One of the most common questions in the workout world is “What is the best bodypart split?” Should you train upper body one day and lower body the next? Separate out your workouts into chest, shoulders, and triceps, back and biceps, then legs? Or is a different split a better idea? If you don’t mind thinking out of the box, total body training is a completely different alternative that doesn’t get talked about much, but is still worth considering.
When Should You Use Total Body Training?
Total body training is exactly what it sounds like it is – training the entire body in a single workout. Though there are many reasons you might want to take up total body training, there are three instances when it’s the virtually ideal choice:
- You’re a Beginner – Newer lifters don’t need to spend a bunch of time doing multiple different exercises per bodypart. They’re much better served narrowing their attention to just a few movements so they can ensure learning proper form. At the same time, by focusing on only a few key compound lifts, they can put more effort into getting stronger, building a solid base of muscle, and simply conditioning their body to the rigors of hard training.
- You Want to Get Stronger – If aesthetics take a back seat in importance to overall strength, full-body workouts might be a better option for you. Instead of having to allocate time, effort, and recovery to exercises that primarily target hypertrophy, you can instead just concentrate on putting more weight on the bar.
- You’re Short on Time – If time is a factor and you can only work out say once or twice per week, efficiency has to be paramount. You’d be best off doing a fewer big exercises every work out, targeting the entire body. This will get you more results for the limited time you have to put in.
Hercules Did Total Body Training
Though total body training is seldom done by those primarily focused on physique or aesthetics these days, full body workouts were actually a staple for many early bodybuilding pioneers. Bodybuilder-turned-actor Steve Reeves (known for playing Hercules on the silver screen) built his championship-winning physique by training the entire body every workout. Still considered by many to have one of the most aesthetic physiques of all time, his workouts generally consisted of one exercise per bodypart, starting at the shoulders, and working all the way down his body until he finished off with calves.
How Should You Do Full-Body Training?
The simplest way for you to do a total body workout would be to start with three compound movements to target each major area of the body: upper body “pushing”, upper body “pulling”, and lower body. Alternate exercise choices each workout in order to get more well-rounded development. Go with a bench press, barbell row, and barbell squat one workout, then overhead press, pulldown/pullup, and deadlift the next. You can then add in a couple isolation movements of your choice to target individual muscle groups for the sake of aesthetics.
Although it’s not always a popular topic, don’t discount total body training. It could not only save you a bunch of time, but even improve your results by narrowing your focus.