The Common Training Split
Pick any mainstream fitness publication and most of them will tell you to do training split similar to this:
Monday — Chest and Triceps
Tuesday — Back and Biceps
Wednesday — Rest
Thursday — Legs
Friday — Shoulders
Saturday — Arms
Sunday — Rest
While the principle behind the programming may be sound — as a method by which to instill routine and progressive overload — but it ends there for natural lifters as far as training splits go.
Natural lifters will have a 48-72 hour window for growth post workout, and the weekly, monthly, or even yearly volume one can fit into training a body part once a week is suboptimal for most lifters.
Therefore a different approach to training splits in order.
By hitting a body part once a week, the body is given 52 opportunities for growth a year when 104 or even 156 opportunities for growth can be had as a natural lifter.
Enhanced lifters can afford to break down tissue in epic weekly training split workouts for body part due to quicker recovery rates, higher nitrogen retention adding to lengthier sessions, and longer recovery windows.
Natural lifters, on the other hand, don’t have the super-physiology luxury of all of the above–and have to make do with more modest recovery times and volume toleration.
Optimize Your Training Split
Splitting one’s workouts into 2-3 sessions per week could go a long way for natural lifters.
One of the thing that encouraged me to train body parts several times a week was seeing Arnold’s regimen when training for the Mr. Olympia; he would hit major body parts 3 times a week.
This was early on in my lifting life, so I was none the wiser.
Trying to emulate the training splits of one of the most genetically-gifted and hard-working bodybuilders of all time is always going to be challenging.
But I molded a lot of Arnie’s principles when my lifting knowledge was lackluster at best.
And, lo and behold, this training split worked — it worked better than doing the prescribed bro splits.
Moreover, I was able to incorporate higher total weekly volume in my training and handled heavier working sets overall as I would have a few days’ recovery between each workout.
Squatting 600lb then Deadlifting in the mid-500s for reps immediately after can be done, but it’s difficult.
Some days you won’t feel up to it. And, if this happens, you’ve effectively half-assed one week of training for that entire muscle group.
It happens; you will have days where your performance is poop.
Why not split your training to 2-3 times a week? You will reap the benefits of loading your training with more total volume and extra muscular stimulation.
For example, a push-pull split or upper-lower split could go a long way for a lot of natural lifters.
Instead of breaking down muscle fibers to a near-catabolic state from training splits hitting arms for 2-3 hours, do 10-15 working sets at heavier weights over 2-3 sessions a week.
Try This Split Instead
You could try something like this:
Monday — Back and Chest
Tuesday — Legs
Wednesday — Back and Chest
Thursday — Legs and Shoulders
Friday — Back and Chest
Saturday — Legs
Sunday — Rest
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a simple 2 exercises with 2-4 working sets for each per muscle group will do.
You don’t need to be spending hours in the gym.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe a push-pull split would:
Monday — Push (Squat, Lunge, Bench, Military Press, Tricep Pressdown, Lateral Raise)
Tuesday — Pull (Romanian Deadlift, Barbell Row, Weighted Pull Ups, Glute-ham Raise, Hammer Curls)
Wednesday — Rest
Friday — Pull (Snatch-grip Deadlift, DB Row, Weighted Chins, Reverse Hypers, EZ-Bar Curls)
Weekend — Rest
Of course, there are several split variations you can attempt if these do not appeal to you.
The ultimate goal would be to see how your body best responds to 1) training frequency 2) volume 3) progressive overload 4) recovery.
Being a lifter is a marathon–not a sprint–that, hopefully, lasts a lifetime.
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