Why split up upper and lower body?

If you take a full body routine and throw a few isolation exercises in there isn't it just the same as an upper/lower routine done in one day? What's the point of breaking it into two workouts if say the volume and number of exercises is the same? My routine consists of 12 exercises and takes 2 hours but I only need to workout two days a week to achieve the same volume and frequency. Is it just a preference thing or depends on how much time you have to spend at the gym? I find that your upper body exercises don't really impact your lower body exercises at all, especially if you do all your compound lifts first.

Replies

  • Mycophilia
    Mycophilia Posts: 1,225 Member
    At the amount of volume I'm doing at the end of a training block I would be in the gym for almost 4 hours if I combined my training from 6 days into 3 days. Systemic fatigue would make the end of my workouts suffer greatly.

    If you don't mind having just "ok" progress then getting your volume in on 2 days is fine. But me personally, I want all the gains. So splitting it up over more days so I can get in more quality work will push me in that direction.
  • dill_milk
    dill_milk Posts: 61 Member
    edited November 2017
    Mycophilia wrote: »
    At the amount of volume I'm doing at the end of a training block I would be in the gym for almost 4 hours if I combined my training from 6 days into 3 days. Systemic fatigue would make the end of my workouts suffer greatly.

    If you don't mind having just "ok" progress then getting your volume in on 2 days is fine. But me personally, I want all the gains. So splitting it up over more days so I can get in more quality work will push me in that direction.

    It wouldn't have to be just two days a week though, it could be three or four days a week, essentially doubling the volume and frequency of a typical upper lower split. If you're doing tons of exercises per body part I can see why splitting it up is essential. But doing two exercises per body part could acceptably be accomplished in one workout. One benefit of an all-in-one workout for the casual lifter is that you can miss a day without screwing up your entire schedule or feeling like you had to skip a body part. You would not dread leg day anymore because it's now part of the total package.
  • Davidsdottir
    Davidsdottir Posts: 1,295 Member
    sardelsa wrote: »
    As far as I know, once you move away from the beginner phase, in some cases (and depending on the program) workouts become heavier and recovery becomes harder.. more taxing on the CNS and all that. So doing a full body program 3x per week can become very tough over time (again, for some). I personally prefer full body, and have been doing so for a few years.. but.. my programming is not super intense/heavy.. mainly glute stuff so recovery is fast and I can hit them 4x per week or more.

    Also a BIG and very important factor...

    Personal preference and adherence. Some people like to focus in on body parts for their workouts and not do them all in one day. This keeps them happy and more likely to stick to it.

    Also, not everyone has 2 hours a day to work out in a day like the OP!
  • YosemiteSlamAK
    YosemiteSlamAK Posts: 1,230 Member
    A beginners workout is a total body workout. So if you are only doing 12 exercises you should be fine doing them all twice a week. I would not recommend doing a total body workout 4 times a week, you are asking for an injury, burn out, extended muscle soreness, limiting of range of motion, etc.
    @Davidsdottir is right, most people don't work out for 2 hours a day. When I program strength training workouts for novices, they are typically aimed to limit weight training to 30-45 minutes per session.
    Splitting your routine up is something you would do to focus on muscle groups and extend the recovery time between work sessions. The split might not be because you are lifting heavy, it is to minimize risk of injury. You don't have to listen to any of us or the experts that say to split up routines. It is your body and ultimately your choice. But you also need to take responsibility for the consequences if you choose to over do it.
  • bioklutz
    bioklutz Posts: 1,365 Member
    sardelsa wrote: »
    As far as I know, once you move away from the beginner phase, in some cases (and depending on the program) workouts become heavier and recovery becomes harder.. more taxing on the CNS and all that. So doing a full body program 3x per week can become very tough over time (again, for some). I personally prefer full body, and have been doing so for a few years.. but.. my programming is not super intense/heavy.. mainly glute stuff so recovery is fast and I can hit them 4x per week or more.

    Also a BIG and very important factor...

    Personal preference and adherence. Some people like to focus in on body parts for their workouts and not do them all in one day. This keeps them happy and more likely to stick to it.

    All of this and just to add I would like working out to be a normal regular daily thing - a habit. I have an easier time sticking with it if I work out daily. I lift weights 4 times a week and do 30 minutes of cardio the other 3 days.
  • ijsantos2005
    ijsantos2005 Posts: 306 Member
    dill_milk wrote: »
    If you take a full body routine and throw a few isolation exercises in there isn't it just the same as an upper/lower routine done in one day? What's the point of breaking it into two workouts if say the volume and number of exercises is the same? My routine consists of 12 exercises and takes 2 hours but I only need to workout two days a week to achieve the same volume and frequency. Is it just a preference thing or depends on how much time you have to spend at the gym? I find that your upper body exercises don't really impact your lower body exercises at all, especially if you do all your compound lifts first.

    The stronger you get, the more recovery you’ll need.
  • edickson76
    edickson76 Posts: 107 Member
    PHUL (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout)is an upper/lower split program. Let's take it as an example. I wouldn't characterize it as simply adding some isolation work onto a full body program. Rather it is the addition of other compound lifts. Instead of just doing squats and deadlifts for lower body (as is typical in a beginner program), you are doing front squats, leg presses, and lunges.

    Total exercises if you combined the power days would be 12 and for the hypertrophy days 13. About your range. The question would be whether you can match the intensity while maintaining the volume. Compound lifts will tire the body, which is why most beginner programs only have 3 compound lifts per session. If you combined the power days for PHUL you'd have 8 compound lifts. I am dubious that you could produce the same absolute volume (i.e. total weight moved). Still, if you want to run your own experiment and compare, that'd be cool.
  • edickson76
    edickson76 Posts: 107 Member
    An update to this thread, specifically as to frequency. I recently came across an experiment done by the Norwegian powerlifting team. Results: 6 days per week frequency superior to 3 days per week frequency. Here is a link to Menno Henselman's discussion: https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/norwegian-frequency-project-stats/ . I'd recommend listening to his interview with Jeff Nippard before reading the article (the interview is linked at the start of the article).
  • mmapags
    mmapags Posts: 8,946 Member
    bioklutz wrote: »
    sardelsa wrote: »
    As far as I know, once you move away from the beginner phase, in some cases (and depending on the program) workouts become heavier and recovery becomes harder.. more taxing on the CNS and all that. So doing a full body program 3x per week can become very tough over time (again, for some). I personally prefer full body, and have been doing so for a few years.. but.. my programming is not super intense/heavy.. mainly glute stuff so recovery is fast and I can hit them 4x per week or more.

    Also a BIG and very important factor...

    Personal preference and adherence. Some people like to focus in on body parts for their workouts and not do them all in one day. This keeps them happy and more likely to stick to it.

    All of this and just to add I would like working out to be a normal regular daily thing - a habit. I have an easier time sticking with it if I work out daily. I lift weights 4 times a week and do 30 minutes of cardio the other 3 days.

    All of both these posts. Full body became too fatiguing at a certain point. With the splits only one part of my body is in acute recovery at at time. Also, the premise that splits are the same as full body workouts with some auxiliaries is an inaccurate oversimplification. Much more to it than that.
  • richln
    richln Posts: 809 Member
    edickson76 wrote: »
    An update to this thread, specifically as to frequency. I recently came across an experiment done by the Norwegian powerlifting team. Results: 6 days per week frequency superior to 3 days per week frequency. Here is a link to Menno Henselman's discussion: https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/norwegian-frequency-project-stats/ . I'd recommend listening to his interview with Jeff Nippard before reading the article (the interview is linked at the start of the article).

    That study was never published. I have read heresay about the study data, but it is not clear why the authors retracted the study before publication. May have had a fatal flaw? I searched for the study before, but never found a copy. Martijn Koevoets wrote about it too over on Nuckols' site, but the study authors contacted him and requested he remove the data: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/high-frequency-training-for-a-bigger-total-research-on-highly-trained-norwegian-powerlifters/
  • benchismybff
    benchismybff Posts: 310 Member
    I find zero reason to split upper and lower. I guess it depends on your goal.

    I do a squat day, then accessories and variations that help the squat that day. A bench day, variations and accessories that help bench. And a deadlift day, with variations and accessories that help deadlift. I generally have a 4th day between days 2-3 that's lighter squat, with bench thrown in. And I bench light on days 1 and 4. Day 2 is my only heavy day.

    I never split up lower/upper though.
  • TR0berts
    TR0berts Posts: 7,739 Member
    I find zero reason to split upper and lower. I guess it depends on your goal.

    I do a squat day, then accessories and variations that help the squat that day. A bench day, variations and accessories that help bench. And a deadlift day, with variations and accessories that help deadlift. I generally have a 4th day between days 2-3 that's lighter squat, with bench thrown in. And I bench light on days 1 and 4. Day 2 is my only heavy day.

    I never split up lower/upper though.

    :huh:

    That sounds like a very common upper/lower split.