Total Body Training
Total Body Training (‘TBT’) is a workout method just like your typical “split” training routine. Back in the day, when I first started working out, I started a 6-day split routine. Meanwhile I started researching different types of training where I embarked on TBT. I was skeptic at first, but eventually favored it as the best split one can possibly do until they reach a Mid intermediate / advanced level. Even at advanced stages, one can still use TBT but certain parameters have to be modified. There are many benefits of TBT:
With TBT, you are limited by the total number of exercises in a session. Anyone can do more; however, in this case (TBT) more will often lead to a burnout (overtraining). That being said, you are forced to focus on compound – multi joint exercises which target a large number of muscles with one movement pattern. Additionally, compound – multi joint exercises are one of the closest ways to functional training providing a carryover benefit to everyday activities. Here’s an example; A lift like the overhead press (carrying an object overhead), or a deadlift (picking up a heavy object off the ground). Those are movements that we often use in our day-to-day activities. Now compare that to a triceps’ kickback. when in everyday life will you mimic that movement?
In short, TBT lets you focus more on the beneficial compound exercises rather than emphasizing on the less useful isolation exercises which hardly aid in getting the body you strive for or helping you in everyday activites.
Having a TBT workout with a strength emphasis consisting of compound exercises will cause a high amount of energy expenditure and large amounts of micro trauma ( Muscle Tears) inducing a high caloric expenditure. In retrospect, the repair process will be high further leading to an elevated metabolism for up to 48 hours post workout which is great if your goal is fat loss. Compare that to a “shoulder & arm” day on a split routine where you perform less taxing exercises and you’ll see the difference. I am not negating the increased metabolism levels gained from resistance training in general or other routines. However with TBT, I personally as well as others (who I have worked with) noticed being “warmer” throughout the day compared to when following a split. Not only that, do it right and you’ll be gasping for air which is a surprise for a lot of people who initially perceive TBT to be too little (volume and exercise wise).
Two of the most important / essential hormones required for muscle hypertrophy (Increase in muscle mass) are testosterone and growth hormone. Various researches show a linear relationship between growth hormone and the intensity of exercise in addition to working large muscle groups. Given the nature of incorporating TBT, an exercise session is guaranteed to be intense as well as the focus primarily being on large muscle groups,. Moving on to the next hormone, Testosterone levels have been shown to be proportionate to the amount of muscle mass stimulated in a workout i.e. the more muscle mass stimulated in a workout, the higher the levels of testosterone released. I’d like to take this topic further by stressing that this does not mean that more is indefinitely better. I don’t want this information to be taken to extreme terms and interpreting that as a 4 hour total body workout will make you the next HULK with all the hormones released. Scientific research proves that Cortisol levels are elevated when workouts last longer than 60-90 minutes depending on the individual. Cortisol is a fat storing hormone that is catabolic in nature (causes break down of muscle). So, the notion of More is better is usually not the case.
All major muscle groups are trained 3 times / week. The more the frequency in which a muscle is trained, the greater the results (PROVIDED YOU CAN RECOVER). Now compare that to a conventional bodybuilding split where major muscle groups are trained once / week.
For The Haters
I know, some of you who have been doing splits since starting out will think that I don’t know jack sh*t, and might be asking if TBT is so great, why aren’t all the pro bodybuilders promoting it. Well for the first part, there is no single way to reach a goal. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that a certain way is superior than the other. I am not saying that TBT is the one and only way but in my opinion and many others TBT is one of the best methods to build a solid foundation and can be used up to intermediate levels. Incorporating a split routine early on can lead to muscle imbalances. Take the preferred chest day for many, where you give it your all and constantly strive to increase your weights versus shoulder and arm day where you don’t put in the same determination and effort. This way your setting yourself up to have muscle imbalances that may / will later result in injury to due overcompensation by stronger muscle or tight muscles inducing sprains. Moving on to the Pro Bodybuilder argument, I’d like you to look up the amount of steroids, growth hormone drugs and other anabolics (AKA juice) that these pros use. With decent genetics and the enough effort, with that much juice in their system the results will come.
This article can keep going but the post would be too long if it isn’t already. I love going to the gym but I also love living life and having the time to do so without feeling guilty of skipping a workout. TBT does just that. All you have to do, is put in 3 times of a week for the same results of doing a 6 day split. Also, that leaves you with 4 days left to add in some cardio, mobility work, going out or whatever you want to do. Here are things to keep in mind;
Guidelines for TBT Training
– Train every second day (24-48 hrs rest in between sessions)
– Change order of exercises
– One exercise for all Major Muscle groups (Chest,Back,Legs) per session
– 2-4 Sets per Muscle Group
– Different Rep Schemes for every workout in a week (e.g. 8*4 / 5*5 / 3*12)
In Part II, I’ll outline how to structure a TBT routine and give you guys a great program that I, as well as others that I have worked with got great results with.
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