People often think that split training is not necessary and they should be focussing on full body workouts. Full body workouts certainly have their place and are a great starting point for beginners as a way to ease into weight training. However, once you have established a good resistance routine and developed the basic skills and form, you may find your strength starts to plateau. Doing a consistent full body workout, means you don’t have the opportunity to really focus on particular muscle groups. Each group gets a bit of a workout, but none are really challenged enough to grow and increase in strength. When this happens, it might be time to change things up and switch to a split day routine.
A split day workout involves breaking down the individual muscle groups and training them on separate days. This allows you to include more exercises, sets and reps for the muscle group, exhausting the muscle and allowing it to grow and strengthen. You can also include more resistance training days because you are only training individual muscle groups instead of the whole body, allowing more rest time.
How to split your workout
Individual body parts
This method allows for maximum focus, because you only work one group at a time. Generally split by:
The main issue with this split is that it requires you dedicate at least 5 days per week in the gym to ensure you get a complete body workout out. If you cannot commit to all 5 days, you may find you may find certain muscle groups get missed.
Upper and lower split
Just as the name suggests, this split you break into upper body and lower body.
- Legs and abs
- Chest, back, shoulders and arms
Generally each group would be done twice a week:
- Mon – upper body
- Tues – lower body
- Wed – rest
- Thurs – upper body
- Fri – lower body
- Sat – rest
- Sun – rest
This split is a good way to ease into split day training, because its not as intense as individual groups and only requires 4 days, instead of 5.
4 day split
Like the individual split day, a 4 day split is more intense training, as you train a maximum of 2 muscle groups per session. For example:
- Back and biceps
- Chest and triceps
- Shoulders and abs
A good way of splitting the muscle groups is pairing a big group with a small one, hence back and biceps, chest and triceps. Also, on a chest day the triceps are already pushing, working as a secondary muscle for the chest exercises. So it makes sense to utilise this and work them while they are already activated. The same can be said for back and biceps.
These are just a few suggested split days, but there are many options, you just need to find what works for you.
I have been doing split days since I started training. The few times I have completed a full body workout, I find I simply don’t get the same results. Don’t get me wrong, I’m physically tired, but there is no muscle soreness and I don’t feel overly challenged in the strength department. Again, that’s not to say they don’t work, but I enjoy pushing my body and getting that muscle shake happening.
Previously I completed individual 5 day splits, but now I can only train 4 times a week so I generally do a 4 day split. After each workout I also try to do a mini circuit or HIIT session just to squeeze out every last bit of strength.
So if you find your workouts have plateaued or your not increasing your strength, give split day training a try.