The Best Workout Splits of All Time [2, 3 & 4 Day Templates]
Do you wan't to know what the perfect workout routine is?
It doesn't exist.
Fitness is highly individualized. There is no perfect workout routine that is ideal for everyone in every circumstance.
With that said, we do know that some workout splits are much better than others.
Should you isolate each body part in different training sessions? Should you only train your upper body on one day? Or should you train your entire body each time you go to the gym?
Today, we are going to cover 3 amazing workout splits you can do to maximize your fitness results.
Welcome to the second installment of the WCT series of workout routine basics:
In Part 1, How Often Should I Workout [Determining Your Optimal Training Frequency], we discuss the pros and cons of training more or less frequently and tell you what the optimal number of workouts, per week, you should be aiming for.
In today's post we are going to cover:
The Full Body Training Split
The Upper/Lower Body Training Split
The Push/Pull Training Split
The Training Split You Should Avoid
Examples of 2, 3 and 4-day Training Splits
Alright, let's get started.
3 Factors To Consider Before Choosing A Training Split
It is important to note that there are many different variables that must be taken into consideration before determining which split you are going to use.
1) Your Schedule and Availability
Just as we discussed in Part 1, you must determine how often you can workout on a weekly basis. If you can only exercise twice a week, then you will have to get creative with the split that you choose. A decreased training frequency will benefit more from upper/lower splits and full body splits.
2) Your Training Experience
Are you an absolute beginner, or have you trained before? Beginners benefit more from full body workout splits over the others. Intermediate trainees can use any one of the splits listed below.
3) Your Goals
Are you trying to build muscle? Look a certain way? Simply exercise more? If you don't have specific goals, then the split you choose wont matter that much. However, if you have a specific goal, it is important to choose the split that will allow you to customize your training to achieve that goal.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let's cover the actual splits themselves.
The Full Body Split
First off is the full body split. This is by far one of the, if not most effective training splits for the vast majority of the population.
The full body split makes you train your entire body at each training session.
Don't worry, it is not as gruesome as it sounds.
You don't actually train every single muscle in your body every day. Instead, you combine exercises that train muscle groups of the upper body with exercises that train the lower body in the same session.
Full body splits are ideal for beginners or novices who are new to lifting and need to practice the major functional exercises often.
More advanced athletes can also use full body training splits, but they need to focus on balancing out the exercises that are used on a weekly basis.
Total Body training splits are ideal for beginners who need to practice the exercises multiple times per week. Only 1 or 2 exercises are needed per each half of the body to elicit a proper stimulus. This makes each workout easier to recover from and minimizes soreness. In addition, the workouts can be tailored to be of short duration if you do not have a lot of time to spend at the gym.
Full body splits require you to focus only on the major exercises and thus limits the amount of exercise variation you can use in your program. As such, it is possible to completely neglect one of the critical functional movement patterns such as the horizontal pull and smaller muscles such as the biceps and posterior deltoids.
Lastly, someone who is no longer a beginner may need to pay careful attention to exercise selection, as one workout can interfere with the recovery of a past workout.
I highly recommend the full body workout split for most people. The vast majority of my own personal training uses full body splits.
Example of a Full Body Workout Split
Day 1: Full Body Training
Day 2: Off
Day 3: Full Body Training
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Full Body Training
Day 6 and 7: Off
The Upper Lower Split
One of the most popular training splits is the upper lower split. What this means is, that you train all or some of the major muscle groups in the upper body on one day, and then all or some of the major muscle groups in the lower body on another day.
For the upper body, you are generally training the shoulders, the chest, the triceps, and the many muscles of the back.
For the lower body, you are training the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes and the abdominal/core muscles.
The upper/lower split is ideal for anyone who can train 4 times per week, but it could also be done if you are training less frequently.
I have personally used the upper/lower workout split for many years with great results.
Upper/lower splits simplify your training, as you are only focusing on one half of your body per day. This makes your warm-up easy to tailor, and decreases the number of exercises you have to do per day. In addition, the upper/lower split is ideal for anyone who wants to increase the number of times they train a specific muscle group, as you have two dedicated training days for each half of your body.
The upper/lower split can be difficult to recover from. Since you are hammering one half of your body each day, you may notice increased fatigue and soreness that can interfere with the subsequent workout.
Example of an Upper/Lower Body Workout Split:
Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Upper Body
Day 5: Lower Body
Day 6 and 7: Off
The Push/Pull Split
The third most popular workout split is the push-pull split.
Rather than focusing on which body parts you will train on each session, the push-pull split focuses on the actual exercises instead. Any exercise that is considered a push will be trained on one day, and any exercise that is considered a pull will be trained on another.
So in other words, the push-pull training split is a specific variation of the full body training session. The Push muscles are located in the front of your body, while the Pull muscles are located in the back.
The Push Exercises can be classified as:
Horizontal Pushes: such as Pushups, and Bench Presses
Vertical Pushes: such as Overhead Press and Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
Lower Body Pushes: such as all Squat variations
The Pull Exercises can be classified as:
Horizontal Pulls: such as Barbell Row, Cable Rows, and Dumbbells Rows
Vertical Pulls: such as Pull-ups and Pulldowns
Lower Body Pulls: Deadlifts and all other hip hinge exercises
Similar to upper and lower body split, the push/pull workout split allows you to train a few muscle groups multiple times per week. It also has the benefit of being a full body workout session as you train both upper and lower body exercises in one day.
This routine works well for individuals who can train 4x per week. The volume for each individual muscle group may be too low if you cannot consistently workout more than 3x per week.
Example of Push/Pull Training Split:
Day 1: Push Exercises
Day 2: Pull Exercises
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Push Exercises
Day 5: Pull Exercises
Day 6 and 7: Off
The Workout Split You Should Avoid: The Body Part Split
There is one final training split that I would like to discuss. It is known as the body part split.
This is by far the most common split done in gyms across the nation.
It's exactly what it sounds like. E