Shifting from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one goes a long way in providing some very important health benefits. Strength training, a specific type of exercise, builds muscle, increases bone density and speeds up metabolism. There are two main types of strength training workouts, each with its own benefits: full body and split routines.
Full Body Routine
A full body routine targets every major muscle group in a single session. These routines require less gym time in terms of days per week and time per session. These routines are good for beginners and those looking to lose weight.
A full body routine is hard. When first starting out this routine, do not attempt more than two full body sessions per week. Once you begin to gain strength, move up to three sessions per week. Do not use a full body routine more than 3-4 times per week.
Start with 1-2 exercises per muscle, 2 sets per exercise and 6-12 repetitions per set for the first 3-4 weeks. Once you gain strength, move up to 2-3 exercises per muscle and 2-3 sets per exercise. Here is a sample full body routine for beginners:
- 1st exercise: squats
- 2nd exercise: bench press
- 3rd exercise: deadlifts
- 4th exercise: bent over bar rows
- 5th exercise: shoulder press
- 6th exercise: tricep pushdown
- 7th exercise: bicep curl
- 8th exercise: sit ups
- 9th exercise: calf extensions
- For more exercises and proper form demonstrations, visit the ExRx Exercise and Muscle Directory.
A split routine focuses on 1-2 muscle groups per session, hitting the entire body over the course of about a week. A split routine generally requires more gym time than a full body routine in terms of both days per week and time per session. This routine is best suited for more advanced gym goers who are trying to gain muscle mass.
Start with 2-3 exercises per muscle group, 2-3 sets per exercise and 6-12 repetitions per set. After 3-4 weeks, move up to 3-4 exercises per muscle group, 3-4 sets per exercise and 6-12 repetitions per set. Here are two sample split routines (click on the muscle for a list of exercises).
- day 1: chest and triceps
- day 2: rest day
- day 3: legs
- day 4: rest day
- day 5: back and biceps
- day 6: shoulders and abs
- day 7: rest day
- day 1: chest
- day 2: legs
- day 3: rest day
- day 4: back
- day 5: shoulders and abs
- day 6: arms – biceps and triceps
- day 7: rest day
Which one works better?
Both workout routines produce results. A split routine works better if you are trying to gain weight. It gives each muscle group more rest. A full body routine burns more calories and helps with weight loss while building a small amount of muscle. Remember, these are generalizations. It is possible to gain muscle with a full body workout and burn fat with a split routine. As always, calorie balance controls weight.
Regardless of the exercise schedule you use, your body adjusts and gets used to your workout routine. This causes exercise plateaus in which your strength stagnates rather than increasing. The solution to an exercise plateau is to vary your workout by using different exercises, increasing weights or completely changing your routine. A workout log helps you spot and fix exercise plateaus quickly.
The Bottom Line
Increasing your physical activity level is a positive step for your overall health no matter how you go about doing it. Both full body and split routines help you reach your fitness goals. Get a free full body or split routine at http://shtrainer.com.