There are many different types of training templates to use in the gym. Body part splits, upper/lower, full body, push/pull, push/pull/legs etc.
When deciding which training template to use, there are a few factors that need to be taken into account. What is your current training level? What exercises are you prioritising? How much volume (worked performed) are you doing each workout? How often can you get to the gym each week? These are all important factors. But it really comes down to a few things...
Most people who are new to the gym spin their wheels trying to decide which training template to use to maximise their results. They may follow what the pro bodybuilders are doing or believe that more time in the gym is better. More importantly, they may not be able to understand the relationship between frequency, volume and intensity.
I will say this, the training template you use isn't the most important thing. Hard work, consistency, nutrition, and incorporating the principles of progressive overload are the things that truly matter. However, I do believe that there are templates that are more optimal for the majority of the population.
When I first started lifting I followed what the pro bodybuilders were doing by copying their workouts found in muscle magazines. I had a chest day, back day, shoulder day, leg day, and an arm day. Ring any bells? For years I believed this was the optimal way to train because it's what all the pro's were doing.
I was very wrong and very mislead.
Sadly, I made little to no progress despite training for years and spending hours in the gym each week. I don't wish for that time back though - as now I'm able to help others.
When it comes to building an optimal training template, the most important thing is to manage four key principles.
- Frequency (How often you train a muscle or a certain lift per week)
- Intensity (How hard you are training in relation to your one rep max)
- Volume (The amount of work you're performing each workout)
- Recovery (Your ability to recover between sessions and the stress that you place your muscles under)
Usually, if one of these principles takes priority the others will need to find a balance. If you add more frequency, then you made need to reduce your volume and intensity. If you add more recovery, then you may need to increase your volume or intensity.
Here is why I believe Full Body workouts are optimal for beginners and 90% of the population.
Frequency: The workouts will allow you to hit muscles 3x per week. As opposed to other training templates that hit the muscles 2x or even 1x per week. This will provide more opportunities to add weight to an exercise as well as take advantage of muscle protein synthesis (the building blocks of muscle growth) throughout the week.
Volume: You can increase the amount of work you perform with your muscles by spreading the workload throughout the week. Thus, leading to more metabolic stress placed on the working muscles.
Recovery: Most full body workout templates have you in the gym 3x per week. This gives you plenty of time for your muscles to recover between workouts. Remember, muscles don't recover in the gym. They recover and grow back stronger when you rest.
Intensity: By having more recovery time between sessions, it means your muscles are in a fresher state. You can train with weight percentages closer to your one rep max. You can train with heavier loads leading to more mechanical tension placed upon the working muscles.
Practice: As a beginner, the most important thing is learning how to perform the lifts and doing them safely. You also want to build yourself a solid strength base for other training phases later to come. By training certain lifts multiple times throughout the week, you can gain more skill on those exercises. The more you practice, the better you get.
Growth: Training muscles and exercises multiple times per week keep your body in a state of growth (see previous article on protein synthesis). Multiple training sessions give you multiple opportunities to add weight to the bar. Thus increasing the speed of progressive overload.
All in all - more volume, frequency, intensity and recovery - is a great recipe for progressive overload to occur and leads to stronger muscles and more muscle mass.
Full body is just one of many "optimal templates". Just remember, any template that has you in the gym less per week but maximises recovery, intensity, volume, and frequency will have you winning and smashing your goals in no time.
For more information on how to program within your chosen template, contact www.lockstrength.com for assistance.
I'm here to help.