Weight Training Program Splits

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Exercise Order

I am making a training program with the existing templates on your website. The templates on your website are really good. I am really interested in the 4 day split push pull protocol. But when I looked at it, I noticed that after a big muscle, like hamstrings, a smaller one is performed, like biceps. For what reason is this interruption? Is it not better to do first of all the big muscles and after that the small ones (Eg Hamstring, Hamstring, Biceps)?

Great question! You could certainly do it the way you proposed and I have personally done it this way as well on other sort of splits. The templates are suggestions and certainly can be customized. I sometimes like performing leg curls before exercises like straight-leg deadlifts as a kind of pre-exhaust.

Keep in mind the main rationale of placing large muscle groups first is that it is supposed to allow you to handle more weight for exercises that utilize larger muscles, requiring more energy. Placing a small unrelated muscle (eg: biceps, calves) between a second exercise for the larger muscle (eg: hamstrings, chest) is a techniuqe that may allow you to use greater resistance on that second exercise for the larger muscle, utilizing that short rest period, but you could certainly make an argument for performing them consecutively without an unrelated muscle group in between, as is traditionally done. The choice is certainly yours, but I would encourage you to try it both ways for at least a few weeks at a time to find your favorite.

Keep in mind, the 4 day split accommodates a higher volume program with more exercises and possibly more sets. Consequently, muscle groups are exercises less frequently than 2 or 3 day splits. For most people, I would suggest to only perform 4 day split programs sparingly, if at all. It is the sort of program you could use for leading up to a bodybuilding competition to accommodate more exercises. I would not suggest such a program for off season training.


Alternating Rest with Workout Days on 3 Day Split

I was wondering, on the Workout Menu you list workout templates, and under the 3 day split program I noticed there was no mention of XAXBXCX as a split method. Is there a reason this is not included - is it not a good idea?

Dose Response studies suggest more strength gains can be achieved by exercising each muscle group more often. See Strength Dose-Response Curve. If your ability to recover between workouts is compromised by a high volume workout, other physical activities, inadequate nutrition, or other reasons that you are unable to recover within a couple days, you may possibly make more progress exercise for each muscle group less frequently. See Low Frequency Training.


Other 3 and 4 Day Split Options

Barbell SquatIn your list of 3 day and 4 day splits, I would also like to suggest another couple of options you might want to include:

  • 3 day split: AXBXCXX
    • Which is the 3 day split that most people follow.
  • 3 day push/pull/legs: ABXCX
    • Vegan bodybuilder friend of mine has made great progress with this split.
  • 4 day powerlifting: ABXCDXX
    • A = speed squats
    • B = speed bench
    • C = heavy squat assistance
    • D = heavy bench assistance

This routine (Westside Barbell Program) has produced several 900# squatters and 600# benchers for Louie Simmons.

BTW, your site is a common recommendation on the misc.fitness.weights newsgroup... where I'm a regular. We think it's great. Thanks again,

Watson (the ninja of nice) Davis

Watson, Thank you for your useful suggestions. Regarding "3 day split: AXBXCXX" (above), working each body part just once a week may be appropriate for maintenance work or for a program requiring longer recovery, such as high volume training or as a part of a periodization type program.


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