T Nation

Split Routines

Who does them, who doesn’t, and why/why not?

I haven’t done them in a long time, but I’m getting tired of doing full body, multiple times a week routines, and have also been getting a little tired of doing my Westside inspired routine.

I miss doing the body-part split routines I used to do, and I got good results with them, then they got a bad rep for a while so I stopped.

The Westside inspired routine has given me results that I’ve never gotten before, but I get burned out with it, and just bored of it.

Back when I used to do 4 sets of 4-6, only with 1-2 body parts a day, once a week, I also got very good results. I would also change up my set/rep scheme as well as excersises every 8 weeks or so and that made it less boring.

I never really got great results from full-body routines.

Comments?

I really enjoy the full-body routine. It is a way for me to experiment with many different reps/sets/exercises. I am also a fan of compound lifts. That is why I am drawn to the full-body routine.

I did the split for a long time and got tired of it, so I switched. Both routines gave me good results.

I would consider giving OLAD a try.

i do them, and sometimes i feel kindda bad because i see great results but when someone new asks me what they should be doing i say full body routines when i’ve never done them…split routines is all i’ve ever known and they work, and that’s good enough for me…

You didn’t mention your goals but if you are after size or strength then split routines are a viable option, especially after coming off the Westside program.

While people have different opinions, in a nutshell I like split routines (for the above goals) because they allow for a high intensity workout, you get to workout your smaller muscles better, you can focus on your weak points more, and they allow for plenty of recovery - again important if you are lifting heavy.

The big decision with splits is to decide if you think your smaller muscle groups, namely arms, respond better to being hit twice a week or once a week. Personally I think most people do better twice a week, but you have to decide what is good for you. You can also decide to split up lower body and lower back (squats and deads) or combine the two. If you do split them separate them as much as possible. I think the reason why split routines got a bad rap is that people didn’t have a good understanding of the role of the synergistic muscles and so people were overtraining them by doing chest on one day, shoulders the next, then triceps the following day. You need to let the agonists and synergists rest. I also think people started to take a critical look at juiced out bodybuilders who only did machines, declared them “unfunctional” and threw the baby (split routines) out with the bath water.

Here are two decent split, first one is twice a week for smaller muscles, second is once a week for most of them

1 - Legs, Abs
2 - Chest, Bis
3 - Off
4 - Upper Back, Lower Back, Abs
5 - Shoulders, Tris
6 and 7 - Off

1 - Chest, Abs
2 - Upper Back, Bis
3 - Off
4 - Legs, Lower Back
5 - Shoulders, Tris
6 and 7 - Off

(I know tris get hit twice to some extent on this one, such is life, most people have better bis then tris anyway).

If you just want to do 3 days a week then Push, Pull, Legs works well.

I like to alternate between doing a once a week split (for the large muscle groups) and doing a twice week split, 2-3 months of one and then move on. Hope that helps, sorry it was so long.

Started doing a split for the first time in a year this past month. I’ve been doing HSS-100 and have gotten great results thus far. Strength and size are up and I enjoy working one muscle at a time from an intesity standpoint.

This year I started out with total body workouts, then went to a WS style ME/DE Upper/Lower split.

Lately I have been doing a 4 day body part split (chest/shoulders, back/traps, arms, legs) but with a 5x5 style load. I have seen the biggest gains in size this year running this body part split.

I dont know if the gains are from the split, or just from mixing my training up a bit, but whatever it was, it has worked great for hypertrophy.

I will be changing again soon, keeping the current split but increasing to a 3x8 or 3x10 load for a month or so, before going back to a full body split solely to reduce gym contact time while I have a huge study and work load to deal with for about a month.

Every time I start a upper/lower split or body part split I end up on full body routine in about 2-3 weeks. I prefer them as they fit my schedule better. I like going to the gym only three times a week. If I ever get a home gym, I will sincerely try a typical body part split, they can’t be that bad since a lot of people succeed with this kind of protocol.

do what works for you…

the idea that full-body routines will give the best results for everyone out there is just a fad…

the common denomenator for the ‘one hour, full-body, three days a week’ crowd is they’re all weak turds…

sure there could be some genetically gifted freaks out there that can get strong as shit from three hours a week of full-body crap, but those people will be the rare exceptions…

can you get strong doing full-body workouts? of course, but you’ll be spending a fuckload more than three hours a week in the gym (or on the playing field, or whatever sport you do away from the gym) to see good results…

for instance, top caliber oly lifters spend twenty hours a week training…only lifting for three hours would get them no where strength wise…

anyways, I’ll reiterate…do what works for you…

I think full body is good if you want to deload for a micro cycle or don’t have much time(45mins - 1hr a day?)But i personally have never got the good results from full body training that i have from splits. I also lose focus too easily with 6-8 different exercises to comprehend. But hey, i’m easily distracted…

I totally agree with this

[quote]DPH wrote:
do what works for you…

the idea that full-body routines will give the best results for everyone out there is just a fad…

the common denomenator for the ‘one hour, full-body, three days a week’ crowd is they’re all weak turds…

sure there could be some genetically gifted freaks out there that can get strong as shit from three hours a week of full-body crap, but those people will be the rare exceptions…

can you get strong doing full-body workouts? of course, but you’ll be spending a fuckload more than three hours a week in the gym (or on the playing field, or whatever sport you do away from the gym) to see good results…

for instance, top caliber oly lifters spend twenty hours a week training…only lifting for three hours would get them no where strength wise…

anyways, I’ll reiterate…do what works for you…[/quote]

[quote]DPH wrote:
do what works for you…

the idea that full-body routines will give the best results for everyone out there is just a fad…

the common denomenator for the ‘one hour, full-body, three days a week’ crowd is they’re all weak turds…

sure there could be some genetically gifted freaks out there that can get strong as shit from three hours a week of full-body crap, but those people will be the rare exceptions…

can you get strong doing full-body workouts? of course, but you’ll be spending a fuckload more than three hours a week in the gym (or on the playing field, or whatever sport you do away from the gym) to see good results…

for instance, top caliber oly lifters spend twenty hours a week training…only lifting for three hours would get them no where strength wise…

anyways, I’ll reiterate…do what works for you…[/quote]

I think you should have a look at some of Chad Waterburys routines and articles son :slight_smile:

[quote]ethos wrote:
DPH wrote:
do what works for you…[/quote]

[quote]
I think you should have a look at some of Chad Waterburys routines and articles son :)[/quote]

I have pops ;)…

there are NO top powerlifters, oly lifters, strongman competitors, or bodybuilders that follow his routines (aka nobody that is actually strong)…

I personally think that Chad’s routine’s are great for the beginner, as they facilitate the assimilation of proper technique with high frequency of practice of many compound movements. However, I think the intensity per muscle group is severely compromised with full body routines. Hell, I used to partake in full body routines a few years back, jumped on the bandwagon so to speak, and I was weak as piss while on them. Changed to an upper/lower split then to a bodypart split and have gotten much better development than in the past.

Thanks for all the replies.

I was thinking I’d get a whole lot more posts for full body routines, and even thought I might get flamed a little.

As for my goals, well, I’m currently trying to lose fat, and have been doing CW’s Waterbury Summer Project, which lead me to post this thread.

I had very, very good results with ABBH (not really full body, more of an upper/lower split), but I really miss anialating a couple muscle groups and giving them 5-7 days of recovery (except, of course, when they’re called on to help with another movement later in the week).

I also bought Eric Cressy’s new book,
“The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual”
http://www.ultimateoffseason.com/

(I should get a kick back for that) :wink:

So I should know a bit more about setting up my training, for me, in the future.

Like others have said, variety, intensity and consistency are the keys to getting results.

I’ve been doing full-body split routines since my first workout and have been gaining ever since. I’ve played around with full-body and never saw the light so to speak. The best split I’ve found and one I use now goes like this.

  1. Chest, bicep,calves,forearm
  2. Shoulders, hamstring,traps,abs
    3.off
  3. back,tricep,calves,forearm
  4. quads, bicep(only 1 exercise 4 sets),traps,abs
    6.off
  5. repeat with day 1

4 weeks I’ll stay at around 5 reps then 4 weeks I’ll shoot up to around 11 then take a week off and repeat.

I haven’t done it, probably will in the future when I get bored of my current upper/lower split, but I really like the way Dave Tate outlined a bodypart split:

http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/default.asp?qid=43144&tid=124

I have done this before:

M-Chest/Shoulders

T-Back

Th-Lower Body

Sat-Arms

Granted, I didn’t know much back then but I busted my balls and still made progress. I really think busting balls is the secret to everything.

Thanks for the link.

I think there are so many ways to set these up, and individualize them.

I liked doing chest and bis together, and back with tris. That way, both the bis and tris get worked to a lesser degree, twice as often.

You can also argue to work them together because the blood is already rushed into those muscles after the larger ones have been worked…

The amount of exercises, sets, reps and intensity seem easier and less confusing to change up than full-body routines.

I think the thing I like most about them is that they’re easier to figure out and individualize.

If it’s less complicated, I’m more likely to be more consistent.

I thought I’d pop in here and put my two cents in for the full body side of things.

With all do respect I really don’t think it matters what training split you use as in comparison with how hard you work in the gym. If you push yourself past the threshold day in and day out I think that is going to be the big contributer to success.

All that said, I train my whole body three to four times a week. I love training full body, it makes sense to me because I see my body as one thing, as a whole. I see great results in body composition and especially strength. (I will say I am not a giant, for reference I am 178lbs, 5’10", 9% body fat [30in waist, 44in chest, 15in arm, 24in thigh, etc etc] I squat 345, bench 265, deadlift 415, so as you can see I am not damn expert on the topic but I’m throwing in my thoughts for what they’re worth, training age 3 years).

I read Chris Shugart say once about full body routines that “if I know I have just one chest movement for the day, I damn sure know I am going to make it count and push it as hard as I can”, well that is really the feeling I get as well. I like being able to bench, squat, chin, overhead press, row, pull off the floor, all that two to three times in one week on seperate fresh days. I think it makes a difference with me and my performance.

One thing I will say about training the whole body in one session is that it’s pretty god damn demanding on the body. Whenever you’re training low rep mainly and trying to cover the majority of your body it takes a little extra time, like my average session is about 25-30 sets and takes about an hour and a half. I’m downing energy drinks the whole way also, it makes a world of difference.

So I think it’s really to each his/her own.

[quote]ManOWolves wrote:
I thought I’d pop in here and put my two cents in for the full body side of things.

With all do respect I really don’t think it matters what training split you use as in comparison with how hard you work in the gym. If you push yourself past the threshold day in and day out I think that is going to be the big contributer to success.

All that said, I train my whole body three to four times a week. I love training full body, it makes sense to me because I see my body as one thing, as a whole. I see great results in body composition and especially strength. (I will say I am not a giant, for reference I am 178lbs, 5’10", 9% body fat [30in waist, 44in chest, 15in arm, 24in thigh, etc etc] I squat 345, bench 265, deadlift 415, so as you can see I am not damn expert on the topic but I’m throwing in my thoughts for what they’re worth, training age 3 years).

I read Chris Shugart say once about full body routines that “if I know I have just one chest movement for the day, I damn sure know I am going to make it count and push it as hard as I can”, well that is really the feeling I get as well. I like being able to bench, squat, chin, overhead press, row, pull off the floor, all that two to three times in one week on seperate fresh days. I think it makes a difference with me and my performance.

One thing I will say about training the whole body in one session is that it’s pretty god damn demanding on the body. Whenever you’re training low rep mainly and trying to cover the majority of your body it takes a little extra time, like my average session is about 25-30 sets and takes about an hour and a half. I’m downing energy drinks the whole way also, it makes a world of difference.

So I think it’s really to each his/her own. [/quote]

Yup, I fully understand where you’re coming from and I agree.

I don’t think either one is better in general, but one can be better for an individual depending on what he/she has done in the past.

I can say that I’ll definitely go back to a Westside-inspired routine, and will possibly/probably go back to a full-body routine, eventually.

[quote]ManOWolves wrote:
I read Chris Shugart say once about full body routines that “if I know I have just one chest movement for the day, I damn sure know I am going to make it count and push it as hard as I can”, well that is really the feeling I get as well. [/quote]

I liked your post and appreciated your thoughts, my only reply would be if you train intensely because you can tell yourself that you are just doing one exercise for that muscle that day, imagine how intensely you would want to go if you just did one muscle group per week.

So, you have 50 chances to get better at the bench press this YEAR, so you had better make it count.