Are you wanting to build new muscle and are wondering how to put a solid plan together? Have you been working out and your plan stopped working? Are you currently using a plan that your schedule does not permit and don't know where to start in planning a new program? You have come to the right place!
The right program can elicit incredible results and build mounds of muscle while the wrong program can leave you feeling as if you have wasted time and energy. Using the right exercises, weight, reps, rep tempo, intensity, and split can literally be the difference in making great gains and wasting time and effort.
There is no "magical" workout that will take you to the "promised land," but the proper planning and setting up your workout to fit your schedule and address your weaknesses can literally show you results you never thought possible. Hard work and intense effort is required.
Let’s look at some ways you can structure your training routine to maximize muscle growth.
When planning your program, you should consider the following things:
1. Your experience in training:
If you are beginner, you require less volume and intensity, but with increased frequency.
2. What are your goals:
The workout split will depend upon your goals. Do you wish to maintain your body composition, or change your overall physique?
This is one the most important factors. It will dictate your number of days, time per workout, and ability to stay consistent with your program. If you are serious about bodybuilding, you will need to give at least 3 days a week to the gym.
4. Rest and Recovery:
Lifestyle, career, and ability to recover, will determine the number of rest days needed between workouts. This often overlooked component extremely important. To be able to build massive muscles, you need to also allow the body to rest properly and provide solid nutrition. Resting also means recharging mentally and including stress-coping techniques as needed.
5. Identify your weaknesses:
Identify your problem areas and address them first so your energy levels are replenished and can be utilized to maximize hypertrophy. When you have more days available to work out, you can also schedule specific sessions to focus on areas that you consider a weakness.
Top 5 Bodybuilding Workout Splits:
Here are the top 5 workout splits options. They are listed in order of intensity. If you are a beginner, we recommend starting with the total-body routine and progress as you gain strength and muscle and as schedule permits. If you are past the beginner stage and have more time available to work out, we suggest you move to one of the split workouts. As your body adapts and grows, you can add intensity by increasing weight, changing rep range, modifying rep tempo, or rest time. A greater intensity and volume will potentially require more rest days for recovery.
Let's look at these top 5 options:
1. Total-Body Workout
Beginners usually exercise with a total-body approach in each workout done 2-4 times per week. The most effective full-body workouts will typically utilize 1-2 exercises per major muscle group and 1-4 sets for each exercise. They will also usually be done in a super-set or circuit-set fashion. This style of workout is referred to as an "anatomical adaptation" type of workout. This basically means "to introduce your body and muscles to new stress placed on them and prepare the body to handle and adapt to the new stress placed on the body. This is how you teach your body to activate its muscles and utilize them. This needs more frequency.
As the volume is less, the workout should be repeated 2-4 times every week, giving 1-2 rest days between each workout. But, you should religiously follow the routine without any gaps. The rest day ensures that the muscles recover before the next workout. You can plan 1-2 exercises per muscle group and do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps in circuit fashion. Give this 30-90 days depending on your body's ability to recover.
2. Upper- Lower Body Split
In this split, you split the body up over two separate workout sessions. You do 2-4 exercises for each muscle group. One day will cover chest, back, shoulders, and arms. The other day will cover quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Core will be worked in both sessions. For each exercise we recommend 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps with moderate weight. Try to increase the weight on the last set of each exercise weekly.
With the increase in volume, your intensity will increase as well. As far as schedule, a great example would be: Monday-Upper Body, Tuesday-Lower Body, Wednesday-Off, Thursday-Upper Body, Friday-Lower Body, Weekend-Off.So, one day, you tackle the upper body, the second day – the lower body. Here’s a study on the on training muscle groups.
3. 3 Day Split: Push-pull-legs
As you gain more experience, you will increase the volume of of the workout for each muscle group, so that your entire body gets trained over a course of 3 days, instead of 2 days. This comes with increased work capacity. You should do all the pushing exercises together, such as exercises for chest, triceps and shoulders. On one day focus on all of the pulling exercises in the same workout, such as back and biceps. Do the leg exercises in their own workout. You can do abs on any of the days.
Do 3-4 exercises per muscle group and stay within the 8-12 rep range. This will provide extra volume and stimulus to build new muscle.
4. Split over 4 days
This is a split for more serious lifters. This focuses on fewer muscle groups each day, but you will be able to increase the intensity and volume, the factors which are integral for continued progress. This split gives you three rest days per week.
On a 4-day split do quadriceps and hamstrings on Day 1, chest and triceps on Day 2, back and biceps on Day 3, and shoulders,abs, and calves on Day 4. Focus on working the larger muscle group first and using the compound exercises first in your routine. Utilize 3-5 exercises per muscle group and vary rep ranges doing heavier weights and low rep ranges on the first exercise or two of the routine and then moderate weights and moderate to high reps on the remaining exercises.
5. 5-day Split
This is an advanced level training split, which allows each and every part of the body to train on its own day. This way, you would be able to increase the intensity and volume to the max while minimizing the potential for overtraining.
Work quadriceps and hamstrings on Day 1, back on Day 2, chest on Day 3, shoulders and calves on Day 4, and arms and abs on Day 5. Utilize 3-5 exercises per muscle group and vary rep ranges doing heavier weights and low rep ranges on the first exercise or two of the routine and then moderate weights and moderate to high reps on the remaining exercises. In addition add at least one intensity set for each muscle group per workout.(e.g. forced reps, drop set, superset, giant set, TUT, etc.)
Try to keep each lifting session to an hour or less in length to keep intensity high and not overtax the body's energy systems. Do not waste time! Follow each workout with a protein shake comprised of 30-60 grams of protein, some simple carbohydrates, 5 grams of creatine, and 3 grams of glutamine. Follow this an hour later with a whole-food meal consisting of a serving or two of lean protein, a serving of starchy carbohydrates, and a large serving of vegetables. Use the workout split that fits your lifestyle and schedule, fuel your body with good quality nutrition, rest and recover well, and stay consistent, and you will be well on your way to the body you have always dreamed of. Now get out there and lift!
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