Workout Routines

More or Less: The Perfect Training Split Workout Routine

How often should you be trained? How much rest do you need? We've found your perfect training split.

bodybuilder in gym
Duration 6 days
Exercises 44
Equipment Yes

You know the old maxim: There’s more than one way to skin a cat. That saying rings true when it comes to working out; almost no two bodybuilders have the same training philosophy. When it comes to rep ranges, some guys like training superheavy with low reps, while others prefer light weight and high reps. Some rest only a short period between sets, while others seem to wait an eternity before starting again. And no matter which side a lifter is on in regard to these training protocols, he tends to use the opposite tactic from time to time just for fun or to prevent stagnation.

Another issue that causes much debate is training frequency, or the recovery time between body-part routines. Some bodybuilders work each muscle group just once a week, while others do twice a week or more. But unlike varying reps, rest periods, and other variables, bodybuilders tend to stick to one—and only one—training frequency. For example, an individual who prefers training each body part once a week usually sticks to that pattern regardless of how heavy he’s training, the length of his rest periods, or his exercise selection. The key is to find what works best for you, which is easier said than done. And that’s where research comes in. It just so happens a group of scientists conducted a study to help you determine the best training frequency for you and only you.

Recovery Basics

The rules of training frequency used to be quite simple. Rule No. 1: Never train a muscle while it’s still sore. Makes sense, right? If a muscle is sore, it must still be recovering. But while that may work for the newbie who’s still hurting four or five days after his last workout, what about the experienced lifter whose soreness lasts only a day or two after a brutal workout? Does the rule extend to him, too? Not exactly. For the seasoned veteran, muscle soreness is no longer a tool to determine optimal training frequency. It takes a much deeper understanding of muscle recovery to really nail it down.

Here’s another rule to consider: Allow a minimum of 48 hours between workouts for the same muscle group. Not a bad barometer, yet it’s unrealistic for most guys, as it means you’d be going to the gym practically every day. Does that fit into your schedule? Didn’t think so. Also, 48 hours is the minimum recommendation and doesn’t ensure that you’ll be fully recovered.

On the other end of the spectrum, and a common practice these days, many bodybuilders allow a full seven days of rest for each muscle group. This is fairly prudent because it ensures adequate recovery and works well with a weekly schedule. But it doesn’t work for everyone; a full week could actually be too long of a recovery for you, and you could be missing out on some significant gains in strength and size. So how do you determine where you fall within the two- to seven-day time frame of muscle recovery? How do you know what your optimal training frequency is? Simple—you take a test.

Monday

Exercise 1

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Incline Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 3

Cable Crossover You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to
Cable Crossover thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Shoulder Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Shoulder Press thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 5

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Upright Row thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 6

Bent-Over Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Bent-Over Lateral Raise thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 7

Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Shrug thumbnail
4 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 8

Static Lying Triceps Extension You'll need: EZ-Bar, Bench How to
Static Lying Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 9

Triceps Pressdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, V-Handle Attachment How to
Triceps Pressdown thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
2 min rest

Tuesday

Exercise 1

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 3

3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 4

Lying Leg Curl How to
Lying Hamstring Curl thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 5

Standing Calf Raise You'll need: Box How to
Standing Calf Raise thumbnail
4 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 6

Hanging Leg Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Hanging Leg Raise thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 7

Cable Crunch You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment How to
Cable Crunch thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 reps
1 min rest

Wednesday

Exercise 1

General Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Pullup thumbnail
3 sets
6-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Single-Arm Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Row You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Single-Arm Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Row thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2-min rest

Exercise 3

Reverse-Grip Pulldown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Straight Bar Attachment How to
Reverse-Grip Pulldown thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 4

Barbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
bicep curl thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 5

EZ-Bar Preacher Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar, Preacher Bench How to
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 6

Barbell Wrist Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Wrist Curl thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Friday

Exercise 1

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Incline Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 3

Incline Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 4

Overhead Barbell Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Overhead Barbell Press thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 5

Dumbbell Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Lateral Raise thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 6

Barbell Lateral Raise
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 7

Barbell Shrug You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Shrug thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 8

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 9

Cable Overhead Triceps Extension You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Bench, Rope Attachment How to
Cable Overhead Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Saturday

Exercise 1

Smith Machine Squat
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 3

3 sets
8-10 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 4

Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Romanian Deadlift thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 5

Seated Calf Raise You'll need: Bench How to
Seated Calf Raise thumbnail
4 sets
15-20 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 6

Reverse Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
Reverse Crunch thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 7

Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
Crunch thumbnail
3 sets
15-25 reps
1 min rest

Sunday

Exercise 1

Barbell Bent-Over Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Man Performing Barbell Bentover Row thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 2

Wide-Grip Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Wide-Grip Pullup thumbnail
3 sets
6-8 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 3

Straight-Arm Pulldown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Lat Pulldown Bar, Straight Bar Attachment How to
Straight-Arm Pulldown thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest

Exercise 4

Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 5

Standing Cable Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
2 min rest

Exercise 6

Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
1 min rest
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