-start with full-body workout
-as you progress, specialize more
Split training is what most of us are actually doing in the gym – dividing our weekly routine into several training sessions with each muscle-group stimulated twice a week or so.
In this article I’m trying to describe a systematic and logical approach to split training based on recent research and experiences of leading coaches.
Basic rules of training splits:
- Beginners should start with full-body training three times a week. This should not last longer than 3 weeks. If you didn’t exercise for 1 and ½ year, your nerves and CNS must “learn” the movements again and you should consider yourself a beginner for the purpose of split training.
- As you proceed with your training you specialize more and more. First you divide your muscles into two groups (possibly lower body and upper body). In several weeks you split your muscles into 3 groups and later into 4 groups.
- Lower the number of reps with every new phase in your training. It means doing 10-12 reps during whole-body training, 8-10 reps during the two-day split period, 6-8 reps during the three-day split and 4-6 reps per set during the final phase (4-day split).
- Most muscle groups will require 2.5 minute breaks between the sets. It is extremely important to keep this as strictly as possible. Several scientific studies found that this is the optimal time. Most trainees grossly underestimate the length of the break between the sets but it is probably THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR OF THE MUSCLE GROWTH in split training. You can actually pack twice more muscle mass with 2.5 minute breaks than with 1 minute or 4 minute breaks.
- Some muscle groups are being used in our daily lives and they need different training. They are the core muscles, calves and wrist muscles. Here you do need shorter breaks and more reps – stay in the 15-20 range for reps (up to 30 for calves) and stick to 1-minute long breaks.