At least once a week, I hear someone in the gym say, “I’m training chest today, triceps tomorrow, legs Thursday and back on Friday.” As a fitness professional, nothing makes me cringe more.
This training format is adapted from techniques used by bodybuilders to refine their already-chiseled physiques. Most fitness competitors have both the time and the need to spend an entire session exclusively training a single body part. However, for the average individual seeking to increase his or her strength and muscle tone, this training style is both unnecessary and ineffective.
If more than two days pass from when you’ve worked a particular large muscle group, you begin to lose your physiological gains. So if you’re someone who does chest once a week, you’re basically spinning your tires in the mud, making no significant progress.
To maximize results, I encourage my clients to work their entire body each session. This means both upper and lower body lifts are performed each training day. To combat soreness and allow time for recovery, I recommend one to two days of rest between each lifting session.
Total body training ensures all muscle groups receive adequate attention.
This is also how I train. I seem to push myself harder that way.
However, total body training is not for everyone. If you’re regularly short on time, or total body training seems too daunting, try spitting up your upper and lower body training.
In this format, you exclusively work all of your upper body muscle groups one day (chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps) and all of your lower body muscles the following day (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, abductors and adductors). This gives you the opportunity to add creative flair to your daily workout sessions because you only have to focus on one area at a time.
Try working your lower body on Mondays and Thursdays, upper body on Tuesdays and Fridays, and rest on Wednesdays.
There’s no sense in working hard in the gym every week, and seeing no results.