Top Tips for Choosing a Bodybuilding Split Program
First of all, there’s no such thing as the best bodybuilding split program. It depends upon your goals. To ask which is the best for you would be like calling a men’s store to order a suit, without telling them what style or size you want, what color you prefer or whether it’s for business or a funeral. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The bodybuilding split program that’s best for you will be periodized and designed to fit your specific goals.
As a rule of thumb, if your goal is increased muscle size (hypertrophy), you’ll need to make metabolic adaptations to your program – higher weights at lower reps. But if strength is your goal, then neuromuscular adaptations will be the ticket – more reps at a constant weight.
Designing a Bodybuilding Split Program to Achieve Your Goals
There are a lot of different split programs out there, many of which are effective. But the truth is, none of them are ideal. The best bet is to build your own program, based upon two major factors:
- Your goal – bulk, strength or endurance?
- Your training age – how long have you been bodybuilding? If you have six months or less at it, I’d recommend you stay with a whole-body plan for six months before you even consider moving to a split program. As a relative newcomer, you shouldn’t need to make any changes to your routine for several weeks. If you’ve been at it for more than six months, though, you’ll probably need to change your routine more often, so you don’t plateau. At that level, you may be a good candidate for split training.
Of course, you’ll have to take other factors into account when you build your split program, but those two will be your plan’s foundation.
Optimum muscle growth demands an optimum environment
Considering your personal goal and the training you already have under your belt still leaves you needing to look at other program needs that are specific to you. Sorting through the pros and cons of different split programs can help you select the one that will most effectively get you where you want to be. Here are some of the things you should consider:
- Don’t just focus on your main muscles. Assisting muscles play an important part in strength and endurance, as well as definition. Your program should be designed to address them, too, in a sequence that constantly complements the preceding workout.
- Give your upper body a break, by using a day dedicated to your legs to give some rest to your arms and trunk.
- Remember that two days of intense workouts can deplete your glycogen levels, so it’s a good practice to intersperse rest days between workouts of shared muscles. This will also give those shared muscles an opportunity to recharge, making their next workout more effective.
- While it may seem to be a strange idea, consider designing your split program to do your chest and arms together, particularly when they’re fresh after a day off. I know it may sound crazy but since they’re both large muscle groups that work in unison, you can see some great benefits from the resulting explosive workouts.
- Never forget that your muscles need the rest days to rebuild and grow. They’re just as critical as your workout days because without rest, your workouts won’t be as effective.
- Design your program with flexibility for change, to avoid plateaus. As you progress in your training, you’ll find that you’ll need to make changes more often. This is a critical aspect of any split training program.
Fine-tune Your Bodybuilding Split Program to Optimize the Pros and Cons
When you’re designing your program, you’ll need to analyze it to spot the weak spots and make adjustments to minimize their impact. For instance, if you work your shoulders and chest together with the support of your triceps, then your triceps will already be fatigued before you get around to focusing on them. If you reverse your split on the next change-up, you’ll minimize that impact by hitting your triceps while they’re still fresh.
So when you change, go after your triceps first, then follow with your shoulders, then the chest. All three will get equal treatment that way. The next time you change, rotate their sequence again.
Lost time can’t be reclaimed, so make every minute count. Ensuring that your program is designed to be as effective as possible will make every minute of gym time productive and you’ll achieve your goal that much faster. Failing to optimize the pros and cons in your split program will work against you, so work smarter, rather than harder.