Over my (too many) years of training I’ve tried many training splits. Since I grew up watching Pumping Iron and reading Arnold’s books along with being a huge fan of the “Golden Era” of bodybuilding I’ve always been a fan of more frequent training. I tried the one-bodypart-per-day thing, but it never really “took.”
I remember trying it one week and couldn’t understand why anyone would train chest on Monday, for example, and then have to wait an entire seven days to train it again. I was always ready to go just a few days later. Of course, I dove into heavy duty training, high volume among others, but that’s another post for another day.
I like training with some sort of higher frequency so through years of experimenting I’ve always come back to three main splits. Whether it’s coming back from and layoff, something going on with health, or life just getting in the way, I can say with confidence that these three have been tested with great success. Below I’ll list them out and describe the when and why behind each.
Monday: Chest, Back, Shoulders
Tuesday: Arms, Legs
Thursday: Chest, Back, Shoulders
Friday: Arms, Legs
When: I use this split in two basic situations: 1) When I am coming back from a layoff of any kind and 2) When I just want a completely different split from the traditional ones listed below.
Why: I’ve tried the classic upper/lower split, but it’s just a bit to much work in one day for the upper body. By the time I’m through with chest, back, and shoulders, my arms are pretty shot as well as my energy levels. It’s also a great way to get everything in twice per week with plenty of rest thrown in.
3-Day Split #1
Day 1: Chest, Back
Day 2: Shoulders, Arms
Day 3: Legs
When: This is one of my main go-to programs when I’m being pretty consistent with everything else in life more or less. If my eating is going well, stress levels are normal, and I’m able to get to the gym most days of the week. I’ll either go through all three days back-to-back (6 days in a row) or choose five days of training per week and let it rotate.
Why: I love the upper body pump I get from training chest and back on the same day. The middle day of shoulders and arms is a break of sorts from the big lifts so I can attack legs the next day.
3-Day Split #2
Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back, Biceps
When: I like to rotate this split with the other 3-day above the most. It’s the classic push, legs, pull split. I like putting legs in between the upper body days so I can have a fresh lower back for squats, RDLs, and such. Training days during the week mirror the split above.
Why: It’s nice to hit all of my push or pull muscles in one workout and then give them a ton of rest with very little overlap.
That’s about it. Short, simple, and to the point. What’s your favorite split? Comment below.