Training Routine Splits – What is best for Your Goal?

There are many different ways to go about programming workouts. Each variation contains benefits suited for different specific goals. There are upper and lower day splits, muscle group splits, and movement pattern splits. Each split can be suited for all different goals, but some are better than others, depending on the desired goal. This blog will generally cover the benefits for using each one.

Upper and Lower Day Splits

            Upper and lower day splits consist of doing primarily upper body exercises on the upper day, and primarily lower body exercises on the lower day. This type of split is beneficial because the entire body can be exercised in only two days. Also, recovery from these workouts will be faster because there is less time spent exercising each muscle group. It is beneficial to do this type of split when weight loss is the goal. In addition to weight loss, this split can be useful when having little time is a factor. For example, if an individual only wishes to resistance train for two days per week, then an upper and lower split is recommended so that adequate balance is maintained by hitting all of the muscle groups.

Muscle Group Splits

            Muscle group splits can be done in multiple ways. A typical muscle group split may contain a chest and biceps day, a back and triceps day, a core day and a lower body day. The muscle groups can be split in almost any way (i.e. chest and back, biceps and triceps, legs and core, etc…). This type of split is beneficial for those who wish to put more focus on specific muscle groups. In an upper and lower split, each muscle may only be exercised for 1-6 sets or more in some cases but it will take much more time per workout if more sets are desired. A muscle group split allows the individual to train each muscle group with more volume. This means that instead of only doing 1-6 sets per muscle group, the individual may be able to train each muscle group for 10+ sets. This split is also beneficial when muscle development is the goal, or if specific muscle groups need to be worked on in order to “catch up” to the others (i.e. weaker muscle groups). Bodybuilders will benefit most from this type of split, since muscle development and proportion in comparison to other muscles is their main goal (besides getting extremely lean). Those looking to gain mass may also benefit from this type of split. Recovery per muscle group will take longer than an upper and lower day split because each muscle is doing more work per workout.

Movement Pattern Spits

            Movement pattern splits persist of programming workouts by movement patterns. The movement patterns are: horizontal push (i.e. bench press), horizontal pull (i.e. back row), vertical push (i.e. shoulder press), vertical pull (i.e. pull-ups), single leg (i.e. lunges or step ups), squat (self explanatory), core (i.e. plank), hip hinge (i.e. dead lift), and power movements (i.e. power clean). This type of split is similar to muscle group splits because it can be set in such a way that only one to two movement patterns are exercised per day. Alternatively, this split can also be similar to upper and lower day splits since each movement pattern can be done in two days by combining them on each day. What is nice about movement patter splits is that muscle balance can be assured. This split may not be beneficial for bodybuilder types because it does not put a lot of focus on accessory muscles (biceps and triceps). Granted, the accessory muscles are used secondarily in most of the movement patterns mentioned above, but they are not focused on individually. Movement patterns should be used in conjunction with the other splits mentioned above to ensure balance, but many times, this is not the case.  Movement patterns splits are very beneficial for performance gains, so athletes, or anyone looking to increase performance may benefit most from them.

            All in all, each split can be used for any goal. When deciding which is best for you, the time available per week to exercise should be considered, along with the goal. Enjoyment is the most important factor to consider. Consistency is key. So, be sure that you enjoy the type of split that you choose whether or not if it is the best suited for your goal. With proper nutrition, all that matters in the end is the simple fact that you’re getting out there and exercising. Happy goal reaching!

Jerome P. Personal Trainer in CT

Jerome is a leading success coach and personal trainer at Horizon Personal Training in CT. He has helped 100’s of people become inspired to transform their lives! Jerome is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and is on track to graduate from CCSU majoring in exercise science in only 1 more semester. To learn more about Jerome, please go to