Split Decision: How to pick the best workout split for your goals

My ass hurts. A lot.

And it hurts from doing “fun stuff.”

To me, that means working out really hard. I don’t know WTF it means to you, perv.

I love being sore from a good workout, but it’s something that so rarely happens. I’m used to working out so it takes a lot to get me to experience DOMS (delyed onset muscle soreness). Thanks to a recent change in my workout split, I am now walking like a zombie. Or a nazi. (I am neither, for the record.)

A workout split simply means how you split up your workout throughout the week. Different splits are helpful depending on what your goals are. Keep in the mind that which ever split you choose, you should avoid working the same muscle group on consecutive days. For example, if you work your back on Tuesday, you should wait till Thursday to work it out again.

Examples of different splits are:

Full body (not technically a “split” but whatever):
I originally wrote that this one is good for beginners, but it’s actually good for just about anyone. This is where you work every muscle group in your body in one session. An example would be squat (lower body), bench press (chest), bent over row (back), overhead press (shoulders) done Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Using a lighter load at a fast pace is good for burning fat. Going heavier is good for developing strength. What makes this type of routine so effective is how taxing it is on your body. The main drawbacks are that you can’t give concentrated attention to certain body parts and the workouts can take a long time.

Upper body/lower body:
Good for people who have a decent strength/muscle foundation and want to add more mass or fine-tune certain body parts. An example of a routine would be: Monday – Upper body. Tuesday – Lower body. Wednesday – rest. Thursday – Upper body. Friday – Lower body. This type of split gives you a higher training volume for body parts which is good for building muscle (granted that you lift heavy enough.) It’s also less tiring than doing a full-body workout.

Body part:
This is a bodybuilder-style workout meant to add mass and isolate certain body parts. You only work one body part a day. Example: Monday – chest, Tuesday – back, Wednesday – shoulders, Thursday – legs & abs, Friday – arms. You get a very high volume per body part with this split. This is the one I’m doing now.

Synergistic split:
Also known as a push-pull split. This is when you do a split based around the muscles that work together. One day you would work back and biceps (pull) and the next you’d do chest, triceps, and shoulders (push). You could do legs on their own day, or you could add glutes/hamstrings to your back day, and do quads on your chest/tricep day. I prefer to work legs all in one shot, but that’s just me. Synergistic splits are also good for getting more size.

Antagonistic split:
Similar to synergistic split, only you are working muscle groups that aren’t related. For example: back and triceps, chest and biceps, back and legs, etc. This split is also good for gaining mass. The main benefit is that you’re not going to fatigue as easily because you’re working different muscle groups instead of repeatedly using the same ones. I’ve never done this type of split before though, so my knowledge of it is limited.

Full body workouts have the potential to give you the athletic skinny or fit & ripped build. Fit & built and bodybuilder dude probably use body part or synergistic splits.

So with that said, which is the best type of split? Well, it depends on your goals. But I think trying out all of them and seeing what you like the most is the best path to go down. A lot of people argue that body-part splits are better for gaining mass, but I think that as long as you progressively lift heavier weights, you will gain mass despite whatever split you’re doing. The key is going heavier. If you’re squatting 135 lbs for 6 months, you’re not going to see many gains in strength or size because that’s what your body is used to.

My favorite routine is full body. I gained a lot of strength doing that, and some muscle mass as well. As I mentioned, I’m trying out the body-part split for a little more muscle, so we’ll see how that goes. My ass isn’t happy about it, but I am.

This back is brought to you by overhead lighting and mostly full-body workouts.

More tips for putting together your own strength program:

  • Decide what your goal is and pick a split.
  • Make sure you hit all muscle groups. Ladies, that means don’t neglect your chest. Don’t worry. You’re not going to get man-pecs or lose your boobs. The only thing that will make you lose your boobs is losing fat.
  • Start off with larger muscle groups and move to smaller ones. For example, on an upper body day you should work your chest and back first, then move to arms and shoulders.

Time for me to go back to rubbing my ass ^_^

PS. If you’re looking for a workout plan, my Minimalist Muscle guide includes FREE 20 minute workouts that require minimal equipment. That means they can be done in the comfort of your own home. It’s great for beginners and also has challenging modifications (think paused reps and negatives) for intermediate folks. They’re simple (but effective) workouts for a complicated world.

—>>Download your FREE copy HERE.

Facebook Twitter Email

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: My review of Jamie Eason's Livefit program | Fit Geek

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *