Lee Labrada on Full Body vs. Split Workout Routines After 40

Which is the best way to build muscle mass?

Lee Labrada is a well known bodybuilder who competed at the height of the sport during the ‘80s and ‘90s, when there was some serious competition gracing the stage. Despite being retired for years, Lee Labrada remains a significant figure in talking about training methodologies today. He was inducted into the IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Hall of Fame back in 2004 and is currently serving as the President/CEO of Labrada Nutrition, his supplement company. Recently, Labrada offered insights into whether full-body workouts or split routines (such as push pull legs) were more effective for achieving muscle growth for men who are 40 and over.

Let’s take a look at what he had to say.

Full Body Workouts

Full-body workouts engage all major muscle groups (the full body). Lee Labrada goes on to state that beginners can see significant benefits from full body routines relatively early in their fitness journey. As a result, he recommends implementing these workouts through a circuit style as the most effective approach. 

Labrada stated, “Simply pick one exercise for each body part. For example, pick one exercise for the back, shoulders, chest, and so forth. Once you’ve selected your exercises, start the circuit by performing the first exercise. Then rest long enough to catch your breath before performing the next exercise and so forth until you’ve done all of the exercises you’ve selected.”

Circuit Training

Labrada recommends completing the circuit once for those who are beginners or those returning to the gym after a hiatus. You do not want to overexert yourself at first, to avoid potential injuries and health risks. Labrada states that “Once you’ve worked out several times, cycle through the circuit twice, then work up to three times through”.

Circuit training promotes a large array of benefits, such as strength gain, endurance improvements, and fat loss. Many people think of circuit training as cardio style workouts, but Labrada advocates for the incorporation of compound exercises with free weights, as well as using machines during circuit and full-body workouts.

Labrada recommends that if you are using full body workouts, then perhaps a comprehensive full-body workout regimen three times a week is ideal, with rest days between sessions.

Split Routines

Split routines typically involve dividing up the muscles amongst three days of training. However, you do not have to only workout three days, and Labrada suggests using and changing this workout strategy based on individual recovery rates from full-body workouts.

The split that Labrada advocates for is a three-day push-pull-legs training split, and he states that this method divides the workouts to stimulate muscle growth and recovery efficiently. 

This is Labrada’s recommended PPL Routine:

  • Monday (Push): Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday (Pull): Back & Biceps
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday (Legs): Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, & Abs

By having a focus muscle group each training session rather than full body, a split routine enables regular exercise that provides enough stimulus, while allowing recovery as needed to promote growth. Having a workout split helps athletes complete more exercises for each muscle group, enhancing development through targeted training. 

Lee Labrada Workout Routines Wrap Up

Regardless of which you choose, both split based routines and full-body workouts will provide some solid results when paired with proper nutrition, consistency, and sufficient rest. Without these components, your workouts will not give you the desired results. You could always consider a workout app like Boostcamp to find a routine!

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.