PPL vs Upper Lower vs Full Body: Choosing the Best Split

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Apr 23,2024|13 min| 337

PPL vs Upper Lower vs Full Body: Which Split Wins?

When it comes to joining a gym, there are so many different workout routines to choose from to put on muscle, build strength, or whatever your goals may be. PPL (Push, Pull, Legs), the Upper Lower split, and Full Body are three popular workout splits that people use to structure their training routines. Each split offers its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for you depends on your goals, preferences, and training experience.

Let’s explore the key highlights of these three workout splits and compare their pros and cons. We will also discuss how each split affects workout efficiency, tailoring your workout to your goals using Boostcamp, and then you can decide what to use.

Whether you are a beginner looking for a simple and balanced approach to training, an intermediate lifter aiming to increase training frequency and volume, or an advanced athlete seeking advanced training strategies, this blog will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which split is best for you. Let's dive in and explore the world of PPL, Upper Lower, and Full Body workouts.

Understanding Different Workout Splits

Before we delve into the specifics of each workout split, it's important to understand what they entail.

PPL (Push, Pull, Legs)

The PPL (Push, Pull, Legs) split is a popular workout routine that divides your training into three categories: push exercises, pull exercises, and leg exercises.

  • Push exercises focus on movements where you push something away from you, such as bench press, the overhead press, push-ups, and machine chest press.

  • Pull exercises involve movements where you pull something towards you, such as pull-ups, lat pulldown, barbell row, dumbbell row, and cable row.

  • Leg exercises target the lower body, including movements like squats, front squats, Bulgarian split squats, goblet squats, and leg press.

With the PPL split, you typically train each category on separate days, allowing you to focus on specific muscle groups and movement patterns. This split provides variety, balance, and the opportunity to target different muscle groups with each workout.

Upper Lower Splits

The Upper Lower split is a workout routine that divides your training into two categories: upper body and lower body.

  • On upper body days, you focus on exercises that target the chest, shoulders, back, and arms. This includes movements like bench press, overhead press, barbell row, and tricep pushdowns.

  • On lower body days, you target the muscles in your legs and lower back. This includes exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hamstring curls.

The Upper Lower split provides a balanced approach to training, allowing you to work all major muscle groups while still providing ample recovery time for each group. This split is often recommended for beginners and intermediate lifters looking for a simple and effective way to structure their workouts.

Full Body Workouts

Full body workouts involve training all (or almost all) of your body's major muscle groups in each training session.

With full body workouts, you perform exercises that target your entire body, including movements for the chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and core. The goal of a full body workout is to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains in all muscle groups.

Full body workouts generally require a higher training frequency, as you need to work each muscle group multiple times throughout the week. These workouts are often recommended for individuals who have the time and energy to commit to frequent training sessions.

Full body workouts can be an efficient and effective way to train the entire body in a single session, making them popular among those with busy schedules or limited gym access.

Pros and Cons of Each Workout Split

Full-body workouts and split routines each have their advantages and disadvantages. Full-body workouts allow for a balanced development of all major muscle groups in a single session and can be time-efficient. However, they may require longer sessions and may not provide enough volume for advanced lifters. Split routines, such as PPL splits and Upper Lower splits, allow for greater training frequency and specificity, targeting specific muscle groups or movement patterns. However, they may require more time commitment and careful programming to prevent muscle imbalances and overtraining.

Advantages of PPL Splits

PPL (Push Pull Legs) splits offer several advantages for muscle growth and strength gains. By dividing workouts into push exercises, pull exercises, and leg exercises, PPL splits allow for greater focus on specific muscle groups. This targeted approach can help prevent muscle imbalances and promote balanced development. Additionally, PPL splits typically involve higher training volumes, as each muscle group is trained multiple times per week. This increased volume can stimulate muscle growth and enhance strength gains. PPL routines can be customized to individual preferences and goals, making them suitable for both beginners and advanced lifters. Overall, the PPL split offers a flexible and effective training approach for maximizing muscle growth and strength.

Disadvantages of PPL Splits

While PPL (Push Pull Legs) splits have their advantages, they also have some drawbacks to consider. One potential disadvantage is the increased recovery time required for each muscle group. Since each muscle group is trained multiple times per week in a PPL split, it's important to allow sufficient rest and recovery time for optimal muscle growth and repair. Additionally, PPL splits may not be the best choice for targeting specific muscle groups or addressing individual weaknesses. If you have specific goals or imbalances that require more focused training, a different split routine may be more suitable. Finally, the increased training frequency of PPL splits may require more time commitment, as each workout session may take longer to complete.

Benefits of Upper Lower Splits

Upper Lower splits offer several benefits for muscle growth and strength gains. By dividing workouts into upper body and lower body sessions, this split allows for a balanced development of all major muscle groups. Upper Lower splits typically involve 4 training days per week, providing sufficient frequency for muscle growth and recovery. With dedicated upper body and lower body sessions, lifters can focus on specific muscle groups and movement patterns, allowing for greater exercise selection and customization. Additionally, the balanced nature of Upper Lower splits can help prevent muscle imbalances and promote overall strength gains. Overall, Upper Lower splits provide a structured and effective approach to training for muscle growth and strength.

Drawbacks of Upper Lower Splits

While Upper Lower splits have their benefits, they also have some potential drawbacks to consider. One potential drawback is the risk of muscle imbalances if the upper or lower workouts are not carefully designed. It's important to ensure that each muscle group is adequately targeted and trained in a balanced manner. Another drawback is the focus on movement patterns rather than specific muscle groups. While this can be advantageous for overall strength, it may not be ideal for addressing specific weaknesses or imbalances. Finally, Upper Lower splits typically involve a rest day between each session, which may not be optimal for those who prefer a higher training frequency or have limited time for training.

Why Choose Full Body Workouts?

Full-body workouts offer several advantages that make them a popular choice for many individuals. One advantage is the ability to train each major muscle group with a higher frequency, as full-body workouts can be performed 2-3 times per week. This frequent training stimulates muscle protein synthesis and helps promote muscle growth and strength gains. Additionally, full-body workouts can be effective for fat loss, as they require a high level of energy expenditure during the session. The compound exercises typically included in full-body workouts also engage multiple muscle groups and promote overall calorie burn. For individuals looking to maximize training efficiency, increase muscle mass, and promote fat loss, full-body workouts can be an effective option.

Limitations of Full Body Workouts

While full-body workouts have their benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone or every situation. One limitation of full-body workouts is the need for a well-designed training program that effectively targets all major muscle groups. Without proper exercise selection and progression, full-body workouts may not provide sufficient stimulus for muscle growth and strength gains. Additionally, full-body workouts may not be the best choice for individuals with specific goals, such as targeting weak points or improving specific lifts. Finally, full-body workouts may not be ideal for individuals with busy schedules or limited time for training, as they typically require longer sessions and higher training frequency. It's important to consider individual goals, preferences, and time constraints when choosing a workout split.

Tailoring Your Workout to Your Goals With Boostcamp

When determining the best workout split for your goals, it's important to consider factors such as training experience, specific goals, and individual preferences. For beginners, a well-rounded full-body workout routine can provide a solid foundation and overall muscle development. Intermediate lifters may benefit from split routines, such as PPL (Push Pull Legs) splits or Upper Lower splits, to increase training frequency and volume. Advanced lifters may require more specialized training programs tailored to their specific goals, such as powerlifting or bodybuilding. By considering individual goals and needs, you can tailor your workout split to maximize results and achieve your desired outcomes.

That being said, Boostcamp is the best platform to tailor your training to your goals. Boostcamp is designed to be the perfect place to create a workout program, your ultimate companion in achieving your fitness goals. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned lifter, there are plenty of programs for you to choose from that fit your needs and goals.. 

You also have the option to create your own programs with Boostcamp and truly tailor them to your liking. You can create programs that cater to your schedule, how long you want them to be, and you can track each workout amongst other features. If you have trouble creating a workout program, you can even take inspiration from other programs people have created on the community programs page!

Conclusion

In the realm of workout splits, each approach - PPL, Upper Lower, and Full Body - has its unique set of advantages and limitations. Determining the most suitable split hinges on your fitness goals and experience level. Whether you aim for muscle gain, strength enhancement, or fat loss, tailoring your workout routine is crucial. Beginners may find Full Body workouts accommodating, whereas Intermediate and Advanced lifters might benefit from the strategic variations offered by PPL or Upper Lower splits. Real-life success stories underscore the effectiveness of these splits in achieving remarkable transformations and fitness milestones, emphasizing the importance of aligning your workout regime with your individual objectives and capabilities.

Boostcamp has plenty of free programs that help with both strength and hypertrophy, be sure to check them out and follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!