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Finally Getting the Splits

4 minutes read  

by Harry
on 03 Mar, 20234 minutes read

Now you've probably seen the title of this article and fallen out of your chair at the idea of a 92kg, 24 year old dude doing the splits with zero experience or training. I'm sorry to say, I don't mean those kind of splits...

I've now been going to the gym continuously for about 9 months, and in that time I've gone through various learning curves - whether it's with dieting, sleep, new lifts, form corrections and a bunch of other stuff. But the one I really struggled to get down was the splits.

Just in case you're not a gym-goer (although you may know this already) - a gym split refers to the way you divide your training sessions into different muscle groups or exercise types.

Some of the most popular splits are:

1. Upper body, Lower body, Rest

2. Back, Chest, Legs, Shoulders, Arms

3. Push, Pull, Legs

All of these splits have their merits, and to be honest, if you're training efficiently and correctly, you'll likely see results using any one of them (so long as your diet, sleep etc aren't counterbalancing your progress).

But, despite all the options out there, I never really felt that my split was the best it could be.

When I was doing the 'Back, Chest, Legs, Shoulders, Arms' split for the first 6 months, with 2 rest days a week, I wasn't seeing great growth. This was definitely in part because of my low calorie intake, but the lack of volume was certainly hindering me more than I knew at the time. Personally, leaving 7 days between each session for a particular muscle group, was far too much rest.

I decided to change this to push, pull, legs, which was a great upgrade, but I truly hated the fact that it didn't fit evenly into a seven-day week. The same workouts didn't fall on the same day of the week and for some reason that just didn't sit right with me. But more importantly, each push session had to be at least an hour and a half long, and I just didn't have the time in the morning to get a full workout.

I like to do 3 or 4 exercises per muscle group, with 3-4 sets per exercise. So, when doing push days - chest, triceps and shoulders - I had to do roughly 48 sets. Assuming roughly a minute per set (because I do a lot of unilateral lifts) and a minute's rest between each set - this makes the session 96 minutes, and that's if I'm training with flawless efficiency.

So, long story short, I took shoulders out of my push days and I now dedicate a whole session to them. And I think I've finally found a split that works for me.

  • Pull, Push, Legs, Shoulders, Rest.

Here's why it works for me:

  • Each session is no longer that 1 hour 15 minutes long.
  • There are only 4 days rest for each muscle group before training again.
  • I train legs far more regularly than my original split which is a big plus.
  • Push and shoulder sessions are never trained directly after one another - with many similar movements this would not be optimal.
  • There's a whole session for shoulders.

So, there's high volume, the perfect amount of rest (for me) and a whole session dedicated to shoulders, which is ideal for me right now as I've not put enough work into delt and trap growth over the years. And I now train legs far more than I ever have before, so no more walking around on twigs.

The only drawback is that it still doesn't fit equally into a seven-day week. This doesn't agree with my brain, but it agrees with my body, so I'll put up with it for now.

What I've learned through all of this is that everyone is different. A juicing bodybuilder on your Instagram feed telling you to take one rest day a fortnight, might work for them, but it doesn't mean it will work for you. Even a PT recommending a split that worked for one of their clients doesn't factor in your gym experience, your exercise goals, or your sleep and work patterns, so it probably isn't the best advice to take.

As with everything in the gym - it's all trial and error. It's taken me 9 months to figure out what works and the chances are, I'll soon be doing something entirely different again. I'll keep learning and changing how I workout, and I think we should all view that as a good thing, even if it takes 9 months...

So, thanks for taking the time to read this rant. I hope you're all failing just like I am, because that's how we learn.

Who knows, maybe next month, I'll actually have got the splits (the real ones)!