I'm just getting into strength training and have heard that I need to work all my major muscle groups (and not just focus on crunches to get rock-hard abs). Is it better to work all my muscles at every strength training session or focus on different muscle groups each time (ex. Mondays: arms and abs, Wednesdays: back and legs)?
—Trying to Tone Up
I love this question, as it's a really common one, actually. At the gym, I often see women strength training both ways. Some focus on toning certain areas of their bodies each day, while others do routines that work their entire bodies. To find out if one way is more effective, keep on reading.
When it comes to strength training, it is most important to allow at least a day between workouts to let your muscles rest and recover. If you have only two or three workouts a week, you should find a beginner plan that works all your major muscle groups and alternate your weight training days with rest days. Being new to strength training, you might want to keep your sessions short so you don't overdo it and risk injury. If you have more time in your week to do strength training, you can divide the sessions up by body part and still allow for adequate rest days. For instance, you work your arms and upper back one day, and follow it up the next with just leg work — since you're working different muscle groups, you don't need a day off from the gym. I prefer full body workouts since they save time and can help keep the heart rate up to burn more calories during a single session.
Also, as your muscles gain strength and endurance, you should work all your muscles at every session to see quicker results. Just be sure to rest a day between workouts, because your body needs this time to heal torn muscle fibers in order to get the tone you're looking for. Also be sure to change up the exercises you do and the equipment you use to avoid reaching a plateau.