Organizing your weight-training workouts into split routines allows you to spend more time on each muscle group. This is ideal for lifters who are trying to build muscle mass and must spend a significant amount of time in the gym. To increase muscle size, your workouts have to be of high enough volume that your muscles are left overloaded, as this type of stress stimulates them to get bigger. Most weight-training exercises designed to build size require the recruitment of multiple muscle groups, so when putting together a split routine, you want to group muscles that often work together.
Lift weights four or six days per week. A six-day workout schedule allows you to spend even greater time on the muscle groups assigned to each workout, which is ideal for advanced lifters looking to put on size. If you’re just starting out on a higher-volume workout or are looking to focus on strength, begin with a four-day workout schedule.
Group your muscles into separate workouts. The major muscle groups include the chest muscles, back muscles, shoulder muscles, biceps, triceps, leg muscles and core muscles. Most chest exercises also recruit the muscles of the shoulders and at times the triceps, so you want to put these muscle groups together. The biceps are often involved in back exercises, so these muscles could be assigned to the same workout. If you’re working out four days per week, you want a total of two separate workouts. Group your chest, shoulders, triceps and core in one workout and your back, biceps and legs in the other. If you’re working out six days per week, you’ll want three separate workouts. Group your chest and shoulder muscles in one workout, your back and leg muscles in the second workout and your biceps, triceps and core in the third workout.
Design your workout schedule so each workout is performed twice weekly. For example, a four-day workout schedule would involve working out on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Focus on your chest, shoulders, triceps and core on Mondays and Thursdays, and your back, biceps and legs on Tuesdays and Fridays. For a six-day workout schedule, hit your chest and shoulders on Mondays and Thursdays, your back and legs on Tuesdays and Fridays and your biceps, triceps and core on Wednesdays and Saturdays. These schedules give your muscles the 72 hours of rest they need between workouts.
If you’re interested in your workouts building strength, complete three to five sets of six or fewer reps of each exercise. If instead you’re trying to build size with your workouts, do three to six sets of six to 12 reps of each exercise.
Work out with a partner so that you each have someone to act as spotter. See your doctor for a physical before starting a new workout program.