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Splitting Your Gains

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Maximize your bodybuilding gains by tactfully splitting up your bodypart training.

By Joel Stubbs, IFBB Pro, Photography by Paul Buceta; Model: IFBB Pro Joel Stubbs

[Q] Joel, how many times per week do you train each bodypart?

[A] I try to train each bodypart once a week in the offseason, going really heavy and hard. Then precontest, I’ll train each part twice a week as heavy as I can go. I train very hard, of course, but one workout will focus more on heavy lifting and the other more on squeezing and pumping the muscle, where I’m looking to build greater muscularity and definition.

[Q] A lot of my friends like training back with biceps or chest with triceps, but I feel like my arms get shortchanged that way. What’s your take?

[A] Well, I’ve always flipped that logic, training chest with biceps and back with triceps. This concept for me is better in that it allows me to cater to a fresh muscle group after the first bodypart is worked. When I’m training back, my biceps are recruited. If I’m training chest, then my triceps are working (i.e., becoming fatigued). So I turn the small group around so as to hit that area while it’s fresh and I’m able to beat it up pretty good — without trying to train a muscle that’s halfway worked out after the first bodypart, making it more difficult to go heavy and generate intensity. If you train biceps and triceps exclusively in the way you mentioned, your bi’s and tri’s can end up overtrained and flat. Bottom line is to give each muscle group the best chance to grow. This means training them when they’re strong — not weak.

[Q] Do you recommend training legs with another bodypart or separately?

[A] With legs being just about everyone’s hands-down pick as the toughest bodypart to train — physically and mentally — I train them on their own. This bodypart takes all of your energy resources if worked out properly and with calculated intensity. Having to go real heavy and hard on legs sometimes has bodybuilders passing out, throwing up and having to step outside the gym for fresh air! I suggest training legs heavy and hard, separately, when you can pour everything you’ve got into them. If you compete, this is the only way to go since legs can win or lose contests.

[Q] What’s the best kind of split for a novice? Training whole body three times per week? Upper body-lower body? Some other split?

[A] I like upper body-lower body because it allows you to focus hard on major compound lifts for each half of your torso without the risk of overtraining. This type of split also allows you to focus on properly learning the movements. My suggestion for a novice split would be lower body on Monday, upper body on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, lower body on Thursday, upper body on Friday and rest on Saturday and Sunday.

JOEL’S TRAINING SPLITS

Joel varies his training splits depending on how far he is from his next competition. In the months immediately preceding a contest, he hits every bodypart twice per week. In the offseason, he trains each bodypart exhaustively, once per week.

PRECONTEST SPLIT

Day/Bodyparts Trained
1 – Shoulders (a.m.), legs (p.m.)
2 – Chest, biceps
3 – Back, triceps
4 – Shoulders (a.m.), legs (p.m.)
5 – Chest, biceps
6 – Back, triceps
7 – Rest

OFFSEASON SPLIT

Day/Bodyparts Trained
1 – Quads (a.m.), hamstrings (p.m.)
2 – Chest
3 – Rest
4 – Shoulders
5 – Back
6 – Biceps, triceps, calves
7 – Rest

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