“There is never an absolute answer to everything, except of course that you have to do your squats”
Mark Rippetoe -an American strength training coach and author.
To achieve our health and fitness goals we have to balance training, recovery, nutrition and supplementation with everything else we have in our lives. That is why we are going to look into the best training method for you to use to achieve your goals of fat loss, strength and some muscle development too, whilst also being easy to use, productive and time-efficient.
The ‘full body’ training split is simply a way of planning your training to hit the whole of the body, which is simple enough to understand, but now we will look into why it is a great way of training and explain it in further detail.
What is a Training Split?
A training split is simply how you structure your training sessions, so the ‘full body’ training split is simply a way of planning your training so it hits the whole of the body (all major muscle groups). One of the first things people ask is how to plan their training so that they hit all muscle groups with a balance over their 1, 2 or 3 training sessions per week.
The training split is also determined by training status (how advanced you are), how often you can train (frequency) and how much you are training (volume). You can also consider how well you recover, but the full-body split covers all these variables very well.
Why is the Full Body Split Great for Beginners?
Managing Training with Life:
The majority of people who want to lose fat and build some muscle will have to manage those goals along with daily life, work, family and so on, therefore you need to be realistic with how much time you spend in the gym. Almost everyone can train at least 1 or 2 times per week, and many can make 3 sessions per week which is a great frequency. Full body training can be done 1-3 times per week, it is this flexibility which allows you to tailor training to your daily life or weekly schedule.
Got a busy week? Just get 1 or 2 sessions in. Got a less busy week? Try to get 2-3 sessions in!
Mastering the Basics:
The full body split covers the major muscle groups and main basic exercises which is just what a new lifter or novice needs. If you are starting or still new to training, then you need to build the foundation and get your body used to lift the weight by training the most important exercises frequently and with moderate intensity and volume. This means you can practice and learn fundamental exercises and also provide a good stimulus to the muscle(s) to adapt.
Practising the basics multiple times per week will help you learn and improve quickly, we are not all experience lifters and therefore practising lifting form is a key part of the process.
With the full-body split, you typically train the same exercises and movements in each session, this way you can see consistent progress with the exercises in that session due to frequent practice. If you were to do a different session every time you wouldn’t know if you are adapting and getting better or improving.
As mentioned we aim for 1-3 sessions per week depending on your lifestyle and job, but make sure that you don’t train on consecutive days, this allows you to rest and recover, of which the importance is covered in this article.
Now for what the training session itself looks like. Firstly, we need to maximise the return on investment and time efficiency of the session, so we only perform exercises which are going to tick those 2 boxes. The best exercises for this are ones which use large muscle groups, involve more than one joint action (termed ‘compound’ lifts) and move the most weight, then we also make sure that this is evenly distributed across the body so we are not ignoring any muscles.
Looking at the sample program below we see that the lower body is covered in the first half of the session with 2 great exercises, this is then followed by 3 exercises for the upper body. Also, note how we use an exercise to cover both the anterior and posterior sides of the upper and lower body, this massively contributes to balance.
You’ll notice there is no cardiovascular work in this program, this is because in the gym we want to maximise the use of weights which have the greatest effect on strength, body composition and more! Any cardiovascular work could be done at another time, but when we have access to weights we are going to get everything from them.
Give this article a read here to understand more about the specifics of weight training programs and the benefits.
A. Back Squat, Barbell, Heels Elevated, 5 sets, 10-12 reps, 4:0:1:0 tempo, 120s rest
B. 45% Back Extension, DB Held Against Chest, 3 sets, 10-12 reps, 2:0:1:2 tempo, 120s rest
C1. Behind the Neck Press, Seated, Barbell, 5 sets, 6-8 reps, 4:0:1:0 tempo, 90s rest
C2. Chin-up**, Neutral Grip, 5 sets, 1-3 reps, 4:0:1:0 tempo, 90s restD. Seated-Row-to-Neck, Thumbs Up Grip, 3 sets, 10-12 reps, 3:0:1:2 tempo, 100s
** Perform Lat Pulldowns with a neutral grip if you cannot perform a chin-up. 5 sets, 10-12 reps, 3:0:1:0 tempo, 90s rest
A 2-day training split could be: Train on Tuesday/Thursday
A 3-day training split would look like: Train on Monday/Wednesday/Friday
As we advance in training we can increase the time we spend on certain body parts or specific exercises, and this makes sense because we will have built a foundation first. This means a progression from the full-body split would be ‘upper/lower’ for example, and this will be covered in a later article.
Though for now, get started on the full-body training, improve with increasing the weight on the bar or by adding a rep and of course keeping a log of your weights and reps completed.
If you need further advice or programming then get in touch.
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