I’m going to write some short and sweet entries covering some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to weight training.
I think they’ll all be “what’s better?” questions.
So, full body or split program?
I think most questions have the same answer of “it depends”. In this case though I’m going to go ahead and say “a split program is better”.
Why? Well… it gives you a chance to devote more time to each body part / muscle group / movement pattern. And of course, whatever parts you worked on one day get to rest the next day, even though you’re still in the gym training the next lot of parts.
But what’s the best split? 2 day? 4 day? 5 day?
Here’s an “it depends” question.
There’s pros and cons to every type of split. Lets have a look at them.
Five Day Split.
On a five day split, you go in and spend an entire session just on chest, just on back, just on shoulders, just on legs, or just on arms. You can absolutely smash that muscle gr0up with a lot of sets of a lot of exercises, and completely exhaust it. And then of course that muscle group has a full week to recover.
I’ve gone off five day splits personally although I did utilise them for a hell of a long time and they are very popular. The main draw back (for me) with a 5 day split is having a whole session dedicated to legs. Legs training is exhausting and really tests my resolve! I’d rather do a little bit each day rather than all in one hit.
4 day split.
If you’re familiar with my Progressive Power or Next Level programs you’ll know that they are both movement based programs on a four day split. So on a “push day” I would train pushing movements mostly targeting chest, quads, & triceps, perhaps with addition exercises for shoulders and calves as required. On a “pull day” I’d mostly be utilising back, glutes, hamstrings & biceps, and I’d sneak something in for traps and rear deltoids as well.
On the first 2 days of the split I focused on horizontal pushing and pulling movements, with vertical movements on the last 2 days.
So on a four day split you wouldn’t do as much for each muscle group in the one session, but on the other hand you would hit each muscle group twice a week instead of just once. And of course most importantly you get to spread all your leg work out across the 4 days.
2 day split.
Right now I am working with a 2 day, push / pull split. I like it a lot, BUT… it’s a lot to get through in each session. Basically it’s taking everything I would have done on my four day split program, and forcing it into just 2 sessions. On the plus side you get to hit your main exercises more often, but it’s hard work and you really want to make sure you are getting enough fuel & rest to be able to recover and adapt to it. I’m still fine tuning this program and I will post the details on the site as soon as I’m happy with it.
Bottom line, people.
I think you can take virtually any strategy, train as hard as you can, eat right (appropriate amount of calories suited to your objective) and you should be able to achieve good results. There’s pros and cons to each approach, but as long as your program has a balance of exercises for all muscle groups / movement patterns there is not much point in arguing over the finer details. Choose something that works for you, that is convenient and that you feel enthusiastic about. You still gotta bust your arse working as hard as you can though!