Full Body vs. Split Workouts: Beginner Strength Training Guide

Getting started with strength training can feel like stepping into a maze of options, especially for beginners.

One of the first decisions to make is whether to dive into a full body workout routine or opt for a split routine.

The difference between the two is quite straightforward: full body workout routines work all major muscle groups in one go, while split routines spread them out across different days.

Each approach comes with its perks and points to ponder, which makes it crucial for beginners to take a moment and consider their choices carefully. 

Understanding Full Body and Split Routines 

Understanding Full Body and Split Routines 

Before we dive headfirst into the debate, let’s first understand the protagonists of our story: full body and split routines. 

What are Full Body Routines? 

A full body workout routine is exactly what it sounds like – a workout plan that targets all major muscle groups in a single session. It’s like hitting the gym with an all-inclusive pass, ensuring no muscle is left behind. 

What are Split Routines? 

Split routines, on the other hand, divide your workouts into specific muscle groups or body parts on different days.

It’s like segmenting your beginner strength training program buffet into bite-sized portions, allowing you to focus on particular muscle groups with greater intensity

Pros and Cons of Full Body vs. Split Routines for Beginners strength training

A. Full Body Routines: Weighing the Options 


  • Great for beginners building a base. 
  • More manageable workout sessions. 
  • Easier to learn proper form with frequent practice. 


  • Lower workout intensity per muscle group. 
  • Might not be ideal for those solely focused on faster muscle growth. 

B. Split Routines: A Balanced Perspective 


  • Increased focus on specific muscle groups. 
  • Can potentially lead to faster muscle growth (for some). 


  • Requires more planning and understanding of muscle groups. 
  • Longer training sessions compared to full body routines. 
  • Higher risk of neglecting muscle groups due to missed sessions. 

Impact on Strength Gains: Full Body vs. Split 

Impact on Strength Gains_ Full Body vs. Split

The journey to building strength is a multifaceted one, influenced by various factors beyond just the type of routine followed.

Both full body and split routines have the potential to yield significant strength gains for beginners.

Research suggests that the key determinants of progress lie in consistency, proper form, and gradual progression rather than the specific routine chosen.

Therefore, while the transition from full body to split routines may be beneficial for some, it’s essential to prioritize foundational principles to maximize strength development. 

Sample Beginner Workout Plans  

Sample Beginner Workout Plans  

Full Body Sample Plan: 

  • Squats: 3 sets x 10 reps 
  • Push-ups: 3 sets x max reps 
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets x 8 reps 
  • Lat pulldowns: 3 sets x 10 reps 
  • Plank: 3 sets x 30 seconds 
  • Rest: 60-90 seconds between sets 

Split Sample Plan (2-day split):  

Day 1 (Upper Body): 

  • Bench Press: 4 sets x 8 reps 
  • Rows: 4 sets x 10 reps 
  • Overhead Press: 3 sets x 10 reps  

Day 2 (Lower Body): 

  • Squats: 4 sets x 8 reps 
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 4 sets x 10 reps 
  • Lunges: 3 sets x 10 reps per leg 
  • Rest: 60-90 seconds between sets 

Optimal Frequency of Full Body or Split Routines for Beginners strength training

Optimal Frequency of Full Body or Split Routines for Beginners strength training

The optimal frequency of training for beginners depends on various factors such as fitness level, recovery capacity, and individual goals.

Generally, most beginners can benefit from training 2-3 times per week with either full body routines or alternating days with split routines.

Full body routines offer a comprehensive approach by targeting all major muscle groups in each session.

They allow you to develop a strong foundation of strength and coordination by working all your major muscle groups in one session.

This frequent exposure to exercises can help you master proper form, which is essential to prevent injuries and maximize your results down the line.

While some muscle soreness is natural after starting a new workout routine, full body workouts don’t necessarily cause pain to “open up” your body.

This soreness is more likely due to microscopic tears in your muscle fibers that repair themselves stronger, leading to increased strength.

Training the entire body in one workout allows beginners to distribute workload evenly throughout the week.

This frequency provides ample time for muscle recovery and adaptation between sessions, which is crucial for beginners who are still building a foundation of strength and endurance.

Additionally, full body workouts can help beginners develop overall coordination and motor skills by repeatedly practicing a wide range of exercises.

As beginners progress and their strength and conditioning improve, they may choose to transition to split routines.

Split routines involve dividing workouts into specific muscle groups or body parts on different days.

This approach allows for more targeted training of individual muscle groups, potentially leading to greater muscle hypertrophy and specialization.

However, for starting beginners, full body routines are often recommended due to their simplicity, efficiency, and effectiveness in building a solid foundation of strength and conditioning.

As beginners become more experienced and their recovery capacity increases, they may gradually transition to split routines to further refine their training and focus on specific goals or muscle groups.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Full Body or Split Routines 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Full Body or Split Routines 
  • Overtraining: Listen to your body and allow for sufficient rest between workouts to prevent overtraining. 
  • Neglecting Recovery and Nutrition: Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are essential for muscle recovery and growth. 
  • Lack of Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the intensity and volume of your workouts to continue making gains over time. 
  • Importance of Proper Form and Technique: Focus on maintaining proper form to prevent injuries and maximize muscle engagement. 
  • Monitoring and Adjusting Training Variables: Regularly assess your progress and adjust your routine accordingly to ensure continued improvement. 


In conclusion, the journey to building strength as a beginner is marked by exploration, experimentation, and adaptation.

While the transition from full body workout to split routines may offer benefits for some, the foundational principles of consistency, proper form, and recovery remain paramount.

By prioritizing these principles and embracing the journey of self-improvement, beginners can confidently navigate the world of strength training and achieve their fitness goals.

So, choose wisely, listen to your body, and enjoy the process of becoming the best version of yourself! 

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