Whole-body training, aka full-body training, refers to training every muscle group in one workout, rather than training them separately.
Split-style training has been a staple of the bodybuilding community for years. With splits, you can lift more volume per individual muscle groups, but you sacrifice frequency. Whole-body training involves less volume per body part per workout, but each muscle group gets worked more frequently.
Frequency, as it turns out, is the way to go. Here are four reasons why I think you should switch to whole-body training.
1. Greater Fat Loss
Research shows whole-body training can improve fat loss over typical split-style training. In one study, individuals who performed whole-body workouts three times per week lost more body fat than those who were following a typical split-style training program.
Whole-body training appears to influence fat loss through gene activation—my area of study while at Yale School of Medicine. Gene activation is critical for determining training outcomes, be it muscle growth or fat loss.
Whole-body training instigates gene activity to keep metabolic processes revved up in every single muscle, an effect that lasts all day long. Your body essentially burns more fat and carbs for fuel throughout the day with whole-body training.
2. Greater Muscle Mass
In the same study, the whole-body training group gained slightly more muscle mass than the split training group. One possible reason: Whole-body subjects showed improved testosterone-to-cortisol ratios. The higher your testosterone is and the lower your cortisol is, the more anabolic you are.
Activating this ideal anabolic ratio through frequent whole-body training maximizes potential muscle-protein synthesis, leading to greater muscle growth.
3. Greater Strength
When researchers split the subjects into groups of stronger individuals—those who could squat heavier—and weaker individuals, they found the stronger individuals in the whole-body training program had greater strength gains than the stronger individuals assigned to split-style training.
This suggests advanced lifters may experience even greater benefits from using a whole-body training programs than their novice counterparts.
This represents a sea change among exercise scientists, who used to recommend beginners use whole-body training because it allows more frequency for training the motor system and nervous system—the main changes a newbie sees in the first few weeks of training.
Now it appears the greater frequency of whole-body training may be of greater benefit to experienced lifters seeking to improve their strength gains.
4. Greater Overall Health
By activating genes in every muscle fiber every single day, whole-body training keeps metabolic processes firing, which plays a role in helping to prevent the onset of various metabolic diseases.
At age 49, I'm in the best shape of my life, both inside and out. Whole-body training is one of the reasons why.
Now that you're sold on this training style, be sure to check out my Whole Body Training Program to improve strength, burn fat, and build muscle.
Visit JimStoppani.com for more workouts, training tips, and articles on nutrition and supplementation.
- Crewther, B. T., Heke, T. O. L., & Keogh, J. W. (2016). The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players. Biology of Sport, 33(2), 111.