Upper Lower or Full Body Split?

Aug 04, 2022

Photo Credit: Theresa Kumazah

By: Danielle Abel

Client Experience & Goals

When you're working with a client who's either new to lifting or needs help optimizing their lifting strategy, is it better to start them with a full body split or go right into an upper/lower split?

Let's dig into this a bit. 

For lifestyle clients, we want to improve their movement patterns first. So frequent repetition of the same movements over several weeks is beneficial to enhance neuro-muscular connections. Meaning that it helps increase motor unit recruitment between the brain, nerves, and muscles. 

Assessment/Needs Analysis

Sticking with a full-body split for their first 6-12 months of lifting allows them to make more significant progress by increasing their neuromuscular efficiency. Full body splits also will enable the volume to be spread out more evenly, reducing the total volume going into one muscle group. 

You want to cause enough adaptation so they can progress without too much muscle soreness and fatigue, making it more difficult for them to recover. 

Practical Application

Even if you're programming full body splits, that doesn't mean you can't vary movements from block to block. Keeping some variation in your programming will help the lifter stay excited and motivated to train while improving their movement patterns. For example, starting with a squat pattern in block 1 and progressing them to another squat variation in block 2. 

It's not that upper lower splits are bad; they're just probably better to use after the lifter becomes more confident and advanced with lifting. 

Support & Courses Available

Ready for even more support? Our Program Design 101 Course teaches you exactly how to organize an annual training plan and provides sport and client specific examples, and even includes done for you programming templates by phase. Click the link here to check it out




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