In a previous article I talked about the full-body and half-body workout, a great way to start bodybuilding. I told you that if you want to move forward in your muscle development, it would be interesting to use a different kind of program.
Today I’d like to talk about the split routine, a program that most intermediate and advanced bodybuilders use.
What is split routine?
There are several synonyms for the word split: cut, break, division… Actually, this is a training technique that will divide your workout by muscle. This technique allows you to fully train your muscle but only once or twice per week.
This method has the advantage of spending more time on each muscle and makes them work through every possible angles. As you must know by now, the same muscle (shoulder, chest …) is cut into different parts.
For a maximum development, you have to use different exercises to target the part you want to focus on, which is impossible with a full-body or half-body program.
Split routine program: when?
As I said above, the goal is to divide your workout by muscle. Basically, you will have to train at least once a week your chest, back, legs, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
If you only have 3 available days during the week, you can still adopt a split routine program. However, you will have to do ultra-intensive workouts if you want real muscle gains.
With only 3 days during the week, I would advise you to use a full-body program. I think it would be more suitable.
With a split routine workout, 4 days of training should be the minimum. The ideal would be going 5 times a week and even 6 times for the most experienced and motivated bodybuilders (even though I am not a fan!).
First of all, there are two parameters to consider: how many workouts you wanna do per week and how often you wanna train your muscles on 7 days.
Most professional and experienced bodybuilders train each muscle once per week.
Here is a typical workout schedule:
|6 days program|
|5 days program|
|4 days program|
Of course you can always adapt this program by switching chest with back on Monday for example.
The only rule, if there was one, would be to start the week with the ‘large muscles’, and finishing with the ‘small muscles’.
Reminder – Large muscle group: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs
– Small muscle group: Biceps, Triceps, Calves, Forearms
Chest, back and legs require a lot of energy and you will tend to be stronger at the beginning of the week.
There is a second split routine pattern, less traditional but that I particularly like: training each muscle twice per week.
The program is busier and requires training a large muscle group with a small one. A classic example: chest/triceps, back/biceps, shoulders/legs.
In terms of schedule, it would give you that:
|6 days program|
|5 days program|
|4 days program|
Please note that even though you are training your chest on Monday and Thursday, you won’t do the same exercises in order to work your muscle through every angle.If you go with a 4 days split, you will notice that it’s a very busy schedule. Therefore, it’s up to you whether you wanna do a split routine or a half-body. With this type of program, it would be better to have a 5 days workout.
Bear in mind that it takes from 24 to 48h (even 72h) for your muscle to completely recover! So don’t fall into overtraining!
Why split routine?
Such a program will enable you to train each muscle in depth. Not only you will use compound exercises but also isolation exercises that will focus on a specific muscle only.
Your muscles will get bigger as you will train them through different angles. You would get closer to your perfect body (if your goal is aesthetic of course).
As I already mentioned most of the models, bodybuilders or experienced people train their muscle only once a week. It allows them to use all the exercises (almost) for a specific muscle in order to get the most of their training.
Do no to forget though that when training your chest, shoulders and triceps are solicited and when training your back you also work a lot your biceps.
The problem with this kind of split is that your workout has to reach a very high intensity otherwise your muscles will not be quite shocked and you will not get any results.
I personally don’t like to train my muscles once per week; I prefer to do it twice. My body is always asking for more.
But training the same muscle twice a week requires a lot of energy and can lead to overtraining whereas training your muscles only once a week gives you plenty of time to properly recover.
I like to say this sentence: know your body and listen to it. Some people will have enough with once a week but others won’t. There is no absolute truth. Test each technique and see which one works better.
We are all different!
For How Long?
In general you wanna use those programs for long cycles starting from 8 to 12 weeks (up to 16) before adopting another workout. To break the routine, you can simply change the order of exercises (chest/triceps becomes chest/biceps for example).
Program Split Routine: Example
I know that you’ve all been waiting for this moment. I give you here two split routine programs I created and used myself. The first one is for training each muscle only once a week and the second one for training each muscle twice a week.
Do not forget, there are thousands of different combinations. You have to find the formula that suits you best.