When it comes to bodybuilding, it’s not just about working out hard – it’s about working out smart. One key strategy for maximizing your gains is to divide your workouts into different training splits. This allows you to focus on specific muscle groups, avoid overtraining, and ensure that each workout is as efficient as possible. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of training splits and help you find the best one for your goals.
As the name suggests, full-body workouts involve working every major muscle group in a single workout. This type of training split is great for beginners or those with limited time, as it allows you to hit all your muscles in just a few sessions per week. It also provides a good balance between strength and hypertrophy training, making it a great all-around option.
However, because you’re working your entire body in each session, you won’t be able to focus as much on individual muscle groups. This can limit your gains over time, especially if you’re looking to build up a specific set of muscles.
Here is a sample full-body workout:
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows – 3 sets x 6-10 reps
Standing Military Press – 3 sets x 6-10 reps
Barbell Deadlifts – 3 sets x 6-10 reps
Pull-Ups – 3 sets x max reps
Cable Tricep Pushdowns – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Cable Crunches – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
This workout hits all major muscle groups and includes both compound and isolation exercises. It is important to adjust the weight and reps based on your own strength and fitness level. Next up, let’s take a look at what is known as the push/pull/legs splits.
Push/pull/legs (PPL) splits involve dividing your workouts into three categories: push exercises (chest, shoulders, triceps), pull exercises (back, biceps), and leg exercises. This type of training split allows you to focus on each muscle group in more detail, while still allowing for efficient, full-body training.
PPL splits are often used by bodybuilders and powerlifters, as they provide a good balance between strength and hypertrophy training. They also allow you to hit each muscle group multiple times per week, which is important for maximizing gains.
Here is a sample PPL workout routine if you’re looking to give it a go:
Incline dumbbell press: 3 sets x 12 reps
Cable tricep pushdowns: 3 sets x 15 reps
Lateral raises: 3 sets x 12 reps
Standing calf raises: 3 sets x 10 reps
Barbell deadlifts: 3 sets x 6 reps
Pull-ups: 3 sets x 10 reps
Reverse flyes: 3 sets x 12 reps
Seated calf raises: 3 sets x 10 reps
Barbell squats: 3 sets x 8 reps
Leg press: 3 sets x 10 reps
Romanian deadlifts: 3 sets x 12 reps
Leg curls: 3 sets x 12 reps
This is just one example of a PPL workout routine. It’s important to adjust the exercises and sets/reps based on your fitness level, goals, and preferences. It’s also recommended to rest for a day between each workout day to allow your muscles to recover and grow.
Now, let’s take a look at the upper/lower splits variety of split training. Keep in mind, while this form of splits is extremely beneficial it is one of the harder variations of split training.
Upper/lower splits involve dividing your workouts into upper body and lower body days. This type of training split is great for those who want to focus on strength training, as it allows you to work on your big lifts (such as squats and deadlifts) more frequently. It also allows for more targeted training of individual muscle groups in the upper and lower body.
However, because you’re only working half your body in each session, you’ll need to train more frequently to hit all your muscle groups. This can be difficult for those with limited time or recovery capacity.
Here’s an example of an upper/lower split workout for bodybuilding:
Upper Body Day
Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of cardio or dynamic stretching
Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
Pull-ups: 3 sets of 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets of 10 reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
Triceps Pushdowns: 3 sets of 12 reps
Lower Body Day
Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of cardio or dynamic stretching
Barbell Squats: 3 sets of 8 reps
Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10 reps
Leg Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15 reps
Remember to choose weights that are challenging but allow you to maintain proper form throughout each exercise. Rest for 60-90 seconds between sets, and aim to increase the weight or reps over time to continue progressing with your workouts.
Last but not least, the bro splits.
Bro splits involve training each specific muscle group once a week. For example, you might train chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, and so on. This type of training split is often used by bodybuilders and those looking to build up specific muscle groups that need development.
While bro splits can be effective for hypertrophy training, they often lead to overtraining and limited gains over time. Additionally, because you’re only training each muscle group once per week, you won’t be able to take advantage of the muscle protein synthesis response as frequently.
Here is an example of a bro split workout:
Barbell bench press: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Incline dumbbell press: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Decline barbell press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
Cable flyes: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Deadlifts: 4 sets x 8-10 reps
Barbell rows: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Pull-ups: 3 sets x maximum reps
Seated cable rows: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
Military press: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Dumbbell lateral raises: 4 sets x 12-15 reps
Front raises: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Cable face pulls: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Barbell curls: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Hammer curls: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Tricep pushdowns: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Skull crushers: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Squats: 4 sets x 8-10 reps
Leg press: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Leg extensions: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Lying leg curls: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
It’s important to note that bro splits can be effective for building muscle mass but may not be optimal for overall strength and functional fitness. It’s recommended to vary your workout routine and include compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups for well-rounded fitness.
Choosing the Right Training Split
When it comes to choosing the right training split, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on your goals, training experience, and recovery capacity. If you’re a beginner or have limited time, full-body workouts might be the best option. If you’re an advanced lifter looking to focus on specific muscle groups, PPL or upper/lower splits might be better.
Ultimately, the best training split is the one that allows you to train consistently, avoid overtraining, and make steady progress over time. Experiment with different types of training splits, track your progress, and adjust your program as needed. With the right training split, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your bodybuilding goals.