Bodybuilding Training Splits-Bodybuilding Basics For Splitting Your Workouts

Here Are Several Ways To Split Up Your Bodybuilding Workouts

A man deadlifting significant weight at the gym
Christopher Kimmel / Getty Images

Let's look at how we can assemble a workout that will "work" for us! We will look at the various types of routines and touch base on the advantages and disadvantages.
 

Six Day Per Week Routine.

This is the most traditional of weight training routines and is one which past bodybuilding greats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo, and Frank Zane used in their heyday. This routine was very popular back in the 60's and 70's.

It consists of training the chest and back on Day 1, legs on Day 2, arms and shoulders on Day 3 (an antagonistic split), and then repeating the training cycle on Days 4, 5, and 6. Day 7 is a day of complete rest. This is a great routine if you're trying to get into shape quickly and are willing to utilize lighter weights and lower intensity. The problem arises when you attempt to use a program of this nature and train too heavy, too often. This quickly leads to over-training because there's not enough rest time built into the program. However, as I mentioned before, this is a great program to utilize if you're trying to drop body fat and lean out quickly because of the stimulation that it gives your metabolism.
 

Four Day Per Week Routine.

On a four-day-per-week routine, you work the chest, shoulders, ​and triceps on Day 1, the back, biceps, and legs (whew!) on Day 2, on Day 3 you rest, and on Days 4 and 5, you repeat the cycle.

On Days 6 and 7 you rest. This is a great routine if you are training extremely heavy and with a lot of intensity, although the back, biceps and leg day can be a real butt kicker. The upside is that it allows for plenty of rest time; i.e., three days per week during which to recover, eat, sleep, and grow.

This is a routine that you may want to try in the off-season when you're trying to gain muscular weight and are not as concerned about conditioning.
 

Three On, One Off Routine.

This is similar to the first routine, except there is more rest time built into the system. Each body part is worked twice in a period of eight days instead of in seven days. For instance, on day 1 you train chest, shoulders, and triceps. On Day 2, back and biceps. On Day 3, legs. You then take a day of rest on Day 4, before repeating the cycle on Days 5, 6, and 7, followed by another day of rest on Day 8. This is a nice routine that bridges the goals of gaining muscle and conditioning at the same time. One interesting twist that you can add to this program is to perform the first three workouts with heavy poundages and the second three workouts of the eight-day period with lighter poundages.
 

Two On, One Off.

Typically this looks like this: On Day 1, you train chest, shoulders, and triceps. On Day 2, you train back and biceps. On Day 3, you rest. On Day 4, you train legs. On Day 5, you start the cycle again with chest, shoulders, and triceps. On Day 6, you rest. On Day 7, you would pick up with back and biceps, and so forth.

In my estimation, this is the ideal routine for gaining muscular size and strength. It is less ideal, however, for conditioning. I recommend doing aerobics on days off.

Now, these are not all of the manners of splitting workouts by any means, but they're just some of the ones that I have utilized in the past with success. As you can see, each way of splitting up the body parts has a different application. The one that I recommend the most to my students is either routine two or four, the latter one being my favorite for year-round training.

I typically use this latter routine during the course of the year and then 8-10 weeks before an event in which I have to be extra lean, I step up the workout frequency to a three-on, one-off system as described earlier.

I hope that this information on splits helps.

Let me know if you guys have any questions. I'll be glad to help. Keep your workouts in high gear! You are progressing towards that lean body that you've always desired!