Effectiveness of Training Splits

Split Training for Maximum Gains

What is a training split? A training split is a custom routine where muscle groups are organized and assigned their very own workout days. A training split can work anywhere between 1-3 muscle groups at a time and be designed however the individual or lifter wishes.

Training splits offer a lot of flexibility and rely more on an individual creating an intelligent yet effective workout split that will complement their body type and help them build muscle. There are no set rules or regulations for a training split. Exercises, sets, volume and intensity can all vary depending on how an individual wishes to train. Training frequency can also be customized when designing your training split. 3,4 or 5 days a week training splits are the most common.

Bodybuilder Posing

Training Splits – Examples

To give you some ideas of what a training split may look like here are examples of 3,4 and 5 day training splits. That’s start with a 3 day a week training split:

Training Splits – 3 Day Split

Monday – Chest + Triceps

3 sets of Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Incline Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Pec Deck Machine
3 sets of Tricep Pushdowns

Wednesday – Back + Biceps

3 sets of Deadlifts
3 sets of Barbell Rows
3 sets of Lat Pulldowns
3 sets of Barbell Bicep Curls
1-2 sets of Machine Curls

Friday – Legs + Shoulders

3 sets of Squats
3 sets of Leg Press
3 sets of Leg Curls
3 sets of Barbell Overhead Press
3 sets of Side Lateral Raises
3 sets of Rear Delt Raises
Training Splits – 4 Day Split

Monday – Chest + Biceps

3 sets of Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Incline Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Incline Flyes
3 sets of Barbell Curls
3 sets of Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Tuesday – Back + Abs

3 sets of Deadlifts
3 sets of Barbell Rows
3 sets of Dumbbell Rows
3 sets of Ab Crunches

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Shoulders + Traps

3 sets of Barbell Overhead Press
3 sets of Side Lateral Raises
3 sets of Rear Delt Raises
3 sets of Barbell Shrugs

Friday – Legs + Triceps

3 sets of Squats
3 sets of Leg Press
3 sets of Leg Curls
3 sets of Skull Crushers
3 sets of Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
Training Splits – 5 Day Split

Monday – Chest + Abs

4 sets of Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Incline Barbell Bench Press
3 sets of Incline Flyes
3 sets of Ab Crunches
3 sets of Leg Raises

Tuesday – Legs

4 sets of Squats
4 sets of Leg Press
4 sets of Leg Curls

Wednesday – Triceps

4 sets of Skull Crushers
3 sets of Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
4 sets of Tricep Pushdowns

Thursday – Biceps + Abs

4 sets of Barbell Curls
3 sets of Dumbbell Alternating Curls
3 sets of Dumbbell Preacher Curls
2 sets of Ab Crunches supersetting with 2 sets of leg raises

Friday – Shoulders + Traps

4 sets of Dumbbell Shoulder Press
4 sets of Side Lat Raises
3 sets of Rear Delt Dumbbell Raises
4 sets of Dumbbell Shrugs

What To Think About When Designing a Training Split

Rest days between muscle groups. When designing your training split you need to take into consideration the amount of time muscle groups get to rest between workout sessions. If you perform a 5-day training split and place Monday as chest day and Tuesday as tricep day this is going to prove ineffective for most.

On chest day your triceps get blasted hard from practically all chest movements. Give the muscle at least 48 hours before you work it again in order to recover! If you don’t, muscle groups can get overworked and symptoms of overtraining can start to creep into your routine and affect your progress.

Volume. The amount of volume you perform in your training split is down to you but be sensible. If you are more of a beginner then performing more than 10 sets per muscle group may not be effective for you quite yet. Build up a tolerance to weight training before exhausting yourself straight away in the gym. This will simply lead to overtraining and make you more likely to quit your routine altogether.

Bodybuilder Flexing Back

The opposite can be said about a more advanced lifter. Performing too few sets may not be enough to stimulate sufficient muscle growth. However, everyone’s body is different and will respond better to different types of training so experiment with your routine and be sensible.

Reps. The most popular rep range is the 8-12 range. Many regard this as the best range for hypertrophy and muscle building. Pick a weight that you can complete 8-12 reps with and then move up in weight once your strength increases. It can be important on a split routine that you vary your rep ranges in order to lift heavier weight compared to higher reps and lighter weight.

Switch between rep ranges every couple of months to keep things interesting. For example, in the first month, you use a weight where you can consistently achieve 8-12 repetitions while increasing the poundage where necessary. For the following month try increasing the weight to a point where you can only manage to lift reps in the 4-8 rep range, also increasing the weight when necessary.

Exercises. Exercise choices are entirely down to the individual but as a general guideline, you should place heavy compound movements at the beginning of your workouts followed by further isolation exercises for that particular muscle group.

Rest between sets. Again this is down to the individual. 1-3 minute rest periods can be a good guideline.

Variety. Variety in a workout is important and will need to be introduced at some point to further progression and build more muscle. Variety can be added to your training split by changing exercises, performing exercises in a different order, lifting more or less weight for more or fewer reps, increasing/decreasing volume, including drop sets or forced reps for particular exercises or completely changing your training split to a 3,4 or 5 day a week split.