner, but here's what I've been doing :

    I did full body for the first few weeks, just to get everything loosened up and used to the extra work load.

    My split as of right now looks like this :

    Monday = Chest/Triceps/Shoulder
    - Dumbbell Bench Press
    - Dumbbell Shoulder press
    - Dumbell Triceps Kickback
    - Dumbbell Pull over

    Tuesday = Biceps/Back
    - Cable Biceps Curl
    - Dumbbell Row
    - Good Morning(with cable)
    - Dumbbell Biceps Curl(laying back on inclined, stretches out my biceps really well)

    Wednesday = Leg/Abs/Cardio
    Usual stuff, lots of running and machine work on the legs

    Thursday = Chest/Triceps/Shoulder ( I do about 70% of working weight if still sore. I also try to target different areas of the muscles than I did on Monday if I do isolation. This allows 72 hours of healing though for those specific muscles and usually I'm all healed up by then.)
    - Plate Loaded Chest Press
    - Dumbbell Rear Delt Flies
    - Dumbbell Triceps Extension
    - Cable Crossover ( Targets the outside of my chest pretty well)

    Friday = Biceps/Back ( Same as Thursday, 70% weight if I'm sore at all, target different muscles, do different exercises. But because I'm still young I'm usually all healed up. Helps to keep the muscles "warm" and get fresh blood to the area without tearing up the exact same muscles)

    - Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown
    - Plate Loaded Row
    - Dumbbell Hammer Curls
    - Cable Face Pull

    I usually do some cardio every day after the workout just keep blood flowing for a little. I try to mix it up with dumbbells/machine/cable as much as I can. I prefer dumbbells over everything, just feels like I'm more in control.
    I think it's a great split for a beginner at least until I start hitting my plateau on the exercises.
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  10. #10
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by softpounder View Post
    Chest day looks good. I have no complaints. Just make sure you don't load up too many sets for all those exercises. It's 3 compounds for your chest.

    I would remove Front Raises for your shoulders and replace them by Rear Delt Flies. Overhead Press already emphasizes a lot on your front deltoids. Btw, Shrugs are a Trapezius movement, not shoulders :P.

    Triceps, I'd rather replace CGBP by Close Dips to emphasize more on Triceps. You're doing 3 Bench movements already, you don't want a 4th on the same day. You're killing yourself.
    Thanks a lot for the advice. I'll definitely keep these principles in mind. And I think I'm gunna stick to this split routine a while longer before considering any sort of full body routine.
    "When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

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  11. #11
    I'll Rest When I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by szappa View Post
    I overheard some guy talking today in the gym that full-body, 5x5 type routines are more effective for muscle building and overall strength than doing split routines. Any truth to this? I'm curious to hear what everyone's opinions are.
    The majority of strength programs are full-body or at least quasi-full-body.

    Mass-type bodybuilding programs, either split or FB, should be chosen based strictly on the trainee's experience level. A noob will generally make more-timely progress training with high frequency and low volume (which is provided by any of the better FB programs).

    As he builds mass over time, he will eventually reach a point where more training volume is required in order to keep gains moving forward. Since it becomes increasingly impractical to keep adding more and more exercises to a FB program to provide the stepped-up volume, the logical thing to do is to break the body down into muscle groups, one or more on separate days, and then hit that group (or groups) with several different exercises.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by steve1578 View Post
    I'm only a beginner, but here's what I've been doing :

    I did full body for the first few weeks, just to get everything loosened up and used to the extra work load.

    My split as of right now looks like this :

    XXX

    I think it's a great split for a beginner at least until I start hitting my plateau on the exercises.

    That's a terrible split. I don't know where to start. So many people create their own program which will not fully get optimal gains during their newbie gains phase.

    Looks like a huge chest, big arms, monkey legs routine for me. Typical "going to the bar/club with the tightest t-shirt I've got and a pair of jeans to hide my legs" split for me for typical beginner wanting to rush aesthetics.
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  13. #13
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Looks like a huge chest, big arms, monkey legs routine for me. Typical "going to the bar/club with the tightest t-shirt I've got and a pair of jeans to hide my legs" split for me for typical beginner wanting to rush aesthetics.[/QUOTE]

    ^^^ lmao
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  14. #14
    Seasoned N00b szappa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    The majority of strength programs are full-body or at least quasi-full-body.

    Mass-type bodybuilding programs, either split or FB, should be chosen based strictly on the trainee's experience level. A noob will generally make more-timely progress training with high frequency and low volume (which is provided by any of the better FB programs).

    As he builds mass over time, he will eventually reach a point where more training volume is required in order to keep gains moving forward. Since it becomes increasingly impractical to keep adding more and more exercises to a FB program to provide the stepped-up volume, the logical thing to do is to break the body down into muscle groups, one or more on separate days, and then hit that group (or groups) with several different exercises.
    I definitely agree with you. I'm a big believer in the idea of quantity/week for body parts. So a 3-day split gives the muscle 36 hours or so to heal, and then you're hitting it again with another 3-4 exercises
    "When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

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  15. #15
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    Ego victum poena. Victoria per vires.

    Promoting an environment of candid feedback and tough love.

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  16. #16
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    Frequency, volume and intensity - that's your absolute basics, as far as parameters go. Mix and match wisely, if you're set on creating a homebrew program.

    Or, better yet, opt for a routine that was created by someone who knows what they're doing.

    As noted above, higher frequency tends to be key for beginners. Higher volume is feasible with the benefit of some experience. And so forth.
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  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by softpounder View Post
    That's a terrible split. I don't know where to start. So many people create their own program which will not fully get optimal gains during their newbie gains phase.

    Looks like a huge chest, big arms, monkey legs routine for me. Typical "going to the bar/club with the tightest t-shirt I've got and a pair of jeans to hide my legs" split for me for typical beginner wanting to rush aesthetics.
    Hi, thanks for your input.
    That's honestly not my goal, I'm doing cardio after workout as well. I'm doing running after each work out, mix it up with eliptical as well. Wednesday is a heavy heavy leg on top of other cardio that's keeping them active and toned. Do you think this is not enough?
    I'm really not trying to just big up top, I obviously don't want to be lopsided.
    My goal is to bulk my entire body.
    I was going to do a 3x a week full body, but my gym doesn't have loose barbells for squats, deadlifts, etc.

    What would you recommend as a beginner? I know most say a full body exercise 3x a week, but without barbells to do the classic exercises, what should I do? Any exercise I can substitute in with dumbbells?

    I apprecaite your help.
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  18. #18
    Gainz MikeKK's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by szappa View Post
    Whats up guys,

    Just thought I'd throw this in here for fun and for the sake of debate, because I'm a little bit curious also. I overheard some guy talking today in the gym that full-body, 5x5 type routines are more effective for muscle building and overall strength than doing split routines. Any truth to this? I'm curious to hear what everyone's opinions are.
    Yes its true. Its not about opinions but about the available research.
    Muscles grow when they're teared up during the workout and afterwards they regrow stronger. After the workout your protein synthesis (regeneration process) is elevated for upto 1-2 days after the workout. If you train your ass off with 15 sets for chest your muscles will still only grow for 1-2 days. Ofc this process is finite so it means that just because you do 3x more sets it doesn't mean that you will get 3x higher protein synthesis in these 3 days. Its about diminshing returns. 15 sets is better than 5 but not 3x better.
    Ofc when you hit 15 sets it means that your CNS is ****ed up so you need more than 2-3 days to recover.
    If you were to do only 3-5 sets on your FBW or 2x a week program it means that your muscle protein synthesis is pretty much continuous (4-6 days a week). It means that training muscles multiple times a week makes you grow all the time whereas hitting muscles once a week will make them grow 1-2 days a week only.
    Ofc there is some carry over from bench to OHP etc so your muscles still get some stimulation the other day so it's not technically just 1-2 days but still.

    People should train as many times a week each muscle group as possible. That means FBW, then when you stop being a beginner and can't cope with FBW intensity anymore you can step down to upper lower or push pull split training your muscles around 2x a week. Then 1x a week split.

    Ofc these are not set rules, some dudes with good genetics will be able to grow really well on 3 day split from day 1 of their training. I just gave you general trend. Try training each muscle grp as often as possible while still progressing.
    But at the end of the day its consistency and diet what matters the most.
    Getting me some gains

    Lifting log http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=152114103&p=1030762993#post1030762993
    My lifting gear part 1 (bodysolid power rack, bench, lat attachment) http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=150769633
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  19. #19
    Johnny Rotten ThickAsABrick's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by szappa View Post
    I overheard some guy talking today in the gym that full-body, 5x5 type routines are more effective for muscle building and overall strength than doing split routines. Any truth to this?
    Without context, it's a dumb blanket statement. It's commonly accepted that beginners do better with higher frequency. Those more advanced with a bodybuilding focus tend to increase volume per part and decrease frequency over time. Many evolve to a 1x/week frequency after several serious years of training, though some may still use a 1.5 to 2x/week freq. Those training primarily for strength will take a slightly different approach. One cannot train for both size and strength optimally at the same time.
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  20. #20
    Registered User TheBeastTyler's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ThickAsABrick View Post
    One cannot train for both size and strength optimally at the same time.
    Explain please. If you're gaining mass by working out intensely and eating in surplus, wouldn't you be gaining strength optimally at the same time? I'm just curious is all, I'm not doubting you.
    Feb 1, 2013 (started getting serious)/Current maxes at bw of 156-162lbs

    Bench 205x3 (went back up about two inches before touching chest)/255x5
    Squat 230x5 (half squat)/315x2 (real squat, paused)
    Deadlift 185x5/475

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  21. #21
    deapee deapee's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheBeastTyler View Post
    Explain please. If you're gaining mass by working out intensely and eating in surplus, wouldn't you be gaining strength optimally at the same time? I'm just curious is all, I'm not doubting you.
    The premise is that to optimally train for size, you are not optimally training for strength...and vice versa. That is to say that yes, size is a byproduct of strength-gain and strength-gain is also a byproduct of gaining size...but to optimally train for one or the other, you should focus on that particular goal. To maximize size, you train like a bodybuilder. To train for strength, you train like a powerlifter. Who can deadlift more, a powerlifter or Ronnie Coleman? Who can bench press more, a powerlifter or Ronnie Coleman? Now who is bigger?

    --

    I also wanted to add that a full body workout three days a week is a lot easier on certain parts of the body. If you have shoulder problems, a chest/shoulders/tri day can WRECK your shoulder to the point where you can't sleep...whereas a full body split seems to be more forgiving in that area. It is my belief that the majority of people that go to the gym would benefit more from a true full body program three days per week than any type of body part split.
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  22. #22
    Registered User TheBeastTyler's Avatar
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    What if you do both? Like I do:
    Day 1- Upper Split
    Day 2- Lower Split
    Day 3- Rest
    Day 4- Full body
    Day 5- Rest
    Repeat.
    Or should I just stick to one or the other?
    Feb 1, 2013 (started getting serious)/Current maxes at bw of 156-162lbs

    Bench 205x3 (went back up about two inches before touching chest)/255x5
    Squat 230x5 (half squat)/315x2 (real squat, paused)
    Deadlift 185x5/475

    Cutting [ ]
    Bulking [ X ]
    Workout log:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=159776261&p=1197756951#post1197756951
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  23. #23
    Mr. Fluff cumminslifter's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by softpounder View Post
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to cumminslifter again.

    Yeah, it's hard to rep others when you're the only one I'm trying to rep.
    same problem
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