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Week 3.1 - Programming Splits

Welcome to week 3 where we are discussing how to build your new fitness plan! This is where it all starts to take shape and you can finalise all of your goals on Sunday.

Today we will be covering:

. What are training splits?

. What are the important rules?

. Weekly training volume

. The common resistance splits

- 2 day splits

- 3 day splits

- 4 day splits

- 5 day splits

. What splits are best for me?

. How to mix different forms of training together

What are training splits?

Training splits is the process of deciding what you will train on each training day in a week. Training splits includes the selection of muscle groups, types of training or desired outcome of training across days in the week.

What are the important rules?

It is my recommendation that you try do the following:

. Balance your sessions - don't pick too much in one day

. Target as many muscles in a week

. Train large muscle groups multiple times in a week if intensity is low per session

. 48 hour rule if you are new to training - rest muscle groups for 48 hours before retraining

. Listen to your body - this is more important later but rest is often as important as training

. Focus on weak areas of your body - adding in additional days may be necessary

. Focus on large muscle groups - they will train smaller muscles in the process

. Make the split manageable - don't plan too much too quickly

. Adherence is key!

Weekly training volume

I will discuss this more when it comes to progression but it worth noting that training volume over a 7 day period can be a form of difficulty, training the same muscle multiple times in a week can actually be harder than one dedicated session. I will try and explain this with this example:


Scenario 1: Training once in a week

Doing 1 exercise a week for 5 sets of 10 repetitions @ 100kg = 5000kg total volume

Scenario 2: Doing 1 exercise twice a week but for less volume each session

Doing 1 exercise twice in a week for 3 sets of 10 @ 100kg = 6000kg total volume

So what I am trying to show is with scenario 2 you will increase the volume by increasing frequency of training whilst reducing individual volume of sessions.

The common resistance splits

Below I will list some training splits and then include some commentary into the possible benefits and who it is tailored for:

2 day splits

- 2 day full body (training full body twice in a week)

- Benefits new starters and fat loss

- Upper & lower body (train upper body one session and lower the second)

- Harder per session but only train the muscle once in a week

3 day splits

- 3 day full body (same as 2 day but with additional session)

- Same benefits as 2 day split but with more weekly volume

- Push/Pull/Legs (Chest, Shoulder & Triceps/Back & Biceps/Legs)

- Focus on a certain movement each day but only train once a week

- Bench/Squat/Deadlift (Powerlifting style session focusing on one compound per session)

- Great if you want to develop a single movement

4 day splits

- Upper/lower/upper/lower (train upper & lower body twice in a week)

- Benefits from multiple sessions & sufficient rest

- Any of the 3 day splits above with a 4th session working on weak areas

- Allows an additional session to work on weakness

5 day splits

- One muscle group per day (known as bro split and is a common bodybuilding technique)

- Exhausts a muscle group completely but only for advanced training

Note - you can do full body sessions 4-5 days a week but it is very tiring on the body as rest periods are compromised. Each session will have to be lighter compared to 2-3 day splits so that you don't overtrain.

That splits are best for me?

Follow these steps to identify a good split for you:

Step 1 - you should refer to blog 1.5 to identify how many sessions you can do in a week.

Step 2 - you need to think about your current level, if you are new to the gym full body sessions work well but if you have more experience you can try different splits

Step 3 - make sure you are training all the muscles once per week, we will cover this more this week

Step 4 - Highlight any weak areas or target areas and add additional sessions in if you feel the need

Step 5 - If possible, make sure you have 48 hours rest between training same muscle groups

So by the end of doing these 4 steps you should have an idea of what training split works for you.

How to mix different forms of training together

Everything we have spoke about today is about resistance training but we have missed out an important component - Cardiovascular Training (CVT)

I will list some ways you can program CVT with some tips and warnings:

. Add CVT at the end of each training session

- Risk of lack of energy, especially if you an athlete - performance will be lower.

. Add CVT before training session

- Will impede performance in weight training

. Do CVT earlier/later in the training day

- Works well if you have the time but this isn't always ideal

. Remove one or more weights sessions to do solely CVT

- Works well if fitness is your main goal but will take away focus on strength and function

Be your best!

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