One thing often overlooked in training is your overall weekly gym training structure; Your training ‘split’. Chances are right now you’re following one of a very limited number of ways you could structure your week, and chances are you’ve been doing the same old training split for some time now.But you’re missing a trick here. Varying up your workouts and exercises are a great way to mix things up a little day to day, but by completely changing the structure of your entire week, your workouts could look more different than they ever have before. A new life could be injected in to your workouts, and your training intensity could step up a notch.
Here’s a little secret; how you structure you training week is one of the least important concepts to programme design as far as exercise physiology is concerned. It really doesn’t affect things too much. But…
Your training split could be one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to training psychology and motivation!
What we’re saying here is that providing you’re following some basic principles of training, the way you structure your training week will not make a big difference to overall results. But by adopting certain training splits, or changing them say every 4-6 weeks, you’re far more likely to stick to your routine, be more motivated, and in turn get better results by the end.
A few examples of training splits you might want to consider will be provided at the end, but when structuring your week here are some important things you need to know:
- Different muscles have different recovery times. Training frequency for each body part should depend on its SRA curve. Stimulus – Adaptation – Recovery.
- A number of things affect the SRA curve, including a muscles size and structure, fibre type and ratio, and the amount of muscle damage you’ve caused through training.
- Exercises or muscles that are trained a lot in a stretched position, eccentric training, and high volume heavy training can all cause a lot of muscle tissue breakdown, and extend the SRA curve. Simply, when including a lot if these types of movements within your routine you should consider a larger amount of time between training sessions that target those muscles again.
- Exercises that have a larger range of motion, involve a lot of muscle groups, or are considered key compound movements also take a longer time to recover from, since they are more systemically fatiguing, and can stress the nervous system to a greater degree.
- The more volume of work you place on a particular muscle, with more emphasis on tissue breakdown, or higher systemic fatigue, the less frequently you should train it.
- Muscles that can handle a higher volume and seem to recover fairly quickly include: The core muscles, every muscle south of the knee, forearms, and glutes can take a hammering too providing things are structured well within each workout.
- Most other major muscles have a moderate tolerance to handling a higher volume of training. The hamstrings however for the most part seem to take a long period of time to recover, but this could potentially be due to people training them when they’re tight or on tension.
The idea is simple really. The more you train a muscle and the more tissue breakdown you think you’ll achieve from your workouts, the more time you’ll need between workouts.
Do you think your current training split is ideal, or do you think you need to consider more (or even less) rest between workouts?
The last thing you’d expect to hear in an article about training splits, is that they’re one of the least important variables in your day to day training. Providing you consider the SRA curve for a muscle or movement pattern. Find what routines work for you, suit your training style, and keep you motivated. And don’t stick to the same old training split for months on end because it’s what you know. Try something new.