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workout, Exercise

Full Body Vs Split Workouts

By Laura August 02, 2016

When it comes to working out, there's a lot of questions to consider; should I be doing cardio or strength training? How many reps should I be doing? How much rest should I be taking?

A big question we get asked by our members is how they should plan their workouts. Due to the rise in bodybuilding training techniques, more and more people are trying out split workouts as a form of training, where, as the name suggests, you split your workouts by training specific parts of your body on different days.

The 2 most common splits are 1) Upper body on one day and lower body on another 2) To split your workouts to focus on pulling movements one day (back and biceps day), pushing movements another (chest and triceps day) and legs on a third day.

If you're not part of the "split routine workout group", then chances are you probably treat all your workouts as full body workouts where you train a variety of muscle groups in one session.

But which is most beneficial? We've looked at the pros and cons of both...


Split Workouts


  • Usually used when working to increase muscle and build strength (ladies and gents alike).

  • You can create the time in your workout for isolated muscle exercises in a split routine (where you train one small muscle group at a time) which can lead to impressive aesthetic gains - welcome to the gun show.

  • As you are only training the same muscle group every few days or even once a week, you'll have plenty of time to allow muscles to recover and then improve ready for your next session (needed for building strength).

  • They are great for variety! As you are frequently training different parts of your body you're less likely to get bored of your routine.



  • You have to stay disciplined and stick to your planned workouts. There's not much room to be flexible during a split routine, as if you don't feel like training your chest and triceps one day, it could be at least another week until you plan to train them again.

  • Not too much of a biggie for a one off, but frequently missing training certain areas can lead to an imbalanced and injury prone body.

  • Split workouts can be fairly time consuming and require you to spend a lot of time in a gym.

  • Can be harder to match with friends routines as you’re not always on the same day.


Full Body Workouts


  • It's a great way for beginners to improve their form before jumping to the tough strength training and you will quickly see progress if you are quite new to it.

  • Great for endurance training, you can train more often as you don’t have as many different plans to juggle!

  • If you've only got an hour in the gym during your lunch break or before picking up the kids from school, full body workouts are a simple, stress free and effective way to get that great feeling of a good tough workout - no having to focus on complicated workouts.

  • Full body workouts tend to focus on compound, big muscle group moves such as squats, presses and rows so lots of energy burned there (great for burning fat or high intensity sessions)

  • You can spend less time in the gym as the time you do spend can be high intensity and still feel effective.

  • They are ideal for at home workouts if you can't make it to a gym - it’s easier to come up with full body home workout plans.



  • As you find yourself getting stronger and increasing the weights you use during your workout, it can be harder both mentally and physically to do a succession of big exercises like squats, deadlift and bench press without seeing your performance decrease during at least one of them - you often end up favouring one.

  • Correct rest periods are key to progress and if your current goals mean you need to rest muscle groups for 4 days between workouts then this can leave you with many days without an exercise plan.

  • If you’re looking to get bigger or gain muscle mass, then you’ll plateau if you stay on full body plans unless you are great at mastering a high intensity full body strength routine.



The Takeaway

When it comes to planning your workouts, the most important thing to remember is to train for your goals, whether that be increasing strength, burning fat or endurance, so pick the type of training that is most beneficial to you and learn about it. It's also key to find something that fits into your lifestyle, so consider that and how much time you want to spend planning and doing your workouts before you start either programme.

Also remember that one of the most important things when it comes to creating a routine that's sustainable is including variety - you should never get bored of your workouts or feel like you're just "going through the motions." Why not try a mixture of both full body training and split workouts over a longer time period? Whatever you decide make sure you have fun with it!


Written by Laura

After 3 years of excess at uni took a serious toll on my waistline and wellbeing, I found that a love for strength training, HIIT and spin classes were key to keeping me healthy and happy. I'm at the forefront of finding out and creating awesome stuff about health, fitness and happiness and when I'm not at work I love nothing more than pizza and prosecco in the sun with friends. What motivates me? Knowing that life is short...


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