Split or not?

Have you ever seen the guy in the gym with a shredded upper body like the hulk supported by toothpick legs? Even if they are normal sized, they look small because it is not proportionate. These guys look ridiculous (and I may make fun of them behind their back).

We’ll come back to this in a minute. So my boyfriend an I usually workout together pretty regularly. He used to be a cardio only kind of person, running 5 km and 10 km races and always on the go. I introduced him to weight training and eating a variety of foods that aren’t pizza and chicken fingers, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has put on quite a lot of muscle and he (and I 🙂 ) really like the outcome. However, recently with the move and my competition, we haven’t been working out as much together. I still get to the gym 4-5 days a week, but he might only go 2 times. Going to the gym twice a week is fine and you will still maintain results… except he did something that he knows is ridiculous, but I understand it. He decided that if he was only getting to the gym a couple of days, he would focus on “the glory muscles”.

This is not good. He was only working his chest and biceps for almost 2 weeks before he told me what he was doing, and he had not done a leg day in over a month! My own boyfriend was falling victim to one of the worst weight training traps a man has. Sometimes women forget that men have funny ideas about their bodies too.

Balance and proportion are so important to overall health an appearance. Muscle imbalances (i.e. training only your front and not your back) can result in injuries or poor posture. Plus it just looks funny if you get to a point where it is noticeable. So how to deal with this? There are a couple of different ways to train.

Whole body training – You train all major body parts in one workout

Lower/upper split – You train all lower body muscles on one day and all upper body muscles on another.

Muscle group splitting – You train a specific muscle group in each workout and never consecutively (i.e. pull muscles, push muscles, abs and shoulder, legs)

These basically go up in complexity and timing. Whole body training works well if you can only get into the gym 1-3 times per week and if you have a little bit longer to train on those days. One of the problems is that you usually don’t get to all the muscles and smaller muscles tend not to get trained. This is best for people looking to get into good overall shape and not training for anything specifically.

Upper/lower splits are the next level up. This is also good for people whole can only make it to the gym 2 – 4 times per week, but you should be going at least twice in order to hit both upper and lower at least once a week. This allows you to do more than one exercise for each muscle and work them a little harder, or to shorten your workouts a bit if you don’t have the time. Smaller muscle groups are less likely to be left out in this type of schedule.

The muscle grouping split is what I use and is what I started my boyfriend on which unfortunately led him to focus on certain glory muscles. I train with this schedule:

Monday – shoulders and abs + cardio

Tuesday – legs (heavy and slow)

Wednesday – cardio (longer session but light)

Thursday – Push muscles (chest and triceps) and abs +cardio

Friday – Legs (bodyweight and plyometrics)

Saturday or Sunday – Pull muscles (back and biceps) + cardio

I hit legs twice with different methods because I want to make sure that I am giving them as much attention as my upper body; my lower body tends to develop slower. This schedule allows me to really focus on the different angles of muscles and make sure that all aspects of the muscle group are worked in different ways so I look balanced and proportionate. It also allows me the flexibility to work a muscle group more or less if I feel like it is not developing proportionately. It’s a great method, but is time-consuming and is more geared towards higher levels of weight training. So if you are limited for time just do either whole body or lower/upper split.

If you are looking for a program to start you out bodybuilding.com has some really great options.


3 thoughts on “Split or not?

  1. This guys photo circulated on Facebook. My gym — 24-hour fitness posted this photo and everyone’s comments were so negative about how they were making fun of him. I know that wasn’t the point my gym was thing to make! I imagine they were making the point that you have. 🙂

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