Looking to pack on some serious size with your workout sessions? If you’re on a muscle building program, one thing that you need to be thinking about is the workout split that you’re utilizing.
How you choose to break your workout sessions up will have a significant influence on the overall progress that you see, so putting some time and effort into devising the right program for you will really pay off in the end.
What’s the best workout split to utilize? This depends on a few different factors.
Let’s look at how you can find your best split for mass gains.
Assess Your Skill Level
First, think about your skill level. Are you someone who’s just starting their workout career? If so, you’ll want to begin with just three or possibly four sessions per week. At this point, this is likely all your body can handle.
That would lend well to a full body split done three times per week or an upper/lower split done across four days of the week.
This gives you plenty of time off for rest and recovery as your body adapts to the stress of strength training.
Know Your Primary Goal
Next, also identify your primary goal. Are you looking to build as much strength as possible? Or, is size the priority?
If you are seeking strength, you’ll want to focus primarily on hitting your body with the heavy compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, and rows. Using a higher frequency with these compound lifts will elicit the greatest strength gains. That lends very well to a full body workout such as the 5 X 5 program done three days per week.
If, on the other hand you are looking to achieve size gains, you’ll want a hypertrophy focused program that has you doing more volume per muscle group per workout session. This means breaking your body up into a bodybuilding style program, hitting just one or two muscle groups a day.
In that case, a body part split spread out over four to five days per week is likely more ideal.
Identify Any Lagging Muscle Groups
Also think about whether you have any lagging muscle groups. For instance, if your shoulders are lacking behind everything else, you might want to devote extra attention to them, hitting them two times per week.
In that case, you may go with an upper lower split, adding in one additional day of shoulder work on top of that.
Or, you might try a push/pull/legs style of split, which will allow you to focus in on the shoulders more on your pushing day.
Consider Your Recovery Abilities
Finally, last but not least, be sure that you consider your own individual recovery abilities. If you are not able to recover between your workouts, you won’t be getting stronger. It’s that simple.
Some people will be fine hitting the gym five days per week and putting high stress on their body each day. Others simply can’t tolerate that.
For them, three or four days max is the sweet spot. Learn your body and then use that information to guide you.
As a minimal rule though, you’ll want to aim to hit every muscle group at least once in a seven-day period. If you don’t, you may start to experience detraining effects.
There are a great many ways that you can split your body up as you are seeking mass and strength gains. Don’t feel like you are ever stuck to one split either. It’s good to change things up over time, switching your program around to keep your body responding and avoiding that progress plateau.