Mass Confusion over Split Workouts
I have been trying to follow your workout plan, however,
it is difficult to follow, I would like to work out 3 times a
week, one day legs, one day back/ chest and I guess arms/abs,
please help. Cannot understand the ABC concept.
On the Workout
Menu, Each letter represents a particular workout on successive
days. So ABCX would represent 4 consecutive days. Workout A on
the first day, Workout B on the second day, and Workout C on
the third day, followed finally by a recovery on the forth day
indicated by X. The cycle would start all over again on the 5th
day. Some programs conform to a 7 day week whereas others do
The 3 day splits are designed for advanced trainees working
out most days of the week. According to the ACSM Recommendations
for Resistance Training Exercises each muscle group should be
exercised twice a week. Other Strength
Dose-Response studies also suggest that the optimal training
frequency is 2-3 times per week, depending on weight training
experience. With some exception, this means that the 3 day splits
are typically not recommended for those only planning to work
out only 3 time per week.
If you are a beginner or just starting back from a layoff,
consider designing a full body workout. At this stage, no more
than one movement for each major muscle is necessary. As an intermediate
trainee a 2 day split would allow you to perform more exercises
while still keeping your time at the gym brief. See
guidelines according to experience level under Number
of Exercises and Sets question / answer.
If you believe a split program is appropriate for you, the
design of the split program should allow for adequate recovery
between workouts. The split you outlined may not allow enough
time for the arms to recover when performed on successive days.
Since arms are heavily involved during torso work it would be
recommended perform a leg workout the day following a chest and
back workout before training arms directly on the third day.
Similarly, a recovery day on the fourth day would allow the arm
to be more fully recovered before resuming with another torso
workout. This is eluded to in the Workout Menu under the 3 Day Split Workouts
Header where it indicates 6 days a week for Push/Pull...
Training the torso and arms on separate days allows the shoulders
and arms to be emphasized at the expense of full intensity of
either the chest or back (whichever is exercised later in the
torso program). This split is however a bit less flexible than
the Push/Pull/Leg or Thigh Split since one day off (X) between
each cycle (every fourth day) is typically required with that
split, thereby allowing the arms to be recovered for their involvement
on torso day.
Also see Workout
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
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
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.
Generally large muscle groups are exercise before smaller
muscle groups (ACSM 2002), particularly when the smaller muscle
group will act as synergists or stabilizers in the exercise for
the larger muscle group. See Weight
Training Guidelines. However performing specific exercises
earlier in a workout (regardless of their relative size to other
muscle groups) also emphasize these movements or muscle groups
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..
Kraemer WJ, Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA, Dooly C, Feigenbaum
MS, Fleck SJ, Franklin B, Fry AC, Hoffman JR, Newton RU, Potteiger
J, Stone MH, Ratamess NA, Triplett-McBride T; American College
of Sports Medicine (2002). Position Stand on Progression Models
in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc.;34(2):364-80.
Spineti J, de Salles BF, Rhea MR, Lavigne D, Matta T, Miranda
F, Fernandes L, Simão R (2010). Influence of exercise
order on maximum strength and muscle volume in nonlinear periodized
resistance training. J Strength Cond Res;24(11):2962-9
Other 3 and 4 Day Split Options
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
BTW, your site is a common recommendation on the misc.fitness.weights
newsgroup... where I'm a regular. We think it's great. Thanks
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