Whether you’re completely new to gym based exercise or you’ve been training for multiple years, how you choose to structure your weeks exercise will have a huge impact on the level of results you see.
Each time you step in the gym, is an opportunity to place specific demands on your body & make progress toward your goal. Demanding too much, too often, or demanding too little, too infrequently, can all result in the same thing. Slower progress & lack of results.
Where to start?
One of the main things that will determine the type of training plan you opt for, will be your availability to exercise. I.e. how many times, & on what days are you able to exercise.
1-3x per week training:
Those who are only able to train 1-3x per week are likely to see better results from training more body parts in the same session, repeated multiple times.
This is because, if you’re aiming to see improvements in body composition (i.e. lower body fat, increase muscle mass), as well as perhaps wanting to see improvement in strength on certain exercises (e.g. get better at squats or deadlifts), only training a body part or exercise 1x per week is unlikely to be as effective as training it twice or more.
Example- 2x a week
Tuesday= Full body workout
Friday= Full body workout
Example- 3x a week
Monday= Lower body workout
Wednesday= Upper body workout
Friday= Full body workout
In both these examples, by the end of the week, they’ve been able to train each body part at least twice.
Vs something like this
Example- 2x a week (a less effective option)
Tuesday= Lower body workout
Thursday= Upper body workout
In this example, by the end of the week, they’ve only been able to train each body part once. & because it should only take a few days for those areas of the body to recover, the opportunity to train them again has been wasted.
3x or more per week training:
Those who are able to train 3 or more times a week, will have more flexibility & options as to how to structure their training. & because they might be able to train less body parts in each session, they’ll therefore be able to spend more time training those body parts. (E.g. Instead of only doing 1 exercise for their glutes, they have the time to be able to do 2).
Example- 4x a week
Monday= Lower body
Tuesday= Upper body
Thursday= Lower body
Friday= Upper body
Or example- 5x a week
Monday= Quads, Chest, Shoulders
Tuesday= Hamstrings, glutes, Back
Thursday= Chest, Shoulders, abs
Friday= Quads, Back
Saturday= Hamstrings, glutes, arms
In both these examples, all the large major muscle groups are trained at least twice per week. But because in the 5x per week example, the workouts are spread out more, they’ll be able to spend longer within those workouts, focusing on each muscle.
What else influences the sort of training split you should follow?
The specifics of your goal, as well as your experience level in the gym (years spent training properly), will play a large role in determining the sort of plan you would see the most benefit following.
Those who are new to training don’t need a lot of exercises on each body part. Their body will be so sensitive to training, that even a few sets of an exercise will be enough to elicit results for that body part.
Those who are more experienced, will have a higher ‘threshold’. Meaning, to get the same training effect, they might have to do twice as much on a body part to see the same benefit. So naturally their workouts will have to contain more exercises or more sets.
Should your training split change over time?
Almost definitely. Depending on the sort of workouts you’re doing, whether your primary goal changes with time & also whether your results begin to plateau, your training split can & should change regularly.
Your body is constantly adapting to the things it does & exactly like when you increase the weight’s you lift each week to force it to get stronger, altering your weekly training schedule, is just another tool you have to keep making progress.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors at play when choosing how to structure your week’s training. & although there are important guiding principles to how to effectively lay out your week, you can get creative with your training split & experiment to find what works best for you.