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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why "Arms and Abs Days" Are a Bad Idea

I often get asked questions about what kind of training program is the most effective. Well, first and foremost it depends on what that person's goals are. For example, a person who is trying to compete in a Bodybuilding competition is going to utilize a program that looks a lot different than someone who is just trying to lose some weight and get back into "shape." However, regardless of someone's goals, a full-body workout seems to be the most beneficial and kind of a "one-size fits all" approach. Eirik Garnas wrote a great article for the Personal Training Development Center on the benefits of full-body workouts and how they can benefit a wide variety of people.

What is a Full-Body Workout?
As the name implies, a full body workout is a training session built around multi-joint compound movements that target essentially all of the major muscle groups during a single workout. For example, a workout consisting of back squats, bench press, pull-ups, lunges, over head press etc. would constitute as a full-body workout as opposed to one consisting of knee extensions, shoulder raises, bicep curls, and some crunches. 

Why is it so beneficial?
By training this way, you are targeting your largest muscle groups multiple times per week versus just focusing on smaller muscle groups (i.e. arms & abs) for a day and then taking 7 days off in-between training them again.  Again, this style of training can benefit a wide variety of people.

The "I just want to get healthy and look better" person will benefit from full-body workouts as it will help them burn more calories during their workout in addition to helping them maintain and/or increase lean muscle mass which increases their overall daily energy expenditure aka burning more calories. The "I'm trying to get stronger" person will benefit form full-body workouts as it imposes a greater training stress on the larger muscle groups which are key for strength development.

The "I only lift weights every once in a while" person will benefit from this style of workout because if you are only doing strength training every once in a while you may as well get your money's worth when you do lift weights! Again, by focusing on the compound lifts you will target larger muscle groups more often which has a wide array of benefits.


Regardless of your training goals, full-body workouts should make up the backbone of your program. If you just focus on single-joint exercises such as bicep curls or leg extensions you are not maximizing your potential and are utilizing a technique that is rather inefficient.


I encourage you to check out the article at the Personal Training Development Center for more details!


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