If you’ve followed my Daily Grind program on JimStoppani.com, you know just how beneficial full-body split training can be for fat loss while simultaneously building muscle mass. And science concurs – a recent study from New Zealand shows just how much more effective full-body split training can be on fat loss, and potentially muscle gains, as compared to a split-training routine.
The researchers had weight-trained New Zealand male rugby union players follow either a full-body training split done three times per week or a three-day training split (where the full body is trained over the course of three workouts). Both workouts were done three times a week for four weeks total, and the same total volume on all exercises was performed each week. The exercises performed were squats, leg curls, leg press, bench press, bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, shoulder press, biceps curls and calf raises.
The researchers reported in a 2016 issue of the journal Biology of Sport that the full-body workouts burned significantly more body fat (subjects had a 6% drop in body fat) than the split-body workouts (subjects only had a 2% drop in body fat) while also increasing testosterone to a greater degree and improving the testosterone-to-cortisol ratios in the subjects. The testosterone-to-cortisol ratio is often used to indicate whether or not the athlete is in an anabolic state. The higher this ratio, the more anabolic the athlete is assumed to be. Being more anabolic following workouts can help to improve muscle recovery and growth.
Jim’s Take-Home Points:
This study confirms what my Daily Grind program has already shown via thousands of subjects completing the program: that a a full-body split is highly effective for fat loss and may even be more effective over time for fat loss than a typical split program. This is likely due to the fact that with full-body training, you activate more muscle fibers throughout the body. This leads to greater activation of genes that create proteins, which will enable more fat to be burned away for fuel.
Training every major muscle group more frequently will also lead to greater activation of genes that may lead to greater muscle growth. In the New Zealand study, the group using the full-body training split saw a slightly greater increase in lean muscle mass gain as compared to the split-training group. Although this wasn’t statistically significant, it’s worth noting. This also could be due to the higher testosterone and lower cortisol levels (higher testosterone-to-cortisol ratio) that the full-body group experienced. This would suggest that the subjects were in a more anabolic state.
Also worth noting is that the strength gains were similar between the two groups regardless of the training split. However, when they split the groups up further into a “stronger” group (individuals who could squat more than two times their body weight) and a “weaker” group (those who could not squat two times body weight), they noticed that those in the stronger group who had experienced higher testosterone levels with full-body training experienced greater gains in strength. This might suggest that an experienced lifter with several years under his or her belt may benefit from switching to a full-body training program (such as Daily Grind) from time to time – not only for better fat loss, but better strength and muscle mass gains.
Another great full-body workout to consider is my 7 Station Shred. Or, if you have a set of JYM Bands and are traveling or stuck at home, try my On the Road Band Workout. Both of these workouts, and thousands more, can be found on my membership site JimStoppani.com.
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 33: 111-116, 2016.