Your goal is to build muscle and lose fat. You also want to get stronger in the process, be efficient with your time and are willing to commit 3-4 times a week for training.
You type the keyword: Best workout split on Google. A plethora of workout split with different volume and rep and set scheme that promises amazing results show up!
Every website talking about dozens of splits like upper body lower body splits, one body part a day split, two or even three body part a day split.
Some say its best to do full body routines, some say not to combine muscle group A with muscle group B, others say its ideal to combine A & B!
Who is right and who is wrong?
Well, the way I see the world is not in black or white, but in shades of grey!
No one is right, no one is wrong. It all depends!
It all depends on your goals, your abilities, your body type, the time you can devote to your workouts, your training level and so forth.
There are many pieces to this puzzle, and by writing a series of articles on Program Design I have tried and made it simple for you.
You will need a holistic understanding of the key variables that form the core of one’s training program.
I have created my own training system which I term as F B X [Fabulous Body Training System].
Here are some of the articles that will enable you to create your Fabulous Weight Training Workouts:
FBX Cut-The Ultimate Fat Loss Workout Routine [Coming soon]
FBX-Gain-The Ultimate Muscle Building Workout Routine [Coming soon]
It’s best to read them the way I have listed them for better understanding.
Now let’s get back to the topic on hand: The Best Workout Splits.
For sake of simplicity, let me divide the workout spilt routines into:
2 Day Split Workout per week
3 Day Split Workout per week
4 Day Split Workout per week
5 Day Split Workout per week
Please note, the most common workout frequency I recommend is training 3 times per week and in only in very rare cases 2 or 4 times per week can suffice.
Under no circumstances I advise a 5 day a week workout split and obviously training once a week does not make sense.
So let’s dive right into the best workout split routine based on how many times a person will be training per week.
2 Day Split Workout per week
When it comes to training two times a week, its best to focus on Full Body Workout routines.
This type of training split (it’s actually not a split per se) is ideal for people who are true hard gainers, ectomorphs and are skinny fat.
At the same time, it’s also good for people who are really short on time (probably for a stretch of few months) and who simply want to go into maintenance at the same time focussing their energy on other activities like playing a sport or something similar.
Here are sample FBX 2 Days per week Full Body Workout Routines:
3 Day Split Workout per week
[A] Workout Spilt # 1: FBX Workouts
Workout [A] is Shoulders/Thighs/Calves: In purple
Workout [B] is Chest/Back/Arms: In Grey
Each workout will be performed every 4-5 days. Here’s how YOUR month will look like* :
* Alternatively one can perform their workouts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
As you can see from the table above, both Workout [A] & [B] are coming 6 times a month or every 4th or 5th day.
Training Frequency: How many times should I train each muscle group per week: Once, twice or thrice? [Stay Tuned]
Based on research and anecdotal evidence, I strongly believe that this is a sweet spot when it comes to training frequency for all muscle groups.
This kind of workout spilt allows one to stay in the optimal volume continuum for both major and minor muscle groups as explained in this article:
At the same time, in this article, I have explained why combining the muscle groups the way I have combined them in FBX workouts is one of the best ways to train them.
[B] Workout Split # 2: Two Body Part a day
This is a very common type of split. And I like it. The muscle group combination is somewhat ideal.
You start off your week with a major muscle group: Chest. Your triceps get warmed up as its a secondary muscle group for all press movements and ultimately you finish your workout with 3-6 sets of single arm triceps extension and push down. And then you can rest your triceps until about Friday, where it gets hit again doing shoulder exercises.
Do note, during all chest exercises, the anterior deltoid (the front part of the shoulder) also gets a good beating and in this workout split it gets rested until Friday too!
Provided that you adhere to the optimal volume guidelines, the recommended reps and sets, rest intervals and intensity meter, you can get good results with this kind of training split. However, there is a con with this workout routine.
Con: Every muscle group is been trained only once a week. I believe that training your muscle only once a week is less and for best results, an intermediate/advanced trainee should train each muscle group every 4/5th day or twice a week. For beginners, this frequency should be 3 times/week.
Let me also compare this routine with the FBX workout routine.
As you can clearly see that in FBX workout routines, each muscle group is being trained every 4/5th day as opposed every 7th day in the other routine. I believe this increased frequency can promote more muscle growth.
Having said that, the most important factor when it comes to muscle growth is still the optimal volume for each muscle group per week, the intensity at which you train, which is determined by the amount of weight you lift and obviously the number of reps and sets you perform.
The exercise selection needs to be the best i.e. compound exercises mostly, which needs to be done with free weights i.e. barbells and/or dumbbells instead of machines.
Working out 3 times a week, I strongly feel is the most effective, sustainable and enjoyable way to train and build a fab body!
Lastly, there are many full body routines that can be done with this workout frequency. Check out these beginners workout routines.
Let’s move on working out 4 days week workout routines.
4 Day Split Workout per week
[A] FBX Workouts-Modified
I am not a big fan when the frequency of weight workouts is increased to more than 3 sessions a week. The reasoning is related to one’s lifestyle which I have discussed in this comprehensive post.
Do note, the most important factors when it comes to building muscle and losing fat are workout volume per week and the intensity at which you train and NOT workout frequency.
This is good news for people who are kind of addicted to going to the gym almost every day of the week! [No pun intended].
I get it guys. Going to the gym is fun. Gyms are not just a place to workout, but a place to socialize as well.
In fact, you really look forward to meeting your training partner after a long day at work and working out with them and then catching up over a tall glass of protein shake.
Well, there are many options to choose from if you like going to gym, say from Monday to Friday.
You can stick with weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and reserve Tuesday, Thursday for cardio/HIIT or even a session of Hatha Yoga.
But, if you prefer weight training, 4 times a week, or even 5 times a week (coming next), then read on….
You’ll be happy to know, that in my advanced diploma in fitness (yes, I provide these too), I discuss in depth FBX workout modifications, periodization, how to progress with weights and much more.
Here is a FBX modification of the workout routine I provided above:
As you can clearly see that everything is almost the same, but in the modified version of FBX workout routines, I have moved legs on a weekend.
This can be a possibility when a trainee feels tired on a Friday and unable to do more than a body part i.e. both shoulders and legs. So he just focuses on training his Shoulders on a Friday and shifts his leg training on the weekend either a Saturday or Sunday.
Another modification of FBX Workouts can be made when training chest, back and arms. Usually, I don’t give too much volume for arms and few sets for each biceps and triceps a week are good enough for them to grow.
However, from time to time, if you feel like increasing the arms volume and really going in for arm annihilation (hell…yeah), then you can simply train your Chest and Back on Friday and reserve your arm training on the weekend!
Alright, moving on there are few very common 4 days week spilt that is recommended by fitness experts around the world.
[B] Workout Spilt No #2: Upper Body + Lower Body
Here, you are training your entire body twice a week. Training each muscle group twice a week is a great workout frequency for an intermediate/advanced trainee.
This can be a good workout split for those who like to weight train 4 times a week.
Another advantage of this workout split is that there the is the increased volume of leg muscle. Now, this is good news for Ladies, as lower body is where most females struggle with. It is also good for people whose lower body is lacking and they want to make it a priority by giving it a separate day and train them twice weekly.
I am in the process of creating a similar Upper Body/lower Body spilt for females. Will send an email announcement [You will be the first one to receive if you have subscribed to the Free Fabulous Body Newsletter].
And finally, what we are left with is:
5 day a week workout spilt (My least favorite)
It’s not uncommon to see beginners and people who have hardly any experience with weights being put on this schedule by their trainers. Well, for most parts, trainers are themselves on this kind of spilt and find it easy and comfortable to put their clients on it.
The workout frequency for each muscle group is only once a week, which is less.
Actually, this is not the main problem, as I mentioned earlier that one can get good results on this type of split too provided that they keep their workout volume in the range, lift with the intensity of 75-85% of their 1 Rep max and choose only compound lifts using free weights.
As you can see, I am fairly biased towards working out no more than 3 times a week with weights.
The workout split I prefer allows each muscle groups to come every 4th/5th day which is much better than hitting it only once a week or every 7th day!
I have also provided some FBX Workout Routine modifications in case you want to workout 4 times a week! However, going beyond this training frequency for people like you and me who have average genetics and have a LIFE outside of the gym is futile and will not yield great results.
Hope you enjoyed this article. Have any questions? What kind of workout split do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!