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Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull vs Upper/Lower

I’ve been lifting consistently for a year now. 23 years old, 6’3" 172 pounds, up from about 150. Did a full body, 3x week for the first half, then did upper/lower for a little bit, but for some reason switched to a four day split training each muscle group once a week.

Looking to switch back to training muscles twice per week, as I’ve heard it’s optimal for my goals - gaining as much mass as possible. I’m more interested in hypertrophy than strength. I have plenty of time, would be able to get 9-10 hours of sleep, 6-7 good meals in, creatine, weight gainer, etc. I’m trying to decide between the following two splits:

The classic upper/lower

mon: upper
tues: lower
wed: off
thurs: upper
fri: lower
sat: off
sun: off

or a push/pull/legs working upper body twice

mon: push (chest, triceps, shoulders)
tues: pull (back, biceps)
wed: legs
thurs: push
fri: pull
sat: off
sun: off

My legs are already more developed from playing varsity basketball and years of biking. I still tend to play basketball 1-2 times a week and when I work them hard with a lot of volume I feel they take more time to recover than upper body, so I feel OK training legs just once a week.

What do you guys think? I’m a little worried the second split may lead to over-training, but I like being able to split upper body into two days.

Plenty of lifters have used P/P/L routines with great results. It is doubtful that a lifter that isn’t concerned with strength development is going to be over-training. What rep range do you plan to work? If you are going to do resistance traing only one day a week for lower body it needs to be an ‘all-out’ session!

Good Luck

Thanks for weighing in!

I normally go for 6-8 on compound exercises and 8-10 for the rest. On the P/P/L/P/P I’d shoot for about 7 exercises per day. Would definitely make sure to kill it on leg day, and at least one other day playing full-court basketball.

So is it fair to say, given enough free time to train, eat, and sleep well, a P/P/L/P/P is better than an upper/lower split for my goals?

[quote]K. wrote:
Thanks for weighing in!

I normally go for 6-8 on compound exercises and 8-10 for the rest. On the P/P/L/P/P I’d shoot for about 7 exercises per day. Would definitely make sure to kill it on leg day, and at least one other day playing full-court basketball.

So is it fair to say, given enough free time to train, eat, and sleep well, a P/P/L/P/P is better than an upper/lower split for my goals?[/quote]

Yes…IMO P/P/L/ is a better choice.

[quote]K. wrote:
I’ve been lifting consistently for a year now. 23 years old, 6’3" 172 pounds, up from about 150. Did a full body, 3x week for the first half, then did upper/lower for a little bit, but for some reason switched to a four day split training each muscle group once a week.

Looking to switch back to training muscles twice per week, as I’ve heard it’s optimal for my goals - gaining as much mass as possible. I’m more interested in hypertrophy than strength. I have plenty of time, would be able to get 9-10 hours of sleep, 6-7 good meals in, creatine, weight gainer, etc. I’m trying to decide between the following two splits:

The classic upper/lower

mon: upper
tues: lower
wed: off
thurs: upper
fri: lower
sat: off
sun: off

or a push/pull/legs working upper body twice

mon: push (chest, triceps, shoulders)
tues: pull (back, biceps)
wed: legs
thurs: push
fri: pull
sat: off
sun: off

My legs are already more developed from playing varsity basketball and years of biking. I still tend to play basketball 1-2 times a week and when I work them hard with a lot of volume I feel they take more time to recover than upper body, so I feel OK training legs just once a week.

What do you guys think? I’m a little worried the second split may lead to over-training, but I like being able to split upper body into two days.
[/quote]

You say you’re looking to switch back to training twice a week/ muscle group because you’ve HEARD that it’s better that way. The way you phrased it makes me think you’ve already trained each muscle group twice a week. Did you see better gains when you were training twice a week compared to when you were training only once a week? You have to do most of the thinking for yourself in this sport and only change the things that aren’t working for YOU and slowly adapt your training program to what you feel works best for you body type. Because everyones body is different and everyone is going to have a different opinion on training frequency, volume etc… All that being said, have you tried doing a push pull legs split before? If not, try it out and see if you see better results that way than you did on the two way. I’d do the push/pull/legs if I were you

Sorry - should have been more clear. I didn’t really give twice a week a chance, since I stupidly switched to once a week for no good reason, so I can’t really say. But I’ve been more diligent in my research and found that given my experience level I’m likely losing in on some gains by working muscle groups only once a week.

My preference would be a P/P/L/P/P/off/off split simply because I value aesthetics and like the idea of being able to split upper body into two days and still work upper body twice per week. I’m just concerned the volume would be too high at that the given frequency without any rest days until the weekend (which I like to have off).

Just to clarify, when you say you recommend push/pull/legs we’re talking about having two push/pull days a week as opposed to traditional push/pull/legs (once a week), correct?

Really appreciate the input guys! I understand a lot of bodybuilding is personal trial and error, but I’d just like to minimize the latter this time around.

I know I’m probably splitting hairs at this point, but a friend of mine also suggested the following two day split, which seems sort of a compromise:

Mon: Upper
Tues: Lower
Wed: off
Thurs: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Push)
Frid: Back, Biceps, Traps (Pull)
Sat: off
Sun: off

Once again, really appreciate your patience, as I’m sure these types of posts get tiresome.

K

Well, you shouldn’t do p/p/l/p/p/off/off repeat because then your legs would be receiving half the stimulus of your upper body. I’m currently doing a push pull legs split and I only take a break when I feel I need one. If I were you though I’d start by doing p/p/off/l/off/ repeat so that way you’re hitting every muscle group every five days instead of every seven days as you would with a traditionsl push pull split only lifting on m/w/f. Decide what you’re going to do and stick with it. Also, post the exercises you’re going to do for each bodypart after you’ve decided what split you’re going to do

Yeah, I understand that only working legs once a week is a significant concession with p/p/l/p/p/off/off. But I work a somewhat stressful/demanding job during the week and really value having my weekends off to just unwind mentally and physically. However, my hope was an all-out leg day once a week would be enough to keep legs up to par (as they’re already more developed anyway).

So I suppose the gist of this post was to find the best split I can do Monday-Friday.

Thanks for all the help bro, means a lot.

[quote]K. wrote:
Yeah, I understand that only working legs once a week is a significant concession with p/p/l/p/p/off/off. But I work a somewhat stressful/demanding job during the week and really value having my weekends off to just unwind mentally and physically. However, my hope was an all-out leg day once a week would be enough to keep legs up to par (as they’re already more developed anyway).

So I suppose the gist of this post was to find the best split I can do Monday-Friday.

Thanks for all the help bro, means a lot.[/quote]

Well, you could simply keep going around the cycle and do legs on monday so it would look something like p/p/l/p/p/off/off/l/p/p… that way you aren’t hitting anything more than something else. Or you could simply have more volume in your leg workouts than in your other days and make up for the frequency in volume. In the end all that matters is that you enjoy it cuz if you don’t then you won’t keep doing it. good luck man

[quote]K. wrote:
Yeah, I understand that only working legs once a week is a significant concession with p/p/l/p/p/off/off. But I work a somewhat stressful/demanding job during the week and really value having my weekends off to just unwind mentally and physically. However, my hope was an all-out leg day once a week would be enough to keep legs up to par (as they’re already more developed anyway).

So I suppose the gist of this post was to find the best split I can do Monday-Friday.

Thanks for all the help bro, means a lot.[/quote]

I wouldn’t stress about only having one leg day. Think about all the people who use the standard 1x per week frequency and get good results. No one would ever tell them that they aren’t training legs enough.

I used to do something similar to the p/p/l/p/p/off/off split, but I found myself hating the gym fast. I then switched to an upper/lower/off/chest-back/shoulders-arms/off/off and did much better with that.

Why don’t you look into Layne Norton’s PHAT routine? I think it falls in line with your wants.

You could follow the option of doing my routine… Monday-Push Tuesday-Pull Wednesday-Lowerbody Thursday-off or conditioning/prowler work. Friday-Mix of push and pull Saturday-Lowerbody Sunday-off Then repeat on monday. I’ve been doing this for roughly a month now and love it. I feel pretty balanced, but hey do what you think works best.

I would like to give you some good advice regarding Push/Pull/Legs that I have learned from many advanced trainers:

You will perform and recover MUCH BETTER by splitting your Pull and Legs Day.

It is very rare to see somebody who can actually handle doing their Legs day the day after Pull without their squat poundages severely suffering,or their deadlift suffering(if you do deadlifts on legs day). Many people also get injured because your back is absolutely vital in helping with Squats.

With that being said, a good variation that many people have told me to do is this…

Legs/Push/Pull/off/Legs/Push/Pull/off

As you can see, the Legs and Pulling day have a day in between.

You could probably also just do Push/Legs/Pull; at least you will be safer on squats and also be able to go all out on legs without your back holding you back(lol).

I find that my legs take longer to recover, so I would recommend the second scenario (P/P/L/P/P). Upper body twice a week and legs once seems to fit your situation considering your legs are already bigger. Just my two cents…