Do Athletes Train Using an Upper-Lower Split or Full-Body Workout?

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To become a great athlete, you need an unrelenting work ethic. But you also need to channel your efforts in the right direction to progress. As a result, highly effective training programs are also essential for being the best athlete you can be. And while being able to simply adopt a universally agreed-upon workout method for star athletes would be desirable, there is not one type of workout considered ideal. Athletes can succeed with both upper-lower splits and full-body workout plans. Comparing the benefits and drawbacks of each will help you decide which is better for you.

Upper-Lower Split Benefits

  • Upper-lower splits, in which you alternate between upper body and lower body workout days, offer several benefits for athletes. Such splits allow more scheduling flexibility, as you can plan which half of your body to train based on other activities, such as a team running day. In addition, split workout plans allow you to dedicate more time to a smaller number of muscle groups. This provides ample time for a wide array of exercises to get your muscles ready for the demands of your sport. Additionally, because split workouts don't hit your entire body, they may not take as long, so you'll have more time for practice and other athletic obligations.

Upper-Lower Split Drawbacks

  • One way in which upper-lower splits may not be best for athletes is that they may preclude you from performing functional exercises that are sport-specific. Functional movements are intended to mimic the moves you make during sports, and typically they involve both your lower and upper body. Additionally, you may miss out on the opportunity to perform some full-body exercises such as the clean and press. Because such exercises use so many muscles across your body, they trigger production of growth hormone, which can help maximize your strength gains.

Full-Body Workout Benefits

  • Full-body workout plans may provide a number of benefits to athletes. First, because you need to rest your entire body between workouts, you'll be spending fewer days in the gym. This provides more room in your schedule for practices and games. Also, full-body workouts will allow you to perform functional exercises that link both your upper and lower body. Depending on your sport, such exercises may be crucial for getting you in optimal condition.

Full-Body Workout Drawbacks

  • Full-body workouts are not perfect for everyone, however. Because you're working your entire body, you may find that full-body workouts exhaust you so much that your sports performance is impaired. Additionally, full-body workouts cause you to expend more calories, which can make it difficult to maintain your weight. Full-body workouts can also be psychologically draining, leading you to feel overwhelmed and overtrained. Overtraining can cause you to lose enthusiasm for your sport and cause the quality of your performance to decline.

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