What’s a Split Schedule?

What is a split schedule

A split schedule is a weekly training routine that involves dedicated training days for each muscle group, enabling each muscle group to be trained intensely, in turn encouraging maximum muscle growth or strength.

With a split schedule, each muscle is trained more fully, because all your energy is devoted to one or two (sometimes three) muscle groups per session, as opposed to full-body training. Split schedules also prevent the over-training of any particular muscle group, because while you train one group, you’re not training another at the same time. Thus the muscles you worked on Monday can recover on Tuesday, or even a few days before you get back to that muscle group. Recovery = growth and more strength.  See below for an example of split schedules.

Basic Split Schedule:

Monday: Back & Traps

Tuesday: Quads/Hams/Calves

Wednesday: Off or light cardio

Thursday: Biceps & Triceps/Abs

Friday: Shoulders & Chest

Saturday: Off or light cardio

Sunday: Off or light cardio

 

Learn more about setting up your personal training routine:



Double Split Schedule:

With this type of schedule, you’ll train twice per day while still dividing muscle groups. This is useful to pro athletes, in this case, pro bodybuilders, and for fat loss. See below for an example.

Monday:

  • AM: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
  • PM: Back & Traps

Tuesday:

  • AM: Steady state cardio for 30 minutes
  • PM: Quads/Hams/Calves

Wednesday: Off or light cardio

Thursday:

  • AM: HIIT
  • PM: Biceps & Triceps/Abs

Friday:

  • AM: Cardio kickboxing
  • PM: Shoulders & Chest

Saturday: Off or light cardio

Sunday: Off or light cardio




Recovery Time Per Muscle Group

In keeping with the theme of recovery time, it is important to know how much recovery each muscle group needs on average. Large muscle groups: legs, back, glutes need anywhere from 3 – 7 days of recovery after each session. Seven days may sound like a lot, but it depends on how you train — how hard you train and your goals (e.g., strength or muscle growth). If your goal is to break a lifting record or to grow larger legs, your recovery days may be around the 5 – 7 day range. This is because, with the goal of muscle growth or record-breaking strength, you should be lifting pretty heavy. Heavy lifts require ample recovery time. Overtraining will just slow progress or lead to injury.

Smaller muscle groups: arms, calves, abs require less recovery time; 1 – 2 days is usually sufficient, regardless of your goal. I will, however, state that you have to listen to your body. If you feel you need more time or less time, play with it and see what delivers the goal you’re after and still leaves you feeling fresh for each training session.

In looking at the above examples of split schedules, it’s clear to decipher how they can be beneficial for greater rest, recovery, growth, and strength. If you’re stuck trying to reach your goals and you’re not utilizing a split routine, I highly recommend giving it a fair trial period (a month or two months). It might just be the key to your progress.

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