Whole-Body for the Goal-Body?
Full-body workouts are glorious!
Don’t get me wrong, while I often talk about the importance of a properly planned training split, that doesn't mean you should completely turn your nose up at a workout training all of your muscles.
Full-body workouts, also known as “whole body training”, are focused around doing exactly what their name states: training the whole, full body (as opposed to a training split which trains muscles separately).
And, while sometimes less is more, sometimes more is more!
What on Earth do I mean by that?
I mean that while training less muscles in one workout is a marvelous way to build strength since you can lift more volume, sometimes training more muscles can be exactly what you need!
How “more is more”...
One of the biggest draws towards whole body training is, again, in the name. Being able to knock out multiple body parts in just one workout is certainly appealing, and it definitely has its benefits.
To start, more muscle groups hit in one workout means less time commitment. Often times, time is of the essence, especially when “life” happens and plans have to change. That may mean a workout has to get cut short or cut completely.
Not to fear, full-body workout is here!
If the time comes where you can’t fully commit to a 4-5 day upper/lower body training split, a full-body workout can be subbed in 1-2x a week instead to still hit on those necessary muscles in a much shorter time frame (think about it, one workout alone can work all the muscle groups you’d be trying to work in about 4-5 separate workouts).
This extra time allowance is ideal for working around hectic schedules or for taking on other activities without sacrificing your strength training!
As well, if you’re short on time and want to get the best bang for your buck, a full-body workout is your answer. With more compound movements and various muscle groups working together, you’re inclined to use more energy than that of a single-joint, split workout.
Full body workout = more muscles worked, more muscles worked = more muscle mass being taxed per workout, more muscle mass being taxed per workout = higher energy expenditure, higher energy expenditure = more calories burned/more bang for your buck!
Another attractive aspect of total body training is the frequency in which it brings. Frequency is a big deal! The more frequently you are stimulating a muscle, the more it will grow (assuming you’re allowing adequate rest and working the muscle in a variety of ways through reps ranges, number of sets, types of exercises, etc…).
By using whole body training, you can expect to hit each major muscle group a few times a week. Incorporate it in with a weekly upper/lower body training split, and now you’re looking at every muscle group being worked 3-4x/week! Talk about muscle stimulation!
And speaking of max-muscle-stimulation, working a large amount of muscle mass in one session has been shown to yield an increase in anabolic hormones while decreasing catabolic hormones. More specifically, testosterone and cortisol.
When it comes to gaining lean muscle mass, testosterone plays a large role. The higher the level of testosterone you have in your body, the faster you’re going to build muscle tissue. How do you get those T-levels higher? By working your existing muscle fibers.
Doing a workout that trains multiple muscle groups trains multiple muscle fibers. The more muscle fibers worked, the greater the release of testosterone (aka more of that muscle-building-hormone flowing through you). As a result, catabolic hormones (mainly cortisol) are decreased and you become more anabolic (meaning susceptible to muscle growth).
When performed correctly, full-body workouts can keep this ratio of testosterone:cortisol in an ideal spot for muscle growth.
However, testosterone is just part of the magical equation for lean muscle mass. The other key elements? Rest and recovery. Once again, full-body workouts to the rescue!
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, then you know muscles need to be rested if they’re expected to grow and progress. While I’ve already touched on how to accomplish this with a typical training split, did you know it’s even easier to get your rest if you’re sticking strictly to whole body training?
Think back to that first point: time. With less days needed to dedicate to strength training (because you’re knocking out more muscles in less time), you have more room for rest and/or active recovery days.
Like I said, full-body workouts are glorious!
...but, does that mean ditch isolation and split training for all-out whole body training? Not exactly.
Remember, while sometimes more is more, the true saying -"LESS is more"- came about for a reason.
Yes, there are plenty of marvelous benefits to training more muscles with full-body workouts, but there are also numerous positives to working LESS muscles with split training!
And, keep in mind-- with every positive comes a negative (though, in this case it isn’t a direct 1:1 correlation…). With all the great aspects of whole body training, there can be downsides-- and the same goes with split training.
So, “if you had to choose one…”
...YOU DON’T! You are free to incorporate as many different styles of training as your little heart desires! Don’t limit yourself to just one!
My suggestion and final notes on the topic:
Whole body training is magnificent. It has great benefits and can be incredibly useful in a variety of situations and for a variety of goals.
Split training is fabulous. It has great benefits and can be incredibly useful in a variety of situations and for a variety of goals.
Get the best of BOTH worlds! Program your training to make use of isolation workouts AND full-body workouts!
Variety is the spice of life, my friends.
**Want a program that can do this in an effective way which allows you to reap all the benefits without any of the negatives? Email me, and I’ll start writing a personalized plan just for you!**
**Want a whole body training ONLY program which allows you to reap all the benefits without any of the negatives? Yep, I can help with that, too!**
**Want JUST a split training program which allows you to reap all the benefits without any of the negatives? Consider it done. Send me an email.**
Head here and here for some full-body workouts! As well, follow me on social media for both whole body and split training workout videos!