Split Routines

Split routines are exercise programs that involve working different body parts on different days. The idea is that by breaking your workouts up by body part, you allow adequate rest time for your muscles without having to take a day off. If your arms are sore on Tuesday from working them on Monday, then work your legs that day, giving your arms some rest. Since you’re working fewer muscles per training session, the amount of volume done on each body part increases, and since the volume has increased, those muscles may require additional rest.

A simple way to split things up is to have one upper body day and one lower body day. This is often referred to as a “2 day split.” Another common way for people to mix up their routine is by breaking the upper body down into two days: one for pushing movements (which emphasize the chest and triceps) and one for pulling movements (which emphasize the back and biceps), with a leg workout on the third day. This is often referred to as a “3 day split.”

Bodybuilders typically follow split routines because high volume workouts have sometimes been correlated with higher levels of hypertrophy (muscle growth). Some bodybuilders will break their splits down even further, doing 5 or even 6 day splits in attempts to achieve maximum growth.

Here are examples of 2 day and 3 day splits:


2 day split:

Day 1 – Upper body day – Push-ups, dips, overhead presses, pull-ups, barbell rows
Day 2 – Lower body day – Squats, deadlifts, lunges, steps ups

3 day split:

Day 1 – Upper body pulling – Pull-ups, pullovers, Australian pull-ups, barbell rows, reverse dumbbell fly
Day 2 – Upper body pushing – Push-ups, dips, overhead presses, tricep extentions, dumbbell fly
Day 3 – Lower body day – Squats, deadlifts, lunges, step ups

Related links:

Squats and Deadlifts
Pullovers
Australian Pull-ups

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  • Igor Washetko

    Hi Al! One question, why would you not include curls or something for bicep because I see you have something for triceps isolation and building the bicep muscle would aid in so many other exercises particularly the pullup? Thanks.
    Sorry one more. Also are hspu pretty much the same thing as military press?

  • RobbyTaylor

    Hey Igor, good question about the biceps. There are a couple of reasons for this. These splits are mainly concerned with highly compound exercises. You’ll notice the triceps extension is the only one on the whole list that’s not really compound. The triceps muscles are also about twice as big as the biceps muscles. The biceps would get enough work from all of the upper body exercises anyway. Someone once said to me that deadlifts are good for the biceps. He asks, “Have you ever seen someone deadlift 400 pounds but didn’t have awesome biceps?” I can see why, too, the straight arm positioning is similar to that in a lever hold. Of course, if you feel your biceps strength is lacking, feel free to put curls into your routine. If you want to do a bodyweight exercise for this, check this video out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-8izkNkcBw

  • Igor Washetko

    Wow thanks for the informative answer. And thanks a lot for the great link. This site truly continues to be an invaluable resource for myself and many others!!