What You Should Know About Split System Training

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Split system training is a program of weight training that divides training sessions by body regions —usually upper and lower body training.

The concept can get even more specific with various combinations of the main muscle group regions being categorized for split training. Legs, buttocks, arms, back, chest and abdominals are the main muscular regions. Rarely do split systems divide training into each of these regions. More common is legs and butt in one session or arms, back and chest in another session. Abdominal training can fit in either session.

This is not a system used by professional powerlifters or Olympic lifters and is mostly used by bodybuilders or fitness trainers.

Examples: This week's weight training program includes a lower-body split on, Tuesday and an upper-body split on Thursday.

Why Use Split System Training?

Split training allows time for a more intense workout of a body area, with extra days for recovery before that area is worked out again. If you have an hour a day to spend on exercise, a split routine will let you target one or two muscle groups intensively each day with more sets and heavier weights. Working a muscle group to fatigue will stimulate muscle repair and growth. This intensity of training may lead to better results for muscle building.

Split training allows you to follow the American Council of Sports Medicine Guidelines and allow at least 48 hours between resistance training exercise sessions for a major muscle group.

Why Not to Use Split System Training?

The American Council on Exercise recommends full-body workouts for people with a limited schedule and for beginners.

Beginners usually start with a full-body workout routine so they can learn proper exercise technique and build overall strength and fitness.

With a split routine, it is important not to skip any workouts as they each have a different focus. Allowing too long to go between workouts of a muscle group impairs progress towards your goal. If you are unable to keep to a strict schedule, a total body workout may be a better option.

Split System Training Routines

Upper Body/Lower Body Split: This is a common split, alternating days of exercising only the upper body and only the lower body.It's a good choice for general fitness. Abdominal exercises are done on your choice of days.

Push/Pull Split: This type of split works out both upper and lower body, but separates the exercises into one day of pushing exercises which target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The alternate day is for pulling exercises (curls, rows, pulldowns) that target the back and biceps.

Antagonistic Muscles Split Workouts: Opposing muscle groups are worked out each day, split into groups for three workouts per week or four workouts per week.

Advanced Splits: Workouts focus on just one major muscle group per day, This schedule usually requires four or more workout days each week.

  • Advanced Split Routine (5 Days): This plan breaks out legs, arms, back and core, chest, shoulders, and traps.
  • Bodybuilding Splits: Routines from Lee Labrada, former IFBB Mr. Universe, built for six days per week, four days per week, or three days on/one off.
  • Advanced Bodybuilding Split: One major muscle group per day is targeted over the course of six days.
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