Q: How can I set up a muscle split that has me training four days a week—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday? I want to give delts priority because they’re lagging, but I don’t want to overtrain them or overlap with chest and triceps. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
A: Your training split will depend on your training experience and your ability to recuperate. A bodybuilder who is relatively new to training—six months to two years—can usually train each muscle group twice a week and still recuperate and grow. Also, younger trainers can train more frequently because they seem to recover much more quickly than older ones.
When I was in my early 20s, I trained four days a week, working each muscle group twice a week. I used the push-pull system, working chest, deltoids, triceps and calves on Monday and Thursday and legs, back, biceps and forearms on Tuesday and Friday.
If you want to focus on delts, that might not be the best choice for you. Although you would avoid overtraining your deltoids, because you’re working all the pushing muscles in one workout, you’re also in danger of tiring out your delts too much during the chest work to specialize on them afterward.
The push-pull workout is great for focusing on the basic exercises and building up size and strength. As you become more advanced and start using more resistance in your workouts and want to focus more on the individual muscle groups; however, it makes sense to split up your body into three or even four training sessions instead of just two.
For example, if you trained your body over three workouts, you could work chest and arms—triceps and biceps—on the first day, legs and abs on the second day and shoulders and back on the third day. That would be an excellent routine for you because you would be able to focus all of your efforts on your deltoids by training them first on the third day, and you wouldn’t have to worry about overtraining them because you don’t do any other pressing movements—for chest or triceps—on that day.
In order to get more out of your workouts, you may want to add a rest day to your schedule. When I’m using the three-days-on/one-day-off training cycle described above, I like to take an extra rest day after the first two days of training.
Here’s how that workout looks:
Day 1: Chest, arms, calves
Day 2: Abs, legs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Delts, back
Day 5: Off
Cycle begins again
If you’re going to stick with training four days per week, you can still use that split, but you may have to be a little creative in terms of what days you want to take off from training. You don’t want to work chest and delts back to back, as both of those muscle groups either directly or indirectly work the deltoids.
Here’s a schedule for training four days a week and using the three-day split:
Monday: Chest, arms, calves
Tuesday: Abs, legs
Thursday: Delts, back
Saturday: Chest, arms, calves
Monday: Abs, legs
Tuesday: Delts, back
Thursday: Chest, arms, calves
Friday: Abs, legs
Monday: Delts, back
Wednesday: Chest, arms, calves
Thursday: Abs, legs
Friday: Delts, back
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