When attempting to gain muscle and improve your body composition, there are many types of workout programs you can use. One potential muscle-strengthening method is to train just one body part a day. While focusing all of your energy on a single body part during each workout may be beneficial, there are also potential downsides to this style of training. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends choosing exercises that train all major muscle groups two to three times per week as a more effective muscle-strengthening approach.
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One body part a day training has several potential benefits for muscle building and strengthening. This method can enable you to train efficiently by keeping your strength-training sessions shorter, because you don't have to do exercises for your entire body in each workout. In addition, training one body part per day allows each body part to have plenty of recovery time before the next workout for that specific body part. One body part a day muscle training may also allow you more daily time for aerobic activity, a key component of overall health and fitness according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Designing your workout plan with one body part worked each day has some downsides. Working individual body parts every seven days may not provide sufficient stimulus for muscle growth or strength gains. In addition, this type of training may not improve overall fitness as much as workout plans that use compound exercises along with aerobic or sports-specific training components. Compound exercises engage multiple muscles to complete each repetition in a set instead of fatiguing a single muscle or muscle group in isolation.
Example Workout Schedule
The possibilities for a one body part a day training schedule are limitless. Take care not to schedule compound exercises, such as pushups -- which work both the chest and arms -- on consecutive days. For true one body part a day training, select exercises that isolate specific muscles or muscle groups over compound exercises. One example of a one body part per day training program would be: Monday, chest; Tuesday, back; Wednesday, hamstrings; Thursday, arms; Friday, quadriceps; Saturday, abdominals; Sunday, shoulders.
If the benefits do not outweigh the drawbacks for your training goals, you can choose an alternative approach to strengthening your muscles. One common workout program involves full-body training, which entails less frequent workout sessions that work your entire body. Another potentially beneficial alternative is an upper/lower program, which includes some workouts more focused on upper-body muscles and some that aim to target lower-body muscles more.
Whichever you choose, you'll likely perform a variety of compound exercises that together target all of the body's major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A schedule like this gives you days with no lifting during which you can rest or focus on fitting aerobic and/or sports-specific training activities into your workout plans.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- ExRx.net: Low-Volume, Progressive Intensity Training
- MyFIT.ca: Isolation Workout Exercises
- American College of Sports Medicine: The Basics of Starting and Progressing a Strength-Training Program