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Full Body Workout Or Split Workout - Who Is The Best

Updated on February 12, 2014

A Bit Introduction

I am going to write on a never-ending debate on "what is best - Whole-Body Workout Or Split Workout." I am neither a so-called expert of the bodybuilding arena nor a bodybuilder. Very casually to express, I am a bodybuilding enthusiast who has been in search of bodybuilding truth.
This debate will be never ending as exercise science is yet to dig completely.

Old day's people used to utilize whole-body (full-body) workouts, but the development of different mass building equipments and using of split routine more by dedicated professional. They had shown awesome physique, and people were attracted gradually to split workouts following pro's routines. From that time, the debate has taken today's full shape. In the following, section I tried to reveal the truths, science, my experience and applications.

Why Does Muscle Develop By Exercise Workouts?

Muscle development or bodybuilding is nothing but an adaptive response of the body. In short, it is almost a simple case of demand and supply mechanism. Good workouts tear up muscle fibers, not a huge scar, just invisible micro-tears. This destruction process initiates a cascade of biological adaptive mechanism inside the body. Physiological mechanism to safeguard the body start repairing those fibers and make a bit stronger and thicker so that in next-day identical stimulation does not destroy the muscle further to that equivalent extent. Repetitive occurrence of this process produces visible thickening of muscle fibers, and the bodybuilder get his expected lumps and bumps.

What are Required For Muscle Development?

This is the very basic but the most complicated question. I read a lot famous bodybuilding online journals say that exercise, food and rest are most important. No doubt they are important, but I saw four factors: exercise, rest, diet and motivation are four corners of bodybuilding. Each one contributes equally to the whole process.

Another factor I should incorporate here is the stress level ( anxiety, tension, depression). Yes, physical stress ( exercise) develops muscle but overstress is counterproductive, whether it is physical or mental.

Most Neglected But A Vital Point.

Most ignored point but a vital cause of mass development inhibitor is Stress - both Physical and Mental.

Suggested Best Guide On Mass development

A comprehensive read to learn about muscle development. All points are scientifically explained.

Muscle Maximizer
A cheaper alternative of primal Stress. My favorite, young guy Kyle Leon knows his subject very well.

Stress and Bodybuilding

A neglected topic but should be one of the important factors to be considered by peoples of modern society. There are two types of stress, physical and mental. Mental stress includes anxiety, tension, hidden depression, etc.

More or less, everyone knows what is stress and exercise is a good weapon to fight against stress as it helps releasing different anabolic hormones and growth factors that help reducing physical and mental stress besides making blood circulation better. However, more surprising is that exercise itself can become a serious stress factor that hinders growth. Excessive exercise, insufficient rest, long duration workout; bad nutritions are detrimental. As they can burn down the nervous system as well as stimulate secretion of catabolic hormone like Cortisol.

Mental stresses are a bit different, all most every person of today's modern society knows better what is mental stress, which can be aggravated with anxiety. These stresses are silent killer whom we don't care or notice for. It may be because of ignorance, or we don't want to reveal that we are anxious or depressed. Exercise does help to get relieved mental stress.

Why stress is detrimental to us? In simple words stress gradually weakens our every physiological system. It destroys mental balance, physical balance. Increase production of catabolic hormones that inhibit the anabolic effect of exercise, excited nervous system leads to insufficient sleep and digestion problems and slows down total metabolic processes.

Time has come when we should seriously look into this issue, especially people who want a good physique through physical exercise. Yoga, deep-breathing, meditation should be compulsory for a bodybuilder for the better results. There are some good books on this issue about how and why stress is intimidating to bodybuilders and remain unnoticed and how to overcome this problem. For best read, I would like to suggest a book called PRIMAL STRESS by Scott Sonnon, he is an authority about body development and injury rehab. His book is a bit costly $149 but believe me; it worth every penny. Visit his site to know more about his book.

Another book that after reading I "hat's off" to the young guy is the Kyle Leon's Muscle Maximizer. It is no bullshit; the guy really knows what he is talking about. This book is cheaper to the previous and covers quite a bit of the Primal Stress. It is a good and inexpensive alternative.

If you want to take help of yoga to keep yourself free of stress and anxiety you can read a good book " Yoga for Anxiety: Meditations and Practices for Calming the Body and Mind." It is available in Amazon for $12. According to me, it is so far the best book on the subject.

Do You Know?

Stress is a silent killer. It is the most neglected factor that hinders mass development. When all factors concerned to muscle development are perfect still you can't progress to carefully analyze your lifestyle and mental condition, whether you are under mental stress.

Body Types For Better Understanding

Body Types and Workout Routine

Human body from the perspective of bodybuilding and structure have been classified in three types. These are three extreme type, in general; it is tough for a person to hold a type uniquely. Most of the time types are overlapping and incontrovertible. Inter conversion mostly be seen for Meso and Endo type. The main reasons of this type are genetics; genetics can't be changed but a carefully designed lifestyle, exercise and food can change body type; I am sure about it, and I am a living example.

1. Mesomorphic

Strong and sturdy build, thick muscle belly, wide and robust bones with broad shoulder. Wrist is quite broad with short neck length. These people have a well-built muscular structure from the very beginning of life. Percentage of white muscle fiber is high in these people. It is gifted genetics for bodybuilding and get the fast results from any exercise routine but heavy lifting works best. Mesomorph has the optimal metabolic rate. Very good examples are 100/200 meter sprinters. Example of this type bodybuilder: Dorian Yates.

Mesomorphic people can tolerate a good amount of workload; their recuperation ability is high and need short rest time between sets. Their repetition number (rep) of exercise should be low, 6-8 rep range works best that hits the fast twitch (white muscle). They are capable of heavy lifting and if done in correct fashion, they get the fastest result.

2. Endomorphic

First look at this type of structure reveals they are in born fatty. Some may look like a water-filled balloon, lol. Their structure is very similar to mesomorph, but they are very much prone to fat deposition and reducing fat is quite tough. If a sufficient fat loss is possible, they can take the structure of the mesomorph.

Exercise selection is similar to mesomorph but need a long cardio workout to burn fat. Rep range should be higher than mesomorph... 10-12 range is good enough.

3. Ectomorphic

Ectomorphs carry the worst genetics for bodybuilding with weak and lanky body structure. Feeble and lengthy bone not wide enough, narrow shoulder, lengthy limbs with long and thin muscle fibers. A good characteristic sign is long and infirm neck. Most of the muscle fibers are red (slow twitch). They have very fast metabolic rate. Growth potential is very week. It's been seen sometime this type lags in growth hormone response. A good example is Marathon runner or 50 km walking competitors. (Shhh... don't reveal to others that I am an ectomorphic person but never participated in Marathon and 50 KM walk, OMG!). Example bodybuilder: Frank Zane.

This type is the most vulnerable to get frustrated soon as they do not see more or less any result from exercise workouts. Ectomorphic require special attention, diet, and much more rest than other two types. Exercise selection should be done carefully. They need fewer sets, and rep range should be to the highest among all three types. An optimal result has been seen at 12-14 rep range.

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What To Consider Before Creating A Good Workout Routine?

There are lots of points to take under consideration before design a perfect routine. Just like a single size shoe does not fit everyone a common routine does not applicable to everyone.

First point to consider is the body type. Special care should be taken for Ectpmorphic person. Next comes the lifestyle. A person with hectic life and irregular eating habit can't get good results. Age is another factor to take into account. Next two vital points are, as I consider, food habit (Nutrition) and Recovery (rest).


I won't like to go in deep specially for food because food type and habit differ from country to county. All I would like to say to take balance food. Don't be paranoid about protein. The fact about protein is that a common person who comes to Gym to develop a physique really need much fewer amounts what vouched for so-called authority journals and magazines. 1.2- 1.5 gms / kg is sufficient to get a good result. Don't neglect fat? Fat, especially unsaturated fatty acids are very beneficial. Ectomorphs needs in larger quantity and Endo needs least amount. Fat is an essential precursor of hormone metabolism, also yield lots of calories. Take at least 3-4 liters water for better metabolism.


Recoveries that I want to discuss here are of two types.

1. Sleep - A mass builder needs sufficient sleep. Sleep repairs the wear off body. Duration varies from person to person. I would say sleep until you wake up naturally, don't use any alarm to get your wake up.

2. Rest between Workout days - To get max benefit from each workout minimum 72 hours of rest is required for small muscles, e.g, Biceps, and 7-10 days for larger muscle like Quadriceps. Still, there is no hard-and-fast rule but research showed minimum 72 hours are sufficient. Then why I am telling for 7-10 days. It is due to mostly from my experience and from a belief that muscle repair and after that requires super-compensation to make it tougher to endure similar stress without injuring requires more than 72 hours.


See the word "supplement." It requires if you don't get sufficient nutrition from your staple foods or meals, otherwise don't require this. Advance bodybuilder may need it but beginners and intermediate does not. It is ridiculous to see that guys are running behind supplements neglecting their main meal. Don't go for high protein, high caloric, creatine, glutamine, muscle booster, miracle supplements that claim to give an immediate result. All are bullshit. Don't forget what they are telling can't follow the basic physiology rules. There is no miracle. Your muscle develops very slowly (without anabolic steroids, pushed from external source), and if you are an Ectomorph, most of the time it's been seen that Ectomorphs are hard gainer, it may take years to see pronounced development.

Your Mass Development Progress has Come To A Halt?

If you read the factors above then what factor do you think is responsible for

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Mike Mentzer
Mike Mentzer

Whole Body workout Or Split Bodybuilding Workout - What One You Should Go With

The controversy arises due to biased ness and following Pro bodybuilder's routine. Most of the bodybuilding workout routines are based on old aged notion of high volume ( multiple numbers of sets and exercise) gives the best result, and high-volume workout can't be applied for full body routine.

As I mentioned muscle get larger due to adaptive response starts by damage of muscle inflicted by exercises and this response starts from neuronal stress, and muscle damages signals. Muscle heels up start by different methods, but the most productive one is exercise induced anabolic hormone secretion like Testosterone and insulin. This response (insulin is not included) is reciprocal to the intensity of exercise (effort produced during exercise) but may be counterproductive if the intensity is continued more than one hours. Then some catabolic hormones come into play and mitigate the effect of anabolic hormones... it is a survival process of the human system.

Whole-body workout if done within 45-60 minutes is much more intense and more productive to induce adaptive responses. To complete the workout within the stipulated time frame can't be high volume. Doing a high-intensity full-body workout is more strenuous, and the notion of "high-volume" workout produces a better result " has made the whole body bodybuilding workout the backbencher. Another point to mention, in general, total-body workout routine comprises the compound excises those are most exhausting and rest between workouts are much than split body workout routine.

Split routine is "High Volume" routine comprises multiple sets + multiple exercises for a single muscle. The idea behind this theory is if you do more sets and exercises for a muscle or muscle group these will activate more muscle fibers, and more growth will be followed. However, research has shown that high-volume exercise gives only 5% more muscle development. Split training is less exhaustive as just few parts of the body is engaged and mentally satisfying, conversely, not as much productive from the point that it stimulates fewer nervous systems, lesser amounts of muscles so hormone secretion is not as much.

Whole-body workout routine best suited for Ectomorphic or hard gainers ( as most of this type has the high metabolic rate, lower recuperation ability and sometime hormone resistant) and people have less time to spend in the gym. Where as split routine is better to Mesoporphs and Endomorphs.

I have read some journals on old aged Indian style exercise principal where students start the workout from their childhood, and all of their routines are based on full-body workout with compound exercises like, full squat, Indian style Don, parallel bar dips, rope climbing, chin ups followed by body massage. Irrespective of body type everyone gets a good physique quickly.

Bellow is an example of a Whole-body workout Routine :-

1. Squat - Set 3-4, rep 20 + ( If done without weight ) . Set 2-3, rep15-20 ( if done with weight). Rest between sets 3-5 minutes

2. Parallel bar dips - 3 -4 set; rep - Go up to failure.

3. Push Ups - 2 -4 Sets; rep - up to failure.

4. Supinated close Grip Chin Ups - 3-4 sets. Reps - up to failure.

Off days between workouts are 3-5 depending on recuperation, food, age, lifestyle and body type. If in the next workout, if you can do 1 or 1/2 rep more from the previous day, then it is a sign that your muscle has recuperated completely.

I am not giving a split routine example as this is the most common exercise style and found everywhere.

Indian Old Days Total Body Workout

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Body Transformation Video

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most famous bodybuilder of the world and a supporter of "High Volume" exercise routine. He was an actor of "Pumping Iron," a docu-feature film on bodybuilding, which made a huge bodybuilding craze in early 80s. Since then bodybuilding started to get its today's shape.

Full or Split body workout - Who Is The Winner?

If you take my opinion than both are the winner. All routines are successful if chosen considering the factors discussed above. The objective of this article is to show a glimpse of hope to failed people, and to my experience, ectomorphic and hard gainers are the worst victim. For them, I would like to suggest the full-body workout with sufficient rest and proper nutrition. This group should always try to keep mental tranquility and be motivated.

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