Find The Best Training Split For You

What Is A Training Split?

A training split is a way of dividing up your training program into separate days, with specific goals to achieve each day. Training splits are often done in a certain way in order to avoid loading trained muscles too much within the same training session, sparing you from creating too much fatigue and sabotaging your gains.

Training Splits For Optimal Gains

Training splits are often written based on either muscles or movements trained. When looking to develop the size of the muscles or muscular hypertrophy, splitting up a training program into separate training and rest days for muscles can be useful for ensuring that each muscle can be trained at their individualised loads and volumes, making training more effective. When looking to improve movements by means of their load or technique quality, splitting up the days where the movements are trained can ensure that fatigue is well managed, enabling you to maintain high quality technique and load across the sessions.

Training Splits Manage Training Variables

Training variables are what trainers refer to as the modifiers of an exercise program. Some common variables that we see are:

  1. Load, which is how heavy the weights are
  2. Volume, which is how many sets and reps done (or to be done)
  3. Frequency, which is how many sessions are done in a day

Training splits are often written to help manage these variables to create practical programs for individuals. Oftentimes, as we get fitter, we require more load and volume to drive further progress and gains. When this occurs, it becomes impractical to try and accomplish all your training in 1 or 2 days; increasing the frequency we train a muscle or movement can help divide the volume up, allowing us to use greater loads on average.

Resistance Training Splits For Hypertrophy

Most of the splits commonly used as templates are used for muscle growth or muscle hypertrophy goals. Most notorious in the marketplace is the “bro” split, otherwise known as the body part split, which trains separate muscles on separate days. As one gets more advanced, the bro split may become hard to manage. An example of a bro split may look like:

Monday: Chest Day

Tuesday: Back Day

Wednesday: Leg Day

Thursday: Shoulder Day

Friday: Arms Day

Some overlap in muscles trained will still occur; most chest days and back days involve the front and back shoulder muscles to a large degree on commonly used compound exercises.

The Full Body Split

The full body split refers to a program with 2 to 4 training days a week, where both the upper and lower body are trained within the same session. An example of a 3-day full body split is shown below.

Day 1: MondayDay 2: WednesdayDay 3: Friday
Chest PressDumbbell Bench PressCable Pectoral Fly
Rear Delt FlySeated Lat PulldownDumbbell Single-arm Row
Barbell Back SquatBarbell Romanian DeadliftBulgarian Split Squat
Hamstring CurlMachine Calves Raise45-degree Back Extension
Cable CrunchRoman Chair Leg RaiseCable Woodchop

Each workout has 2 upper body exercises, 2 lower body exercises, and 1 abdominal exercise.

Some advantages and disadvantages of full body splits are:

Advantages of full body split programsDisadvantages of full body split programs
Increases frequency of training muscles/movementsMay be more time consuming to train the full body,
especially for more advanced individuals
The most adaptable program splitMay be confusing to program
Easier to spread out training volume per muscle groupVariation may be required for muscles trained frequently

The Push-Pull-Legs Split

The push-pull-legs split is a movement-based split that consists of 1 workout focusing on upper body pushing exercises, 1 workout focusing on upper body pulling exercises, and 1 workout focusing on lower body exercises that target muscles such as the glutes. An example of a 3-day push-pull-legs split is shown below.

Day 1: MondayDay 2: WednesdayDay 3: Friday
Barbell Bench PressBarbell RowBarbell Back Squat
Machine Chest FlyMachine-assisted Pull UpBarbell Romanian Deadlift
Dumbbell Side Lateral RaiseRear Delt Fly MachineAbductor Machine
Overhead Cable Triceps ExtensionDumbbell Biceps CurlStanding Calves Raise

Each workout has 4 exercises that can be categorised as either a push, a pull, or a leg exercise. The 3-day push-pull-leg split can be doubled, making a 6-day program, such as:

Day 1: MondayDay 2: TuesdayDay 3: WednesdayDay 4: ThursdayDay 5: FridayDay 6: Saturday

The 6-day push-pull-legs split program should be used by more intermediate to advanced individuals who are used to a higher training volume and frequency. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of the push-pull-legs split are:

Advantages of push-pull-legs split programsDisadvantages of push-pull-legs split programs
Allows the greatest recovery of and least interference from fatigued muscle groupsMust be either 3 or 6 times a week.
Allows for focused training for specific movement patternsSome muscles may not heal as fast as others, which means 2 full days of recovery may not be sufficient on the 6-day program.
Very easy for beginners looking to begin on a 3-day a week program.Maximum frequency for training a muscle is capped at twice a week, which may limit progress for muscles that require more than twice-a-week training.

The Upper-Lower Split

The upper-lower split is a common split for 2-, 4-, and 6-day programs and is categorised by the selection of upper and lower body exercises in separate workouts. Similar to the full body split, upper-lower splits tend to prioritise muscles over movements. An example of a 2- or 4-day upper-lower split is shown below.

Day 1 and 3: Monday and ThursdayDay 2 and 4: Tuesday and Friday
Chest PressBarbell Back Squat
Barbell RowBarbell Romanian Deadlift
Dumbbell Side Lateral RaiseSeated Hamstring Curl
Overhead Cable Triceps ExtensionCable Abduction
Dumbbell Biceps CurlStanding Calves Raise

Many beginners can start an upper-lower split program at 2 days, going up to 4 or 6 days if they have sufficient time and require greater training volume to progress. Some advantages and disadvantages of the upper-lower split are:

Advantages of upper-lower split programsDisadvantages of upper-lower split programs
Incredibly simple to program and adaptableSome muscles may not heal as fast as others, which means the alternate day training may not be sufficient.
Almost completely removes interference from the lower body during upper body workouts and vice versa.May be confusing to program at higher frequencies as variation may be required to prevent boredom
High scalability as it can be 2 times, 4 times, or 6 times a week.May become less efficient compared to other splits in the long run

Finding Your Perfect Split

Finding the right split depends on your goals and your schedule; you can find your perfect split by taking up a personal training package with our personal trainers from The Gym Pod Academy! Not only will your workout programming woes be solved, we can coach you through all the exercises you need to know for your perfect split, which can be done at the many Gym Pods located across Singapore and worldwide. What are you waiting for, book a consultation now with our personal trainers now!