How to Design a Workout Split

When it comes to working out, it’s always more about simply picking up weights at the gym. Seeing results in the gym requires creating a finely tuned workout plan and program that is optimized for a person’s success. 

Creating a workout split is one of the most effective tools when it comes to working out. Simply going into the gym and working out every muscle group is not optimal or even effective for long-term gym success and growth. That’s why a workout plan or split will be perfect for helping you reach your goals.

We’ll take a closer look at how you can design a workout plan that's best suited towards your lifestyle and fitness goals.

What is a workout split

A workout split involves having specific days of the week focused around particular muscle groups. Although there is no one set rule or method for creating a workout program – prioritizing different muscle groups based on body type, goals, and time constraints can help you create a program best suited for getting results.

There are several different types of workout splits available for people to utilize. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Single muscle group days: e.g. chest day, back day, shoulder day, arm day, leg day
  • Bodybuilder or “bro” split: chest/tris, back/bis, shoulder/traps, legs
  • Push, pull, leg days
  • Upper/lower splits
  • Full body days

  • Although each day can have its pros and cons, most studies have indicated similar results for the various types of workout programs (1).

    Why you should take time to make one

    You should make a workout program due to the fact that not every muscle group should be trained every single day. Your body will become more prone to overtraining, fatigue, and even injury. Muscles grow during rest periods, not during workouts. Therefore, you should give muscles proper time to rest and recover before working them out again.

    The type of workout plan you choose to use will depend upon a variety of factors including:

  • Gym time availability: some people can only make it to the gym twice a week, while others can go up to six days
  • Level of experience: many novice or inexperienced lifters will find upper/lower or full body workout programs to be more advantageous to their goals. On the other hand more experienced or advanced lifters may find bodybuilder type splits to fit their goals.
  • Age: people who are older or more focused on general health rather than building and maintaining muscle will likely have different goals and time commitments.

  • Choose the best option that fits your lifestyle and allows you to reach whatever your health and fitness goals are.

    How to build a workout plan

    Building a workout plan should be consistent with whatever your goals and objectives may be. If you want to lose weight, look like a bodybuilder, or just focus on general health – your goals will differ from person to person. 

    The most important factors to take into consideration are:

  • Lifestyle: if you’re a gym junkie, opt for more days in the gym. If you’re more about better health, simply choose a more moderate gym schedule.
  • Goals: do you want to lose weight? Do you simply want to build muscle? Is general health your main goal? Take a deeper look into what you want as a person and cater your schedules to your particular goals.

  • When it comes to organizing by muscle group, you should focus on your weak points. If you have small arms – perhaps you should hit them twice per week. If your legs are lagging, maybe you need to add another day to compensate. However, when it comes to success it will vary from person to person. Some studies have indicated little difference when it comes to performing various types of workouts (2). There is no one set way of organizing your workouts by muscle group.

    The importance of rest days

    Rest days are nearly equally as important as the workouts themselves. If you don’t provide your body with enough adequate time and rest – you won’t have the same ability to recover and optimize results.

    Rest days can vary from person to person. For some people that are extremely experienced, they can workout every single day of the week. Other people who are less experienced may only workout twice per week. There is no set of defined rules when it comes to rest days, simply find out and discover what works best for you.