Updated: Feb 10
You may have heard numerous quotes before; ‘It is the one that you can stick to and be consistent with’. It is also ‘the one that you enjoy’.
To an extent, this is true, I agree that consistency and enjoyment are 2 important factors that need to be present in order to see results, the ‘best’ training program in the world according to textbook isn’t in fact the best if you can’t adhere to it long term, this could be down to a number of things; it’s intricacies measured against your capabilities and the time it stipulates that you spend in the gym which you may not have are 2 other examples and in my opinion major considerations that should be made alongside how much you enjoy it.
However if you’re anything like me; results driven and like to understand the ‘why’ behind the method, it isn’t always the best piece of advice to be following.
For example, I enjoy training chest the most, but if I require greater strength & development in my back me following the one that I ‘enjoy’ the most’ won’t necessarily provide me with the results I want and in my opinion, another factor that heavily influences enjoyment is seeing results.
When I see progress taking place in the areas that i’d like, It motivates me more to continue my efforts, on the other hand, when I lack the progress that I desire, i’m less diligent towards the commitments that my training may stipulate.
So… What is the best training program after all?
In my experience, those that include
Multiple muscle group training sessions
Full Body, Upper & Lower Body, Push & Pull.
In a nutshell, they’re more time efficient and more effective should we structure them appropriately. What could we desire more than a workout that stipulates less time in the gym, but more progress?
As I've worked with hundreds of everyday individuals (including myself) who’s most common barriers among the many are time and stress alongside family, work & socials. Having to think less and do less becomes a luxury when we concern ourselves with a body transformation.
Whether you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee multiple muscle group training sessions can be adapted to suit all. In this article I’m going to give you some clarity on how, why and what an example of how to structure your own workout so that you can try yourself.
But first of all,
What makes up a good training program?
Alongside what i’ve mentioned above (one that caters to your availability of time, that you can perform with efficiency and confidence, that you enjoy and can therefore be consistent with), it is also the one that over a set time period (typically a week) stipulates the full body and all of its primary muscle groups having been trained.
When we concern ourselves with physiology and its development, regardless of any specific goal we might have, I think we should always aim to develop a degree of unified strength to promote longevity in our health and functionality (weakness surrounding any joint isn’t a desired trait, and neither will it be avoided without training the muscles that surround it appropriately for a degree of strength). Alongside that, if the goal encompasses an aesthetic focus, I think we should be striving to develop well balanced proportions of muscle tissue among our primary muscle groups.
Why Full Body, Upper & Lower Body, Push & Pull?
Do you ever find yourself confused?
1. (In most cases) they allow form & execution of exercises to be improved more efficiently.
The same workout can be repeated more than once within a week, this is great for all level trainees.
Beginners - In my opinion, the priority here should be gaining confidence, making progress and developing awareness of fundamental movement patterns (co-ordinating the knees & hips appropriately for training being one example).
Do you ever do the squat and it just ‘doesn’t feel right?’ Don’t worry, this can be normal! As it might also be the case for many other exercises.
Here’s where full body regimes can help, there’s no need for you to be doing tonnes of different exercises and making your body confused. ‘Shocking the muscle’, or the body in a way that’s beneficial with this context being applied isn’t what will be happening.
To get better at something, simply do it more often. 4-6 exercises within a workout here covering the entire body and performed 3 times per week I find is sufficient.
Read about Kristianna’s journey by clicking the link below (we did nothing different):
Intermediate - At this stage you may be thinking more about the development of a particular muscle group or skill. Likewise is the case for a beginner and this approach being more conducive to getting better more quickly at a multitude of different exercises, if you’re wanting to get bigger legs or progress your squat?
Squatting more often would be my first port of call.
2. (In most cases) alongside the above we can achieve a higher volume and/or frequency of effective muscle group training stimulus with fewer sessions (when compared to a typical ‘bro split’ within a week.
If we consider ourselves in the intermediate or advanced bracket of trainees, volume and frequency of effective training stimulus is something we should be aiming to progress over time. Take a look at the images that I have included below which I have taken from the Training Webinars I present weekly in my 12 Week Group Coaching Academy to show the difference we would likely see between what I think is a typical Chest session and an Upper body training session with respect to volume.
3. (In most cases) we won’t need to train as often.
The recovery demands will likely be much greater from each session (warranting more rest) and also due to the increased frequency at which we will be training each muscle group (alongside the increasing demand for recovery) should we effectively adopt one of these training regimes there will be less of a need to train as frequently.
In most cases I advise 3 times per week as a minimum requirement and 4-5 times as a maximum.
This works great for those that have less time, this could be due to work or family commitments. In which case the training plan will provide much more flexibility.
How should they be structured?
My advice is to prioritise compound lifts first; horizontal and vertical pressing and pulling movements, squat and deadlift variations, leg presses.
4 exercises per workout as a minimum and 8 exercises per workout as a maximum.
10-12 sets per muscle group within each week as a minimum requirement and up to 24 sets per muscle group as a maximum.
If the goal is developing muscle tissue & strength, I would advise working predominantly between 3-15 repetitions.
If I was to write a program myself, appropriate allocation all of these variables (the appropriate amount of volume and exercises, appropriate exercise selection and whether we opt for full body or push & pull training split etc.) would depend on the specific goal that the individual has, their capabilities and availability of time.
Here are a couple of example training programs over a weekly time period:
Mon - Full Body
Tue - Rest
Wed - Full Body
Thu - Rest
Fri - Full Body
Sat - Rest
Sun - Rest
Mon - Upper Body
Tue - Lower Body
Wed - Rest
Thu - Upper Body
Fri - Lower Body
Sat - Rest
Sun - Rest
Have a question? Get in touch.
Feel free to contact me via email me at email@example.com.
Want to know more about coaching? Click here.