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Athlete Working Out

What's the Best Workout Split?

You want to get the most out of your training. But you don’t know if it’s better to opt for a full-body workout two or three times a week versus splitting up your muscle groups into specific body parts four or five times per week. Which split yields the greatest muscle growth and promotes optimal recovery?
Thankfully, PVL has the answer. Here, we’ll review everything workout splits, whether a 5-day split or a full body workout is better. Also, we’ll discuss where cardio fits into this weightlifting puzzle.
Let’s get to it!

The Best Workout Plan 

How you train will be based on your goals. If you’re looking for the most adaptation possible, you’ll want to separate the muscle groups you train to different days while allowing plenty of recovery days. Typically, it’s best to separate your push (chest, shoulders, and triceps) from your pull (back and biceps) day for optimal recovery and workout performance. 

  • Monday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps 
  • Tuesday: Rest 
  • Wednesday: Legs & Abs
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Back, Biceps
  • Monday: Full Body 
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Full Body 
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Full Body 
  • Monday: Chest 
  • Tuesday: Back 
  • Wednesday: Biceps & Triceps
  • Thursday: Shoulders 
  • Friday: Legs 
  • While some bodybuilders do a 5-day workout split, this is too much training volume for most people. Only training three days a week while following a split helps you focus on each major muscle group (push, pull, and legs) while allowing at least 48 hours between workouts before training the same muscle group again for optimal recovery. 

    If you’re short on time or can’t hit all your workouts each week, you may want to opt for a full-body workout 2-3 days a week. In this scenario, you would train your entire body (chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, abs, and legs) in one workout. Since you’re hitting every muscle group per training session, there’s no need to do this more than two to three times weekly. 

    Now, if you want to hit each muscle group as hard as you can each workout and don’t care about hitting the same muscle group again within 48-72 hours, you might want to look at a 5-day split. This will work if you’re an advanced lifter or are training for a bodybuilding competition. Although the training volume is high, you’ll still be able to give each body part a whole week to recover. 

    What About Cardio?

    Cardio Exercises

    Cardio can be beneficial for burning additional calories and improving your endurance and cardiovascular health. However, remember that too much cardio hinders muscle growth. That’s because it can affect recovery, put you in a catabolic state, and fatigue your muscles before workouts. 

    But additional cardio in moderation can aid fat loss or metabolic conditioning goals. PVL suggests throwing it in at the end of training sessions (or on a separate day) to prevent fatiguing your muscles before workouts. And limit cardio sessions to moderate intensity for two to three days a week for 20-30 minutes to preserve muscle. 

    The most important thing is not to burn yourself out. If you feel like doing cardio is too much but want to incorporate it into your workout plan, you might have to change your splits. Consider the full-body split two or three days a week. 

    The Verdict

    Unfortunately, there’s never a one size fits all approach to training. Everybody has goals and time commitments that make it impossible to give the definitive answer for what’s best. 

    However, if you want the maximum results from training with the least time needed, a two-day full-body workout is the ideal blend of volume and frequency to build muscle and lose fat. But a full-body split doesn’t give you enough volume per workout to make the results pop.

    Suppose you’re looking to overload your muscles for a bodybuilding competition. In that case, a 5-day split will give the most volume per muscle group, but you only work out a specific muscle group once a week, so you must have the time for it, or else you end up skimping on a muscle group. 

    If you’re looking for strength, hypertrophy, fat loss, and overall body composition aesthetics without spending too many days in the gym, PVL says to go for a three-day workout split. That gives each muscle the volume it needs while allowing plenty of room for recovery.

    Article by Terry Ramos

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