If you’re a beginner bodybuilder and your approach to training is selecting bodyparts based on, “Hmm, I was supposed to train chest today but my triceps are still sore, so I’m gonna train legs because they’re not sore…”
If that’s your approach to program design and it’s working for you, keep at it and don’t let me fix what’s not broken.
However, if you’re a skinny guy trying to figure out how to plan your week, you’ve come to the right website. This article is not an exhaustive breakdown of all the dozens of bodypart splits you can select. I’ll do that in another day. Instead, we’re going to consider some key elements for constructing your weekly training routine and bodypart combinations.
Some reasons you’ll find are purely based on my own experiences on my own naturally skinny frame and also based on the hundreds of skinny guys I trained for six years as a Personal Trainer before running VinceDelMonteFitness.com full time from my home. Some reasons you’ll find are based on research for you academic nerds reading this 🙂
This article covers some rules to help you put each muscle group in the best possible position to optimize muscle growth.
Flavia, my wife, and I just finishing a walk to the top of Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Italy. Hikes are great forms of cardio!
Have You Ever Tried To Chase Two Rabbits?
As the old Proverb says, if you try to chase two rabbits, you’re sure to lose both and this is how you should view your training split.
Each day you wake up is a new day to turn your skinny and average looking frame into a savage beast that commands respect from your friends and gets women to smile and turn towards you instead of sneer and walk away from you.
Every day is an opportunity to invest your time into the gym – not spend your time in the gym – and create a body that tells the world that you are in control and have the power to go out and get whatever you want in life.
Stop going to the gym and wasting your time trying to hit multiple bodyparts when assisting muscle groups are not even recovered yet. How in the world do you expect your muscles to grow if you don’t position them on a day with a fair shot to train to the max?
You need to design your weekly training split to compliment the previous and following workouts to create the most opportunistic environment for growth. This is much easier said then done and does not mean that today’s workout is the one-and-only split that will work.
It’s an example of a nearly-perfect split. The purpose of this article is to understand that today’s success is based on what you did yesterday and tomorrow’s success is based on what you do today. The way your split is designed is directly related to creating the optimal training environment and will predict how your body performs in each workout.
Lack Of Planning Could Look Like This…
- Arriving at the squat rack only to find your chest is extremely sore from yesterday’s chest workout. This distraction towards your chest and tightness will be a hindrance to your leg training.
- It’s arm day but your biceps are feeling tight and swelled from all the close grip chin ups you did yesterday on back day. So much for a killer back blitz today since your biceps are still sore.
- It’s chest or shoulder day but your triceps are still experiencing deep muscle soreness from the insane tricep supersets yesterday. So much for setting a new personal best in your bench press today.
You may consider this common and something to “get used to” but it’s a reflection of poor planning or lack of planning all together. Let’s work with the next 7-days on your schedule and piece together a well-designed program.
If this seems like too much work, then you’re probably not that serious about changing your body.
1) Keep the big muscle groups away from the small muscle groups:
We’re going to train arms on Monday. This provides multiple advantages: You need your arms fresh for when you train chest, back and shoulders so we don’t want them on back-to-back days or else the big muscle group will suffer. We also know that science tells us that pairing up agonist/antagonist muscle groups provides a boost in strength to the second muscle group trained. The key is to switch the order you train your arms each Monday. So if you start with biceps this week, start with triceps next week.
2) Legs get their own day:
Thank goodness! It’s not wrong to train legs with other muscle groups but for skinny guys it’s best to give them your full attention since it’s such a big muscle group and demands so much of your body and heart. Since your arms are pretty much useless during leg training it does not matter how sore they are from yesterday. Plus, if you have energy to train a second bodypart on leg day it’s a good sign you’re not training hard enough. Lastly, your appetite should be sky high after leg day which will keep you compliant to your high calorie meal plan which will have carry over to growing your arms recovering from yesterday.
3) 2 day off 1 day on. 2 days off repeat.
This is probably the most popular and most effective muscle building split developed for skinny guys. This is called strategically placed rest days. I found that glycogen reserves deplete heavily after 2 days of continual training and taking a day off helps prevent lowered glycogen levels so you can train fresh. You can be sure that you won’t carry any hormonal or nervous system fatigue into Thursday and Friday’s workouts too. The extra day on the weekend fights against the overall weekly fatigue.
4) What! Chest and shoulders on the same day?
Although these are both big upper body muscle groups it’s one of my favorite bodypart combinations. Especially when your triceps are fresh and they will be since it’s been 72-hours since Monday. Your chest and shoulders have no excuse not to go till they blow! The chest and shoulders also have a lot of overlap since they are both pressing movements and the anterior head of the shoulder works a great amount during chest movements. I include the upper traps on chest and shoulder day since they heavily involved in shoulder work.
5) Back blistering blitz!
It’s not uncommon to get light headed during a back workout, similar when training legs. Back requires your energy reserves to be high and no tightness in your legs or lower back that stabilize during many back movements. Plus your biceps need to be fully restored to get the most out of heavy rows and weighted chin ups.
6) Active or total rest days on Saturday or Sunday
A great protocol is turning Saturday into a cardio, ab and calf day. Perform some light cardio for no more than 40 minutes and add your leg and calf routine. These bodyparts will not interfere with your other training. Enjoy your other day off and remember that growth occurs when you’re resting and eating. Isn’t the bodybuilding lifestyle great?
|The Perfect Split|
|Thursday||Chest, Shoulders, Traps|
This routine is not perfect. I would give it an expiry date of 4-6 weeks. Training a muscle group only once a week goes against many of the programs I’ve designed in other books and videos but the purpose of this article is to get your mind thinking about bodypart optimization. Are there minor tweaks or changes you can make in your current routine to make it more responsive?
The key to much of my bodybuilding success has been going to the gym without uncertainty cause my days are well planned and set in advance. I don’t waste energy in the gym thinking, “I hope I’m doing the right program…” I know I am because I designed it in advanced and considered the six rules I just shared with you.
Now it’s time to do the heavy lifting and hard work. The growth will come soon.
Vince Del Monte
P.S. Okay, I want to hear from you. Tell me one change you’re going to make in your routine, if necessary , to optimize your split. If you can’t think of anything, then don’t fix what’s not broken. Share your comments and advice below.
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