Are whole body exercises better for bodybuilding

Full body training vs. split training
How should you train for the fastest possible progress?

Again and again we trainers come across the question: “I have been going to the gym for 9 months now and train 3 times a week after a 3-split that I found on the Internet. Still, I'm hardly making any progress, why is that? " Above all, it is due to the fact that a lot of half-knowledge is propagated and is based on training plans of advanced athletes. We want to complete this half-knowledge at this point and answer the question of which training concept is suitable for whom at which point in time.

Full-body training is probably the best choice to start with

To do this, it must first be clarified which differences arise in the load between full-body and split training. With a full-body plan, the focus is on the basic exercises (squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, rows) or their simplified preforms, which is why they are performed in every workout. This frequent repetition ensures an improved learning effect and the rapid development of a sense of movement for basic exercises. This in turn lays the foundation for long-term effective training. Isolation exercises are therefore almost completely dispensed with.
In relation to this, it is important that the target muscles are little or not at all pre-fatigued for each exercise. For this reason, usually only one main exercise (e.g. squats) and a simplified exercise (e.g. back extensions instead of deadlifts) are performed within a training cycle, so that the main exercise does not hinder the execution of another exercise. A fact that must be taken into account by good personal trainers. Ozan, personal trainer and founder of Super Saya Gym, for example, warns that a tired lower back from the deadlift will worsen squat performance and vice versa.


The volume per muscle group in a full-body workout carried out 2-3 times a week is therefore significantly lower than, for example, in a 3-part split. This also reduces the strain on the muscles, the nervous system and the passive musculoskeletal system, which adapts much more slowly anyway. Studies show that beginners could make the most progress with 3 sets per workout per muscle group and 3 workouts per week. Everything that goes beyond this, for example through isolation exercises such as biceps curls, generates additional volume and cannot be processed by the body. This in turn results in unnecessary muscle soreness and longer recovery times. So it's just plain inefficient. Assuming an average training duration of 1 hour, that makes a total training time of 3 hours per week for a training beginner. During this time, the entire body is adequately trained.


Another important point that is related to frequency is protein biosynthesis: the actual muscle building during regeneration. Protein biosynthesis in beginners (as opposed to advanced) is still at a high level days after training, which is why a frequency of 2-3 training units per week is absolutely sufficient. As Ozan from Super Saya Gym confirms, more frequent training stimuli for one and the same muscle would even be counterproductive, as the muscles (depending on intensity and volume) need 48-72 hours to regenerate.

You need less time than you think - efficiency

Last but not least, time is often the all-important factor. Two to three hours of training a week can easily be accommodated, but going to the gym 5 times a week or even more? Unless you're living in a studio, it's difficult for many people, no matter how ambitious they may be, to do. Therefore, a full-body plan makes perfect sense as long as it can be used to make progress.

Variation of a full body plan

However, if the stimulus for the muscles is no longer sufficient to make further progress, the training parameters must be tweaked. Here you are very limited with a GK plan: 4x training per week for the same muscle group prevents complete regeneration between the units in many cases. A higher volume and a higher intensity from a certain level as well. One possibility would be to work out an alternating full-body plan with different priorities on days A and B. Here, however, there is a risk that muscles that had to function as auxiliary muscles on day A (for example the lower back for squats) will not regenerate completely by training day B, although these are actually the target muscles on that day (for example back extensions ). The creation of this plan accordingly requires a certain amount of sensitivity and experience.

What's next? A split training plan!

The move to a split plan is imminent! An example of this would be an upper body-lower body or a push-pull plan (alternating push and pull exercises). The upper body is trained on day 1, the lower body on day 2, day 3 is free, days 4 and 5 are again training and days 6 and 7 are also free. In order to increase the frequency, this plan could also be trained 3 times a week. The volume per muscle group will be higher with this plan, which means that more exercises and / or sets are performed per week, which increases the stimulus on the muscles. On the one hand, this gives the opportunity to send a supra-threshold stimulus to the muscles and, on the other hand, to work more intensely on weak points. The higher volume in a split plan is mainly due to the fact that isolation exercises are built in in addition to basic exercises in order to put even more stress on a muscle. A classic example of this would be biceps curls, which do not require a beginner because the biceps are also loaded in almost every pulling exercise. For the beginner, this stimulus is enough to make the biceps grow. A more advanced athlete will not get any thicker arms just because of this, so that curl variants or the like have to be built into the training.

So how should you proceed as a beginner?

The general goal of training should be to achieve your personal goal as efficiently as possible. For this purpose, a beginner should do a full-body workout 2-3 times a week with a day break between training units. If the progress in training stagnates and it is not due to a lack of regeneration, you can and should switch to a split that allows more training volume for a muscle group.

Further questions ?

If you want to know more about the topic or if you have any questions, simply write to us via our social media channels or arrange a free consultation directly.

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This entry was posted on Athletics Docks and tagged full body training, split training, training plan, exercise selection.