The popularity of split training is obviously based on two key factors. First, you'll see greater results while spending less time in the gym and secondly, it's easier to stay focused lift with a higher intensity than you can when using full-body training. An average training session when using a split training program is usually between 45-60 minutes, compared to 2 hours with a full body program. Converting your current routine may be a little confusing and there are some important rules to keep in mind to make sure you're maximizing the benefits of a split training program.
The main benefits of a split training versus a full body training program include:
- Less time in the gym.
- Less possibility of overtraining
- Higher intensity levels
- Keener focus
- Increased energy
- Increased strength
- Rules to remember.
When planning your split training program, the first thing that you need to do is take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses. You'll want to begin your week working on the area that needs the most improvement or seems to be the most difficult to grow. At the beginning of your week, you'll been able to concentrate better and will have more energy to work on problem areas. Obviously, your strongest body part should be worked at the end of the week. You'll also want to train the largest muscles before moving on to smaller muscles. The legs, chest and back should therefore come before biceps, triceps and shoulders.
Remember to focus on the intensity level of your workout. Maximum power needs lower repetitions while superior shape requires higher repetitions. Your goal is tear the muscles down, the higher the intensity, the more stress you're placing on the muscle. Also remember if you're working a body part split routine, you'll want to pair up muscles that don't have a negative impact on each other. For example, legs and arms are a better combination than chest and triceps.
Regardless of how many times you've heard before, we're going to say it again. Avoid overtraining and make sure you get plenty of rest. Professional bodybuilders maintain at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. The peak period for anabolic growth hormone levels are in deep sleep. The recovery process is just as important to a bodybuilder as the training process. When deciding what split routine you're going to follow, you just might have to take the time to try more than one. It's important to give a new routine at least 8 weeks before deciding it might not be the right one for you. Routines for split training can vary widely and are widely available on the Internet.
A few types of splits are:
- Push/Pull split - in this routine, you will divide your week into exercises that require you to pull the weight (back/biceps) and those that require you to push the weight (chest/shoulders/triceps).
- Push/Pull/Legs - similar to the push/pull split, this routine adds in a day for legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves) with the fourth day off. You could also move shoulders to a separate day for a four day split.
- Upper/Lower - an upper/lower routine works upper body one day and lower body the next day. This is considered a three day split as your third day is off and then you simply start over again.
- Body Part or Muscle Group - for this routine, you're basically working one body part at a time. For example, legs and arms today followed by a day of rest. Third day is chest, back and shoulders followed by a day of rest. (this technique was used by Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates.)
As we mentioned earlier, the potential split variations are endless and again seem to be a matter of personal preference. Most split routines are based on a 7 day week. Some lifters prefer using a 5 day week with the weekends off. A good routine for a beginner would be to train a body part every 7 days and to avoid training two related body parts within 2 days of each other.