When I first started going to the gym volume training and body part splits where the way to go. Anything else was just a beginners routine, something to get you into the gist of weight bearing exercise.
Luckily now, things have changed; coaches and internet sites are catching onto the idea of full body workouts, shorter more intense workouts and a general less is more attitude.
Now while I acknowledge that volume training as in splitting up your body parts and hitting each one with several exercises from several different angles works a treat for building big show muscles. It only really works with those who are genetically gifted enough to stand the abuse and level of stress it puts on the body. Volume training puts a big load on not only the nervous system but also the joints and ligaments (more to come on that).
That being said I am not going about this post to bash volume training as I feel it has its uses and appreciate it works very well for some people, not for me though……
It’s Too Time Consuming – In order to train with real volume on each muscle group you are looking at a minimum of 3-4 hours a week of just hitting the weights in the gym. If you have this kind of time and patience then go for it, unfortunately not many of us in this modern age can afford to dedicate this much time to lifting weights. Plus many people find it boring.
Leaves Us Playing Catchup – I always found that volume training left my muscles looking larger and more pumped up but I could tell it wasn’t real solid muscle, I knew that if I stopped training for a week or two the muscle would quickly deflate back to a more reasonable size. This sort of traps people into going to the gym and continuing a volume based routine as they get addicted to how their bodies look when pumped. Ultimately it is unattainable long term…..
Shoulders Get Worn Down – Back in the days of volume training my poor, young shoulders took a heck of a lot of abuse. My left one still clicks on certain movements……. This is because just about every upper body exercise puts stress on the shoulder to some extent. When we are doing 5-6 exercises a few times a week the shoulders get some pretty harsh stress put on them. I know too many lifters with bad shoulders. Our scapula and rotator cuff are highly delicate and are not meant to handle this type of wear and tear. I want to be able to play sports and move freely into old age, not have creaky and painful shoulders……
CNS Stress – Lifting weights is stressful on the Central Nervous System. This is a known fact and when we are subject to a variety of stressors in different areas in our lives we do not need an extra hour on CNS pounding a few times a week. This could affect you in several ways, for me I can tell that I have pushed my nerves too far when I find it difficult to wind down or get a good nights sleep…. This is where good food can help as well as relaxation techniques which help nourish the nerves…
Full Body Workouts Are More Efficient – In terms of results and time to results ratio. A full body workout will do a great job at emptying out your bodies entire glycogen supply, this is a beautiful thing as it leaves your entire body acting like a sponge for the next few days soaking up the food you eat in order to repair the muscles. Take for comparison sake doing a chest and triceps workout which will only really trigger 2 small muscle groups to have this metabolic effect. For me muscle glycogen depletion is a key reason to train with weights, full body workouts are the most efficient route to achieving this…..
A total body plan will also allow you to gauge your progress much more readily. It is easy to see which exercises your are improving in performace and adding more weight to the bar. This is the ultimate sign of muscular development and growth.
Sports Performance has Improved – Since switching to more full body workouts a few years back my sports performance has improved immensely. This could be in part to my shoulders feeling more mobile which helps with things like tennis. But I also feel more free flowing in general as my legs are probably carrying a bit less bulk and my upper body is more flexible and carries a more functional strength….
Best Ways To Train?
For me it comes down to a combination of:
- Sports (tennis, football, dancing. Basically anything you enjoy)
- High intensity workouts, that are short in duration. See here………..
- Minimalist Workouts (Squats, Deadlifts, Dips, Pullups) Keep it Simple.
- A Push/Pull Split. This is as far as I would go in terms of volume training and still occasionally throw in a week or two of Push/Pull.
- Bodyweight Work. A simple combination of Pushups and Squats/Lunges is great.
- Some Yoga and Stretching
With experience I learnt to forget high volume training and head for a more sustainable and effective all around program. This has lead to less time in the gym, yet more pleasurable time in the gym and a more enjoyable life out of it……
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