Whether you're new to the workout scene or consider yourself an avid exerciser, I'm almost positive everyone has heard of the running joke that warns against "skipping out on leg day." In essence, there's almost nothing worse than spending all your energy toning up one part of your body and forgetting the rest. Maintaining some form of balance is key and can easily be achieved by mapping out your workouts ahead of time, even if it's just planning out which days you'll spend doing what.
To get technical, Very Well Fit defines workout splits aka segmented workouts as a pre-planned exercise program that separates your weight-training routine by muscle regions. Basically, as I alluded to above, segmented workouts are all about focusing on one muscle group per lifting session. While personalization is always ideal when it comes to adopting a plan that'll be the most beneficial to you, I've been a personal trainer for five years now, and let me just say this: split training — no matter who you are — is the most efficient technique you could adopt to aid in muscle gain and weight loss. Keep reading for three reasons to help explain exactly why.
1. Split training allows you to weightlift more frequently.
If you’re fatiguing your whole body each session, that will def leave you feeling sore and it won't give your muscle enough recovery time. The following day, you may feel more inclined to cut your workout short or may not be able to give 100%, because your muscles are weak! If you split your workouts into groups, you'll likely never be doing the same exercises as the previous day, which means you can weightlift more frequently. Trust me when I say this makes workouts way more pleasant!
2. Split training gives your muscle groups the special attention they deserve.
I always like to put it this way with my clients: If you have one hour to clean your house each day, will you hurriedly (and sloppily) try to fit in mopping, dusting, and making your bed in one hour — or will you choose to clean one part of the house each day? Maybe you’ll be able to get everything done in a few hours, but the job won't be nearly as thorough as it could be! The same thing applies for workouts. It’s much better to give each muscle group more focus than to try to work everything out quickly.
3. Split training promotes muscle equality.
You’ve got to make sure you’re shelling out equal attention to each muscle group so that your strength stays equal! If you work your back more than your core, you may eventually be more prone to injuries, because one muscle group has grown to be stronger and might put a strain on the other. Full body weightlifting makes it hard to keep track of how much you’ve exercised each muscle, so I almost always advise against it if feasible.
With all the above being said, beginners should always start out with full body workouts to prevent overtraining. I know I've spent this entire article talking about why you shouldn’t, but there’s a catch! However, since new weightlifters should only lift very lightly, if you are eager to try a segmented workout routine, I recommend doing one exercise per each muscle group for the first two weeks. Following that, you may begin full-out split workouts.
For experienced weightlifters, there isn't really a specific split of muscles that would be considered “correct.” It all comes down to what your goals are. My segmented weightlifting sessions as followed:
Monday: Cardio, Abs
Tuesday: HIIT Cardio
Wednesday: Arms, Shoulders, Chest
Thursday: Back, Cardio
Saturday: Light Jog or Fast-Walk
I highly recommend giving your priority muscles a whole day. Since my main focus is back, legs, and abs, I give them "one-on-one time,” as I like to call it. Since my upper body tends to build muscle quickly, I group it into one day and that works for me. Whatever your goals are, workout splits can help you reach them.