Does it seem like lately everyone is ditching their bro-splits and push, pull, legs workouts and jumping on the full-body train, including myself? Why is that? Is it because it’s a trending search term for videos on YouTube? Or because there’s actually a lot of truth behind multiple growth periods and that forcing your body to adapt to a much more demanding high-frequency workload can help you build more muscle? Well, if you’re still not convinced, in this article I’m going to share with you 5 reasons why switching to full-body training might be the best decision you make for your gains!
Reason #1 – Multiple Growth Periods
This is probably the most important concept you need to understand and we’ve talked about it before. In short, two people doing the same amount of total working sets will have very different results based on WHEN they do those sets.
In this 2019 study, 18 men were split into two groups and before the study began they tested their 1 rep max for the bench press, back squat, and machine close-grip seated row. After testing, 1 group trained with bro-splits and the other trained with full-body 5 days per week. At the end of 8 weeks, there were no real measurable differences in strength gains between the two groups, but they did note that the full-body training group may have experienced a potentially superior hypertrophic effect.
To put it simply, instead of having to annihilate your chest with 4 sets of 5 different exercises, you can actually create more growth with just 4 sets of 1 exercise across 5 days. The goal is more about stimulating the chest and to keep stimulating it all while pushing your muscles to adapt to a more intense training frequency. Protein Synthesis lasts only the last 24 – 48 hours, that’s your growth window. So no matter how many hours you spend in the gym on chest day, after 2 days your chest is recovered and done growing.
Also, as we know compound movements like the bench press allow us to overload with more weight when compared to isolation type movements like the pec dec or dumbbell flys and we usually move from compounds to isolation exercises in a bro-split because, as we become fatigued, in order to keep the workout moving forward and somewhat effective, we need to switch to exercise that don’t require as much energy output. But with full-body, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t bench every workout. You might be a little sore, but after a warm-up set or two, your overall strength will still allow you to overload your chest more than you ever could with the pec deck or dumbbell fly.
The main takeaway here is understanding that you’re still training with the same amount of overall volume, but with full-body training the frequency of your training increases from 1 day a week to 5 days a week with more work and recovery intervals within that same amount of training volume. This brings us to our next reason.
Reason #2 – Recovery
As a beginner, you can only handle so much before your body is too sore to move and as you get older, chances are your overall recovery isn’t what it used to be. Not everyone can handle back-to-back workouts even though they aren't working for the same muscle groups. But with full-body you’ll get at least one day off between each full-body workout, allowing not only your muscles to recover but your central nervous system as well. Too often we get over-excited to train and make gains that we forget about the number 1 thing we actually NEED to grow and that’s REST.
Take me for example, in my younger years, if I missed a day at the gym while bro-split training I would freak out and for a few different reasons. Firstly, because I mentally felt like I was being “lazy”. It didn’t cross my mind that “resting” was letting my body recover and grow. I know, stubborn youth, right? And secondly, if I missed a day, that meant my entire schedule for the week got pushed forward. So if Tuesday was ARMS day, and I missed Tuesday and Wednesday is LEG day, what do you do?! Especially if you already have plans for the weekend and can’t make up for that lost day! I’m sure many of you can relate.
But with Full body training, you don’t have this problem. You can train 3 days a week or even up to 5 days a week and still have time to recover and grow and if you miss a workout, all you have to do is move your schedule forward a day. Unlike bro-splits, this doesn’t affect your week because ALL your workouts are full body. Also, there is no schedule that’s written in blood that you HAVE to follow with full body. If you’re feeling too sore to train, you CAN just take that day as another rest day or an active rest where you train with some cardio and focus on a bit of stretching and mobility work.
Always remember that when you’re resting you’re letting your muscles ADAPT and RECOVER and those are two very good things for muscle growth. Even on an “active rest” day, you’re still technically recovering and for a lot of you an active rest day may be just what you need to kick up the cardio, or more importantly your ABS training. Let’s be honest, I know a lot of you skip abs at the end of your workouts, you know who you are!
Reason #3 – Quality Vs Quantity
This is something that I think is going to convince a lot of you to try full-body training as it’s actually a huge source of motivation for me as well. When you arrive at the gym on say chest and triceps day when bro split training, you already know you have at least 4 – 5 chest exercises you need to complete and then an additional 2 – 3 triceps movements. If I’m being honest, this never used to really bother me, I love training. But on days you’re tired or don’t have a lot of time or maybe you’re just sick of hitting all the same exercises, you can lose motivation. It might not be a conscious thing, but sometimes we find ourselves not pushing too hard only to ensure we have enough energy to make it through all the exercises for each body part.
But with full-body, you have 1 or 2 exercises max per body part, which for me is actually very motivating. I find myself hitting each exercise HARDER because I know when I am done I’m going to move to a different body part. It’s exciting if you’re into that sort of thing! But seriously, if all you have to do is 5 quality sets of a bench press, chances are you’re going to be more motivated to push as hard as you can on each set because you don’t have to have any gas in the tank for 4 more chest movements.
Reason #4 – It’s Hard To Mess Up The Basics!
Compound movements like pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, bench press, and bent-over rows are staples in most workout programs for a reason and that reason is because they have passed the test of time proving to be muscle builders. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and that especially holds true for full-body training. Because you are only training with 1 – 2 exercises max for each body part, you don’t need to get overly creative. Keep it simple and just stick with what works.
Of course, if you want to learn more advanced movements or different variations of the same movements that’s fine, but master the basics first. You can train with these exercises for years and years and still see muscle and strength gains.
But don’t mistake simplicity with ineffectiveness. Being creative isn’t always a good thing, that’s why we have INSTA-GAHHHBAGE and just because full-body workouts may come across as “simple”, it doesn’t mean they’re for beginners. You are the ones in charge of how intense your workouts are. How much weight you lift, how long you rest and how much time you spend chatting or goofing off on your phone in the gym all determine how intense your workouts are and this actually brings me to my 5th and final reason.
Reason #5 – It’s Working For Me
Alright, so if you haven’t been keeping up with my weekly workout vLogs I made the switch to full body about 5 weeks ago. As I was researching nuclei overload, I came to the conclusion based on all the studies I read that I had not reached my natural limit yet, but have in fact only reached the limit of what programs like PPL, Upper / Lower and Bro-Splits could offer. I had never done a program where I trained full body 4 – 5 days a week and I believe that increased frequency will produce more gains and since starting, here is what I have experienced so far.
I am a lot more excited for my workouts. I enjoy having a short checklist for each body part and because of that I find myself pushing harder on my sets. The first two weeks were tough as my body was adjusting to the increased frequency. But all I did to overcome my fatigue was listen to my body and it said two things. Feed me more food and give me more rest. So now as a result of this I’m eating a lot more, closer to 3,300 – 3,500 calories compared to the 2,500 I was eating before and I don’t feel all this pressure to go to the gym all the time. What I mean is, I don’t have a “fear of missing a workout” because every workout is full body and if I’m tired I rest, eat and just train the following day.
And this I think is going to interest a lot of you guys. I get the best pumps I’ve probably ever had in my life. Before it would take 2 – 3 exercises before that REAAAAL good pump feeling would set in. But now, by the second or 3rd set of any exercise, the pump kicks in and it kicks in HARD.
I can experiment with more training techniques. Because I’m training full body 4 – 5 days a week, if for example I feel too sore to lift heavy I can switch up my training utilizing the same exercises, but instead of lifting heavy for 8 – 10 reps per set, I can focus on a drop set or superset. With techniques like these, more emphasis is placed on metabolic stress or growth, not mechanical tension.
I no longer have to choose between cardio or weight training. I enjoy adventure racing and would like to start doing them again. But in order to be ready I need days where I run 5 – 6 miles at a time. In the past, I would feel like I was skipping a day if I was bro split training, but with full body my cardio can be considered an “active rest” day.
And the final and probably best thing about full body training is that I am starting to see growth. Now I’m NATURAL, so you’re not going to see an insane transformation. But overall, if you compare my recent photos and videos to a few months ago, my muscles look more full and I am noticing more size in my shoulders and traps and because I am currently nuclei overload training with my traps and calves, I can easily adjust my workouts so I do my 100 power shrugs and barbell calf raises in the morning and when I train at night, I just take those exercises out of my program.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourselves for a few weeks and see how you feel. I’ll drop a link to my FULL BODY EVOLUTION program HERE. Each workout has its own follow along video going over exercise form and technique and you can even print out the workout calendar and a PDF version of each workout to bring to the gym. OR, you can follow along on my app, whatever is easiest for you.
Just don’t be one of those people who is frozen in time and unwilling to try something new. It’s not just me seeing the benefits of full body training, pretty much everyone who has tried it is raving about it and in time I bet you will too!