Bodybuilders gain just as much strength and muscle mass by following a traditional split schedule as they do if they train all muscle groups in one session. American sports scientist Michael Thomas drew this conclusion from the research he did for his doctorate.
Full body workout
Most strength trainers prefer training schedules in which strength athletes exercise all the important muscle groups in the body each time they work out. This approach has powerful hormonal effects, and the body has to work harder to build up physique, goes one argument.
High frequency training works just as well as low frequency training
Many bodybuilders, however, are not particularly keen on this way of doing things. Long and often exhausting full body workouts mean that some muscle groups don’t get the attention they need because they don’t get trained well enough.
In his doctoral research Thomas wanted to examine which type of schedule works best. He got one group of about 10 strength athletes to do a full body workout three times a week [High Frequency Training], while another equal sized group did a split schedule three times a week [Low Frequency Training].
The subjects in the full body workout group trained every muscle group three times a week. The subjects in the low frequency group trained each muscle group only once a week, but did devote more attention to each muscle group as a result.
Lean body mass and strength
After eight weeks Thomas measured the progression his subjects had made. He observed that both groups had gained lean body mass and strength.
There were no statistically significant differences in the progress made in the two groups. Full body workouts are therefore just as effective as low frequency workouts.