Fit and fine: Split program at the gym for beginners
In my last column, I laid down a simple rule: A beginner should stick to full body workouts for the first few months of their training career. Since the current training dogma is biased towards a single body part per training session, most trainees make the mistake of following this prevalent style of training. This leads to excessive number of exercises per body part and thus some parts get overtrained, while others undertrained or not trained at all.
Hence the recommendation – beginners stick with a full body program, training thrice a week. If a trainee has been regular in the gym, a full body program produces good results for about four to six months, where the trainee tries to increase the repetitions or increase the weight every session.
After six months of regular training, it is time to shake things up and introduce more variety in the program, though the bread-and-butter compound exercises will remain. This is usually a good time to introduce a “split program”.
In this program, you split the body into two parts – upper and lower. The whole body gets trained twice in the week, spread over four days, with a day or two days of rest in the week. Thus, as a beginner where the intensity and volume is less, you train the entire body thrice a week and make progress but at an intermediate level with increased loading and volume, twice a week is preferred.
The training week could look like this
•Monday – lower body
•Tuesday – upper body
•Wednesday – rest
•Thursday – lower body
•Friday – rest
•Saturday – upper body
The two days of rest in the above training week can be used for cardio-vascular training. As you can see, I have recommended lower body workout on the first day of the week. Most people prefer to train their upper body on the first day but I would recommend training the lower body first in the week when energy levels are the highest and you can go heavy and hard.
If you are an intermediate level trainee, you can use the following program:
•Monday - squats, front lunge, leg curls, front and side plank.
•Tuesday - bench press, low pulley row, incline dumbbell press, chin ups
•Thursday - Deadlifts, side lunges, leg extensions, calf raises, reverse crunches.
•Saturday - Overhead press, dumbbell row, face pull, tricep push downs.
•Generally stay with 3 sets per exercise with 8-12 repetitions per set.
Most of us make the mistake of following the current programs of successful bodybuilders but are not aware how they trained when they started their journey. As a natural bodybuilder, trainee frequency is more important than high volume per session. It is easier to recover from a higher frequency and thus make better and faster progress.
Now go out there, try the program and see how it works for you!
Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years
Follow @KamalSinghCSCS on Twitter
From HT Brunch, July 14, 2019
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