2000-09-02 / Columnists

Fitness Forum

By Shaun Ruskin
Dear Shaun,
What’s the difference between a full body weight lifting routine, and a split routine? Which one should I do?

First allow me to explain the difference between the full body workout and the split routine workout. I will then proceed to vaguely answer your second question by advising you on which routine is better, basically working my way around the question without actually answering it. It’s quite fascinating. Now, even though I am joking, it is very much known to all of us, that there is a bit of truth in every joke told. You’ll see what I mean as you read further. So make sure you do so, okay?

A full body weight lifting routine is when you train all of your major muscles in one day. Generally, the major muscles we concentrate on are our chest, triceps, back, biceps, shoulders, legs, and abs. Of course, those aren’t the technical terms for each muscle, but for your purposes, technicalities aren’t so important.

Next is the split routine workout, which is a little different. Its when you work some of your muscles on one day, and some (or the rest) of your muscles on another day. For example, I can work chest, triceps, & shoulders on Monday, and back, biceps, legs, and abs on Tuesday or Wednesday or any other day. There are countless combinations of split routine workouts that you can form yourself, by simply switching the muscles around.

Now, here comes the shady part. Neither a full body workout nor a split routine workout is better. It has to do with which is more suitable (better) for you, and that depends on various factors. One of which, is the number of times a week that you’re planning on training. If you’re only going to the gym once a week, then you’re better off doing the full body workout, so you hit every muscle at least once in the week. If you’re planning on working out three, four, five, or (for the select few of us who are insanely compulsive) even six times a week, better to try a split routine, hitting only a few muscles each time you workout.

So that’s just one factor. Another important factor is how hard you want to work each muscle. For body building purposes, a split routine is more beneficial because you get to really spend time and concentrate on one or two muscles each time you train, doing various exercises for them. For simply toning and light weight lifting purposes, a full body workout would probably be more useful, doing only a couple exercises for each muscle.

So once again Pat, I wasn’t able to answer the question by stating " This one is better than that one ". The truth is that there really aren’t any set rules in weight lifting, which is why my answers sometimes sound so shady, when in fact all I can ever offer is complete and utter honesty. As long as you’re using proper form and giving each muscle at least one day to rest, then everything else depends on the factors I spoke about above, or in plain English, you.

You can always try both. Do the split routine for a month, and then switch to the full body, see which one you prefer. It makes things more interesting. Whichever makes you feel better, and of course look better, go with it, take your time and enjoy it, good luck and I’ll see you at the gym.



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