There is no right or wrong training plan. However, certain combinations of muscle groups can make your strength training more effective.
If you want to build muscle, strength training is the right choice. The intensive stress stimulates growth in the muscles, which leads to strength, muscle mass and strength endurance improving over time. That’s why health organizations recommend that recreational athletes include two or more units of strength training per week in their training plan.
There are many ways to design a training program. Many experts recommend dividing the training according to body regions – and training certain muscle groups together. The so-called split training ( split ) has two advantages over whole-body training: you can train individual body regions more intensively and the other muscle groups can recover over time.
You can find out which muscle groups you can train together with this split training here.
These are the muscle groups
Strength training aims to strengthen the so-called skeletal muscles. It makes up around 40 percent of our body weight and is responsible for our ability to move. Most fitness experts divide skeletal muscles into six major muscle groups:
These muscle groups can be further divided into:
- Arms: front and back upper arms (biceps and triceps), forearms
- Legs: front and back thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings), calves, butt
- Back: lower back (back extensors), latissimus muscles, trapezius muscles
Split training: the right combination of muscle groups
In principle, there is no right or wrong combination of muscle groups when it comes to strength training. It depends on your goal, what feels right for you and how much time you want to invest. Still, certain combinations of muscle groups may be more effective than others. This is because many exercises don’t just train one muscle group in isolation. Even though there is often one main muscle group, other muscle groups are also used.
This leads to the recommendation of many fitness experts: If possible, two large muscle groups should not be trained in one session, as this requires too much energy and can lead to you not being able to complete the training. The legs, back and chest are particularly large muscle groups.
Split training for beginners
As a beginner, it is enough to concentrate on the six major muscle groups. If you initially schedule three training sessions per week, an example training program might look like this:
Three day split
- Day 1: Chest plus shoulders
- Day 2: Legs
- Day 3: Back plus stomach and arms
It is also possible to split it over two days, whereby two large muscle groups have to be trained in one day. Then the number of exercises per muscle group should be reduced so that you can still master the training session. The training plan could then look like this:
Two day split
- Day 1: Chest, shoulders, arms, stomach
- Day 2: Legs, back
Split training for advanced users
If you have previous strength training experience, you can focus more specifically on individual muscle groups. A classic split training with three training sessions per week can then look like this:
Three day split
- Day 1: Chest plus shoulders and triceps
- Day 2: Legs (front and back thighs, calves, butt)
- Day 3: Back (erector spinae, lats, trapezius) plus biceps and abs
If you want to train more often than three times a week, you can either simply repeat the training sessions or divide the individual muscle groups even further. Like this:
- Day 1: Chest plus triceps and forearms
- Day 2: Legs (front thighs and calves)
- Day 3: Shoulders plus biceps
- Day 4: Back (erector spinae, lats, trapezius) plus abs
- Day 5: Legs (hamstrings and buttocks)
Split training versus full body training
Split training is a way to structure your strength training. It can help to train individual muscle groups more intensively while maintaining muscle rest periods. This way you can avoid overloading the muscle. Split training can also reduce the time you need for a training session – as long as you train at least three times a week. Because then you can reduce the number of exercises per training session.
One disadvantage of split training: If you exercise rarely or irregularly , you may neglect certain muscle groups. In addition, the training effect is lower if you train a muscle group less than once a week. In this case, so-called total body training is probably more suitable for you.
In whole-body training, as many muscle groups as possible are trained in each training session – either through many individual exercises (this can take a little more time) or through so-called basic exercises that directly target many muscle groups. These include, for example, squats, push-ups or bench presses as well as deadlifts.