Lee Labrada on Full Body Vs. Split Routine Workouts for Muscle Growth After 40

Lee Labrada, a distinguished bodybuilder who competed at the pinnacle of the sport during the ‘80s and ‘90s, remains a significant figure in training methodologies today.

Inducted into the IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2004 and serving as the President/CEO of Labrada Nutrition, Labrada recently offered insights into whether full-body workouts or split routines were more effective for achieving muscle growth after 40 for men. Discover his recommendations below:

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Full Body Workouts

Full-body workouts engage all major muscle groups. Labrada elaborates that beginners can see significant benefits relatively early in their training. He suggests implementing these workouts through a circuit as the most effective approach. 

“Simply pick one exercise for each body part,” says Labrada. “For example, pick one exercise for back, shoulderschest, and so forth. Once you’ve selected your exercises, start the circuit by performing the first exercise. Then rest long enough to catch your breath before performing the next exercise and so forth until you’ve done all of the exercises you’ve selected.”

Circuit Training

Labrada recommends beginners or those returning to the gym after a hiatus start by completing the circuit once. Initially, it’s crucial not to overexert oneself to avoid potential injuries and health risks. “Once you’ve worked out several times, cycle through the circuit twice, then work up to three times through,” recommended Labrada.

Circuit training enhances physical fitness, promotes fat loss, and helps prevent metabolic diseases. (1) Labrada advocates for compound exercises with free weights and using machines during circuit and full-body workouts.

[For] free weights, choose compound movements such as bench press, squats, deadlifts, and bent-over rows.

Labrada advises engaging in a comprehensive full-body workout regimen three times a week, with rest days between sessions.

Split Routines

Split routines involve dividing muscle groups across different training days. Labrada suggests adopting this workout strategy based on individual recovery rates from full-body workouts.

Labrada advocates for a three-day push-pull-legs training split, elaborating that this method systematically categorizes workouts to stimulate muscle growth and recovery efficiently. Labrada suggests adopting this push-pull-leg training split for optimal results: 

Monday (Push): Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday (Pull): Back & Biceps

Thursday: Rest

Friday: QuadsHamstringsCalves, & Abs

By focusing on specific muscle groups each session, a split routine enables regular exercise while allowing recovery as needed. This approach helps athletes accomplish more exercises for each muscle group, enhancing development through targeted training. 

Split routines and full-body workouts complement each other when paired with proper nutrition and sufficient restConsistency and discipline are key to turning practice into habits.


Kim, J. W., Ko, Y. C., Seo, T. B., & Kim, Y. P. (2018). Effect of circuit training on body composition, physical fitness, and metabolic syndrome risk factors in obese female college students. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 14(3), 460–465. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1836194.097

Featured image: @leelabradaofficial on Instagram

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