How to Choose a Training Split

There are many factors involved in determining the best training split to use for a given client. For the purpose of this article, we will examine two important determining factors.

1) Training Age: 

A beginner will do well on a Full Body workout as their Central Nervous System hasn't yet developed the ability to recruit a high number of muscle fibers. For this reason, the amount of weight lifted will be minimal and the recovery process will be rather fast. Furthermore, the Full Body split allows for more frequent technical rehearsal of the exercises, hence accelerating the motor learning process.

As you gain more experience with your training, the need for split routines becomes inevitable as the motor unit recruitment becomes more efficient and the tonnage lifted gets to a considerable level. At this point, an Upper Body/Lower Body split is an ideal option. Separating the body in two halves allows to distribute the load and enhance the recovery from the training session. 

Once you become more advanced, the need for variety becomes more important as the nervous system acclimates to a stimulus at a faster rate. At this point, an Upper Body 1/Lower Body 1/Upper Body 2/Lower Body 2 split will be ideal. Exposing the trainee to a wider pool of exercises will increase the rate of progress as the body is subjected to adapt to a wider pool of motor units.

2) Training Goal: 

The goal of the training phase will affect the type of split use. For example, a fat loss workout needing to exhibit a high amount of metabolic damage will require a Full Body split to get the desired effect.

On the other hand, a physique athlete might need to use a segmented training split to allow more training volume to isolated muscle groups. For example, a bodybuilder could use a Chest & Back/Lower Body/Arms & Shoulders/Posterior Chain split. Spending more time per session exhausting an isolated muscle area will trigger the appropriate training response to promote greater protein synthesis needed for hypertrophy.

Here is how these different training splits would look in a microcycle:

Based on Training Age

Beginner

Monday: Full Body

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Full Body

Thursday: Off

Friday: Full Body

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Intermediate

Monday: Upper Body

Tuesday: Lower Body

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Upper Body

Friday: Lower Body

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Advanced

Monday: Upper Body 1

Tuesday: Lower Body 1

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Upper Body 2

Friday: Lower Body 2

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Based on Training Goal

Fat Loss

Monday: Full Body 1

Tuesday: Full Body 2

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Full Body 1

Friday: Full Body 2

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Hypertrophy

Monday: Chest & Back

Tuesday: Lower Body

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Arms & Shoulders

Friday: Posterior Chain

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

Stephane CazeaultComment