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Is Full Body Training Superior to Splits ?

Well, according to sports scientist Brad Schoenfeld there is no significant difference over short periods of time, but there is a difference.

Whether they work out with full body workouts or use split schedules, bodybuilders make progress – but the progress they are making with full body workouts is probably just a bit better. This was the purpose of an investigation that the American sports scientist Brad Schoenfeld published not long ago in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. ()

The Study

Schoenfeld, who was affiliated with Cuny-Lehman College in New York, experimented with 20 male students, all of which were doing weight training for several years and had good experience with weightlifting. The experiment lasted for 8 weeks.

Schoenfeld divided his subjects into 2 groups. One group trained 3 days a week according to the split schedule that you see below, the other did a full body workout.

Split

Day 1
Bench press – 3 sets
Incline press – 3 sets
Hammer chest press – 3 sets
Lat pulldown (wide grip) – 3 sets
Lat pulldown (narrow grip) – 3 sets
Seated row – 3 sets

Day 2
Squat – 3 sets
Leg press – 3 sets
Leg extension – 3 sets
Stiff-leg deadlift – 3 sets
Hamstrings curl – 3 sets
Good morning – 3 sets

Day 3
Shoulder press – 2 sets
Hammer shoulder press – 2 sets
Upright row – 2 sets
Hammer curl – 2 sets
Barbell curl – 2 sets
Preacher curl – 2 sets
Cable pushdown – 2 sets
Skull crusher – 2 sets
Dumbbell overhead extension – 2 sets

 

Full body

Day 1

Squat 3 sets
Stiff-leg deadlift – 3 sets
Bench press – 3 sets
Lat pulldown (wide grip) – 3 sets
Shoulder press – 2 sets
Hammer curl – 2 sets
Cable pushdown – 2 sets

Day 2

Leg press – 3 sets
Hamstrings curl – 3 sets
Incline press – 3 sets
Lat pulldown (close grip) – 3 sets
Hammer shoulder press – 2 sets
Barbell curl – 2 sets
Skull crusher – 2 sets

Day 3

Leg extension – 3 sets
Good morning – 3 sets
Hammer chest press – 3 sets
Seated row – 3 sets
Upright row – 2 sets
Preacher curl – 2 sets
Dumbbell overhead extension – 2 sets

You got to note that the loads, the rest periods and the training volume in both groups were the same in both types of workouts.

Results

When the 8 weeks were up, the students in both groups had gained a little bit of muscle and strength. Almost always, the progression was a bit better in the full body group, but the differences were not statistically significant. Except the increase in muscle mass of forearm flexors – which was significantly greater in the full body group than in the group split.

Figure_2_Elbow_Extensor_Thickness Figure_3_VL_Thickness Figure_4_Bench_Strength Figure_5_Squat_Strength


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