Sunday, May 15, 2016

Training Split for Beginners

Read a typical bodybuilding magazine and you'll probably encounter a six-day training split, meaning that the bodybuilder goes to the gym and works out six days a week. The training philosophy they follow is pretty simple: break down your training to where you can work each muscle with a great deal of volume. Once the workout is done you can rest the said muscle group for a whole week.

This is the typical dogma of professional bodybuilders. I met a successful bodybuilder who described his routine to me and it was very similar to what I have shared above.

But I would not recommend this approach for new trainees (beginners) who are just getting started. There are a few good reasons for this.

First and foremost, a beginner really can't handle very much volume. Just a few sets are going to wear you out if you have never worked out before. You reach a point of diminishing marginal returns very quickly if your muscles are not used to working out.

Secondly, a beginner is simply more likely to suffer injury if he/she tries to overdo it. Form will begin to break down and you may put unnecessary strain on yourself because you are trying to train in a way that your body is not ready for.

For these reasons it makes a lot more since for a new trainee to do shorter but more frequent workouts. Think about it: let's say you can only handle three sets of bench press before you are unable to train any further. Chances are you could train again in a few days. More frequent training stimulus would equal faster gains in the long run.

Let's lay this out in simple math:

The traditional bodybuilding split would have you work chest once a week. What would this look like after three months?

Training once a week for three months=12 sessions

Now, what if you trained chest three times a week for that same three months? Three times a week, but less volume.

Three times a week for three months=36 sessions

Which do you think will make you grow more quickly? You can actually impede your progress by following pro routines when you are a beginning, genetically typical, drug-free trainee. You're better off training more frequently with less volume!

Once you become more advanced you would be able to handle more volume. But even then you'll probably find that training a major muscle group about twice a week is better than the six-day splits you see advocated so often. More intermediate/advanced trainees will probably find that they can train upper body and lower body twice a week (or maybe twice every ten days).

I hope this article has helped you re-think trying to train the same way professional bodybuilders do. The rules are different when you are training without the use of steroids and you are new to the gym.

I'd highly recommend a program like Vince Delmonte's No Nonsense Muscle Building 2.0 if you are a beginner and would like a complete guide to training. This program will show you step-by-step how to train and eat for complete body transformation in the quickest time possible (without drugs).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ben Pakulski Training Split

Ben Pakulski
One of the best-selling bodybuilding programs on my blog has been Mass Intentions MI40.  Ben  Pakulski's training split is not really fixed--some weeks have more training days than others.

You can check out my MI40 Review for a summary of this program.

NOTE:  Ben has created a new program since I first wrote this post.  You can learn more about by reading my complete review of MI40X. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Here's another classic picture of Arnold.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Training Split: The Three Day Split

The 3-day split--training 3x a week

I believe this way of training is ideal for the genetically typical guy with a life outside of the gym.   Let me tell you some of the reason I like this way of training:


I've been lifting weights three times a week for over twenty years now.  Training three times a week has served me quite well.  Yes, I've met guys who train more often than that.  But I've met relatively few that trained five or six days a week for a lifetime.  I believe most us just won't consistently have 5-6 days to train over the course of our lives--not unless you are a professional athlete or bodybuilder.

There's also the issue of allowing your body to adequately recover before you train again.  Advanced trainees, for example, may find it difficult to do squats and deadlift every week--the lower back can take quite a pounding if you don't give it time to recover. 


I've also found scheduling my workouts are much easier if I only have to train three days a week.   I love to train, but my life doesn't revolve around the gym.

Let's say, for example, I have to skip a workout for some reason.  I've found it's much easier to make up for that "lost" workout if I have fewer training days to fit in.   Trying to to this on a 5-6 day split is really difficult.


I think beginners should do full body workouts at least six months.  This may be different from what you read in bodybuilding mags, but remember--we are talking about the "average" guy.  Programs like Muscle Gaining Secrets take this old-school approach. 

Fewer training days allows you to do this kind of training and gain that first 20 lb of muscle.  The best strategy to gain weight is to train enough to stimulate growth, rest, and repeat.


More advanced lifters will benefit from a basic, upper/lower body split.  It would look something like this:

Week 1:
Monday: Upper
Wednesday: Lower
Friday: Upper

Week 2:
Monday: Lower
Wednesday: Upper
Friday: Lower
I train like this using programs from Minimalist Training, and I've found it to be very effective.

One final 3-day split program I should mention is Triple Threat Muscle (also by Jason Ferruggia).  This one is designed for those who want to train more like athletes and develop a lean, muscular physique (vs a bulk bodybuilding physique).