When going for a strength training routine, fully utilizing your gym time is key. That’s why many people opt for a full-body workout as their prime method of training.
After all, it allows you to hit each and every muscle group while training, and gradually increases your heart rate, giving your cardiovascular system a much-needed boost.
Still, can you and should you do full-body workouts every other day?
I had personally introduced myself to the idea of full-body workouts years ago. But never bothered to get into it until a few years back. Before I started, I did my share of research on the benefits of performing full-body workouts and the main differences between them and split workouts, all of which I will cover here.
Full Body Workouts – What Are the Benefits?
Although there are quite a few benefits of full body workouts that I am not going to list here, the ones below are the main takeaways that in my opinion, are the only ones that really matter.
Here are a few of the benefits of full-body workouts that I’ve learned and experienced myself during my years of training.
The first most obvious benefit of full-body workouts is the significant increase in your muscular recovery rates.
One of the main reasons why some people tend to not get any progress after working out is because they aren’t properly recovering from one session to the next.
In other words, their bodies can’t handle successive workouts, even if they cover different muscles of the body. And that’s why full-body workouts can be a savior for these people.
Incorporating a full-body workout usually means that you’ll be spending way less in the gym that if you were doing split workouts or even if you were training 2 muscles groups per workout. (1)
If you’re the kind of person who’s always got something to do and you’re finding it difficult to commit to the working out more than three times a week, then a full-body workout program is definitely for you.
Full body workout routines usually include hitting the gym only twice or thrice per week, which means that you’ll have more time for other things in your life.
Larger Testosterone Boosts
Exercises that stimulate several muscle groups and plenty of muscle fibers by including full-body movements tend to release the largest amount of testosterone.
That’s why I recommend that you also throw compound exercises, such as same day deadlifts and squats, into the mix so that you can get the most out of your workouts.
For those planning to work out using their home gym
If you are planning to get in total body workouts in your home gym, then you need to make sure you get the right setup. Most full body workout machines, like rowing machines should allow you to workout each and every muscle group but do keep in mind that most will not allow you to do compound heavy movements unless you also get yourself a power rack to go with your all in one gym setup. My favorite power rack comes with a lat pulldown and allows me to get my entire workout in from the comfort of my own home.
If you’re looking to lose body fat as quickly as possible, then a full-body workout is perfect for you. If you’re implementing a diet that focuses on losing fat, you’re consuming fewer calories than your body really needs, leading to lower recovery reserves.
However, you’d still need to stimulate your muscles a minimum of two times every week in order to initiate actual fat loss.
In other words, you can’t solely rely on a diet if you want to lose fat and tone up at the same time. Full-body workouts are ideal in this situation because, in addition to working out each and every muscle group in your body at least twice a week, they won’t require much from your body in terms of recovery.
And for that, I highly recommend the combination of a full-body workout and a weight loss diet.
Say Goodbye to Boredom
When you repeat the same exercises over and over, there’s a higher chance of you getting bored from it. When compared to regular workouts, full-body workouts seldom require frequency, which gives them an advantage.
Even if there comes the point where you get bored of your full-body workout, you can easily redesign it to your own needs and entertainment.
Full Body Workouts Every Other Day – Can You? Should You?
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) (2), having a training schedule with sufficient recovery time is key.
They recommend that you take at least one day between resistance workouts if you’re training the same muscle groups. In other words, doing a full-body workout every other day isn’t a really good idea.
What the NSCA guidelines recommend that you do instead of you’re a beginner is 2 to 3 days of resistance training workouts involving all the major muscle groups. One way of pulling this off is working out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday routine.
Additionally, while it is true that training all the major muscle groups in one single session can be beneficial on all levels, the NSCA says that people who are intermediate or advanced resistance-wise may need to increase the number of workouts they perform each week to four or five.
Consequently, they’ll need to implement a split routine instead of a full-body one. This is because in the case of back-to-back training days, targeting different muscles each session is better.
My advice to you is to listen to your body. There are a plethora of different functional routines that you can find online, and I’m pretty certain that some of them will suit you perfectly. Only you will know when to take it easy and when to go full-on.
How Long Should Full-Body Workouts Last?
Some people think that the longer your workout is, the quicker and better the results will be. Believe it or not, the truth is the total opposite of that. Working out for too long comes with a bunch of negative effects, such as raising your cortisol levels, thus stressing you mentally, decreasing recovery rates and more.
So, how long should a full-body workout last?
Most of the research done on this topic shows us that the ideal length of a full-body workout is anything between 45 and 60 minutes.
And although there is no such thing as a perfect length of a workout, this range is the best. Elements that play a role in how long you can sustain a workout include your sets, reps, and intensity.
Additionally, you don’t want to end up overtraining because it’ll lead to your body taking more time to recover. Here are some other reasons why you shouldn’t train for too long, especially if you’re new:
- Stresses your nervous system
- Can harm sleep quality
- Lowers metabolism
Full-Body Workouts Vs. Split Workouts
Which is best for what?
Full-Body Workouts – Ideal for Beginners
During a total-body workout, you train almost every major muscle in your body such as your biceps, triceps, abs, chest, back, etc.
These workouts are based on exercises that engage many of those muscle groups simultaneously, such as deadlifts, squats, chest press, shoulder press and overhead presses. These exercises are known as “compound movements,” which demand a lot of energy and burn a lot of calories in the process. But they also drastically affect your muscles, requiring you to rest more often than not between each set and between the workouts themselves.
The problem with full-body workouts for some people is the fact that you end up working out the same muscle groups, which end up improving your overall body strength instead of just one area. So, if you’re looking to shed in some pounds as quickly as possible, then total-body programs are definitely for you.
They’re ideal for beginners mainly because they tend to be simpler, requiring you to learn a few methods and repeating them. They can also help you to establish a solid strength base, something most beginners lack.
Additionally, compound exercises tend to engage so many muscles at the same time to the point where they get your heart really pumping, and they also burn more calories, making them an ideal choice for weight loss. They’re also perfect for anyone who doesn’t have much time to work out. Even the workouts themselves don’t require you to stay long at the gym.
Split Workouts – More Efficient for Intermediate & Advanced Trainees
The term everybody should know by now “leg day.” It’s when you work out your lower body so hard to the point where you feel wobbly when walking after you’re done. Also called CNS fatigue. This is why it’s so hard to go running after leg day.
Leg day is just one part of a workout split, a technique where you break up your workout routine over a week or so and focus on a single muscle group each session. These workouts are designed in a way so that you give each muscle group enough time to recover before you rotate back to it.
Moreover, split workouts give you the opportunity to isolate and develop muscle groups that you feel are weaker. Do you have a strong upper body but have small calves? These workouts are perfect for you. Utilizing this program, by the end of the week, you will have worked out your entire body. If you want, you can implement a combination of compound and isolation exercises that target a specific muscle group each session.
So, Which One Should You Do?
Honestly, I recommend that you follow my footsteps and implement a combination of both so that you can enjoy the benefits of both.
But if we were to separate them, then like I’ve showcased above, full-body routines are typically the best choice for beginners while split workouts perfectly suit intermediate to advanced lifters.
Still, combing both with a personal touch is the best move. Continuously varying your routine will prevent you from getting bored and keep you from getting burned out on your workouts.
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