THE SINGLE BEST WORKOUT SPLIT?
I get this question every day. “What is the best training split?” The answer is so complex that it would take 5000 YouTube videos to answer it.
Some potential choices might be:
- Total Body Workouts
- Single Muscle (i.e. Chest Day)
The answer to this question may really depend on your training goals. Is your main training goal to build new muscle, to lose body fat or to develop explosive power and athleticism? Any of these will greatly influence the training split that would best fit your goals.
What type of training split you just completed is another factor. For instance, following a period where you were doing high volume low weight training, your muscles are more primed and ready than ever for a change to lower volume.
Additionally, not all splits are right for everybody. If triceps were a weak muscle group for you then you would want to prioritize them with additional volume over the course of a training cycle. This being the case, they may need to be trained as an exception to the workout split you’ve chosen.
I LOVE PUSH-PULL SPLITS BUT…
Some people get so caught up in adhering to hard and fast rules about training splits that they lose sight of the big picture.
As you may know, I’m a big advocate of push-pull splits in helping to manage training volume, but they can’t be relied on 100% as gospel for how you should train. First, just in case you’re not familiar, let’s define a push-pull-split.
A push-pull split relies on the fact that certain muscle groups tend to ‘push’ such as chest, triceps and shoulders while other muscle groups ‘pull’ like as biceps and back. Training ‘push’ or ‘pull’ groups together on the same day would allow you to work similar functions without subjecting yourself to over training by continually training them on back to back days.
A push-pull split is a logical and effective way to train to maximize your recovery in between sessions. However, if you follow that rule and that rule only, you will lose sight of the fact that there are some great exercises that work ‘push’ and ‘pull’ muscles together.
So, let’s take back and triceps as an example. A push and a pull. Guess what? They actually work well together. The Triceps Extension Pullover is a great exercise that breaks that push-pull split pattern.
To perform it you lie on the ground and have two bands anchored behind you on something sturdy which could be a piece of equipment or even a couch. You could also replicate it at the gym with cables lying on a bench.
In this exercise we’re actually taking advantage of the synergy that occurs between the back and the long head of the triceps to hit both of these areas. You can see that the beginning part of the movement is a lying triceps extension.
This movement hits our triceps hard, and we get peak contraction at the top of the movement, different from if we were doing this with a dumbbell. There is tension at the top because the line of resistance is behind us with the bands being pulled in that same line.
We can intensify this even more by adding additional contraction to the long head of the triceps which will help to extend our arms and bring them back behind our body. We’re extending them, but at the same time we’re doing a classic abduction of the upper arm and bringing it down closer to our sides in a pullover fashion which hits our lats.
You can see that both the abduction of the arms and the extension of our arms as we get down to neutral are occurring synergistically. If you were to lock yourself into push-pull splits only and thinking that you can never train triceps and back together, you’d be missing out on some serious potential gains!
THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT TO YOUR TRAINING
The the most important thing you can do in your training is make sure you are strategically varying your workout splits.
Never listen to someone that tells you the ‘best training split’ to do unless they are aware of what your goals are and where in your training plan you currently are. You should know what your goal is and have a purpose behind your training.
Remember, training without a purpose is just working out. If you want to get the fastest results, you need to have a clear game plan and some science behind what you do.
- The question of what is the ‘best’ workout split is a complicated one with multiple factors at play. There are several different choices such as total body, push-pull splits, heavy/light, and single muscle group.
- The correct workout split for you may depend on your training goals, what type of training you’ve been doing lately and whether you have any weak muscle groups that need to be worked more frequently.
- While I tend to advocate for push-pull splits there are times when breaking this pattern can actually help you achieve greater gains, such as in the Triceps Extension Pullover exercise.
I hope you can see that you can stop worrying about what is the perfect split and start using all variations of splits in your training if you want to get the best results. If you’re looking for a step by step workout plan that varies training splits from phase to phase and does so with science leading the way, be sure to check out our ATHLEAN-X Training Programs.