I just started working out in the gym about 2 months ago and I’m a little confused on how to structure my workouts for the best results. What muscle groups should I exercise on the same day and how should I group my exercises in a daily routine?
A workout split is the way in which one divides a workout routine so as to assign each muscle group a training day. Generally, there are three main ways to split different muscle groups for your workouts. The three best workout splits are listed below.
Full Body Workouts
In this routine, the entire body gets trained during each workout. This workout ensures that each of the large muscle groups is hit frequently during the workout while not interfering with rest days. It is an effective method for people with tight schedules who only have the ability to train 3 times per week. Each workout should last about 1 hour and it’s important to focus on using compound exercises like bench press, squats, deadlifts, barbell rows and shoulder presses. These types of exercises target several large muscle groups with smaller muscles working as stabilizers. A sample weekly workout schedule is shown below:
- Monday: Full body
- Tuesday: Off
- Wednesday: Full body
- Thursday: Off
- Friday: Full body
- Saturday: Off
- Sunday: Off
This program enables the body to achieve a strong muscle building response since each muscle group gets trained with heavy compound movements during a workout. It is also a perfect program for those who want an intense workout that really pushes the body in a short amount of time.
Upper and Lower Body Split
This is a great option for experienced people who wish to allocate each muscle group more time during a workout. It requires more commitment to the gym so it’s not ideal for busy people with limited schedules. It involves training the upper part of the body on an assigned day and then hitting the lower part the following day. The third day is designed for rest and recovery. Given that this workout allows each muscle group more time, it is possible to incorporate specific isolation exercises in the event that certain muscles need to be targeted. A sample schedule for this workout is shown below:
- Monday: Upper body
- Tuesday: Lower body
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Upper body
- Friday: Lower body
- Saturday: Off
- Sunday: Off
This workout yields enhanced results since each group of muscles is thoroughly trained during the course of a session. The disadvantages include allocating more time for the gym and suffering more bodily stress in the event that the recovery system of the body is taxed.
Split Body Workout
This workout involves training only 1-2 muscle groups in a session and spreading them out over multiple workouts during the week with the typical split being 5 days per week. It is the most time-consuming so it’s not favored for those busy individuals with limited schedules. A sample schedule for this workout is shown below (Saturday and Sunday are rest days):
Monday (chest) (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
Tuesday (back) (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
Wednesday (shoulders) (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
Thursday (biceps, triceps) (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
Friday (legs) (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
Each of the workout splits has advantages as well as disadvantages. Beginners should start off with full body workouts 3 days per week using compound mass building exercises and then advance to upper and lower body splits. While choosing the best workout plan, one should also consider their schedule since the more advanced the workout, the more time one needs to be at the gym.