Sometimes the fitness world seems to be divided into two camps on any question. If you have friends who are serious about their workout routine, you might have overheard them discussing the benefits of split training, as opposed to full body training. If you’re starting to get serious about your results as well, you might have pondered the same question. So – what is split training and why should you choose it?

Getting serious

working out

Simply put, a split routine is when you train different muscle groups on different days. You might have heard someone talking about being tired after a ‘leg day’, or seen someone who skips it often and therefore has a somehow funny appearance of immensely muscular arms and wide shoulders together with skinny legs. That’s the caveat of this type of workout – you have to be serious about it. If you tend to get lazy, it’s better to stick to the full body workouts.

Different workout every day of the week

doing push ups

Despite the warnings not to miss out your workouts, this type of workout is not too difficult or scary – in fact, it is usually less tiring than full-body workouts.

Here’s an example of a split training program to train your full body – one body part at the time.

  • Monday: triceps and chest.
  • Tuesday: biceps and back.
  • Wednesday: abs and legs.
  • Thursday: triceps and shoulders.
  • Friday: biceps and triceps.
  • Saturday, Sunday: two days off.

This way you can work out 5 to 6 times a week and at the same time rest the muscle groups that you are not exercising on a particular day.

By contrast, you can’t do that with full-body workouts, such as HIIT, because the body needs time to recover. If you’re an avid gym-goer with a plan to gain muscle, why not head to a different piece of gym equipment every day!

Variations and possibilities

park exercise

If you prefer working out at home and have some basic equipment yourself (at least some dumbbells), you can try different variations of the split training routine.

Here are a couple of variations recommended by fitness experts:

  • Upper-lower body. The name is pretty self-explanatory. You alternate the exercises for your arms, chest, and back with exercises for your legs. Typically it consists of one or two consecutive days of exercises for your upper body, then one day for resting, one day for your lower body, one day for resting and so on. The problem with upper-lower body routine is the imbalance of attention: people tend to devote more attention to the upper body exercises, and so the lower body gets neglected.
  • Push-pull. It is based on different types of movements that train the front of your body versus the movements that train the posterior side of your body. For instance, one can do pull exercises (back, biceps, legs) on one day and push exercises (abs, chest, triceps, and shoulders) on the other, having one day of rest afterward.

Who shouldn’t do it?

In any case, it is important to keep in mind that split training is not recommended for beginners. Even intermediate exercisers are advised to refrain from some of more complicated routines, such as push-pull training. It does make sense: if your aim is to create the body you have dreamed of, first, you have to create some foundations to build upon!

Also, if your aim is to lose fat, you should probably go for full-body exercising. Split training provides less overall calorie burn as its aim is to build muscle mass.

On the other hand, if you’re an advanced exerciser who has just experienced some trauma or injury, you can create a split exercise program that would work around your injury – and continue to get strong before you get better!

Written by Migle Anusauskaite
Migle is interested in a variety of subjects and finds expression in different mediums. She’s a researcher, comics artist, writer and illustrator. She...
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