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“Rules” to Help Structure a Training Split

  1. Chest and Triceps. Don’t train chest the day after triceps, or vice versa. The triceps are heavily involved with pressing movements used to hit the chest. If you work triceps the day before chest, your triceps will be fatigued and could limit your chest workout productivity. If you work chest the day before triceps, your triceps will be fatigued and will receive a pounding two days in a row.
  2. Back and Biceps. Don’t train back the day after biceps. The biceps are heavily involved with pulling/rowing movements used to blast the back. If you work biceps the day before back, your biceps will be fatigued and could limit your back workout productivity.
  3. Squats and Deadlifts. Don’t train squats and deadlifts on back to back days. Both squats and deadlifts utilize many of the same muscle groups. These lifts are considered posterior chain movements, meaning they both target the lower back, spinae erectors, glutes, hamstrings, etc. It’s best to have a few rest days in between these lifts.
  4. Traps. Don’t obsess about direct traps work. The traps are worked hard when deadlifting, and also during overhead pressing and other shoulder exercises such as laterals. Do not assume that you need an excessive amount of direct traps work to build big traps. In fact, if you are deadlifting and using a form of the military press, you may not need much direct trap work at all.
  5. Forearms. Don’t obsess about direct forearm work. As with traps, the forearms are worked hard by numerous other lifts. The mere act of gripping barbells and dumbbells day in and day out is often enough to stimulate quality forearm growth. Do not assume you need an excessive amount of direct forearm stimulation.
  6. Rear Delts. Don’t overwork the rear delts. The rear delts are hit hard on back day, and during some shoulder exercises for front and side delts. If you look at the rowing/pulling motion of most back exercises, you will notice that they are in the same family tree as rear laterals (bent over reverse flys). Some rear delt work is good, but you do not need an abundance of rear delt exercises to have great looking rear delts.
  7. Front Delts. Don’t overwork the front delts. The front delts are aggressively hammered when using pressing motions for chest and shoulders. These pressing movements should be the core of your front delt work. While it is a good idea to add in an additional isolation exercise (such as front laterals) for your front delts, you do not need an abundance of front delt exercises to have great looking front delts.
  8. Abs. Incorporate some form of a heavy ab exercise. Far too often the abs are worked the same way day in and day out, with no added resistance. Make sure you incorporate some form of progressive resistance into your ab routine to help build a thick, amazing looking six pack. These exercise include, but are not limited to: weighted situps, crunches and leg lifts, and cable crunches.
  9. Arm Work. Stop obsessing about direct arm work. Working your arms hard each week is good. Believing that you need to work your arms with 30 sets, three times per week is counter productive. Big arms are built with heavy rowing and pressing movements. Direct bicep and tricep work helps to build big arms (obviously), but you do not need to overkill the amount of sets you perform.
  10. Legs. Work your legs! Don’t be a chicken-legged gym rat who avoids hard leg exercises. Not only do muscular legs look impressive, but strong legs will also improve athletic performance, helping you to jump higher, run faster, and explode out of the gate on sprints.
  11. Isolation Movements. Don’t overuse isolation exercises. Isolation movements have their place in weight training. But with that said, it makes no sense to perform 5 sets of dumbbell flyes or tricep kickbacks if you are not working your chest and triceps hard with a battery of heavy pressing movements.
  12. Dips and Pull Ups. Don’t discount the power of dips and pull ups. Though these exercises are bodyweight exercises, the dip is known as the upper body squat for it’s overall muscle building effectiveness, and pull ups are an amazing back blaster. If these exercises get easy, use a weight belt and add resistance.
  13. Lower Back. Don’t overwork the lower back with too much direct work. The lower back is taxed hard enough as it is. A few additional sets for lower back is good, but overworking your lower back can often result in muscle fatigue, weakness and strains which can lead to further injuries. Do enough lower back work to stay strong, but not so much that you aren’t able to function for several days.