When you’re coming up with a general routine, you might choose a full-body workout or splits that break it up throughout the week into leg day, arm day, and so on. While you can surely see results doing both methods, personal trainer Sal Di Stefano explains in a recent episode of the Mind Pump podcast that when it comes to choosing between a full-body workout or splits, full-body is always the way to go.
Based off Di Stefano’s experience training many different people of all fitness levels over the years, most people do much better when they stick to full-body workouts, and there are a couple different reasons for that. While he says many studies have shown the effectiveness of splits, they’re not factoring in people’s behaviors in real life. During a perfect six-week study, for instance, people will stick to every workout. But in reality, people go on vacation, only make it to a portion of their weekly workouts, or often skip the body parts they’re not necessarily fans of training.
Even if you are consistent with your workout routine, you’ll still be better off with full-body training. “When you train the whole body, a lot of the muscle-building signals are localized. If you just work your biceps, most of the muscle-building signal goes to the biceps,” he says. “I believe training the whole body sends a much louder overall systemic muscle-building signal than training individual body parts on a split. I think it’s a bigger, louder, more effective signal. This is how all body builders and strength athletes train.”
People also tend to work harder when doing full-body workouts, says Di Stefano, which can help you reach your goals a lot faster than splits.
“In full-body workouts, people tend to choose more effective moves overall opposed to just a lot of pumping in splits. They squat more often, press more often, row more often—they do more of these effective exercises,” he says. “In splits, you see more cable exercises, machines, and isolation exercises. You’re going to build more muscle and more strength with those more effective [full-body] exercises.”
Di Stefano says 80 percent of the people he’s ever trained get better gains by doing two to three full-body workouts every week opposed to split workouts. You get more bang for your buck from those less frequent, harder workouts, and you’re more likely to see the results you want. So instead of trying to keep up with a loaded schedule that hits different muscle groups on different days, bust it all out at once. A stronger version of yourself is only a handful of full-body workouts away.
Hit every muscle with this 25-minute, low-impact cardio workout:
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