Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Training Terms: Splits

More training terminology: Splits.


A split is how you break up, or split, your workout.

Here are some common splits.

Total Body or Full Body - In this kind of workout, you work your entire body each workout. Your workouts will include leg-centered exercises as well as upper-body centered exercises. Your workout may include or entirely consist of exercises such as Olympic lifts (the Clean and Jerk or Snatch) that work the entire body. Although the workout is full body, the actual exercises that comprise it may change from workout to work. Stronglifts 5 x 5 and the bodyweight circuits of Simplefit are both total-body workouts. Total body workouts do not leave as much time as other splits for concentration on one area of the body or one motion, but they allow you to hit everything in one gym visit. Many beginner routines are full body, but you'll find them in more advanced programs as well, especially if they are used as an accessory to specific sports training.

Upper/Lower - In an upper/lower split, you divide your body in half roughly around the waist, and then train half of it on each day. On an upper day.
An example of a 4-day Upper/Lower split is Westside for Skinny Bastards 3. You do Max Effort Upper Body, then Dynamic Lower Body, then Repetition Upper Body, then Max Effort Lower Body, usually xMTxThFx. The x means "no workout," a rest day, so you are off Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday. This split allows more concentration on the specific area of the body, but at a cost of more workout days needed to hit everything.

Push/Pull/Legs - This workout split is unusual because it can be either total body, or an upper/upper/lower split. In its total body variation, you do one leg exercise, one pushing exercise, and one pulling exercise. Starting Strength - which features squats, a press, and then a pull from the floor, is a total body push-pull-legs workout. In the upper/upper/lower split, you do one day of several pushing exercises, another day of several pulling exercises, and another day of leg training. Like Upper/Lower, this allows more concentration on each movement, but at the cost of more time between workouts using that motion.

Body Part Splits - In a body part split, you break up the body into separate parts, and train them on different days. For example, you might have back/biceps, chest/triceps, shoulders, and legs. On back/biceps days you'd do exercises that emphasize those muscle groups like rows, pullups, curls, etc. Squats would be legs and go on legs day, overhead presses on shoulders day, etc. This is more of a bodybuilder split - it's most commonly seem on people training purely for size and asthetics. An example of this kind of bodypart split is Dr. Squats's ABC split. The advantage of body part splits is extremely focused concentration on one or two body parts, but at a cost of a lot of different workouts needed to hit everything. Poorly designed, they can overwhelm your arms, which end up involved on workout every day, if only to hold the bar on squats on leg day.

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