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How to Split Your Workout.

A “workout program split” refers to how you divide your workout routine to train different muscles on different days of the week.

In general, there are three types of workout splits to consider. They include:

  • Full body workouts
  • Upper/lower body workouts
  • Split body workouts

Each of these splits can work well, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons.

Full Body Workouts

With a full body workout, you train each muscle group each day that you’re at the gym. It ensures that you hit each muscle group frequently, while maintaining a number of rest days. It’s effective and efficient, and great for people with busy schedules or that are just starting out.

A full body workout schedule might look something like this:

  • Monday: Full body
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Full body
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Full body
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because each muscle group is trained each time you hit the gym, you get a powerful metabolic response from your workout. If your goal is to stay or become lean, a full body workout can definitely help you achieve it.

If you do opt for full body workouts, you’ll probably include many compound exercises like squats, bench presses and dead lifts. These exercises work many different muscle group at once, and are thus well-suited for a full body workout routine. After all, you don’t want to spend your entire day at the gym.

Upper/Lower Split

If you’re a more experienced exerciser and are looking to spend a little more time on each muscle group, the upper/lower split is a good option. With four workout days, it’s a larger gym commitment – and so it’s not necessarily the best option for beginners.

In a nutshell, you’ll work the entire upper body on one day. And then the entire lower body on the next day. Then, you’ll take a day off to rest and recover.

Your upper/lower split workout schedule will probably look like this:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Tuesday: Lower body
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Upper body
  • Friday: Lower body
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because this workout split allows more time for each muscle group, you’ll be able to include specific isolation exercises if there are certain muscles that you’d like worked. You can hit each muscle group deeper and harder, and so it can yield enhanced results versus a total body workout.

Unfortunately, it also means more time at the gym – and so it’s not for everyone. Moreover, if you have a poor recovery system, it may result in more bodily stress than your central nervous system can handle.

The Split Body Workout

With a split body workout, you’ll train just one or two muscle groups each time you hit the gym. Because each workout session is very focused, this split is very concentrated and time consuming. It’s certainly not for beginners and is often utilized by body builders or fitness professionals. Though it’s the workout split that I use, it’s something that I worked up to.

The split body workout schedule might look like this:

  • Monday: Chest and triceps
  • Tuesday: Back and biceps
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Calves/core
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because you’re only working one or two muscle groups each day, you won’t get the same metabolic response from a full body workout. The workout won’t burn the same amount of calories, but it can definitely yield fantastic results for the more seasoned exerciser.

Of course, it means five or six workout days per week – which isn’t realistic or sustainable for most people. Also, because so much time is spent exercising, it’s very easy for overtraining to develop.


At the end of the day, each of the three splits offers unique advantages and disadvantages. In general, I’d recommend total body workouts for beginners, and then eventually upper/lower body splits for more experienced individuals. If you’re really looking to take things to the next level, the split body workout is an option for some exercisers.