FULL BODY TRAINING FOR FAT LOSS & MUSCLE GROWTH
The cat is out of the bag:
Full body workouts are awesome for fat loss and muscle growth!
If you’ve done my Classic Full Body or Figure Of 8 programs then you already know the great physical results you can see with full body training, but how does it compare to the traditional approach of training, say, 1-2 muscles per workout?
You’re in luck, because a team of researchers from New Zealand have just compared the two!
Today I’m going to show you what they found, and we can detemine whether YOU should be using full body workouts to get even better results. Let’s break it down…
FULL BODY TRAINING FOR FAT LOSS & MUSCLE GROWTH?!
A team of researchers from Auckland University of Technology (NZ) recently set out to compare the differences between a traditional three day split and full body workouts.
The researchers worked with two groups of gym-experienced rugby union players, with one group of trainees using full body workouts and the other group following a traditional three day split, where the full body is trained over the course of three workouts. Both groups performed the same total volume for each muscle group, and the study ran for four weeks.
The exercises used were leg press, barbell squats, lying leg curls, calf raise, bench press, bent-over barbell row, wide-grip lat pulldown, shoulder press, and biceps curls.
The study, which was published in Biology of Sport, found that the trainees who used full body workouts burned significantly more body fat (losing a whopping 6% body fat!) versus the trainees using the three day split (2% fat loss). (1)
Both groups had similar gains in size and strength, too!
Interestingly, the researchers noticed that the more experienced and stronger a trainee was, the better results they saw, suggesting that experienced lifters can benefit from switching to a full body program (such as Classic Full Body) every so often.
WHAT ABOUT RECOVERY & TRAINING VOLUME?
Now that we know how effective full body training is, let’s look at some of the potential issues it raises.
When I speak to people who are unsure about full body training, these two questions regularly pop up:
- Can my muscles recover from being trained every day?
- Will each muscle get enough attention to grow?
These are understanable concerns.
However, you have nothing to worry about.
This is where skilled programming comes into play. When you follow a properly structured training plan, such as my Classic Full Body program, the total volume each muscle receives is no less than it would be for a typical training split.
For example, in my Classic Full Body program you’ll train chest for 7 sets on Monday, followed by 2-3 sets on most other days, making 15 sets per week in total. Meanwhile if we look at a program which follows a “bro split”, such as my Classic Size plan, we can see that you train chest on Tueday (15 sets) and then don’t hit it again until the following week.
This is the same thing done in two different ways, but a full body approach allows you to tap into the fat loss benefits explained above while still giving you enough total volume to create maximum hypertrophy (muscle growth)! (2)
And that brings us to another important thing…
There are a lot of “gurus” out there who claim that a muscle needs 2-3 days of rest after a workout. This is NONSENSE!
Sure, if you are performing a high volume session (i.e. 15+ sets for chest) then it’s worth resting for a few days to fully recover, but if you are only hitting that muscle with 2-7 sets then it’s completely unnecessary to take so much rest because you will not be anywhere near as fatigued.
Therefore, using full body workouts enables you to reap the benefits of greater training frequency, and this is where things get REALLY INTERESTING…
In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a team of scientists from Norway compared the effects of increased training frequency on a group of powerlifters performing a three month squat, bench press and deadlift program. One group of powerflifters trained three times per week and the other group trained six times per week. The total volume was the same across both groups, with the second group performing twice as many workouts but with half the volume in each session.
What they found was nuts…
The guys who trained with more frequency increased muscle mass 10% versus the other group! (3)
That’s an excellent improvement, but perhaps what’s most impressive about these findings (as well as the results of the fat loss study I mentioned above) is that the results were not in comparison to sedentary individuals but rather to groups of athletes who were training hard!
Put simply; full body training ROCKS!
One final benefit to full body workouts is that they’re useful for people who are new to the gym, or who haven’t trained (hard) for a while.
You can hit each muscle group with just enough volume to spike muscle building results AND tap into fat loss benefits, without ever crossing the line where your intensity begins to drop and training becomes less productive. (4)
See the graph below. “X” marks the spot!
- Crewther B. T., et al. The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players. Biol. Sport (2016).
- Hammarström D., et al. Benefits of higher resistance-training volume are related to ribosome biogenesis. J Physiol (2020).
- Raastad T., et al. Powerlifters improved strength and muscular adaptations to a greater extent when equal total training volume was divided into 6 compared to 3 training sessions per week. Book of abstracts, 17th annual conference of the ECSS (2012).
- Schoenfeld B. J., et al. Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res (2015).