When comprising a training routine divided up into different muscle groups on different days, what works best for one may not necessarily work as well for another. An effective training split is as unique a setup as the individual using it. For that reason, the only sure-fire way to tell if what you have put together will work is to give it a try. There are however a few things to keep in mind.
#1. Your rate of recovery: Failing to listen to your body and abide by the feeling you have governing your soreness or lack thereof, will ultimately be responsible for your success. Some trainers have had a lot of success training each body part twice a week. Their recovery is quick therefore they can hit the muscle more often. Other trainers’ take the less is more approach and train their entire body over a 3-4 day span. This ensures there is lots of time to rest and recover. The key here is to pay attention to your body and listen to what it is telling you. If you hit chest on Monday and feel like you could hit it again on Thursday, why wait? Go for it. Some muscle groups may be quicker as well to recover than others so pay attention to that as well.
#2. Collateral damage: I like to refer to this when deciding which muscle groups to pair together and which order your muscle groups should be trained over the week. Collateral damage occurs when another muscle group gets taxed as a byproduct of focusing on your main objective or muscle. Let’s say for example you decide to train back and biceps together. If you go as hard as you should while training back, then your biceps, as a result of all the pulling for your rowing movements, are going to be in the collateral damage. With this in mind don’t expect to be as strong as you would be on biceps movements if you were to train them on a separate day. On the other hand, you can take advantage of the collateral damage as well knowing that you don’t have to do too much for biceps after back to finish them off. When deciding the order of your split, collateral damage also plays a big factor. If you train chest on Monday, then chances are you won’t want to train shoulders the next day as they will have been victims of collateral damage from the previous day’s workout, so keep that in mind as well.
#3. Prime Movers, secondary movers, and ancillary muscles: Biomechanically speaking, nothing happens in a vacuum when training your body. What I mean by that is it is very difficult to train and single out one exact muscle when performing most exercises. Let’s take an isolation curl for biceps as an example. The goal is to single out the long and short head of the biceps; these would be considered the prime movers for this exercise. You can’t perform this exercise without the muscles of the forearm helping you hold onto the dumbbell. These would be your secondary movers coming into play. Finally, to make the entire movement happen, you need all those ancillary muscles helping you along the way such as your deltoids (even though we try to minimize this) and your core muscles that are helping you stay in position. Keeping all of this in mind, if you are pairing up muscle groups, I like the idea of training the biggest of the muscles first then working your way down to the smallest muscles. The primary movers are capable of taking a lot of punishment. The secondary movers are going to be helping you all along the way, and if you keep collateral damage in mind, they won’t need as much of a beating to stimulate. And your ancillary muscles will probably get all the work they need, but if you decide to throw in a set or two at the end of your workout for them, that’s not a bad idea either.
So what is a good training split?
The following is what I believe to be a great training split for almost anyone and especially for those new to the game. Keep in mind what I said in point #1 and adjust your rest days accordingly.
Your training split should be set up to help you accomplish your goals and fit your individual rest and recovery needs as well as your desire to train. The last thing you want to do is self-sabotage by creating something and sticking with it even though it wasn’t right for you from the beginning. What will be right for you and your recovery needs is using VP2 Whey Isolate and BCAA 4500. As well, throw in a serving of GL3 L-Glutamine and GABA just before going to bed to even further aid in your recovery efforts.
In my mind, the more you can train a muscle, the better. When the muscle soreness or discomfort goes away, then it’s time to blast it again. Go hard on the intensity with Max-OT, pay attention to your body, set up your split so that it compliments your body chemistry and biomechanics and prepare you for new growth. There is no sense “splitting” hairs on this one so get to it!