What Is a Split Routine?

Tara Barnett

A split routine is a weight training workout program that exercises specific muscles on different days, typically because the person exercising has become too advanced to work out all muscles on the same day. There are many divergent opinions on the benefits of using a split routine, with some people believing that they are are bad for the body and others believing that they are the only way to achieve intense muscle growth. Some people use a split routine simply for reasons of time or special circumstances, although this can also be problematic. The key to using this kind of workout regimen is planning ahead and sticking with the plan, because otherwise the muscles can be exercised disproportionately.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Usually, this term is used only in the context of weight training, but the concept of working on different areas of the body on different days can be used in a variety of contexts. In weight training, splitting up a workout usually means building strength in different broad areas of the body on different days, although it can be divided into pushing and pulling exercises as well. This means that people tend to work their upper body on some days and lower body on others, typically with rest days in between. Getting more specific than the upper and lower body is somewhat advanced and not necessarily effective unless guided by a trainer.

Devising an individualized split routine is relatively easy, because it usually only involves changing when someone does exercises to which she is already accustomed. Some people intensify these exercises in terms of weight or repetition immediately, but as with all things involving the body, making changes gradually is more effective. It is important to remember that at least one day of rest will fall between each workout, given that the routines are split, so it may be acceptable to work the muscles harder.

One of the many possible differences between split routines is the number of days that are on and off. Some people elect to do three-day split routines, working out only three times a week, but others do up to five-day routines. In special circumstances, such as when someone is taking a weight lifting class in high school, he may not have much choice in terms of when he will be working out. No matter the days used in the routine, it is essential to make sure that the muscles are adequately challenged and have enough time to recover between workouts. If someone's split routine workout is failing, a consultation with a fitness expert may be a good investment.

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