When you start a workout, do you have any idea of what you're going to do, or do you find the first empty station and immediately start doing reps or cardio? For your sake, we hope it's the former.
Whether your fitness goal is to get stronger, burn fat, build muscle, or become more athletic, you need to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. And an important step in formulating a thoughtful training plan is choosing the right workout split.
Simply put, a workout split is how you divide up your workouts throughout the week either by body movement, region, lift, or specific body part. This popular divide-and-conquer approach to exercise allows fitness fanatics to focus their efforts in a way that optimizes results.
Rather than wishing and hoping for bigger muscles or more strength, you guarantee it by sticking to a solid plan proven to work. Workout splits allow you to work not only harder -- but smarter.
In this article, we'll give you all the info you need to divide your own workout split and some great advice on how to stick to it.
Why Are Workout Splits Essential?
An effective workout split provides you with a pathway toward a specific fitness goal. There's not a single NFL quarterback out there who doesn't watch film of the opposing team or converse with his offensive line before stepping onto the gridiron. Well, it's the same concept for bodybuilders and powerlifters — or even just your average person looking to get in a good workout. But the importance of splits goes way beyond having mental clarity -- it's also proven to get results.
A recent study of 127 competitive bodybuilders found that every single one of them followed a workout split.
That's because the importance of having a solid regimen has been stressed since the early days of bodybuilding. Eugene Sandow developed his own routine to craft physiques that is, to this day, still considered by many to be the pinnacle of bodybuilding. He studies how his body reacted to different workouts and recovery times, found what worked best for him, and stuck with it. This is just one example, though, and this philosophy is in no way limited to bodybuilders. It applies to standard workouts, too.
You see, without a proper plan, your countless hours of workouts will likely go nowhere. Developing a great split allows you to pick a handful of muscles and exhaust them. Then, you’ll give them ample time to recover and prepare for their next workout session. This effective and calculated approach allows you to train with max effect -- you won't burn out trying to slog through a three-hour-long iron-pumping marathon.
Okay, So How Do You Pick The Best One?
When setting up your split, there are some things you need to consider, such as:
Your Training Experience
Fitness newbies require less volume and intensity in their training programs -- but often greater frequency -- than advanced athletes.
Your Fitness Goals
Are you trying to maintain your shape, establish a baseline of fitness, or pursue larger-scale physique changes?
Are you able to commit to working out five days each week, or is your schedule so tight that you really can't afford to fit in a workout on more than a handful of days? Whichever it is, realize that each workout in a split builds upon the previous one -- so you need to be willing to work out at least three days per week.
Your Rest And Recovery Needs
Depending on your lifestyle, job, and recovery abilities -- including sleep -- you may need more or fewer rest days. Rest days really shouldn't be trivialized in your pursuit to gain muscle mass. Growth takes place between workouts in the presence of adequate rest and good nutrition. In terms of recovery, you don't want to train a certain muscle group that's still unbelievably sore from a previous workout. It's important that you learn to really listen to your body. If you have sore legs, consider working on your arms instead.
Recovery can also include mental recharging -- if you are feeling especially burned out from too many high-intensity workouts, including more rest days can really help.
If you happen to have a body part that you really want to improve on, do it first after a solid rest day when your energy stores are fully restocked. In addition, with longer workout splits, you may be able to add a second training session for that muscle group to better emphasize it.
How Are Workout Splits Organized?
At the end of the day, your workout split will be dedicated by whatever your end goal is. For example, someone who is working out to improve their athleticism will have a different split than someone solely focused on aesthetics. There are three main workout splits, there are:
- Body part workout splits
- An upper/lower body workout split
- A push, pull, legs workout split
Body Part Workout Splits
A body part workout split has you train one to three body parts per training session twice per week. It's a really popular option for people looking to build muscle mass since body part splits allow you to train muscles more often for more growth.
Here's a body part workout split example:
- Monday: Triceps and chest
- Tuesday: Biceps and back
- Wednesday: Shoulders and legs
- Thursday: REST
- Friday: Triceps and chest
- Saturday: Biceps and back
- Sunday: Shoulders and legs
Upper/Lower Workout Split
An upper/lower split simply divides workouts into upper-body focuses days and lower-body focused days. This split is great for fitness newbies, people on tight schedules, and those focused on building strength. It forces the lifter to prioritize the basics and cut the fat from their training program.
Here's an upper/lower workout split example:
- Monday: Lower body
- Tuesday: Upper body
- Wednesday: REST
- Thursday: Lower body
- Friday: Upper body
- Saturday & Sunday: REST
Push, Pull, Legs (PPL) Workout Split
This popular workout split is similar to the upper/lower split, but the main difference is that a PPL split divides upper body training into two categories: pulling and pushing. This split is common in the powerlifting community because they can build their program around the "big three" lifts -- bench press (push), deadlift (pull), and squats (legs).
Here's a PPL workout split example:
- Monday: Push (heavy bench press)
- Tuesday: Pull (heavy deadlift)
- Wednesday: Legs (heavy back squat)
- Thursday: REST
- Friday: Push (high volume or deadlift alternative)
- Saturday & Sunday: Legs (high volume or back squat alternative)
A Final Word
So, which workout split is best, you ask?
At the end of the day, it really depends on things like your specific goals, the time you have, and your fitness level. So take those factors into account when putting together your workout plan to find a split that works best for you.
Can't find the time to get to the gym? Never fear! HYGEAR can help.
Gear 1 is a total workout system that replaces traditional gym equipment and a personal trainer -- saving you thousands of dollars -- while adding versatility and portability. Whether you decide on a body part workout split, an upper/lower body workout split, or a push, pull, legs workout split, HYGEAR Gear 1 has everything you need to help reach your goals.
Start getting results and check out HYGEAR today -- trust us, you'll be glad you did.