Full Body Gym Workouts vs. Split Gym Workouts

marcy diamond bench and weight set 80 Pound 1mWhat is better – full body gym workouts or split gym workouts? This is one of the most asked questions we got from the novice trainees, regardless if they are starting to workout in the commercial gym or at home. Problem is that this is the question without right or wrong answer.

We are all different, so what is good for me, doesn’t have to be good for somebody else. Both approaches have pros and cons. What is the most important is that body is made for survival, so even newbies will stop to progress, if they stick to the same workout program for longer period of time - body adapts to new workout program/routine and after 6-8 weeks changes are necessary.

Full Body Gym Workouts

During full body wokoruts, entire body is trained in a single workout session – to finish workout in 60-90 minutes, shorter rest periods are used (typical 60-90 seconds, rarely longer than 120 seconds), workout is based on compound exercises (dead lifts, squats, bench presses, pull ups and chin ups, various rows etc.). Isolation exercises are done at the end of workouts, if at all, for lagging muscles/muscle groups.

During these workouts, entire body is stressed, but no muscle group gets extra high volume or high intensity workout, so body recovers rather quickly in the case of proper nutrition and enough sleeping.

Two to three sessions per week are possible, even recommendable.

Workout sessions differ regarding exercises, sets and reps, TUT (time under tension), speed and similar. It is very important to avoid boredom and prevent the body from adapting to the workout routine.

Split Gym Workouts

During split body workouts, only limited number of muscles are trained in each workout session. This gives plenty of time for really stressing the individual muscles with desired volume and intensity.

universal decline bench 1mRecovery of individual muscle groups after such workouts takes longer, so individual muscles (or muscle groups) are trained once or twice per week, depending on the program and the personal goals.

Split gym workouts require at least 3 to 4 gym sessions per week – sometimes even 2-3 sessions per DAY, if specialized programs are used for some athletic/sport event.

In the case of some weak body part, for example biceps or abs, that body part can be done as isolation at the beginning of the workout or one entire day can be assigned to it.


Which one is better – full body and split gym workouts are two totally different approaches and comparing them is like comparing apples and pears, to say the least :)

For example, if you are on a strict diet and you don’t have much time for working out, full body workouts are better option. But, if you do have time and/or you are preparing for some specific athletic event, then split gym workouts are much better solution for you.

Personally – being married, with kids, daily job etc. gives me little free time, so full body workouts are preferred choice for me. For example - it is easier for me to train twice per week for 90 minutes, than three times per week for 60 minutes.

At home, I have jumping rope, adjustable dumbbells and pull-up bar, so when I get 15-20 minutes free, I do short, but quick and energetic workout before evening shower. Maybe it doesn't sound much, but try to do circuit workout consisting of pull-ups, squats, push-ups, various crunches, burpees and similar exercises for 8-10 minutes, practically without resting. I don't know about you, but it is enough for me :)

Also, in the gym, every few months, I switch to split gym workout for few weeks, just to ‘reset’ my mind and my body.

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