T Nation

Bodypart Split Training Frequency


Most split routines work different muscle groups at different amounts during the week. For example, in the following split:


Triceps are worked pretty hard three times per week; first on Chest day during all the benching that occurs, next on shoulder day during the overhead pressing, and finally on arms day. Biceps are worked twice a week, heavy on arms day but they also get pretty fatigued after a hard back day. Shoulders are used both on Shoulder day as well as Back day during rows, and even on Chest day with incline bench presses. Meanwhile, legs and back are worked only once a week.

There seems to be a contradiction there; if working a muscle three times a week is optimal for growth for one muscle (in this example, triceps), then why wouldn't we just work every muscle three times per week? In a similar vein, why is a split routine (which, in almost every case, works the arms twice as much as the back, legs, and chest) preferable to a three-times-a-week full body routine that is more balanced?


Well it's not like your triceps get a particularly good work out on chest or shoulder day, although they are used a bit. Also, look at the size of your back and legs compared to your arms. It should take longer for your legs or back to recover.


There's no contradiction, really.

I can't speak for others, but my chest workout doesn't really hit the triceps intensely. Sure, the triceps work, but they aren't incredibly fatigued by the end of the workout even though my chest is trashed. I train them the day after chest, and they are fresh as fuck.

Similarly, my back workouts will make my biceps a bit tired by the end of the workout but they aren't really stressed to the point that I would say I had "trained" them. Which is why I have no problem training bis the day BEFORE my back: When I'm rowing or doing pullups, it is my BACK that is doing almost all of the work.

Et cetera, et cetera...


That is the beauty of the split. You can design your split to emphasize a lagging body part. That being said, It doesnt' work in the same manner if you decide to emphasize every body part. I recommend changing you split/emphasis regularly. I used the term regularly because split is one of multiple variables I change to make consistent gains.


There is no way to design a split program that gives each muscle the same number of days of being trained (including indirectly) and the same number of rest days.

I suppose TBT advocates might want to jump on this as "proof" that total body training is therefore better, but results from training methods speak more to what works better than attempted arguments like that do.


If you're REALLY worried about it, why don't you just use the bottom half of the movement on chest press and shoulder press exercises, like not locking out? I do this because I have a Push day and do chest, shoulders, AND tris. So for chest and shoulders I'll usually avoid lockout.