What Is Split Training

You’ve probably heard the term “split training” or “body building splits” while spending time at the gym or reading articles online. I wanted to touch on this briefly because I feel that people still don’t understand it or are confused by what it means.

Simply put, split training allows you to divide workouts up between different body parts on different days. The goal is to cover all of your major muscle groups on a weekly basis. This can be done a variety of ways and that could be where the confusion comes in. This is also considered a “bodybuilding” style workout.

Here are three common training splits and examples:

Upper Body/Lower Body Splits

On Day 1 you will do all upper body exercises. This could be chest press, barbell curls, shoulder presses and pull downs.

Then on Day 2 you will do all lower body exercises, thus giving your upper body a day of rest. On the lower body day you might do squats, walking lunges, hack squat, and leg extensions.

Further more this can be broken down on a weekly basis. Here’s an example

Monday – Upper
Tuesday – Lower
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Upper
Friday – Lower
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

*On Thursday and Friday your movements will be different then what you did on Monday and Tuesday

This is typically a good start for a beginner. You cover your basis by targeting your major muscle groups of the upper body and lower body.

3 Day Splits

A Three Day Split simply means you’ll cover all major muscle groups in 3 days.

Day 1: Chest/Back/Abs
Day 2: Legs/Shoulders
Day 3: Bi’s/Tri’s/Calves

This can be broken down weekly in two mays.

Monday – Chest/Back/Abs
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Legs/Shoulders
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Bi’s/Tri’s/Calves
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest


Monday – Chest/Back/Abs
Tuesday – Legs/Shoulders
Wednesday – Bi’s/Tri’s/Calves
Thursday – Chest/Back/Abs
Friday – Legs/Shoulders
Saturday – Bi’s/Tri’s/Calves
Sunday – Rest

*This option is a bit more advanced. Notice how there is no day off during the middle of the week. This can be done because of the way the program is laid out. You do chest/back/abs on Monday and don’t touch them again until Thursday thus giving your body 48 hours of rest prior to hitting those muscle groups again.


4 Day Splits

A Four Day Split simply means you’ll cover all major muscle groups in 4 days.

Day 1: Chest/Back
Day 2: Quads/Hammys
Day 3: Bi’s/Tri’s
Day 4: Shoulders/Abs

This can be broken down weekly like this:

Monday – Chest/Back
Tuesday – Quads/Hammys
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Bi’s/Tri’s
Friday – Shoulders/Abs
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

This is a bit more advanced as well and fits well with the general population work/life schedule. It gives you ample rest yet provides for four solid days of gains.

My Current Split

At the moment, I’m doing a 5 day split that looks like this:

Monday – Chest
Tuesday – Legs
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Shoulders/Calves
Friday – Back – Deadlifting
Saturday – Arms
Sunday – Rest

I typically do 5-6 movements, 4 sets of anywhere from 6-12 based off of my week (this can vary).

I utilize Wednesday as a rest day because I’m fairly busy on Wednesday’s and I am pretty exhausted from my Tuesday leg day. I target calves like any other muscle group and train them hard on Thursday (weak point). My legs have been given 48 hours to recover from Tuesday.

On Friday I always start with deadlifts (heavy, medium, light) based off of what my program says for the week. After that I do some ancillary back work. Saturday is Arms, so I rotate between bicep and tricep movements providing enough rest in between sets.

Split Rules

When setting up a Split there are a few things you need to be aware of.

  1. Always start with compound movements first then move into your single joint movements. Ie Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans etc. go first then the single joint ancillary movements.
  2. You must add in rest days*. Your body needs to recover in order for it to grow so don’t neglect taking a day or two off. *If you are a more advanced lifter then see the 4 day split above where you lift 6 days in a row but provide enough rest time
  3. Intensity is key. If you lift chest every Monday, and only on Monday’s, you better hit it hard. You obviously can program another day but if you don’t, your intensity is key so take advantage of your time in the gym especially if you want to grow.
  4. Your split should last a MINIMUM of 6 weeks, ideally 8-12 weeks. It’s a huge mistake if you program hop every 2-4 weeks without fully completing your game plan. Consistency and progress is key and if you hop from one thing to another you lose sight of this. Don’t do it.


Benefits of Split Training

Recovery – If your training split is set up properly you should have ample amount of recovery time. Take the example above I target primarily one muscle group a day which gives me a solid 6 days of recovery time. You will still active certain muscle groups on certain days but your intensity won’t be as demanding when you focus on just one muscle group. If you train certain muscle groups twice a week you still should two or three days in between to give you plenty of time to rest.

Time – You have the ability to get a solid workout in 30 minutes or an hour an half. Setting up splits will allow you to get enough volume in a fairly short amount of time. You can target a few muscle groups daily, get a solid workout in a short amount of time.

Physique Building – I have found split training to be very effective for building a fit, lean and muscular physique. Adding in cardio/bootcamp/sprinting are also important and must be taken into consideration when creating splits but if your goal is to grow in a “physique like manner” you must focus on specific body parts and isolate.

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