The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of how to train your whole body effectively. In my opinion fitness allows your body to be functionally effective. You are not fit if you can only bench press but not do some pull ups. Same goes for the case where you run for miles but still unable to do basic body weight exercises. So fitness is something overall where the person has significant success in running, weight lifting and body weight exercises.
The major muscle groups in the body:
Considering the upper body alone there are seven major muscle groups. They are the biceps, triceps, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and forearms. There are 3 major muscle groups in the lower body. They are the hamstrings, the quads and the calves. As I have previously highlighted, I don’t do direct resistance training on the legs. In my opinion, too much pump can add more undesired mass in the legs. For the legs I do HIIT followed by steady state cardio. This ensures that my legs get trained hard but no extra muscle mass is added.
Grouping the different muscle groups:
Since there are almost 10 major muscle groups in the body, training only one each day would be such a very bad idea. You would not progress fast and its such a waste of time. So, the best way to save time and progress fast is to combine few muscle groups and work them out together on a single day. For instance on the Chest day you can workout the shoulders too since they get worked out when you do Chest exercises. Another day you can do Back exercises and Biceps since they the back depend on the biceps heavily when doing pull ups/chin ups.
The three day split:
This can be a very good strategy for many amateurs if muscle building is their aim. What happens is that you train all the muscle groups in one week with good rest in between. For example, you can train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while Tuesdays and Thursdays should be rest days. If you want to concentrate on upper body I would suggest you to split the seven muscle groups so that they can be trained in three days. Like for instance, you can workout the Chest and Triceps on Monday, on Wednesday workout the back, biceps and forearms, And on Fridays workout the Shoulders and Abdomen. You can change the order or even the combination. Just choose a one that you will be comfortable with.
The two day split:
This strategy can be very effective for moderate to experienced trainees. Here, we are training for 4 days a week with Day 1 and Day 2 getting repeated as Day 3 and Day 4. Since we are going to workout more muscle groups in one day, we should be focusing on compound exercises more. The bench presses and military presses are the best friends for people with a two day split. As far as my workout goes I would be doing Chest, Shoulder, Triceps and Abs on Day 1. On Day 2 I would be doing Back, Biceps, Forearms. Thought it might sound like a lot I would be doing only 2 exercises per muscle group whereas on the three day split you can do three to four exercises per muscle group.
Balanced workout strategy:
On my workout days I like to have a combination of weight lifting, body weight exercises and running. Chin ups are great body weight exercises for building the back and biceps. Dips give the triceps, a natural amount of muscle mass and strength. Push ups are great for lower chest and the inclined version hits the upper chest hard. Squats and Lunges in moderation are good for strengthening the legs and improving the balance. HIIT is great for fat loss and increasing your stamina. So always have a workout routine which balances these three forms of working out.
The weak muscle parts:
Some people have naturally developed Chest while their biceps are not developed. Others may have good biceps but poor back etc. The compound exercises and body weight exercises if done consistently will even out all the weaker parts and strengthen them too. The 2 day split in general is good to add more definition to your muscles while the 3 day split is useful if you want to add muscle mass. As long as you do any exercise with proper form and consistency, you will be seeing results no matter what. As you get stronger, move on to the next set of weights and progress.