Split Training 101

By Eric leader-Owner/Personal Trainer


Being an exercise professional, a common question asked is how to structure a resistance training program. Basically, a split training program is breaking down your muscle groupings in different days throughout the week. There has been much debate and question as to what the best and most proper breakdown is, so let's look.

So why do we utilize a split training program? A split training program basically entails breaking down each muscle group into different days allowing for enough recovery in between bouts of exercise. The rationale for this is the theory that muscles need at least two to three days to recover properly between workouts. If you train the same muscle group on consecutive days before proper rest is allowed the muscles cannot recover in time and your progress will be halted. So, let's get into it what is the best way to structure a split training program?

The most beneficial program, in my opinion, is the push-pull legs program. Basically, what this type of programming entails is working the back and biceps on day one, the chest and triceps on day two along with shoulders, legs on day three, and taking a day for off recovery. So, what is the philosophy?

By grouping the back and bicep muscles together on day one we have worked on the pulling muscles and allowed the pushing muscles and legs to be at rest. Additionally, while working the chest shoulders and triceps we are now working the pushing muscles, and on day 3 we are working the leg muscles. By utilizing a split such as this we are allowing ample recovery for each muscle group in between bouts of exercise.

Many believe that utilizing 3 days on 1 day off approach is the most optimal for rest and recovery. Another benefit of such programming is that each workout is not too overbearing in that it will cause the gym-goer to be in a gym for longer than 45 minutes to an hour. 45 minutes to an hour is the optimal length of a workout session for results.

As always mentioned, if you are a novice to the resistance training realm it is always your best practice to hire a personal trainer to design and help you implement the plan initially. Having them show you how to utilize proper form and technique and subsequent exercises can help prevent you from wasting time and little success.

So, give the push-pull method a try and let me know how you feel and the kind of results that you manifest.