The pros and cons of total body training.

In order to build quality muscle and bring about major change to your physique and performance, you have to have a game plan that will produce satisfying results. For many bodybuilders this means having training splits that target all the big muscle groups including the chest, back, legs, and arms.


For many bodybuilders they split their training days into five to six days a week. It can be truly beneficial to do this in order to attack all the muscle groups in the body and give them their own special attention. No one wants to neglect their arms in favor of their legs, their back in favor of their chest. This five day training split is ideal for solving that issue. But not everyone has the time and energy to spend on training five days a week. Some people need to make things short and sweet.

Enter total body training.

A staple of old school bodybuilding, total body training was the way to go during the Golden Era of bodybuilding. Rather than focus all their attention on one muscle group per training session, they instead aimed to train the entire body whenever they hit the gym. That means training frequency was usually limited to three times per week, sometimes more if recovery allowed. But while there are benefits to this practice, there are also a great deal of drawbacks to consider as well.

Pro #1

Total body training is a program that is great for beginners. For those looking to improve their overall health and wellness or simply make general improvements to their physique, total body training allows for some quality muscle gains while burning fat, hitting the biggest muscle groups throughout the body in every session.

Con #1

Total body training means that you won’t get to build as much muscle as possible. If you want to get absolutely massive then you’ll have to focus your attention on certain muscle groups multiple times throughout the week. Your body can handle only so much during a total body session as over taxing one area of the body over and over again in this program can lead to injuries.

Pro #2

With a total body workout plan you can expect to see results fast, particularly in an overall sense. While you’re not going to look like Mr. Olympia out of the gate, you will certainly blast fat, build muscle, and improve strength and performance with a total body training plan very quickly. The intensity level needed to produce quality results is moderate.

Con #2

Total body training can be taxing on the body which requires more recovery time. Training the entire body taxes the central nervous system through all the overload. That means training three times a week will be the norm. Training more than that could lead to severe injuries without proper recovery.

Pro #3

Total body training usually consists of training with the most effective lifts, namely the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Getting proficient in each of these exercises will lead to mastery if done on a consistent basis. Mastering the basics is key especially as you become more advanced.

Con #3

While mastering the basics may be a great benefit to this program, by focusing on big lifts it could potentially take away from working on your weak points. If your shoulders are lacking or your calves simply won’t grow, it will mean taking additional time to work on these areas on top of your total body training which could lead to overtaxing the body in the process.

Keep in mind that whatever program you end up using, you can always tweak it to your benefit. The total body program is a great starting point to master the basics and become immensely strong in order to tackle other training regimens.

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his InstagramTwitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

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