You may not know it, but when people workout specific areas of their body or do specific exercise types on specific days of the week, that is a workout split. Today, I’m telling you how to create your OWN workout split!
First Things First:
What Is The Goal?
What is your goal? Our goal will change how many times we train specific muscle groups or specific exercises, or how long we should be waiting in between sessions or at least before repeating a session that has a similar focus.
How Often Can You Commit to The Gym:
Something is always better than nothing, but a minimum of 2 days committed to the gym each week is helpful. Anywhere between 3 and 6 can be optimal. It is very rare that training every day makes sense, basically never, actually.
When we construct our plan, we need to know how many days we can commit to hitting the gym. This way, we put ourselves in a position to actually execute the plan we created, which is what will drive us to our goals!
Whatever number of days you can commit to, ideally, a minimum of 45 minutes to an upper end of an hour and a half workout sessions, is also important to be able to commit to.
Workout Split Based on Goal:
Ok, the majority of people have training goals to either build muscle or increase strength. Those also happen to be the goals that I am most well-versed in/know the most about training for, so those are the goals that I will be explaining workout splits for.
With muscle growth, all we really care about is that each week, we get enough sets of volume in for each of our muscles. At a minimum, this is around 10 sets per muscle group per week. And if you are researching how to build a workout split, chances are you are a beginner, so these 10 sets would work just fine for 99.9% of you to lay the foundation.
Whether you split this per muscle group volume up across 1 or 2 or 3 sessions isn’t that significant, especially as a beginner.
What is likely optimal, however, would be to split it up across 2 or 3 sessions, simply because you will be able to perform all your sets with better performance, since you won’t be hammering them all in one day. Doing the 10th set for one muscle group in a workout will yield less performance than doing the 5th set for a muscle group if you split them up across 2 training sessions.
There may also be some benefit to muscle protein synthesis spiking more frequently, which is simply the process your body undergoes to repair and grow muscle tissue, and this is stimulated to increase after resistance training sessions.
I’ll go over strength next, and then show you some practical examples of workout splits for each goal. Deal? Great!
The bulk of our work for strength training isn’t so much focussed on increasing muscle size, as it is applying enough heavy training stimulus to primary exercises.
Primary, compound exercises like the squat, bench press and deadlift do 2 things. They allow us to train heavy (which is best for strength training), and they utilize a large number of muscle groups, which helps to strengthen many muscle groups at once, specifically focusing on whatever the prime movers of the specific exercise are.
Heavy training comes at more of a recovery demand. So we are not so much concerned about training the squat, bench press, and deadlift (or whatever primary exercises you choose, these are generally the best, however) 3 times per week with high intensities, as we are with hitting whatever our primary movements are with high intensities (weight), at least once per week.
Doing additional sessions with these exercises for form work, or if you have a specific exercise or two that is a weak point, that you want to apply some additional heavy training stimulus to, makes sense, so long as you can recover from it.
Then the rest of our training would be filled with accessory exercises to build up these main lifts and strengthen other bodily functions and muscle groups, as well as volume work (lighter, set focussed work) to have some muscle building specific training (since more muscle mass = more force production capability).
Alrighty, let’s give some examples of workout splits to put this all into perspective for you.
Muscle Growth (4 Days Per Week):
Day 1: Upper —> 5 sets of chest, 5 sets of back, superset that does 3 sets each for the biceps and triceps, 4 sets of lateral raises.
Day 2: Lower —> 5 sets of quads, 5 sets of hamstrings, 5 sets of calf raises, 5 sets for the glutes.
Day 3: Upper —> 5 sets of biceps, 5 sets of triceps, 5 sets each for the chest and back supersetted, superset 4 sets of lateral raises with rear delt work.
Day 4: Lower —> 5 sets of quads, 5 sets of hamstrings, 5 sets of calf raises, 5 sets for the glutes.
Whatever exercises you choose and how you do them is up to you. This article isn’t discussing how to structure a workout, it is talking about how to configure a weekly workout split.
As you can see, our goal is to achieve the total volume we want for each muscle group (a generic 10 sets each in this case), in a way that fits into how often we train and promotes some training frequency of our individual muscle groups.
Strength Gain (3 Days Per Week):
Day 1: Squat Focus —> Perform 3 to 5 sets of some heavy squat variation, follow it up with moderate to heavy assistance exercises that focus on developing an aspect of the squat, preferably a weak point, or another function of the lower body. Wrap it up with some muscle growth volume work in the 8 to 15 rep range that focuses on our lower body areas that contribute to the squat (like the quads), or weak point muscle groups where you want to increase their size.
Day 2: Bench Press Focus —> Perform 3 to 5 sets of some heavy bench press variation, follow it up with moderate to heavy assistance exercises that focus on developing an aspect of the bench press, preferably a weak point, or another function of the upper body. Wrap it up with some muscle growth volume work in the 8 to 15 rep range that focuses on upper body areas that contribute to the bench press (like the triceps or shoulders), or weak point muscle groups where you want to increase their size.
Day 3: Deadlift Focus —> Perform 3 to 5 sets of some heavy deadlift/hip hinge variation, follow it up with moderate to heavy assistance exercises that focus on developing an aspect of the deadlift, preferably a weak point, or another function of the body that contributes to the deadlift. Wrap it up with some muscle growth volume work in the 8 to 15 rep range that focuses on areas that contribute to the deadlift (hamstrings and glutes for example), or weak point muscle groups where you want to increase their size.
All a weekly training split does is split up the volume or training stimulus that you wish to accomplish, across a specific number of days, in a way that promotes adherence to your plan, recovery, and other training specific aspects relative to your goal.
Whether your plan is 2 days per week or 6 days per week, a training split will help you structure your training sessions, in a way that will produce the most bang for your buck.
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Until Next Time,
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