19 Jan How To Use Training Splits
When it comes to effectively targeting different muscle groups, breaking up your workouts to focus on specific muscle groups is key to a successful training program. Regardless if you are doing a shred or muscle builder, breaking up days to focus on different muscle groups allows you to take each muscle to failure more efficiently and builds in proper rest and recovery. There are whole body work out plans and circuit programs that don’t do this, however I find most of them don’t produce the results of workout splits. Let go over different training splits and how you can find a way to start incorporating this key strategy into your works out
Let’s first think about the large muscle groups in your body:
Lower body – quads, hamstrings and glutes
Upper body – chest, back and abs
There are lots of smaller muscles throughout the body like biceps, traps and delts, also groups like your back are comprised of multiple muscles.
So not only do we need to separate out different muscle groups we need to order them in such a way that we don’t use complimentary muscle again the following day. For example, if you train chest on day 1 then training triceps in day 2 would not be ideal as you likely used some tricep action in you chest training (obviously we try to focus all work on the back, but your triceps are push muscles that are a natural parts of chest training)
The second part is thinking about the muscle type. For example your calf’s are comprised of mainly slow twitch muscle fibers, which means they can withstand long duration of exercise (which makes sense as they support as walking around all day). So, to engage a muscle like that hitting it 2x per week with decent volume can be very effective to stimulate muscle growth.
How Many Days do you Train?
The next step to creating your new split is deciding how many days a week you can commit to consistently be in the gym. Most splits are for between 4-6 days a week in the gym. The level of intensity and time commitment is going to be different for everyone, but I recommend most people try to do at least 5 days in the gym a week.
If you can’t do at least 4 days then it’s still possible to do a split but I find that most people can’t push themselves hard enough in only three days to effectively train the entire body each week.
Example of Training Split for a 5-day Trainer
- Day 1 – Legs (quad focused), Calf and Abs
- (this will be the longest session since you are coming off 2 days of rest)
- Day 2 – Chest and Triceps
- Day 3– Shoulders, Abs/Obliques
- (lighter day after 2 heavy days)
- Day 4– Back and Biceps
- Day 5 – Legs (hamstring/glute focused), Calf and Abs
- Day 6 – Active Rest day – No lifting and I encourage to do cardio/activity outside you enjoy (hike, bike, surf, ski, etc.…)
- Or this is a makeup day if one weight lifting day was missed
- Day 7 – Active Rest day – No lifting and I encourage to do cardio/activity outside you enjoy (hike, bike, surf, ski, etc.…)
There are several ways to split up your week this is just an example of one way to do it. I encourage you to try different splits, it’s good for your body and a fun to keep things interesting.
Full Body Trainers
There are lots of different variations of full body training programs from things like P-90X, circuit training (Orange Theory) or even more traditional body building plans that advocate full body training. In my personal experience trying these I found them to produce sub par muscle growth/fat loss and body change in comparison to a training split. In general, they work best for very novice or out of shape people who will be happy with any weight loss.
However if you want to add serious muscle or shred lots of body fat while maintaining your muscle then a weekly body split is the best way to go. It’s the preferred training method of professional body builders and fitness models for a reason.
How to and When to Start?
Start now! There is no reason to give this a try and see how you like it. I would give it a few weeks and feel free to change up your split to work best for you. You can use the recommended split above as a starting point and as you get more familiar with how your body responds change up the days/muscle groups, try a bicep/triceps day or maybe an upper back vs lower back day. There are lots of options. If you have any questions or wants suggestions, feel free to reach out to me via my contact page