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Thread: Why is it so important to split your training routine?

  1. #1
    Health Nut Australian's Avatar
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    Why is it so important to split your training routine?

    Hi everyone.

    I'm on a quest for knowledge so if you could help answer my question, please do.

    I've been researching training routines and it seems that the trend is to split upper body, chest/back, and legs into three different parts of the week, thus giving each of these muscle groups one full week to recover between workouts.

    My question is this:

    Why not attend the gym only once (or twice) a week for a routine that works all muscle groups? The muscles would have the same amount of time to recover between workouts and hence have a similar growth pattern, right? Wrong. I know this is wrong but I can't properly explain why. If you have the scientific explanation/reason for splitting your training routine then please shed some light and help us all understand why this is a necessary part of the bodybuilding lifestyle.

    Kind Regards,

    John

    Melbourne, Australia.

  2. #2
    Banned Tofer's Avatar
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    Actually, a lot of people do full body routines, myself included.

    There are a lot of people out there who would argue that doing full body is more effective than a body part split, as you described. If you want scientific reasoning I'm not really the guy to talk. Check out some of the articles on t-nation.

  3. #3
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    many, many professionals will tell you that upper/lower or push/pull is the way to go. thats what i do, i love it, much better results then from a split.

  4. #4
    THUNDER THIGHS! Fuzzy's Avatar
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    yup.

    I love my total body.

    Im an athelte, Im training my body to work as a single unit.
    Being a strong teenager means nothing.

    My wrists hurt, but some people don't have wrists to be sore. My knees have tendinitis, but some people don't have legs to get tendinitis in. I seem to be going backwards with training, yet some people can't even walk let alone lift 400 pounds on a daily basis.

    Dust out the vagina, and keep on lifting.

  5. #5
    Cross trainer & DL addict mikesbytes's Avatar
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    A single full body workout would take too long. Most would find their performance dropping off as the monster session progressed.

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    Senior Member Anthony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesbytes View Post
    A single full body workout would take too long. Most would find their performance dropping off as the monster session progressed.
    3 exercises would take too long?
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  7. #7
    PoutineEh
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesbytes View Post
    A single full body workout would take too long. Most would find their performance dropping off as the monster session progressed.
    idea is instead of working a body part once a week with a lot of volume, you do a full body routine a few times a week with less volume/workout. the total volume for both methods typically is the same.

  8. #8
    Cross trainer & DL addict mikesbytes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoutineEh View Post
    idea is instead of working a body part once a week with a lot of volume, you do a full body routine a few times a week with less volume/workout. the total volume for both methods typically is the same.
    Yes, but that wasn't Aussie's question

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Why do you think a full-body workout has to be a "monster" training session?
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  10. #10
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesbytes View Post
    Yes, but that wasn't Aussie's question
    He never said he was going to do all the exercises that one would normally do in a split routine.

    His question was this:

    My question is this:

    Why not attend the gym only once (or twice) a week for a routine that works all muscle groups? The muscles would have the same amount of time to recover between workouts and hence have a similar growth pattern, right? Wrong. I know this is wrong but I can't properly explain why. If you have the scientific explanation/reason for splitting your training routine then please shed some light and help us all understand why this is a necessary part of the bodybuilding lifestyle.
    So the requirements are to work every muscle in one session. If you read Anthony's post you can see that he is suggesting it would only take a few exercises. I doubt that would take long at all.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
    3 exercises would take too long?
    i'd think they take too long, unless you do like only 2 sets of each.
    also alot of us like to do some isolation work along with compounds.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
    3 exercises would take too long?
    Anthony I would like to think I know somewhat the answer, but I will ask.
    Without asking you to come up with a full plan off the top of your head. If you shooting for bodybuilding and maximum size, complete developement of all body parts.
    Do you think this would be better than more direct work? Hope the ? makes sense.
    Ex. Day 1 Bench, chins, squats, rest 2-3 days......Day 2 Deadlifts, incline db press, cleans?
    Then do something different the next week?
    Remember, to get big, you have to get strong. The two are interconnected. Lift heavy, work hard, and size will come. Like night follows day. It works. Arnold
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  13. #13
    Senior Member bill's Avatar
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    I guess I don't understand if your doing bodybuilding. Would you get complete developement of say arms, calves, abs, rear delts? Good topic
    Remember, to get big, you have to get strong. The two are interconnected. Lift heavy, work hard, and size will come. Like night follows day. It works. Arnold
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  14. #14
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    Up to a point, size gains will correlate very highly to getting stronger in the basic barbell exercises.

    I don't think you'd even need to bother with direct bodypart work unless you're either advanced beyond a certain point or getting ready for a show.

    I doubt any of the guys splitting hairs over it in this thread fall into either category.

    Even then you can do it with full body routines. The trick is just to alter your intensity and training target across sessions...and this would likely include adding sessions, to the point of training 4-6 times a week (or even more as adaptation demands).
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  15. #15
    Senior Member bill's Avatar
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    Powerman Thats a good point, I do mostly powerlifting stuff and still think besides the gut I have more of bodybuiler build. When I do happen to decide to concentrate on biceps I see some muscle increase but it isn't dramatic, for someone who hardly does them.
    Something like calves though, I don't see being able to work them much indirectly. Unless you lucky enough that squats make them grow. Would you keep a few sets in the routine.
    Remember, to get big, you have to get strong. The two are interconnected. Lift heavy, work hard, and size will come. Like night follows day. It works. Arnold
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  16. #16
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    I can see a case to be made for giving direct work to *any* part that would need it. In the case of calves, I'd definitely see a strong case to be made for training them directly.

    It's the other stuff that gets hit redundantly....if you're doing heavy chinups and rows, the bicep and forearm muscles are getting hit. If you're doing any heavy pressing, the triceps are getting hit. The shoulders get hit from both of those. Etc etc.

    This doesn't mean you should never train those parts with isolation work. It just means that you really shouldn't stress over not having curls and pushdowns and side raises and all that crap in a "full body" routine. If you really feel you need the isolation crap, do another session devoted to it.
    Vin Diesel has a fever.. and the only prescription is more cowbell.

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  17. #17
    Health Nut Australian's Avatar
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    I started this thread in January and it's taken this long? I want my explanation! Thanks guys.

  18. #18
    Who me? Chubrock's Avatar
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    I've seen some books state that in order to MAINTAIN strength at least 2 sessions a week must be completed. Not too science oriented, but the gist of it was that anything less than two sessions and your body begins to "detrain."

    Fuck, fight, or hold the light.

  19. #19
    Cross trainer & DL addict mikesbytes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Mike,
    Why do you think a full-body workout has to be a "monster" training session?
    Say 3 exercises * 3 sets * each body part (say back, chest, legs, triceps, biceps, shoulders, wrists/hands) = lot of sets.

    However the others are saying that those who do full body workout do less exercises per body part. This been the case, its about how effective full body is, when compared to split routines.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Anthony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesbytes View Post
    Say 3 exercises * 3 sets * each body part (say back, chest, legs, triceps, biceps, shoulders, wrists/hands) = lot of sets.

    However the others are saying that those who do full body workout do less exercises per body part. This been the case, its about how effective full body is, when compared to split routines.
    Are you trying to say that a full body routine that uses less exercises overall is less effective than a body part split?
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  21. #21
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    Full body workout is most effective for me.

  22. #22
    Cross trainer & DL addict mikesbytes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
    Are you trying to say that a full body routine that uses less exercises overall is less effective than a body part split?
    Depends on what the individual wants to acheive I guess.

    Aussie is asking about only doing one (or two) full body workouts a week vs the split routine which is 3 workouts. The point being that the muscles are given a week to rest, so why split it into 3 workouts.

    I'm saying that in a full body workout, you will end up doing less sets per muscle group, due to time constraints and or fitness limitations.

    3 full body workouts vs a split over 3 workouts is a different question and I'm interested in the answer on that one.

  23. #23
    Senior Member BFGUITAR's Avatar
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    If I combine two of the days on BGB to one day I would be BEAT. The workout would also take quite a long time.

    Unless there are are specific routines for the full body?

  24. #24
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFGUITAR View Post
    Unless there are are specific routines for the full body?
    Wow you think???

    That's just crazy enough to work.
    Vin Diesel has a fever.. and the only prescription is more cowbell.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesbytes View Post
    I'm saying that in a full body workout, you will end up doing less sets per muscle group, due to time constraints and or fitness limitations.

    .
    Generally speaking you don't focus on a single muscle group when you do full body workouts (that would take far too long) For example you could do deads which hit the entire body (with the exception of chest) Squats are another exercise which hit several muscle groups at once (quads, hams, and lower back). Weighted dips work pretty much the entire upper body and OH presses are also a good upper body exercise.

    The volume would be less than a split routine of course...but why is that a bad thing? More sets does not automatically equate to more progress so doing less sets per muscle group is fine. That being the case...it's not a valid objection so why even bring it up?

    Whole body routines are (or should be) about training the body to move as a unit, not about training specific muscle groups.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 03-15-2007 at 10:08 PM.

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