Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Fit 4 Life | Split your training right (Part 2)

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2018 | 12:30 AMMarvin Gordon
Fitness coach Marvin Gordon


Choosing the right training split has a direct impact on the success of your training programme. Here's a quick look at four common training splits.


A full-body training split means there is no split. Each session focuses on full-body training and emphasises compound movements. This low-volume training method allows muscle groups to be trained several times a week.

It is perfect for beginners, allowing them to quickly gain central nervous system adaptations as well as other aspects of the training effect such as cardio respiratory and muscle system adaptations.

Best for: the beginner

Exercises per muscle group: one

Volume: low

Frequency: low

Recovery time: high

Tip: allow for 48 hours between workouts


The upper lower split is a more advanced version of the full-body split in which the entire body is targeted over two days. This translates to greater volume and variety per muscle group. Variety can be key in overcoming plateaus.

Best for: the busy

Exercises per muscle group: one or two

Volume: low-to-moderate

Frequency: moderate

Recovery time: low to high

Tip: work two days in a row then rest least 48 hours and repeat


The push-pull-legs split is a versatile training method. It can be tailored to work in most exercise programmes. For example, it can be completed in three days (once a week) for low volume and high recovery time. Alternatively, it could be completed in a four-day cycle - one rest day per cycle - allowing higher frequency and less recovery time.

Best for: the busy

Exercises per muscle group: two to three

Volume: moderate

Frequency: moderate

Recovery time: low to high

Tip: Don't bind your training schedule to the calendar week. Train and rest as needed; increase rest when necessary and train more when your body can handle it.


The classic bro split is the cause of much division these days. While many live by it, others see it as a relic made obsolete by research - unless, of course, you are 'juicing'; you know, using 'roids'.

Despite this, the bro split remains popular. It allows maximum recovery time per muscle group. Each muscle group is worked once per week. It is also flexible. It can stretch from four to six days.

Best for: the experienced

Exercises per muscle group: three or more

Volume: high

Frequency: low

Recovery time: high

Tip: Use bro splits to fix weaknesses and focus on specific areas. Each body part can get its own training session, providing more time to develop specific areas.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;