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Revisiting Bro Splits

Hello coach - part just connecting some dots here…so Schoenfeld had some recent research showing that volume equated, “bro” splits may actually be optimal. Turns out all the bodybuilders doing bro splits were actually right…

I was comparing bro splits with layers program (which gave the most rapid gains in my training history…) and there is a “pattern”, not sure if you’d agree…

So a slight decline bench tilt day…if you compare to a chest day…could be modelled very similar (isometric activation, heavy ramp up with a bench, density clusters with db press, eccentric/stretch with cable flyes, mid range pump with weighted pushups…just as example).

Of course the bro split would be using different exercises for the same body part (rather than just one main lift). Given some of your recent commentson thib army / youtube, these exericse / variations (stimulating muscles from different angles) may be most optimal for hypertrophy anyways.

And then of course the frequency issue…turns out most “smart” bro splits will hit muscles 2x anyways (possiblyh more, indirectly).

So a chest / back / shoudler &*traps / off / legs / arms in a 7 day week cycle could have big exercises that will end up hitting muscel groups at least 2x directly and more indirectly (e.g. deadlift on back day hits legs as well…weighted dips/weighted close grip chins on arms day hits back and chest etc. )

I notice the more sustainble and enjoyable splits (the ones that don’t make you feel run down/crash and mqaximizes pump) tend to go this format (even the movement based programs such as bench / squat / OHP / dL days are some permutations of a “bro” split…just exercise semantics it seems).

For you.

You have any link or name of the research? I haven’t thing anything going in that sense… I’d be interested to read it

If anything equal gains when volume was same (and never with very experienced individuals)

But yeah successful bodybuilders used Bro Splits (Cutler, Yates) and I have as well with CT for a while…

Yes that’s the problem, some muscles will get more stimulation than others (triceps will be worked 3 times, hamstrings 2x if you dod eadlifts on back day, quads 1x only)

Yeah I think that working different angles is optimal. One could very do the CT “ramp” method:

• one activation exercise (isometrics like overcoming bench on pins, or a plyo exercise like plyo push-ups or ball toss)
• one “neural” exercise (heavy coumpound bench variation for sets of 1-5)
• optional speed or tempo/technique work
• one or two “pump” exercises where you can add methods like double contraction, HDL sets, slow tempo…
• and finish with weighted stretches?

I think it is a very smart approach, and if you notice, Meadows use the same idea:

• Activation: slight decline or incline DB bench for instance, using one intensity technique like drop sets

• Explosive lifting: heavy bench or incline, using perfect form, no intensity technique

• Maximal pump: work to engore the muscle full of blood… Squeeze press, machine press, banded stuff

• Stretched work: flyes, dips, stretch-push-up etc…

In both case the first exercise will be use to amp up the CNS, warm-up the muscle and joints so that the second exercise is performed either optimally with the best weight, or the safest way. Then you add the enjoyable stuff and you finish with stretch work when your are really warmed-up to avoid risk of injuries and increase the micro tears from all this lifting

BTW I don’t know if you’ve seen John Meadows recent workouts but they really look like something CT could do lol (great minds think alike…)

Back session:

A. Machine Prime Row 3 x 8-10

B. Speed Block Pulls 20 x 1

C. Stretch Pulldowns 3 x 10

D. Dual Rope Straight Arm Push-Downs 3 x 10

E. Plate Raises 2 x 20

F. Zercher Carries 3 x 40 y

Or his leg day with Dave Tate:

A. Seated Leg Curl 2 x 8-10

B. Box Squat ramp up to a heavy triple

C. Speed Deadlift 10 x 1

D. Banded Hack Squat 1 x 10, 1 x 10 + Clusters + Iso-Hold

E. Banded Sissy Squat bench 3 x 15

No wonder I love both these guys

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[paul carter here]

i just saw it mentioned on a few channels. apparently still under peer review or needs to be published.

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I just finished writing an article about what I consider to be the best splits. I personally do not use bro splits, or rarely.

Can they be effective? Absolutely! I just don’t find them to be checking all the boxes. I respect Paul and he is certainly a great coach and athlete. But we do things differently and that’s fine.

As for the research, Schoenfeld is awesome but in the past he had several studies that would actually contradict each other. So I would need more than that to make me change my mind. I would also need to read the details of the study. Subjects, lifestyle, how the training was implemented etc.

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Looking fwd to that article.

Hello CT. What do you think is the best split?

I mentioned that I wrote an article about it. It will be published in the next few weeks.

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it contradict each other or the things evolve ?

Well, studies are observations so it’s not as if they could really evolve in a strict sense. I think his point, although I now realize I’m putting words in his mouth, is more that single studies could have nearly any conclusion. A single sample showing bro splits are optimal (or whatever) is not enough, on its own merit, to change his opinion or practice.

Well, if one study says (for example) that hitting a muscle twice a week is superior to once a week if volume is equated… then a another one says that hitting a muscle once a week is superior to twice if volume is equate, I wouldn’t call it evolution.

The thing is that those studies are rarely taking every variable into consideration.

We all know that nutrition and sleep/rest are huge factors in building muscle. Those elements are not controlled during hypertrophy studies. It would be impossible to do so because the subjects do not live in the lab under supervision for the duration of the study (8-12 weeks normally).

They will often be given a diet or guidelines to follow (if the researchers do a good job) or maybe even asked to write down a nutritional journal (although I haven’t seen it). But that doesn’t mean that they are actually doing the diet.

Furthermore, while some studies do involve supervision of all the workouts, not all of them do, for practical reasons.

Finally, individuals differ in their capacity to build muscle differ widely based on genetics and experience. I know they try to match groups for experience, but the years of training doesn’t always represent adequately the years of effective training or MORE IMPORTANTLY how much muscle the subject has gained since starting training before the study takes place. This is actually important because a normal male has the potential to gain around 40lbs of muscle over his lifting career. If a guy has gained 30 he will progress less in 10 weeks than one who has built 12.

The problem is that even with the best attempt to create similar groups, the “luck of the draw” can put more people who eat better, sleep more, train harder or have greater growth potential in one group. That group would obviously show better results regardless of the approach.

To the exact same study but where the luck of the draw favors the other training protocol and you’ll have different results.

Heck you could have one guy in group A that just gets ridiculous results (might even be on steroids with the researchers knowing) and one guy in group B that actually loses muscle (maybe he went on a crazy diet) and group A would show a better average result even if both groups were even or maybe if group B has slightly better results. That’s why getting the median might be even more important than the average. But few studies give the median.

That’s why I prefer to look at the direct effect of different protocols (e.g. protein synthesis increase over a 72h period following various protocols), these are easier to regulate and more useful.

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Correct. Too many uncontrollable factors.

One more that I didn’t post above is the motivation of the individual. Subjects are human. If they are more motivated by a protocol, they will train harder and get better results. Doesn’t mean that the protocol was superior for all.

Take me for example, I do use whole-body splits with a lot of my clients because they work amazingly well and I had them make more strength gains than with any other split. BUT, ME I don’t like doing that. I’m not motivated when I do it and as such I don’t progress as much.

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Great article on splits Coach. So…some interesting takeaways -

*There’s a concept of training “immunity” (in the part where the ideal split needs amplebalanced rest to workout days). Immunity meaning something like increase in myostatin from just ehavy training overall. Muscle tissue not responding. etc?
SO ideally there would be an off day in between every training session (training very other day) [hatfield push/pull AB split]…and this is because th rest day helps on some signalling level? (i.e. even if volume equated…say splitting the push workou with same exercise/volume over two days rather than one…), it is better to just have a “reset”/rest day in between stimuli ?

  • THe modfiied push/pull is very cool and the article recommended the best way to do is every other day (so 4x some weeks, 3x others)…I wonder how frequency is impacted here for instance on the 3x weeks…each muscle (push/pull) is actually only trained once a week. If we compare to the wholebody + gap where everything is trained 3x (maybe 4x including arms).

So if everybody part is trained 1-2x (say 1.5x times a week) - is there room for some very intensive work (layers / clusders / densities etc.)?

If we compare it to the 6 day best damn [low volume], the frequency is almost 3x -…so wondering what kind of style of reps / training you would recommend for the every other day/4 day A/B split (5x5 → ramping → clusters etc.)

What would your preferred off/rest day be? light, long walks? moderate cardio or hiit sprints? bodyweight stuff etc .

Merci!