There comes a time when full body weight training programs are not the answer. The answer to continual progress might be training splits. Training splits have been around since the inception of bodybuilding itself. Beginners are often taught to perform full body movements to build up a strong base. I agree with this statement, and am a huge proponent of full body movements.
This article is not for beginners. It’s for people who have been training for quiet some time and are seriously considering training splits as a way to further their progress.
We all know about the traditional bodybuilding training splits. The problem with these is that they are not very functional. To me, they make very little sense for someone who is focused on becoming stronger for their sport, or are training with only their bodyweight.
So I have come up with some simple to follow split training schedules for those that are not necessarily training in a gym or wish to become huge bodybuilders:
Training Split for Sports
Most coaches recommend full body weight training programs for sports. For a beginner, this is perfect to build overall strength. But an advanced athlete needs something more specific. Split training is the way to go.
A split training schedule for sports is tough to develop because each sport is different. In addition, sports training usually works the entire body, so figuring out which bodypart to train on which day to coincide with your athletic training poses a big challenge.
The best way to remedy this is to split your body up into upper body and lower body sessions. Most sports are lower-body focused – they involve a lot of sprinting, jumping, and bounding.
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Take, for example martial arts: when I was in Karate class, I would wake up with calves so sore, they would make me cry. I had to warm-up just to get out of bed. Overall, my legs were very sore too. I remember one day, after performing lunges in the gym in the afternoon, then going to Karate where we practiced forms and kicking for an hour straight, my legs were so sore, I couldn’t walk properly for the entire week.
If I had to do it all over again, this is how I would organize my training with regards to martial arts:
Monday: Upper Body
Wednesday: Upper Body
Friday: Lower Body
Bodyweight Training Split
Most bodyweight training programs are actually organized in a full body format. This is because each movement works multiple muscle groups, so it is hard to isolate.
However, if you choose to only train with your bodyweight, or if you have absolutely no access to weights, then creating a bodyweight training split can be tough.
Best thing to do is go for a Push/Pull split. On your push day, you perform your pushups, dips, and squats. On your pull day, you perform your pullups and inverted rows.
Given, the options for pulling movements is limited, if you look at bodyweight training in the traditional sense of pushups, pullups, and squats. However, if you look outside the box, then you can start to implement movements such as as monkey bars and rope climbs.
You can also add in abdominal training. Think about it, when you perform a movement such as hanging leg raises, aren’t you “pulling” your legs towards your body?
Here’s a sample split:
Cardio Training Split
If your sport is cardio focused, or if your primary goal is fat loss and you wish to perform a lot of cardio, then you need to properly schedule your strength workouts around your cardiovascular exercise to prevent overuse injuries.
A traditional bodybuilding split is probably the best option for you. This way, you can perform your strength training, followed by a cardio session at the end. The last thing you want is to become a “cardio bunny” meaning that all you do all the time is cardio.
Here’s a sample split:
Monday: Legs, Abs, Cardio
Tuesday: Chest, Triceps, Abs, Cardio
Thursday: Back, Biceps, Forearms, Cardio
Friday: Deltoids, Abs, Cardio
Kettlebell Training Split
Similar to Bodyweight training, a Kettlebell training split is the most difficult to put together because every movement trains a multitude of muscle groups. This is why most Kettlebell programs are full body weight training programs. The best approach is to focus on a few core lifts.
For example, lets say you chose the Kettlebell Snatch as your core lift. The snatch trains your posterior chains, shoulders, and upper back, so you can add in swing training or pullups on that day.
On another day, your core lift can be Goblet squats. Perform movements that are related to this exercise such as squats and lunges. Finally, on the last day, you can perform the Turkish Getup. This is primarily a pushing movement, so throw in your pushups and shoulder presses on this day.
You will never really be able to create a perfect Kettlebell split, but you can get closer.
After lots of Kettlebell training, you will see some great shoulder development, and a strong posterior chain. If you feel you are overtraining these bodyparts, then you can lighten up, and perform movements for other bodyparts.
Here’s a sample split:
Monday: KB Snatch, Pullups, Hanging Leg Raises,
Wednesday: KB Goblet Squats, Bodyweight Squats, Bodyweight Lunges
Friday: Turkish Getup, Dips, KB Push Press
So there you have it. Four great training splits to choose from! Good luck!