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A Guide to Body Part Split Routines

With Nick Mitchell

QUESTION: ‘I go to the gym and do 3 weights sessions a week. I’m trying to put on a bit of muscle, but am unsure how to structure my sessions. Should I work each muscle group in every session (one exercise per muscle group),or should I divide it up, for example work half the muscle groups intensely in alternate sessions. While I prefer to work less groups intensely each session, it means that each muscle group gets trained less frequently per week. Do you have any advice?’

ANSWER: What you have to remember is that when it comes to effective muscle building there is no “one perfect routine”. In fact, the best workout is the always the one that you are yet to do, because your body adapts rapidly to set routines and can plateau very easily. Haven’t you noticed all those people at your gym who make great gains when they start and then don’t change for the next three years?! This is why all of us, even myself, can benefit from working with a good coach / personal trainer from time to time to ensure that we don’t get stuck into that all too common rut.

If you only have the opportunity to train three times every week then there are several options that you can take – why don’t you try them all and see which fits best for you.

1) Whole Body Workout 3 times per week

Pick 6 compound exercises for 3-4 working sets, that work your major muscle groups (please don’t waste your precious time worrying about the lateral head of your tricep) by shifting big free weights through space – so no pec decks or leg extensions please!

2) Split your body into 2 – Legs and abdominals one workout / Upper body second workout.

Again choose basic compound exercises, do NO MORE than 20 sets per workout.
This split will mean that one week you work your legs twice and upper body once, the following week its legs once and upper body twice.

3) Split your body into 3 – I prefer Chest/Back, Legs, and Arms/Shoulders.

Each workout should last no more than 1 hour once you have warmed up.

Experiment with all 3 options and I am sure that you will make great progress. And please remember that in the quest for muscular size nutrition is of paramount importance – try to consume 4 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight.

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