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Split Training
Feb 4th, 2012 - written by Thomas Bluhm in Strength Training

Split Training is a very common method for creating workout routines for strength training and body building. In the following article you`ll learn about Split Training, how to apply it successfully and why it has certain advantages as well as disadvantages.

What is Split Training?

Split training describes a workout of arbitrary main muscles in various training sessions. “Split” in this context means "division". To grow muscles you should focus on a targeted training of the following muscles: chest muscles, shoulder muscles, biceps, triceps, abdomen, back (lats including large and small circular muscles, trapezius muscles), quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. These are the main muscles capable of growing strength as you focus on strength training, or able to gain mass and volume when doing a bodybuilding related workout.

Unlike the full-body workout, in which you stimulate all of the main muscles directly or indirectly during a single training session, split training requires you to distribute the workload on different training sessions, usually within a week in order to train the entire body.

Full body workouts are usually done 2-3 times per week and thus all major muscles are being stimulated that often.

A split training routine, in contrary, contains several different training sessions per week. Depending on how many training days it take to train the complete body , we speak of 2 times, 3 times or more splits.

Here´s a short example of a 3-days split training:

Training session 1 is done on Monday, hitting chest, shoulders and triceps. On Wednesday, during training session 2, you will train back, abdominals and biceps. Finally, on Friday, you choose to workout thighs and calves.

As already mentioned, there are further options besides the popular 3-days split. A 4-days split routine allows you to go even more into detail within one week.

After an initial full body routine, beginners may want to choose the 2-days split while advances athletes often even use a 5-days split. Very rarely you will find experienced bodybuilders doing a 6 times or even 7-days split training. Here´s why:

The primary motivation behind split training is to pay more attention to a single muscle. It enables you to do a lot of sets and repetitions (training volume) per muscle to stimulate it as much as possible.

Highly intense split training can increase your muscle growth and may be helpful to break plateaus.

For optimal gains in performance and strength it is necessary to maintain a balance of tension and relaxation. Therefore 3-days split trainings with embedded days of rest is recommended. 5-days split routines obviously don´t allow enough resting days.

The Advantages of Split Training

Split training allows you to spend more time training one particular muscle or muscle group. You can do more sets, more exercise and more training variations.

It is of course an option to do more sets and exercises even during a full body workout, but this may result in an inadequately increased training time. Remember that your physical and mental performance tends to decrease after one hour of training, which can make it impossible to receive an effective muscular stimulation.

After having reached a certain training levels you can build more muscle mass by working out short periods of time with high intensity, provided optimal nutrition and rest.

The Disadvantages of Split Training?

As already indicated above, a mismatch between tension and relaxation can cause a lack of muscle growth and even lead to overtraining.

Because of the presumed high intensity it might take particular muscles longer to recover from a training session.

How to apply Split Training?

For best results remember the following principles when setting up split trainings:
  • Hit every major muscle within a week of training.
  • Train all required muscles evenly during a training session.
  • Spread your training sessions evenly throughout the week.
For maximum benefits, try not to overload your training sessions. Pay about the same attention to every major muscle group and keep your training sessions short, not longer than 60-90 minutes.

You may want to make sure that each workout is done in equal intervals. I recommend doing 3-days split training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. Each training day is followed by a day of rest. The following layout is less ideal: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays.

Try to include related muscles within a training session, which itself should contain the training of one major muscle group and addition one or two smaller muscles.

A 3-days split training could look like this:

Training 1 - Mondays (chest, shoulders, triceps)

  • Flys
  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Lateral Raises
  • French Press
  • Triceps Press

Training 2 - Wednesdays (Back, Abdominals, Biceps)

  • Pull Ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Dead Lift
  • Barbell Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Crunches
  • Abdominal Press

Training 3 - Fridays (legs, calves)

  • Leg Extension
  • Leg Press
  • Squats
  • Leg Curls
  • Stiff Leg Dead Lifts
  • Standing Calf Raises
  • Seated Calf Raises


Split training is a common and effective method to enhance muscle growth. It is primarily recommended for experienced athletes. Newcomers or returnees should begin with a with a full body workout.

Written by Thomas Bluhm - author, licensed fitness training and owner of the Bodybuilding 2.0 Blog .

tags:   Split Training  |    Muscle Growth  |    Training Planning  |

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