The Real Difference Between Full Body And Split Workouts

Working out is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Regular physical activity can help you manage your weight, combat health conditions and diseases (such as stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and anxiety), boost energy, promote better sleep, and increase your sex drive, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, there are different types of workout routines out there, and some may be better suited for you than others. And finding a workout you enjoy is key to making it a regular part of your day-to-day life.

Typically, gym workouts can be categorized as either full-body routines or split routines. While both of these strength training workout options can help you burn calories, tone your body, and grow muscle mass, they're different in a number of ways, per CHRON

From the amount of time each routine requires to the results they provide, here are the main differences between a full-body workout routine and a split workout routine. 

The two routines target different parts of your body

The biggest (and most obvious) difference between a full-body workout and a split workout can be traced back to their respective names. A full-body workout routine targets the entire body, or all of your muscle groups, in a single session. In other words, it involves exercises that use the upper body, the lower body, and the core on the same day. Split workout routines, on the other hand, target one or two muscle groups in a single training session, per CENTR.

There are several ways to participate in a full-body workout routine. It may come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), bodyweight workouts, or conventional weightlifting, according to CNET. A split routine generally divides training sessions by body regions (i.e. upper and lower-body training). A weekly split routine might look like training your lower-body split on Tuesdays and training your upper-body split on Thursdays, per Very Well Fit

However, there are several ways to organize a split workout, and you might even focus on more specific muscle groups, as opposed to regions. For example, you might dedicate an entire day to your chest and triceps, and focus on your back and biceps on another day. This depends on every individual's muscle growth goals, per CNET.

A split workout routine is more intense than a full-body one

Another difference between a full-body workout and a split workout is the intensity level. A full-body workout is great for most people, as it gets the job done as far as getting regular exercise and building overall strength goes. It's also the routine that is recommended for beginners by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to help them learn proper exercising techniques, according to Very Well Fit.

A full-body workout routine is also recommended for those who don't have ample time to dedicate to their fitness regimen. For starters, it's not a huge deal if you miss a workout (conducting a full-body workout even three times a week is adequate). Second, because a full-body workout expends more energy per session than a split workout, you're probably getting all the movement you need, per CNET.

Split workout routines, in contrast, require much more dedication and time throughout the week. As split routines really hone in on muscle growth, you need to be able to dedicate at least one hour to each muscle group per session. Additionally, if you miss even one session, that means you are skipping working out an entire muscle group for that week, explains CNET. All in all, the type of routine that will work best for you depends on your fitness goals, as well as the amount of time you are willing to dedicate per week to achieve those goals.