Let’s start at the beginning. The terms body part split or full body workout are referring to different styles of strength training. Ah, got it! But what do they mean?

Full body workout: you are exercising your whole body, with all muscle groups being used and stimulated in one workout. For example, you combine exercises that use the upper body and lower body, plus the core in one training session.

Body part split: you separate your muscle groups or movement patterns into workouts on different days. For example, you might train chest and back one day, legs and core the next day, shoulders and arms the following day.

Now that you know what they mean, let’s look at the benefits of both and who would train each way.

Full body workout

The benefits of a full body workout are huge.

A man in a gym performing sit thrus.
  1. It’s a great way to ensure you are training all muscles group — one workout, no muscles left behind.
  2. Full body workouts tend to incorporate compound strength exercises, which are a super efficient way of training for functional strength as well as cardiovascular health. Usually, compound exercises increase the heart rate more than isolated exercises because the body needs to oxygenate more muscles at one time, meaning the heart has to pump more blood around the body. To do that, the heart rate has to rise.
  3. Full body workouts are perfect if your workout schedule is a bit random. If you happen to miss a session at the end of the week, you won’t be missing out on training one specific body part.

To review:
Compound exercises = exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time (like a sit-through.)

Isolated exercises = exercises that only use one muscle group (like a bicep curl.)

Who could train this way? Anyone.

Full body workouts are a fantastic option for beginners because they switch on and wake up all muscle groups, create a base strength in all areas of the body and teach correct technique and movement patterns.

Others who can benefit from full body workouts:

  • if you’re busy you get to tick off all muscle groups in one workout
  • if you’re looking for weight loss, full body workouts will maximize calorie burn
  • if you’re looking for muscle tone and definition, full body strength workouts will help you create lean muscle mass
  • if you’re looking for a balanced body, full body workouts don’t focus on just one area, so all muscle groups will benefit
  • if you love a cardio blast as well as strength training, full body workouts can tick both boxes

Body part split

Body part split workouts can be great for a number of reasons.

A man with dreadlocks doing a bicep curl with a heavy dumbbell.

  1. They allow you to focus on weaker body parts and put a concentrated effort into strengthening a specific area. Body part splits usually include isolated exercises (as well as compound exercises), honing in and really working one muscle group at a time.
  2. If you have a particular strength goal – for example, to complete 20 push-ups on your toes – you can specifically train the muscle groups involved in that movement pattern.
  3. You don’t have to stick to traditional leg day, chest and back day, arms day. You can switch up a training split whenever you like – train legs and arms together, back and shoulders together, chest and core together if you like. Alternatively, you can split your training into pulling movements and pushing movements to add more variety.

Who could train this way?

Body part splits are great for intermediate and advanced level exercisers who are looking to build muscle, and boy do they pack a punch!

Others who can benefit from body split workouts:

  • if you’ve got a particular muscle group you’d like to strengthen, split workouts can help you build up an individual area
  • if you are injured and limited to training certain muscle groups, split workouts can be a great choice for you – just pick the ones you can do
  • if you’re looking to build muscle, having a dedicated workout to each muscle group will give you fantastic results
  • if you like structure and have set training days, body split workouts can be scheduled well

The great thing is that both training styles will help you change your body composition, build muscle and tone up. Align the style with your goals and jump on in.