Working out is one of the most difficult undertakings to start, let alone stick to, and there are many pitfalls that even experienced athletes and trainers can fall into, from a loss of motivation to injury or boredom.
There are many threats to your success and that will try to get in the way of your goals, however, there are techniques that you can use to stay motivated and keep your workouts not only entertaining and enjoyable but more efficient and less likely to cause injury and fatigue.
In this guide we’re going to look at workout splits, including what they are, what they are used for, their benefits, their negatives, and some examples of the best and most common splits people use to help keep in shape.
But first, let’s look at what a split actually is.
What Is A Split?
A workout split is essentially the way you split up your exercise, which is where the term originates from.
It’s a simple method of dividing up the different sessions you need to do in order to target the various muscles and areas of the body, and there are more efficient ways to do this that can maximize your results as well as your recovery times and can compound your workouts into far more effective long term plans and regimes that incorporates various aspects of coordinated training.
Typically these types of splits are used in weight training, either by bodybuilders, powerlifters, or people just trying to get into better shape, and as such there are many different types of split workouts and plans that can be used depending on your own needs as well as your preferences and goals.
Splits can be used to maintain motivation and have a range of additional benefits which we’re going to now take a look at, as there are some very strong arguments for using a good split in your regime even if you’ve never considered them in the past.
What Are The Benefits Of A Split?
The debate surrounding split training is ongoing and has been for some time, and not everyone subscribes to the idea that split training is beneficial, especially for certain situations and circumstances.
In general, however, there are a few key benefits to split workouts.
The first is that split workouts offer you the opportunity to focus on specific body parts and muscles, which can help you to round out certain muscles and ensure consistent progress, ensuring that certain body parts aren’t ignored or falling behind, potentially causing injuries in the future.
Splits are also useful if you’re injured and want to avoid certain workouts or muscles for a while, to allow for rest and recovery.
Split training can accelerate muscle growth and lead to increased strength and progress when adhered to properly, and may lead to faster results, particularly for weight training.
Split training also helps you to stave off boredom as you work different muscles and use different exercises each session, helping to stay motivated and interested in your workouts, which is important as a surprising number of people lose motivation due to boredom, and it’s a key concern for trainers and athletes in all sports.
Split training also allows you to stay organized and more carefully track the progress of your different body parts and muscle groups, and stay in control of your proportions, helping build a healthy posture and even progress across your body.
Split training does have its downsides, however, and we’re going to take a look at these in the next section so you’re aware of the potential consequences of this training style.
What Are The Negatives Of A Split?
There are a few negatives to split workouts, and the first and most obvious one is that they are time-consuming, meaning you’ll need to work out more and more often to meet the various needs of these programs and ensure you’re hitting all the different splits properly.
Split workouts are also a lot more effort to keep organized and stay on top of, and they don’t offer progress as quickly as other workouts, such as full-body workouts.
These problems are particularly exacerbated for people who are new to working out, and while following a split can be good and build good habits, your initial progress will be much slower following splits as opposed to doing full-body workouts and building up your overall fitness and strength.
Splits are disproportionately beneficial to people who already have a good understanding of their body, and what they need to continue developing, as well as where their weaknesses are, and for people who lack expertise and knowledge splits can be confusing and lead you to over or underinvesting in certain areas of your body leaving progress uneven and confused which can lead to injury or other issues such as poor posture.
The combination of how much time split workouts absorb, along with the need for a good starting level of fitness and an organized plan/understanding make splits difficult for beginners to use and aren’t always the best choice for every person starting their fitness journey.
What Are Some Examples Of Popular/Common Splits?
There are a few popular splits that are used among weightlifters. In this section we’re going to briefly touch on these to give you some ideas on how you can split your workouts if you’re interested in learning more about splits.
Push-Pull Splits – This split groups together exercises and movements that push and pull so that your training each session is centered around these types of exercises and helps increase the rest and recovery time for those muscles which aren’t being used in a particular split.
The Body Part Split – This split breaks up major muscle groups and key areas to give you more intense focus on certain aspects of your body. Although time-consuming this split is very popular and thorough and is used extensively by weight lifters across all disciplines.
A typical week using this split can look like this;
A typical training week may comprise 4-5 exercises, 3-4 sets, 8-15 reps.
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Back
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Shoulders
- Friday: Legs
- Saturday: Arms
- Sunday: Rest
This is a good example of a body part split and indicates how comprehensive it is, as well as how time-consuming it can be.
The Upper/Lower Split – Some people focus on the upper and lower body in different splits however this isn’t particularly popular as it doesn’t allow for a lot of rest and grouping together such a large number of muscles is impractical.
How To Choose The Split That’s Best For You?
Finding the right split can be difficult, but there are many benefits when you do find one that suits you, so it’s worth trying a few different types in order to get one that really benefits you.
Consider your knowledge and experience level, as well as your time constraints and fitness goals/needs.
Balancing these different factors is the key to finding a split that works for you, but it’s good to change from time to time even if you like your split, to shock your muscles and prevent boredom. This helps keep motivation high and increases the likelihood of your long-term success.