Is a Split Body Program Best for You?
A split body program is a workout program designed around the concept of focusing on one large muscle group or area of the body per session.
While specific types training splits can vary widely, most split programs alternate between upper body and lower body days, with some type of push/pull variations as well so you’re not constantly training the same exact muscle groups.
Some split programs have an entire day dedicated to core strength and stability, whereas others will include core exercises into the end of their workouts.
Other split programs split up days by level of intensity or amount of weight used. There are TONS of ways you can split up your training days to best suit your goals, needs, and desires with your workouts.
Here’s a real-life example of a split program I currently give to one of my online clients:
Monday- Upper Body
Tuesday- Lower Body
Wednesday- Active Recovery
Thursday- Upper Body
Friday- Lower Body
Keep in mind, this is just what works for her and her goals, everyone is different! Although there are tons of variations and almost every program is split to some degree, how you structure your split (or lack thereof) depends on your goals, workout frequency, and simply whether you enjoy it or not!
Goals with a high level of specificity, or that rely on really isolating muscle groups (like bodybuilding) benefit the most from a very detailed split program. This also applies for those with goals such as strengthening or stabilizing one area of the body, or are part of a rehab program that necessitates highlighting very specific muscle groups at a time.
If your goals and needs are more broad, you can still benefit from a split body program as long as all areas of the body are moving throughout the week. However, it will not need to be as isolating, and you may benefit more from doing multiple total body days a week instead!
In addition to your goals, your schedule will also determine how you will use a split body program. The more frequently you are able to work out throughout the week, the more of a split you can have.
If you can only realistically workout three days a week, a program designed with more of an emphasis on total body workouts each day is most likely more beneficial. If you can workout six days a week, then you can realistically structure your workouts with more isolation.
For example, two days each of upper and lower body days, with one total body/conditioning day and one active recovery day in the middle.
In short, the higher the frequency of your workouts, the more isolation you can have in each session! Again, this is also dependent on other factors, so this is not a set in stone rule that you must follow.
Perhaps the simplest way to decide whether a split program is right for you is to try it out! If you are loving the way you feel, are staying engaged, and feel closer to your goals, then I highly recommend sticking to it. If you find yourself getting bored or not enjoying a split as much as a “true” total body workout, then stick to at least a majority of full body days a week.
Another factor that shapes your workouts should be any active recreational activities you participate in, or if you compete in any type of sport. Your competitive training cycle and/or other activities you enjoy will dictate how you workout throughout the week.
A good training cycle allows you to improve performance and keep you motivated and engaged. Not only will good structure enhance your performance, but it will also allow you to enjoy your activities and sports in full capacity with proper recovery!
If all of this sounds a little complicated and overwhelming, trust me you are not alone. When it comes to programming, options are limitless and have to be tailored to what works best for YOU as an individual. So many factors including goals, schedule, and desires play a role in what type of program you follow, and that’s where we come in! As trainers, our job is to design your workouts to suit your wants and needs, while getting you above and beyond what you want to achieve!