Find the Right Fit

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Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of full-body exercises versus split workout routines.

By Stephanie Kalina-Metzger

People often go to a workout with a particular approach in mind, such as a full-body routine, or intentionally targeting specific body parts during their session. The latter is known as a “split workout,” which involves focusing on a few muscle groups on certain days. For instance, Mondays and Wednesdays may be leg day, while Tuesdays and Thursdays might focus on the upper body. This trend has led to some scratching of heads and a bit of confusion as to which workout is better—split, or whole-body. 

Sea Island Fitness Operations and Training Supervisor Tom Hemmings says it depends on the goals of the individual. “If the main goal is to gain mass, then they are going to stick to more of a split routine to fulfill strength or power goals,” he says, adding that full-time trainers are on-site to consult with individuals to determine what routines will work best for them. Hemmings is currently training a client whose goal was to increase strength and muscle mass. Now, the client wants to decrease overall body weight, which called for a change in the routine. “With this change there is a greater need to incorporate total body movements and cardiovascular components to ensure that the client’s goals are obtained in the most effective way possible,” he says.

Pilates offers a full-body workout.

Dr. Scott Schreiber, owner of MN Spine and Sport, says that split routines are great for those who are interested in bodybuilding and fitness competitions, or rehabilitating an injury. However, the whole-body routine offers unique benefits. “Our body functions as one unit, so separating it into specific parts can be a disservice,” he says. “Full-body training has also been shown to burn calories and fat faster than isolated exercises, so if you have weight/fat loss goals, I suggest full-body training.” 

Scott Burgett, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, agrees, adding that full-body sessions are more effective for teaching good movement patterns because they simulate day-to-day actions more effectively. “Full-body training teaches the body to use several muscle groups at once, which is better for overall health,” Burgett explains.

Whatever workout you think is right for you, Sea Island trainers are there to help, from assessing your individual needs with a movement analysis to determining your body mass index and listening to your objectives so that you can continue your workout after returning home. “Whether you’re a professional athlete, or someone who just wants to benefit from a personalized plan, we are available to work with you to help you achieve your goals,” Hemmings says.

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