We get a lotttttt of questions about setting up a training plan. Specifically, we get a ton of questions about splits. SO let’s get down to it, splits. Everything you need to know about upper lower body split plans, push pull leg plans, and how to make them work for you. Remember, your mileage will always vary, so if you don’t have the results you expected after the first cycle, don’t give up. Greatness takes time and a few tweaks here and there… so does building muscle.
UPPER LOWER SPLIT
- Upper/lower splits, you hear about them on social media a lot, but do you actually know what they are? If not, we gotchoo. An upper/lower split routine is basically what you’d think it was… you break your sessions into upper and lower body sessions throughout the week.
- A split plan is going to help you break out of the old “one muscle/group a day” bodybuilding mantra, which can actually hinder your muscle growth, if you’re only working a muscle group once a week, it’s not really enough to challenge it to force growth.
- Research points to you only needing three days to recover, which means you can hit each muscle/group at least twice a week depending on your plan, goals, and capabilities.
- One study from the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research says that doing multiple sessions per week is more effective than one:
- the study involved two groups of participants – one group trained each muscle group two times a week, the other group trained each muscle group one time a week.
- both groups had hypertrophy (what is hypertrophy? check out episode 56) growth but the gains weren’t equal, the 2x a week group had almost 7% more muscle growth than the other group who experienced about 4% growth… almost double the gains is kind of a big deal.
- What would an upper body split generally look like?
- Monday/Thursday – upper body
- Tuesday/Friday – lower body and abs
- Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday – rest
- Don’t sleep on four days a week… remember, the anabolic part of muscle building is very important and it happens when you’re at rest… less is definitely more in this case.
- Upper/lower splits are generally going to be better suited for beginning and less experienced lifters.
- If there’s a specific type of split training we get questions about most, it’s push/pull/leg. Again, it basically is what it sounds like, dedicated days to push movements, pull movements, and legs/abs.
- We are really big fans of push/pull/leg when it comes to split training because it’s the most efficient method when it comes to splits because it lends to the maximum overlap of movements within your workout… and the muscle groups being trained will benefit from said overlap.
- When you train bench press, you’re also working delts and tris… when you train shoulders, you’re working tris again… so it really just makes sense to put these movements together on the same day for maximum effectiveness.
- When you train back, your bis are pretty involved, so again… it makes sense to train biceps right after back to help them get max bennies from additional muscle stimulation.
- The push/pull/leg split will also gie you minimum overlap of movements between workouts, it will facilitate better recovery than most other split plans.
- Cool, what’s this look like on paper?
- Monday – push
- Tuesday – legs
- Wednesday – rest
- Thursday – pull
- Friday – legs
- Saturday/Sunday – rest
- Push/pull/leg is going to be better-suited for intermediate to advanced lifters.
WHAT’S THIS LOOK LIKE FOR ME?
- Ahh, the age-old question. If you’re newish, stick to upper/lower body for a hot minute until you’re feeling up for a new challenge… then you can rock push/pull/leg, and after a while you can cycle them in and out and mix and match the days however you want to fit your goals.
- DON’T FORGET CARDIO. Yeah, it sucks but it’s a necessary evil, so work it in at the end of your sessions a few times a week to keep yourself well-rounded.
- This is going to be a tricky thing to tackle if you’re new to the world of fitness, a coach is going to ease your pain quite a bit if you can swing it.
- Start small. Don’t kill yourself the first week… if you need to start with 3 days a week, do it. If you can do 4 days a week after a month or two, sweet – get at it!
As always if you have questions, email us – hello at meathead test kitchen dot com and we can help. Don’t forget to sign up for the Meathead Athletics announcement at meathead athletics dot com so you can train and get stronk with us.