Bodybuilding Split: Do You Need it?

Have you ever seen a bodybuilder with a terrific upper body, but with good old chicken legs? You probably shook your head and said to yourself : ‘Nah, not for me!’

While genetics plays a big role in how well a person’s muscles can be developed, more often than not, muscle growth can be solved by a great workout plan.

To train virtually all the major muscle groups in your body, you need a holistic training program and a bodybuilding training split is often the go-to workout program to achieve a “perfect” body composition.

In this post, we explain what a bodybuilding split is, why this training program is in demand, how to go about it, the top five bodybuilding workout splits you can adopt today, and how to choose the right split for your bodybuilding needs.

What Is a Bodybuilding Split?

Basically, a bodybuilding split provides a comprehensive template for your daily workout sessions for an entire week.

Your bodybuilding split layout highlights the muscle groups you intend training during the week. It states the training methods that will be deployed for each muscle group as well as the days of the week designated for training each of the muscle groups.

There are several factors that can determine the training split you choose to run. Some of these factors include your age, gender, work schedule, lifestyle, rate of recovery, and bodybuilding experience.

Why Follow a Workout Split Plan?

There are several reasons why you should follow a workout split plan and here are a few worth remembering:

Focused bodybuilding

Imagine hitting the gym daily without having a clue about what part of your body you want to train.

You could train your legs today, then also train your legs tomorrow ignoring other parts of your body because you may feel comfortable using a particular gym equipment.

However, by having a structured training program that specifies the muscle groups you want to train and the days dedicated to training them, you will be more focused whenever you go to your local gym.

Target-oriented training

Your target or goals are made clearer whenever you adopt a bodybuilding split. You know exactly what your overall bodybuilding goals are and how to go about achieving them.

Your training is not done at random, and so your expected results are more or less predictable all-things-being-equal.

A bodybuilding training split specifies the muscle groups you want to train, the equipment and training weights, number of sets plus repetitions for each of your specified exercises.

Performance tracking

Your bodybuilding split allows you to properly track your performance and progress. Rather than running random workouts, your training split keeps track of each of your training days keeping note of the results from each workout session.

A typical bodybuilding split keeps track of your progress and/or failures for each workout session.

Apart from monitoring your bodybuilding gains, your workout split also takes note of your injuries as well as recovery days.

How Do Bodybuilders Train?

When it comes to the optimisation of your bodybuilding split, emphasis should be placed on your total volume rather than frequency of training. In effect, you will experience significant skeletal muscle growth on targeted muscle groups when you achieve a specific number of sets per week.

What this implies is that the number of times you train your major muscle groups in a week will not necessarily impact muscle growth. To achieve optimal muscle growth, bodybuilders will hit a weekly volume for each muscle group of between 12 to 20 sets.

5 of the Best Effective Bodybuilding Splits

The best 5 days bodybuilding split that you can adopt today include:

  • Full-body workout split
  • Upper & lower body workout split
  • Push, pull & legs (PPL) bodybuilding split
  • 3-1-3 bodybuilding split
  • Bodybuilding workout split

#1. Full-Body Workout Split:

Technically, a full-body workout split is not a “split” in the traditional sense, as you actually train the entirety of your body during a workout session instead of having separate training days for each muscle group.

However, if you’re beginning your journey as a bodybuilder, a full-body workout split is arguably the best option for you. This split ensures that you train every muscle group in your body in one training session which can run for a long period of time.

#2. Upper & Lower Body Workout Split:

Bodybuilders may have 3 to 5 workout days in a week. You can decide to train your upper body on one of your workout days while training your lower body on the other day and repeat. This way you are not training your entire body in one workout session.

For example, on one of your workout days, you could decide to train the muscles of your back, biceps, chest, shoulders, and triceps which make up your upper body muscle group.

Also, on another training day, you can train the muscles of your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads which make up your lower body muscle group. You can decide to train your abs on either your upper or lower body workout days.

#3. Push, Pull & Legs (PPL) Bodybuilding Split:

With this split, you spend three days training your pushing muscles made up of your triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles. Your pushing muscles can be trained on the first say of your three day split.

On the second day of your split, you can train your pulling muscles consisting of your biceps and back muscle groups. The third say of your three day split can then be spent training your leg muscles.

You can have a day off to rest and recover, then repeat your PPL bodybuilding split the next day.

#4. 3-1-3 Bodybuilding Split:

With the 3-1-3 bodybuilding split, you divide your major muscle groups for training on three workout days.

For example, on day one, you can train your back and chest, on day two, you can train your hamstrings and quads, and on the third day, you can train your biceps, triceps and shoulders.

So in effect, you spend the first day training your upper body, the second day training your lower body, and the third day training your upper body.

The fourth day should be reserved for recovery, then you can repeat the training program again in a new week.

#5. Bodybuilding Workout Split:

Also known as “bro-split”, the bodybuilding workout split is often the go-to workout program for experienced bodybuilders. Here you dedicate a day to training one major muscle group.

With this workout routine you only need to worry about exerting all your efforts in achieving training intensity and optimal volume on your selected muscle group.

For example, you could run a five day split where you dedicate the first day to training your abs and chest. You can train your back on the second day and your shoulders on day three.

On the fourth day, you can train your hamstrings and quads while the fifth day can be spent training your triceps and biceps.

How to choose the right Bodybuilding Training Split?

To be sure you’re choosing the right bodybuilding training split as a beginner, we advise that you speak with a qualified bodybuilding coach. But remember as a beginner, the best bodybuilding split you can settle for as a newbie is the full-body workout split.

This split ensures that your entire major muscle groups are given a good workout in one session. But in deciding on which split to choose, you need to consider your age, gender, health status, schedule, and bodybuilding goals amongst other considerations.

Final Thoughts

So do you need a bodybuilding split? Maybe you have chicken legs or you want to build your biceps and have chiselled abs. It’s entirely up to you, but you don’t have to make this decision all on your own, you can seek the help of an experienced bodybuilder to guide you properly. You can get free coaching right here and be on your way to having a great body composition – one you can indeed be proud of!


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