There are innumerable ways you can split up your training. Each one works – at least to some degree. However, some are definitely better than others. Some splits work well for almost everyone who uses them, whereas others seemed to be designed to fail.


A good split should:


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  • - Work all your muscles equally to create anatomical balance

  • - Allow for adequate training volume

  • - Keep overlapping body parts separate

  • - Provide adequate recovery between workouts

  • - Be sustainable to avoid missing workouts


Does your workout match these criteria? No? Don’t worry – you are not alone. A lot of exercisers follow badly-designed workouts that are doing them no favours at all. This often because of “the blind leading the blind.” In other words, people who don’t know any better follow programs designed by uneducated, unqualified, or inexperienced trainers who also don’t know any better. Talk about a vicious circle!


While there is no, one-size-fits-all, program that is perfect for all lifters, this one comes pretty darn close! You can adapt it to suit most training goals including strength, hypertrophy, and even fat loss.


It adheres to five key programming rules:


1. Train four days a week 


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While you can get by on two or three workouts per week, that isn’t optimal. You could also do five or more workouts per week, but most natural lifters would struggle to recover from so much training. In most cases, four workouts per week is the ideal balance between training and recovery.


2. Do not train hard more than two days in a row

Whatever your training goal, two workouts in a row is enough for most people. After two hard workouts, your recovery will start to suffer, and your performance will decrease. That’s why the bro split of five weekdays on, with weekends off, is seldom very successful. By the end of the week, you are so tired that you end up skipping workouts. If you plan to train hard, two days in a row is plenty, and more is not better.


3. Do not rest for more than two days in a row 


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While your body has a physiological need for rest, too much can be counterproductive. Two or three rest days in a row will mean your first workout back feels awkward, and you may feel sluggish instead of raring to go. The solution? Avoid resting for more than two days back-to-back.


4. Avoid overlaps 

If you bench on Monday and shoulder press on Tuesday, you create a significant overlap that will adversely affect your performance during the second workout. The same is true of doing biceps one day, and back the next. Make sure your program avoids overlaps that will cause a negative carryover from one workout to the next.


5. Start big, finish small 


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Your workout should look like an upside-down pyramid, with big compound exercises at the beginning, and smaller, isolation exercises at the end. This makes the most of your energy and time. In theory, you could just do the first few exercises in your program and still get good results. Think of your workout like meat, potatoes, and gravy. The first 1-2 exercises are the vital meat, the next 1-2 exercises are the supplementary potatoes, and the last 1-2 exercises are the optional gravy.


The ultimate split routine


  • - Monday – lower body 1

  • - Tuesday – upper body 1

  • - Wednesday – rest

  • - Thursday – lower body 2

  • - Friday – rest

  • - Saturday – upper body 2

  • - Sunday – rest


This split avoids training more than two days in a row, places two workouts back to back at the beginning of the week when you are fresher, provides more rest later in the week when you are more fatigued, and makes sure you never rest more than two days in a row. It also includes not just one but two lower body workouts, which, judging by the leg development of the average gym goer, should be all-but compulsory. 


Program design


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Now you have your split, it’s time to slot in your workouts. Each session should be built around 1-2 big, compound exercises. For example:


  • Lower body 1 – squats and Romanian deadlifts

  • Upper body 1 – bench press and chins

  • Lower body 2 – deadlifts and front squats

  • Upper body 2 – overhead presses and bent over rows


Then, add 2-3 supplementary exercises designed to boost performance of your chosen main lifts or address any muscle imbalances you have or want to avoid. Unilateral exercises are a good option. You should select your assistance work not based on personal preferences but on what will help strengthen your weaknesses. This is the true secret of long term progression!


Following these guidelines, lower body workout one could look like this:


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  1. 1.     Squats

  2. 2.     Leg extensions

  3. 3.     Romanian deadlifts

  4. 4.     Leg curls

  5. 5.     Rear foot elevated split squats


Select your set and rep scheme to match your goals, using lower reps and heavier weights for the primary compound exercises, and lighter weights and high reps for the supplementary exercises.


Now you have your workout, it’s important to remember that even the best program has a limited shelf life, and you’ll need to modify it periodically to avoid getting stuck in a progress rut. Change your exercises, your set/rep scheme, or rearrange the program while still adhering to the rules outlined at the beginning of this article.

Consolidate your gains with IsoPept Zero the ultimate post workout shake! 


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