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Basic Concepts for Lean Mass Gains – Mistaken Split Methods


I agree with Doug Brignole (who also has an excellent blog here) that the Push-Pull Split Routine is a mistake. Most readers will be familiar with the method. All the pushing exercises are done one day, such as Chest, shoulders and triceps. Then day 2 consists of back and biceps and day 3 is legs. Some people split this routine 4 ways by doing chest and triceps on day 1, back and biceps on day 2, rest on day 3, quads and hamstrings on day 4, shoulders and calves on day 5, rest on day 6 and repeat.

The logic behind this routine is to minimize “overlap” training of body parts thus providing increased recovery. Following the line of thinking behind this routine, triceps get worked doing chest work (flat, incline and decline bench presses), triceps also get worked during shoulder work (overhead pressing) therefore if you train them all in one day there is a longer rest and recovery period than other types of splitting your routine. The next overlap avoided is that biceps get worked when doing any back work, such as rows, chins or pull-downs.

Why it’s a mistake!

One problem with this routine is that working triceps after chest means they’ve already gotten a fair share of work and once you get to them they are already “compromised’ so you don’t have the strength or energy left to put full intensity into them. The same is true with training biceps after training back.

Another challenge with this split is that shoulders come into play with chest and with back work so you still get an overlap with this training.

What’s the preference?

As Doug, I much prefer grouping chest training with back, and shoulders with arms or an arm only day. I trained this way with Danny Padilla. Arnold trained this way. So did Sergio Oliva. You can gain the benefit of super-setting chest and back, super-setting biceps with triceps, super setting quads and hamstrings and shoulders with calves. The super-sets save you time as well as provide a cardio-vascular effect and incredible pump.

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