Benefits of an Upper/Lower Split

Body part training has fallen out of fashion lately. The classic 'bro split' followed by old school bodybuilders has lost popularity in lots of circles and you will more often hear people in the gym doing 'push/pull/lower' style sessions. There are plenty of arguments that hitting a body part with more volume (training it several times a week as opposed to one) will elicit more growth. Here we will discuss why and how it might suit you.

An upper lower split can take up as little as 4 days out of your week to see progress and effectively hit each muscle more than once.

Example:

M- Upper 1
T- Lower 1
W- Rest
T- Upper 2
F- Rest
S- Upper 2
S- Rest

Increasing rest days from 1-2 to 3 can see plenty of benefits in itself. Muscles cannot repair themselves to grow back bigger and stronger when they continue to be broken down by overtraining! In a body part split, a chest day might closely follow a shoulder day. This doesn't allow the shoulders to fully recover as they will be heavily recruited again in incline work.

If you find yourself getting restless taking more time away from the gym, utilise them for active recovery and self care. Use those days to foam roll, take a yoga class, book a massage or do light cardio such as a long outside walk if desired.

A 4 day split can also create more motivation to train hard as there are less sessions per week to 'make count'. Being able to go into the gym, fully recovered, and attack each set with intensity, will see much more muscle growth than going through the motions 6-7 days a week ever will.

Nutrition

You have the option here to incorporate lower carb, higher fat days on rest days (with lower or the same overall calories). This is down to personal preference and something worth experimenting with. Some find that fats keep them fuller for longer and keep their energy levels up when not training better than carbohydrates. Keep protein the same across the week to assist protein synthesis.

Fat sources:
-Oils
-dark chocolate
-oily fish
-full fat dairy
-avocado

Who is it for?

Anyone! From beginners to advanced lifters, everyone could potentially benefit from moving over to this style of training.

For beginners, it isn't an overwhelming amount of days to commit to attending the gym. It also fits around a busy schedule, combating the 'I don't have time' excuse. More advanced lifters who tend to train at a higher RPE and are lifting very heavy weights in relation to their bodyweight, can also benefit from the additional recovery time.

Downsides


It is easy to forget about smaller muscle groups. As a rule of thumb: train calves on every lower body day and abs with upper body day. Also, ensure that there is a fairly even split of push to pull movements. For example, one upper day might begin with a heavy incline bench and DB shoulder press, incorporate some heavy rows into your next upper day.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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