Whether you are new to fitness or are just looking to change up your current program and try something new, getting on a well thought-out plan is essential if you hope to make continual progress with your gym sessions.
Gone are the days when body part training was popular and now we are moving to set-ups that focus more on compound movements with adequate rest in between sessions.
For example, before you might have found a large number of people doing plans that had them doing chest one day, legs the next, shoulders the following, and arms the fourth, but now you find people working multiple body parts on the same day and hitting each body part two to three times per week.
Current research shows that the most effective way to target a muscle will be with greater frequency and slightly reduced volume (assuming sufficient rest is being given) and a four-day or full-body split does just that.
Training Splits Articles:
The Four-Day Split
Right now we'll focus on the four-day split because it allows you to lift a little more frequently and is a good option for those who also participate in some type of other training (cardio or otherwise) that might be a little more intensive on the legs and don't want to risk training legs three times a week in addition to that.
For the four-day split, you will have two days dedicated to your lower body and two days dedicated to your upper body, most usually with a day off in between and then the weekends off as well.
This means it will look something like this:
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower Body
Thursday: Upper Body
Friday: Lower Body
Those who need to arrange this slightly different due to scheduling issues can do so, just be sure you are getting at least three days off per week from weight lifting and that you never have two of the same types of workouts back to back (two upper body days in a row for example).
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While you can most definitely do the exact same upper body and lower body workout each time, it's slightly better if you can alternate between two different versions since this decreases the chances that your body begins to adapt and you experience the dreaded
When selecting your exercises, you'll want to be sure to select the most compound type of movements since this is what will stimulate the greatest number of muscle fibers.
You can do a few more isolated exercises as part of the split, just try and keep them to a general minimum as they aren't going to give you the most benefit for your time.
So, following these specifications, this is what your split could look like:
Take notice that the rep ranges change slightly depending on the exercise you are doing. In order to receive maximum strength benefits, try and lift within the 6-8 rep range on the core lifts (the first two), and then move into the slightly higher rep range of 10-12 reps for the remaining exercises.
It is good to work across a range of reps during your workout program to ensure you are working the muscles slightly different to prevent
A special note should also be made for the dieting women out there. If you are currently eating quite a
calorie reduced diet, your
recovery is going to be at a premium. Due to this fact, it would be a good idea for you to reduce the overall volume of the program slightly to ensure that you don't start eating away at your hard earned muscle tissue (which could happen if you aren't recovering enough within or between sessions).
To make this reduction, simply reduce the first two exercises down to three sets each and the remaining down to two. This small adjustment should help you make it through your workouts easier without feeling overly fatigued.
Just be sure that you are trying to lift with the same intensity that you did before you started dieting as this is what the most important factor is when it comes to maintaining your muscle tissue.
Finally, as always, be sure you are getting in good pre- and post-workout nutrition before and after the workouts. This is essential if you want your muscles recovering maximally and to see the results that you are looking for from your training.
So, next time you are going to change your workout program - or if you are just getting onto one now, definitely do consider the four-day, upper/lower split.