I won't rehash the debate between bodypart training advocates and full-body routine advocates, because one look no further than any online messageboard for interminable disputes between advocates of a double split, bodypart, and full-body workout, which are invariably rife with opinions and bereft of science, bodypart advocates relying instead upon opinions spoon-fed to them by Joe Weider (though they're wholly ignorant of this fact, and just about anything else that could rightly be construed as fact), and full-body guys yammering on endlessly about "natural training" and other assorted poppycock and bullshit.
Most bodybuilding authors will contend, however, that bodypart splits are ideal for building and "shaping" muscle and a physique in general, and scoff at the idea that someone could become "hyooge" by adhering to anything but a bodypart split. This is their contention, despite the fact that full body routines span the entire history of weightlifting, and even upper/lower splits and the like are still utilized by some of the biggest, strongest people on the planet, like powerlifters and strongmen. They are idiots, and anyone who parrots their logically and historically unsound nonsense is doubly so, for lacking the ability to see through their obvious lies and blatant disregard for facts staring them straight in the fucking face.
Kroc's not actually jacked- that's an optical illusion.Having given my unvarnished opinion of these pundits, I'll add the following- I hate the bodypart split for three reasons. One, my favorite exercises don't fit into them- BTN push presses hit legs, and BTN partials REALLY hit legs when they become OH squat lockouts in the rack; clean and presses hit everything, as do fast curl and presses, snatches, and all of the one arm goodness I love. Two, what happens if you can't train for a day? Do you move all of your exercises back a day and throw off your whole schedule? What if your gym is randomly closed? You could, ostensibly, go multiple weeks without training a given bodypart due to the fact that you couldn't make it to the gym on certain days. Finally, they're based on bullshit exercises that people claim isolate certain muscles, only because they're fucking morons with no knowledge of physiology. Furthermore, if any exercise actually comes close to isolating a muscle, it's likely on a machine, and thus is probably not worth doing.
There's my take. The debate has raged for some time between the two sides, however, and it's got a shitload of history. For those uneducated fuckers out there, and you are legion, here's the deal: bodybuilding in its modern form was founded by two guys who took opposing sides in this debate, a debate about bodybuilding in general, and which seedy underbelly of the sport they'd represent, Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider. One could argue that the debate actually goes back further than that, and I'll touch on that at the end, but for all intents and purposes, this debate begins here.
On one side, we had Bob Hoffman, a multiple medal winner in WW1 who was apparently a physical specimen his entire life. Later, Hoffman went on to found York Barbell, where he promoted full body routines based on Olympic lifts, and sponsored a number of the athletes we recognize as greats from that era, like Bob Bednarski. Hoffman basically funded the US Olympic Weightlifting program himself, and was a one-man army against the Communist juggernaut of that era. Though he basically hated bodybuilding, he recognized its utility in merchandising, so he started promoting bodybuilding in Muscular Development (which is in my opinion the only extant bodybuilding mag worth a shit). Hoffman's bodybuilding competitions also reflected his appreciation of strength athletes, and blended weightlifting and bodybuilding to make what would seem in retrospect to be a far more respectable sport. He, however, was one of the earliest proponents of steroid use (he had to be, as the Russians were leaps and bounds ahead of us in the use of AAS in strength sports), and he was constantly plagued by accusations that his athletes were nothing but the products of drugs. This, of course, was retarded, but natural lifters will generally blame physical success on steroids whenever they can, blithely ignoring the herculean efforts of the athletes to bolster their own self-worth. Hoffman, obviously, promoted what could be seen as the basic, time-honored, full body routine favored by strength athletes since weights began being lifted. That's right- full-body routines predate steroids by hundreds of years, and have been shown, definitively, to work for natural lifters. Testosterone was only released as a synthetic form, methyltestosterone, in the late 1940's and early 1950's- this means that people were getting jacked on full-body workouts long before that, and will continue to do so until the last real men die off, which scientists predict will occur within the next ten years. Thereafter, it will only be eunuchs, metrosexuals, and other assorted pussies.
Lightweight WeightlifterOn the other side, we had Joe Weider. Weider was not the burly badass that Hoffman was. On the contrary, Weider was a money-grubbing, mustachioed, possibly homosexual Jewish Canadian who published his first homoerotic muscle worship magazine at the age of 17. Yes, I cast a lot of aspersions in that sentence. Make of them what you will- Alexander the Great loved the cock, but he didn't turn Macedonian warfare into naked pattycake- he killed motherfuckers. Weider, on the other hand, published magazines like "Adonis" and "Body Beutiful" and was instrumental in the removal of weightlifting from bodybuilding. Clearly, gay men are going to be fans of bodybuilding, as it's oily, mostly naked men flexing, so it was probably unnecessary for Weider to strive mightily to remove the last vestiges of manliness from the sport, but he did. At the same time, he promoted a style of exercise that was a direct counterpoint to Hoffman's- the bodypart split.
"Split and Double Split Systems of Training - While it wasn't invented by Joe Weider, more credit should be given to him for this principle. To explain this system, it must be said that bodybuilding throughout the 1930s through the 1950s relied on a typical weightlifting schedule of three workouts per week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, to be exact) and the whole body was to be worked out each session, with one to three sets of only one exercise per bodypart. While there were other muscle magazine publishers around, it was Weider who started publishing the need to break the whole body workout perception and urged bodybuilders to split the bodyparts into two or three sessions and workout two or three times per week. This radically changed one's workout routine to 4-6 workouts per week. A short time later, the "Double Split" principle was created, where the bodybuilder (before a major contest) would divide the bodyparts even further, and workout two times a day, leading to a volume of 9-12 workouts per week. This unheard-of concept stemmed from the theory that one can devote more exercises and sets to a bodypart, thereby creating better mass and shape since it's worked from many angles." (Wikipedia)
Frankly, this was not really "unheard-of" as there's really nothing new under the sun, and I'm completely certain that lifters had dabbled with routines like this prior to Weider, Weider's relentless promotion of this type of routine was certainly unheard of. Hoffman and Weider battled through their magazines for decades, but in the end it was Weider who won the war. Various pundits have attributed Hoffman's demise and Weider's success to a variety of things, but that's not really the point at issue- their routines are. It basically boils down to function vs. form, and the sport that ultimately became modern bodybuilding turned its backs on function as they embraced form, and modern trainees came to ape their forebears in their criticism of full-body routines without realizing that the opinions they hold are the outgrowth of a marketing war, rather than any sort of factual basis. Thus, you have natural trainees who believe that full body routines will invariably lead to "overtraining", because anyone who uses a full body routine HAS to be using steroids. Had Hoffman one, these internet fucktards would likely assert that anyone doing bodypart schemes was a shallow, intellectually, spiritually, and physically weak homo. Yes, I know, Hoffman should have won that battle, as it seems he was likely right, haha. The real shame here is that Weider affirmed the belief most people have that homosexuality confers physical weakness, which is likely untrue, as some studies have shown that homosexuals have higher natural test levels, and that most homosexuals had higher than normal prenatal test levels. Irony is a motherfucker.
For those curious about the history of the bodybuilding vs. weightlifting debate, the author of Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors asserts that it began with George Jowett and Alan Calvert, two mail order program magnates of the very early 20th Century. Jowett was a strongman, weightlifter, and blacksmith, and based his programs on weightlifting, while Calvert promoted high rep training and "strict form". Neither really managed to grab the market completely, in the way Weider did, but Calvert seemed to have to make concessions to weightlifting and strongman in the same way Hoffman had to with bodybuilding thereafter. Calvert did say, in defense of his program, that "for every one man who wants to be as strong as Sandow, I'll show you a hundred who want to look like him." Sad, but true.
The first bodybuilder in the modern sense, i.e. a guy who stands around mostly naked, posing and being weak as a kitten, was Bobby Pandour, to my knowledge. Pandour started out as a gymnast and later promoted lifting only 10 lb dumbbells for hundreds of reps, then flexing a shitload. Before you get too impressed, he was only 160 lbs, and dropped dead at the age of 38. Yay repetition lifting.
So, who's to say which is better? I'm betting on the tradition, here, rather than slick marketing. Whichever side you choose, however, go against the grain know your shit before you start blabbering on like you know what the fuck you're talking about.