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For lifting 3x a week, what is better, total body, or group?

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning' started by serpentara, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. serpentara


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am interested in finding out what is better to do to promote strength and muscle growth. I recently lost a ton on bodyfat (from 225 down to 145) and I am looking to put on some muscle now. I am 22 years old.

    Currently I hit the weights 3x a week for about an hour and a half and I do a full upper body workout, however I wonder if I might be better served by doing group workouts instead to really fatigue muscles.

    The thing I really cant wrap my head around is how muscle growth will occur if you are only stessing the muscle once a week?

    Currently I do 3 sets of each every time(everything with a / I switch every other session):

    Barbell Curls
    Bech Press/Dumbbell Bench Press
    Barbell Upright Row
    Dumbbell Military Press
    Lat Pulldown/Seated Row
    Shoulder Raise
    300 Crunches/100 declined situps
    Seated curls
    and on the cable machine I do supersets of:
    cable crossover+tricep extensions
    cable press + overhead cable curls.

    I was thinking of switching to something like:
    Biceps and Chest

    Triceps and Back

    Friday or Saturday (depending on date night)
    Shoulders and lower body

    Just wondering what you guys think, if this is a better way to gain muscle vs the full body workout that I have been doing for the last year or so.

    I try to eat a good amount of protein every day, and I am going to start adding a protein drink that I will take as soon as I finish my workout with 42 grams of protein.

    Thanks a lot.
  2. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    How old are you?

    FWIW, for average trainees, I whole heartedily believe in total body workouts.

    I think weight training for 1.5 hours is too much for most. For most abbreviated trining works best.

    I find that I respond best to old school type workouts. The kind of workout that worked for people prior to the days of steroids and Bodybuilding magazines. Back when people refered to the weight training life style as "strength and health".

    All this said, I think you might try a squat, push, pull go home style workout, in a Reg Park-like 5x5 scheme. Maybe adding a set of curls or calf exercises after the major work is done. I am not a believer in isolation exercises. Additionally, this squat-push-pull style workout does also want you to do an ab exercise.

    You also may want to try a 20 Rep breathing style squat workout ala Mark Berry or Randall Strossen.

    I'm in a hurry, so I can't go into more detail now sorry. But if you would like I can add more later. You may find more info on these style of training by fining an EZ Board form called "Old Scool Strength Training". Although this forum is dying, there is some excellent info in the "Training NoteBook" area of the Forum.


  3. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    Oh yeah, most importantly, congratulations on your weight loss. That's fantastic.
  4. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

    Workout 1:
    Close Grip Bench
    Military Press

    Workout 2:
    Stifflegged Deadlift (every other workout)
    Pullups or Rows
    Hanging Leg Raises

    Work out on Monday-Wednesday-Friday with alternating workouts. The first workout, such as Workout 1 on Monday, do three sets of five on each exercise; ab work can be done for higher reps, but try doing situps with enough weight so you can only do no more than eight reps. The second workout, such as Workout 1 done on Friday of that same week, do three sets of ten on each exercise. In each workout, use enough weight so that you can only get the prescribed reps. It is a good idea to not work to failure, but leave one rep in the rack. (The rep you fail on will be the one with bad form and get you hurt.)

    Stifflegged deadlifts are only done every other time you do workout 2, on the low-rep day.

    Begin the workout with warmups (and they are just that - warmups, not work sets). Don't do any more warmups than are necessary to get ready for the work sets. Once you have done the work sets on the first exercise, no warmups are necessary with the other exercises. Go right to the work weight. Rest as short a time as possible between sets. Each workout should take no longer than 30-35 minutes.

    Every six or eight weeks, on the heavy day, work up to a heavy single. If you have competent spotters, don't be afraid to max out and test your strength, as long as you can do it with proper form.

    Drink a gallon of milk a day, along with good meals. Mix in some protein powder with a few of those glasses of milk and you won't help but get significantly stronger and bigger.
  5. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    If you are going to split your workouts, ateamer has given you an excellent plan. In fact, I may try that soon.

    Two more options for you: find the old York Courses on the web somewhere. Or you may want to try "Westside for Skinny Bastards" found HERE!
  6. earl simmons

    earl simmons karate

    Aug 30, 2003
    At 22, a person might be able to recover quick enough to train each muscle group conventionally (6-10 sets per session) multiple times per week. Care must be taken to prevent overtraining, however.

    A different approach is hypertrophy-specific training, which involves three whole-body sessions per week. The training volume per muscle group per session is low, which allows adequate recovery. This method is described at: Hypertrophy-Specific Training
  7. BCR

    BCR BIGASS!!!!

    Dec 8, 2002
    New Hampshire
    FWIW, I do this:

    Monday: Back, legs

    Wednesday: Chest, triceps

    Friday; Shoulders, biceps

    I could never do a fullbody workout 3x a week, I am much to sore for that sort of thing.
  8. gunguru1


    Dec 8, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    I prefer to train my entire body only twice per week. For me, this minimizes the chance of overtraining. I would suggest performing half your total excercises on one day, take a day off, and then perform the other half on the next day. Repeat so you get your total routine done twice per week.

  9. methos11299


    Sep 5, 2004
    before i stopped i usually did it three times a week M W F

    Monday = upper body

    Wednesday = lower body

    Friday = full body
  10. fuji


    Jan 9, 2003
    eastern, PA
    I wanted to loose weight and tried full body 2 months. At 41 the reacts very different to physical stress it takes more rest. 2 years of split routines pushing good weight and went 3 day a week just dumbbells.

    What I noticed was not a lot of strength loss maybe a little harder kept reps 10-12*2-3 with short rest between sets. Size about the same some change. The big thing I noticed was I became super tight. Lost flexibility. No injuries but didn't feel as loose or rested.

    From this I went back to splits. So Full body for me was ok t I didn't get the results I was looking for. It was a great change from my usual routine and would do it again when I get stale. It can be a super cardio routine if you use it right I just don’t know how the long term would be on my body.

  11. stengun


    Nov 20, 2004
    Bugtussell, AR
    Howdy serpentara,

    I like this one myself......


    I like the leg sled. Its easier on your back than doing squats, plus you don't need a spotter. Plus I use the leg extendsion & the leg curl machine as a leg warm-up and to finish off my work out. AlsoI use the sled to workout my calves.

    Wednesday....Chest, shoulders & back

    Chest.... Bench press, incline press, military press; db presses flat, incline and overhead. These also work your shoulders too.

    Shoulders....Db flys, db shrugs.

    Back....Lat pull down, db rows.

    Friday.....Arms (Do not work out your arms w/ other body parts. You use your arms in your chest, shoulder, and back workout, and this will reduce your gains.)

    Biceps....Db curls, bb curls, and concertation curls.

    Ticeps....Bd extendsions (overhead), and cable push downs.

    Wrist.... Barbell wrist curls.

    This is a pretty good work out. Nothing fancy, kinda simple, easy to do. This can be done in one hour or less. You can also add about 15 or so minutes of cardio as well. Unless you are trying to be a muscleman, this is all you need.

  12. Andrew Tacquard

    Andrew Tacquard

    Oct 16, 2000
    S. MD
    If your just getting started 2 to 3 times per week for the whole body is great to gain muscle. At least that is what I think. Just don't overtrain. I believe when you first start your body is capable of packing on the muscle quicker by training the entire body several times a week. And you don't have to make it an all day affair. If your doing everything 1.5 hours is good. Maybe 2 to 3 exercises per group. I wouldn't worry about protein as long as you eat meat/beans/etc. You probably get more than enough already. I can't remember what the recomendation is for people who PT alot, but I think it is something like 1g/kg of body weight. I'm sure you could find that on the web. Bottom line, don't waste to much money on supplements when you first start (buy more guns instead). Your body will respond the same without them. I've been lifting for several years now. I'm not big by any means (about 200 5'11"), I always seem to find an execuse to stop lifting for extended periods of time. What I like to do now is

    Monday - heavy push exercise (bench, brain crushers, mil press, etc.)
    Tues - Heavy pull (pull ups/downs, heavy curls)
    Wed - legs, forearms, calfs
    Thurs - light push (dumbell presses chest/shoulder and cables for triceps)
    Fri - light pull (cables and light dumbells)

    Cardio at least 3 times per week, prefer 5 times.

    I've found over the years you have to change things and what works best for you won't work for someone else. It cracks me up to see guys that weigh about a buck fourty working one muscle group a day for hours because they saw some big dude doing it. They are just wasting time and overtraining. Also, don't leave your legs out they are important too. Good luck and don't hurt yourself.
  13. testosterone


    Aug 26, 2003
    las vegas
    i work one body group once a day. chest one day, arms one day, back one day, shoulders one day, legs one take is that if you can finish brutalizing your back and still have enough energy to do your biceps then you havent fried your back enough. keep focus on your training, concentrate on the muscle you're working on...meaning keep your mind focused on your back while you are doing your set...dont let it wander on the big breasted blonde doing dips in front of you..also be in and out of teh gym in under an hour
  14. akbound


    Mar 31, 2004
    There are many factors that should be considered. Your age, your current level of conditioning, as well as special considerations (such as old injuries, limitations, etc.). At your current age though your body should be able to handle more than one training session per week, per muscle group, and still show gains.

    Because of my current lack of conditioning as well as my age (nearing fifty) I would need more time between workouts for instance. The reason I mention my program is because I am also currently assisting two much younger nephews (early, mid-teens) with their weight training/conditioning so I had to find a combination that worked well for the three of us (given the mentioned variables in addition to our time constraints). I settled on a program that might also work well for you in your situation.

    We also work out three times weekly, Monday - Wednesday - Friday. All of our workouts of course are preceeded by light warm-up lifts along with stretching. And all of our workouts end with stretching. I only mention that because it still amazes me how many people do not plan this into their workouts.

    Mondays we start with very light abdominal exercises that helps warm-up the core beyond our earlier warm-up. We then concentrate on big muscle exercises for the upper body, (back, chest, and shoulders in that order). We stick with compound exercises as much as possible while of course excluding small isolation exercises. We also try to alternate moderate reps with low reps, heavy weight. (Of course by heavy weight I mean it relatively speaking in regards to my nephews. Because their bones have not finished growing I am very careful NOT to let them do l rep max, 3 rep heavies, and for that matter I am very careful about how often I will even let them work down to six rep sets. I do not want them damaging their growth plates, which should not be a consideration for you!)

    Wednesdays start with very light ab work similar to Monday. We then warm up the body and legs with light sets of squats. Normally two or three sets are sufficient to warm up. We will then either move to multiple sets with moderate weight for twenty reps, (a real kick in the butt by the fourth or fifth set), or we will pyramid weights and work our way to low rep/heavy weight sets. These will range down as far as either six or three rep sets depending upon weight used. But once again I am very judicious in allowing either of my nephews many opportunities to approach truly max weights, for all the same reasons stated above. (We will infrequently do a days' workout of squats doing twenty reps for five sets, using dumbbells instead of a straightbar. This adds not only variety but displaces the stresses differently than a bar on the shoulders does. Also good for developing hand and forearm strength.) Or after properly warming up do a workout of "Breathing Squats". When done properly you will only do one set of these, it won't be fun, and there isn't a need to do them every workout to see benefit from them. (If you haven't read the book, do so! I need to replace my copy as I can't find mine since our last move, and its been a long time since I read it last.) When we have finished our squat workout for the day, we will finish with as many as four or five sets of several isolation exercises. Sometimes with light weights to stretch out the hamstrings and quadriceps, or sometimes for other leg muscles such as ad/abductors, calves, etc.

    Friday we do a heavier abdominal workout. Then we follow with a light warm-up of chest/back, usually isolation type movements and follow with additional isolation type exercises for shoulders/arms/wrists/neck/etc. This day allows for lighter weights then either Mondays or Wednesdays, allows for a larger variety to be added to the program, and provides some "finishing". All of which are as much to maintain my nephews interest as it is for any other reasons. The truth is, in this stage of their programs they could get by just as well without them physically. But if you can't keep someone physchologically interested in their programs.....they won't benefit physically if they get bored and stop. Many people won't admit that motivation is a real factor (or at least not for themselves) but it is the very reason that NOT EVERYONE exercises! So I want to give my nephews the knowledge and (hopefully they will provide the motivation) that will last them a lifetime!


    P.S. I forgot to mention that if you are doing cardio 3x to 4x per week, (and you should be), you only need to lift once weekly for legs. (As long as you are lifting with appropriate intensity!) Most cardio workouts heavily involve legs and you want to insure you are leaving sufficient time between workouts for recovery.
  15. testosterone


    Aug 26, 2003
    las vegas
    i forgot to add to this...PROTIEN......take in atleast 1-1.5g of quality protein per pound of lean body lets say you weigh want to take in 200-250g of quality protein per day, divided through 5-6 meals per cant do it all in solid foods..look to shakes. Muscle Milk is the only brand that I use..its the best tasting and the best out on the market right now. pricey but you get what you pay for.
    edit to add...take in atleast 40g atlest 1hr after your training session. if you have the money consider adding some Amino Acids...I take Optimum nutrition ...2 with each meal and 3 before and 3 after my training..makes a big difference. AND VITAMINS...Multivitamin, mulitmineral, 1g of vit E and atelast 1g of C per day.
  16. Here is a full body workout for three days a week that I use. It hits the whole body but each workout will focus hit one major muscle group hard and hit the rest with lower volume.

    I warm up first on the nordic track, treadmill or bike (variety is the spice of life and I need a lot of spice for indoor cardio) and I always do abs first except on a legs focus day.

    1-Whole body Leg Focus
    -Squats / Split Squats
    -Leg Press
    -Calf Raise
    only 2 sets each of;
    -Cable or Preacher curls
    -Bent over raise

    2-Whole body BACK focus
    3-6 sets
    2 work sets each of
    -Leg Curls
    -Incline bench
    -EZ curl
    -Shoulder Press

    3-Whole body CHEST focus
    -Bench 4-6 sets
    -Flys 2-3 sets
    2 work sets each of;
    -Leg Extension
    -Low Cable or DB row
    -Side/Front raise
    -DB curl
    -Tri pushdown or Ly-Tri-X

    What I like about this workout is that it doesn't thrash me as bad as my old split (Legs, Back & Biceps, Chest-shoulder & Triceps). It used to take 5 days to recover from a legs workout. It hits smaller faster recovering muscle groups like delts for frequently and I've seen better gains that way.

    For basic fitness I think it's a good routine.
  17. sy2k


    Jan 22, 2002
    This works for me:

    Monday - Chest, Biceps, Abs

    Wednesday - Legs, shoulders

    Friday - Back,, triceps, Abs

    Usually 1-2 exercises for each, ~6-10 overall sets, arranged in 'pyramid' fashion.
  18. Wmarden


    Aug 23, 2002


    Do lower body/total body lifts.
  19. AuggieG


    Feb 1, 2005
    For a 3 day a week I like a legs,push,pull. Legs one day, then chest,tri's and shoulders,then back and biceps. It seems to work out well.