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Split Workout Routines Versus Total-Body Training

Which approach is better for stimulating muscle growth?

Group of young people training outside with a split workout

Which strength training protocol is more effective for your younger male clients: a split workout routine or total-body training? It depends, as usual, on their goals.

A recent study compared the effects of 10 weeks of total-body training versus 10 weeks of split-workout training among resistance-trained men ages 20–29. Results indicated that a total-body program may be more appropriate for improving maximal strength, while a split-routine protocol may be better for stimulating muscle growth.

Study authors advised that strength and conditioning coaches should understand that different phases of a periodized strength training program might call for different strategies, depending on whether the objective is to improve strength or to increase muscle size.

The research appeared in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2021; 35 [6], 1520–26).

See also: Sample Class: “Ladder” Drills for Total-Body Strength

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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