Training Splits – Which One Should You Do?

Best Split Training Type

In this article you will find guidelines to help you select the best training split type for you in order to achieve your muscles gaining/growth goal.

Before you select the best split routine for you out of the several split routine options, what you need to ascertain is what days are available to you for training. Once you have jotted down this information then you can read this article to help you choose the best split routine training type.

The split method of training is not a new thing. It has been around almost since the bodybuilding itself. Nevertheless, majority of the beginners workout or in general are advised to work on full body routine 3 times per week, typically Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Though, it may be ok for learning the various exercises & establishing an initial foundation, but it does have many real shortcomings so far as building muscle size. Why?

For the reason that as you gain experience over time & start to workout with greater intensity levels, the full body workout regime is more likely to become overwhelming – leading to overtraining and providing negative results.

Obviously, one just can’t work on every body part with adequate intensity & necessary number of sets on a day. This is where split routine can fit in. Moreover, this is also where you can successfully give due consideration to the recovery aspect of fitness training.

Key Factors For Deciding Best Split Training Type For You

Your Schedule

The first thing to consider is on what days you are available to train. Your obligations limit your availability. Some of you may have only 2-3 days available for training. On the other hand, many of young adults have 5-6 days available to train. If your schedule allows, you virtually have option to use any type of split. But that is not the case with most of us.

Recovery Time

The 2nd important key factor is: “how much recovery time you need”. Keep in mind this principle of muscle building training – “Muscles grow in between workout sessions, when they are recovering and not because of how much they are worked/trained.” Read this principle several times because I have seen most of the people are ignorant about this concept of recovery.

Recovery Time Is Not Same For Everyone

How recovered you are should govern when to train. Your recovery time depends on many factors, including:

(i) Your age

(ii) Your genetics

(iii) Your eating habits

(iv) Your job/occupation type

(v) How hard you train

(vi) Number of sets/reps you do

All the above things affect recovery time.

How To Know When You Are Recovered?

There are 2 methods to find out whether you have recovered:

(i) In case the body part you last worked out is still sore on the next scheduled training day for that particular body part, it means you have not recovered.

(ii) In case you feel unusually tired when you get up in the morning on any scheduled training day, and when you haven’t altered anything in your daily routine – it means you’re probably entering into “over-training” state – in simple words you aren’t allowing adequate time for muscles recovery.

Notes:

(i) Not all muscles take same amount of time to recover, meaning different muscles recover at different rates.

(ii) Though, when you train 2 or more days in a row, you might be “resting” certain muscles while you working on others – but remember you are taxing your whole system, affecting your total recovery.

Bottomline is: you need to adjust your split training schedule according to your recovery ability.

Believe me, if you do just this one simple thing: train hard on a moderate number of sets and pay attention to your nutrition, your progress rate will shoot up.

Types Of Splits

There are endless muscle groupings, and so there are countless types of split routines. Here are the most popular ones:  

# 1

Two Days – Body Split In Half

Lower Body On Day 1, Upper Body On Day 2

Though, this is one of the common split types – but to my mind it makes a little sense. The flaw in this split routine is that you do legs on day 1, and do upper body on day 2 – meaning chest, back, trap, deltoids, biceps, triceps and abs. So, think! Is it possible to work on all these muscles with enough intensity in a single day to achieve growth? To my mind, one can’t! May be you modify the body part groupings and/or perform fewer sets and achieve some progress.

Let’s consider this modified example:

Day 1(Workout 1): Legs, back, biceps, abs

Day 2(Workout 2): Chest, deltoids, triceps, abs

This type of split routine generally revolves around basic exercises. It’s typically done over 4 days a week- Monday/Thursday for workout 1 and Tuesday/Friday for workout 2, allowing three days for recovery. You can modify it whatever way you like, taking days off anywhere in the splits as you prefer.

Tip: A trick to divide the training days in a more logical manner is to go for 8 or 9 days workout week, depending upon the split type.

Read here more about Upper/Lower Body Split Routine

# 2

3 Day Split Type:  Push/Pull Routine

Day 1: Legs, abs

Day 2: Chest, deltoids, triceps, abs

Day 3: Back, biceps, forearms, abs.

This is a fairly common split type – it makes a lot of sense too.

Day 1, you work on legs by themselves on one day, which makes sense – because if done properly (such as squats), they are quite grueling.  

Day 2, you work out pushing muscles – this makes sense as well, because deltoids & triceps are engaged in all chest exercises and triceps are engaged in all deltoid exercises.

Day 3 is pull day – this too makes sense, because biceps & forearms are engaged in all back exercises.

You can do this type on a rotating schedule basis, where you allow two days between each workout OR on a fixed schedule where you train on pre-determined days each week, like Monday, Thursday & Saturday.

Even this split type may pose problems for some – they may feel too tired to give deltoids, triceps & biceps any real intensity.

Takeaway

Now you can see, there are several options. The 3-day push/pull split type generally can meet most trainers’ needs. I prefer this too, though I have tried 2 day & 4 day split too.  

Also sometimes I do splits in a rotating schedule manner over 8-9 days to allow for proper recovery. This way one can also do extra work on weak body parts, enabling him or her to train for entire body development.

Once again, I strongly suggest that you always keep in mind to select a split routine type that allows you good recovery. Another important thing is keep the set totals reasonable & maintain good nutrition – which will give you very good results.

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