Though there has been thorough research and advances to understand the best training methods, there is a consensus that the upper/lower split is the most efficient training method to work out every muscle group. Therefore, if you are into training sessions and keep a sharp eye on the best sessions, you must be knowing that the traditional upper body lower body split is better than many prevalent training styles. It considers both bodyweight workouts and heavy resistance training.
The upper-lower split enhances the body’s strength and stimulates muscle cell growth, thereby completing your body transformation workout plan. The muscle cell growth that increases the muscle mass and helps build lean mass is known as hypertrophy gains. When you follow the upper body lower body split, you hit all the muscle groups evenly more than once a week. Due to this action, the upper-lower split workouts significantly ramp up the hypertrophy gains. Want to know how? Keep reading till the end, as this article will break it all down about the upper-lower split!
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The Upper/Lower Split- What Is It?
As the name suggests, the upper-lower split involves a training schedule that splits the workout routine for the body’s upper and lower parts. Thus, an upper-lower split routine simply suggests that you perform the upper body workouts one day and the lower body workouts the other.
The upper-lower split workout routine may vary from person to person. It is so because the fitness and health level of every individual is different. The upper body splits target chest, back, shoulders, and arms. You can incorporate your big biceps workout and terrific triceps workouts during the upper body workout days. But, if you wish to add forearm workouts, you can add deadlifts and pull-ups to the upper body training session or isolate the forearm workouts for a separate routine.
The lower body splits, on the other hand, cover the lower body muscles. Many people even refer to this section of the upper-lower split as leg-focused workouts. It generally focuses on the abdomen, glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings. If the lower body session is too much to handle, you can switch the lower back and abs in the upper body workout routine.
The Upper/Lower Split Mechanism
Though some may consider the upper-lower split outdated, they are unaware that the archaic training methods are still among the most effective ones. They can efficiently manage injuries due to intensive training and push muscles for more significant gains that many workouts involving modern equipment cannot offer. The upper-lower split thus focuses on training one muscle group at least one day per week. This strategy aims for even distribution of muscle volume and optimizes training frequency.
Following the ‘one muscle group at a time’ mantra, the only so-called disadvantage that the upper-lower split holds is its prolonged recovery time. When you focus on one muscle a day, you get a recovery gap of a week for other muscles. This may not be ideal for many intensive training bodybuilders as muscle gain may lack upper-lower splits compared to other workout routines.
The Upper/Lower Split Trains Each Muscle Group
Ideally, three days are enough for muscle recovery. This means that a person willing to maximize muscle gains can put muscles to work twice a week to ensure healthy muscle recovery. A small study to observe the implications of multiple workout sessions among strength training athletes proved that training muscles more than once a week procures better results. The study held that the group that worked for two days a week and the group that worked once gained hypertrophy. However, there was a significant difference between the gains of both groups. The group that trained muscles twice a week had almost double muscle mass gains compared to the other group.
We can successfully say that including upper-lower splits twice and putting muscles to work more than once is vital for muscle growth and hypertrophy. But, this does not mean that you have hit the gym more often or add more training sessions for each muscle group. To ensure that you train each muscle group more than once a week, you can increase your number of exercises per muscle group and focus on more than one muscle group simultaneously. You can add this in your upper lower split routine by training the muscle groups in both halves of your body. However, do not miss out on the famous high-intensity interval training. This simply means that you nourish your muscles enough recovery time while targeting each muscle group through the upper body and lower body split. The upper-lower split is the best training method to provide ideal recovery time to the muscles vital for maximizing muscle gain.
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The Upper/Lower Splits Boosts Hypertrophy
As we have understood that working each muscle twice a week is vital for muscle gain, we now know that splitting upper body and lower body sessions is the most effective way to achieve that. You certainly turn up the intensive volume and accelerate hypertrophy when you perform two workouts for each muscle in a week. However, people confuse the gain of muscle size with the gain of muscle strength.
Hypertrophy is something that particularly targets muscle mass and muscle size. So when you say you want big muscles, you emphasize your hypertrophy goals. The term upper hypertrophy means an increase in the size and mass of the muscle cells. The term is relative to the upper-lower split workout routine. The upper-lower split routine ensures these three things that ultimately boost hypertrophy-
- Mechanical Tension– attained through heavy weight lifting.
- Muscle Damage– Strength training and eccentric movements cause muscle damage that further ensures the regrowth of bigger and stronger muscles.
- Metabolic Stress– Anaerobic metabolism causes chemical byproducts that build metabolic stress essential for muscle growth. It is responsible for developing nearly 25% of hypertrophy.
Increasing the volume of training drives metabolic stress responsible for a large chunk of muscle regeneration and growth. You can achieve the ideal hypertrophy through 6-12 reps. Remember that less than 6 reps ensure only muscle strength and not hypertrophy. This is the stark difference between hypertrophy and muscle strength building. Hypertrophy demands more reps, although personal fitness goals determine the reps in an upper-lower split routine.
Upper Lower Split Workout Plan
You can perform the upper-lower split workouts with a gym trainer or on your own. With a balance in each training day, the upper-lower split workout plan challenges all the muscle groups. You can train your upper and lower body with variations in the exercises. Beginners can go for 3-4 sets, whereas heavy lifters can hit 8-12 sets of the workouts. Here is the look for your week with upper-lower split routine-
- Monday- upper body
- Tuesday- lower body
- Wednesday- Rest
- Thursday- upper body
- Friday- lower body
- Saturday and Sunday- rest
Switching between the upper and lower body workout can add a variation to the upper-lower split routine. Also, remember that rest days refer to the days when you do not indulge in heavy training. So, you can enjoy your light and less intensive activities such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, etc., on these days.
Who Can Follow Upper/Lower Split Routine?
You may consider an upper-lower split in your beginner’s workout routine. If you start the upper-lower split as a beginner, know that you strive for maximum muscle gains by putting them to work three times a week. The only things you need to keep in mind are the weights, volume, and training techniques. The upper-lower split training method suits all beginners in general. But, trying it out under a professional trainer’s supervision is important to ensure its suitability for you. Beginners can evaluate the volume of training and sets of the upper-lower split routine as per their convenience. In addition, they can limit the number of days of upper-lower split routine in the initial days of workout to make it feel doable.
Unlike beginners, heavy weight lifters and bodybuilders perform the upper-lower body split at least 2 times a week with higher weights and more volume. The main focus for advanced lifters is increasing training volume and optimizing hypertrophy. With 8 sets per muscle, heavy lifters can achieve their ideal upper-lower split training easily.
The upper-lower split workout is a routine that divides your upper and lower body workout days. This approach ensures that it puts all the muscle groups at work at least two to three times a week. It is famous for improving significant hypertrophy along with offering the body enough recovery time. This combination inherently in the upper-lower split ensures optimum muscle growth. Many trainers still swear by this workout routine and also recommend it for beginners. To be sure of its suitability as per your fitness and lifestyle needs, seek the advice of a professional trainer before making the upper-lower split routine your staple workout plan.