Split routines in weight training have various applications, but in general terms what this refers to is the allocation of training to various body regions and muscle groups on, usually, different days of the week, or even different sessions of a single day if you train more than once each day.
Most fitness, health and athlete trainers aiming for general strength, muscle and power usually complete what's called a full-body workout when they go to the gym, or at least that's the best approach, starting out. This means working all the major muscle groups in the body -- arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, butt and abdominals. Competition bodybuilders sometimes get more 'split' in their training by breaking these major muscle groupings down to parts of the body, large muscle groups, or even a particular muscle -- the upper and lower pecs for example. This is 'isolation' training. Full-body workouts preference compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pullups and bench presses.
This is where split routines can be useful. You can spend complete sessions on just a few major groups of muscles and fine-tune your muscle building. Upper and lower body makes a good split for someone who's a recreational weight trainer. Splitting your training this way can also have time advantages. Although split routines are favored more by bodybuilders than weightlifters or powerlifters, fitness trainers can utilize this technique to pack more training into a week by week program by juggling time slots and busy schedules.
For general fitness, splitting sessions into upper body and lower-body exercises is a popular approach and you may not need more. You can add core -- abs and lower back -- to either of the upper- or lower-body sessions. On the other hand, you can get real serious and try this 5-day split program, but preferably only if you already have some condition and experience.
The 5-Day Split Weight Program
- Day 1, Arms. Seated dumbbell arm curls, cable curls, preacher curls, concentration curls, skullcrushers, pushdowns, triceps extensions, triceps dips. Do 3 sets of 10-12 exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between. Alternate the biceps and triceps exercises.
- Day 2, Legs. Back squats, deadlifts, leg extensions, leg curls (standing, prone), hack squats, good mornings, weighted lunges, glute-ham curl. Do 3 sets of 10-12 exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between.
- Day 3, Chest. Bench press (wide grip, close grip), Smith machine decline press, dumbbell seated bench press, incline dumbbell press, cable flys, pec deck flys, lever chest press, pushups. Do 3 sets of 10-12 exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between.
- Day 4, Rest.
- Day 5, Back and Core. Combo crunches, rollouts on ball or rollout wheel, barbell bent-over rows, lat pulldown (under and overhand), pullups, seated cable rows, one-arm dumbbell bent rows, machine T-bar row. Do 3 sets of 10-12 exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between.
- Day 6, Shoulders and Traps. Military press, machine shoulder press, lateral raises, front raises, bent rear raises, upright rows, dumbbell shrugs, cable external and internal rotations. Do 3 sets of 10-12 exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between.
- Day 7 Rest.
Make sure you warm up appropriately before you start. This can include some light cardio plus a a light set of each exercise as you select it. Cool down at the end of each session with treadmill walking and light stretching. Stop exercising if you feel acute pain and see a doctor if it persists. Adjust weights, sets and reps and rest intervals to suit your current level of fitness.