An overview of the different Training Methods | HotelGyms.com Blog
08Jul 2022
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An overview of the different Training Methods

As you have probably noticed, there are more than a few training methods. From the popular 'bro' split to the beloved upper/lower and push/pull/legs splits, you can organize your training in dozens of ways. Having many options is fantastic because everyone can develop a style that suits their needs, schedule, and preferences. But, too many choices can also overwhelm you, leading to frustration and anxiety.

To that end, we have put together this guide to outline some of the most popular training methods, how they compare, and what benefits they offer. That way, you can make the most informed decision for safe, effective, and, most importantly, enjoyable training. Let us dive in.

The four most popular Training Splits out there

Push/Pull/Legs

Push/pull/legs is among the most popular ways to organize your weekly training. The split works well for beginners and more advanced trainees because it offers a fair amount of flexibility with scheduling. For instance, a beginner can do the three-day version:

Monday - Push
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Pull
Thursday - Off
Friday - Legs
Weekend - Off

As the name suggests, each workout is dedicated to several muscle groups:

  • Push - training the muscles involved in 'pushing' exercises (chest, shoulders, and triceps)
  • Pull - working ou the muscles involved in 'pulling' movements (back and biceps)
  • Legs - focusing on the muscles in your lower body

Let us have a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of the PPL training method. The pros:

  • It is relatively easy to program because you have to pair muscles that work together anyway.
  • It works great for trainees of all levels because all you have to do is adjust your exercises, volume, intensity, and overall frequency.
  • You can pick from a variety of training frequencies - anywhere from three to six workouts per week.
  • It allows for good muscle recovery because you are bundling muscles intelligently and giving them enough time to recover after each workout.
  • It works for a variety of goals, including strength gain, muscle growth, and fat loss.

Every coin has two sides; let us have a look at the cons: 

  • Training more frequently can lead to recovery issues and slow down your progress.
  • There is not a good middle training frequency (four workouts per week), and you must alternate between four and five workouts from week to week.
  • It might not work great for all types of weak points; for instance, people who want to grow their legs more need to make significant changes to the overall structure of the program.
  • You only train each major muscle group once per week with the traditional three-day push/pull/legs routine.

Bodypart Split

The body part split is also known as the bro split and has been around for a while. Countless trainees have used it in the past and still use it today. Unfortunately, research does not favor the split because of the lower training frequency. According to research, training our muscles twice per week is more beneficial than once. There are a couple of good explanations why:

  • Training your muscles just once per week means you are giving them a lot of recovery time they do not need. For example, if you train chest on Monday, the muscle might be fully recovered by Thursday, so not training it for a few extra days means you are not using your time productively. 
  • Training muscles just once per week means you have to cram a lot of training volume in each session. Doing so means you are going to get tired, and your performance will drop as the workout progresses. In contrast, training each muscle group two to three times per week allows you to spread your weekly volume across more sessions, get less tired, and control muscle soreness better.

Of course, the body part split also offers some benefits. One such is that you can use it for various training frequencies. A classic example is a 5-day split:

Monday - Chest
Tuesday - Back
Wednesday - Legs
Thursday - Shoulders and Abs
Friday - Biceps and Triceps
Weekend - Off

The pros of the Bodypart Split are: 

  • It is easy to program, and you even could adapt the training program from 'The Rock'
  • It might be easier to establish a good mind-muscle connection by doing more sets for a muscle.
  • You get to focus on one to two muscle groups per workout, so you can enjoy arm day, which many gym-goers love.
  • The approach still leads to muscle and strength gains
  • It ensures that you hit each muscle group with enough volume for growth

Contrary to these advantages, we also need to understand the cons coming with this training method:

  • It does not cover the recommended frequency of training each muscle group twice per week.
  • You have to do a lot of work for a single muscle group in each workout.
  • You are more likely to experience significant muscle soreness.
  • Fatigue sets in and impacts your training performance as the workout progresses.

Full-Body Training

Full-body training is not a split, but an approach that can work well, and the objective is to train all major muscle groups during each workout. Whole-body workouts can benefit trainees of all levels, especially those who can not train as often. You can have as little as two weekly workouts and cause a strong growth stimulus that leads to good progress. For example:

Monday - Full-body workout
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Full-body workout
Friday - Off
Weekend - Off

Alternatively, you also can have three weekly workouts and still get enough rest in-between:

Monday - Full-body workout
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Full-body workout
Thursday - Off
Friday - Full-body workout
Weekend - Off

This training method is simple, and the advantages speak for themselves. The pros:

  • It allows you to train all major muscle groups at least twice per week, even on a tight schedule.
  • If you need to skip a workout (you better have a good reason), you still train all muscle groups.
  • Programming is not that challenging.
  • Workouts often feel more fulfilling and varied.

And the cons:

  • Workouts have to be longer because you must train more muscle groups.
  • You cannot truly focus on any specific muscle group during a workout.
  • It can be challenging to prioritize muscle groups for optimal and balanced development.

Upper/Lower

The upper/lower split is another modern approach to organizing your weekly training. Unlike some options, upper/lower works great for trainees of all levels and allows you to accumulate enough training volume even if you can only train two to three days per week. The most popular frequency for upper/lower is to train four times per week. For example:

Monday - Upper
Tuesday - Lower
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Upper
Friday - Lower
Weekend - Off

The approach works well because it offers a fair amount of flexibility, and you get to train all major muscle groups the recommended two times per week. You can also train two or six times per week, but these might not be ideal. For instance, training only twice per week would lead to slower progress, whereas six weekly workouts might lead to recovery issues and burnout.

Let us take a closer look at this training method; Pros: 

  • Suitable for training all muscle groups more than once per week
  • Programming it is relatively straightforward
  • It works for trainees of all levels
  • It works well for recovery

And let us also try to look at some of the cons here: 

  • Upper sessions tend to be longer than lower workouts because you have more muscle groups to train
  • There is not a good option for three weekly workouts

Which Training Method is best for you?

Each of the above approaches offers its unique benefits. However, your chosen method should align with your goals, schedule, and training preferences. Some people enjoy training their entire body during each workout so a whole-body program would be better. Others enjoy splitting up their training based on movements or muscle groups, so a body part (bro) or push/pull/legs split would be great. Then, there is the upper/lower split, which allows you to train a large percentage of your body, but you are still splitting your training.

It never hurts to experiment with the various approaches to see which one works best. You can even go from one split to the next and rotate them every few months to keep your training fresh and engaging. An app like Fitbod makes it easy to put together effective routines based on your preferred split.

How Cardio fits within all of the above Training approaches

People primarily interested in building strength and muscle mass should use one of the following options for their cardio: 

  • Perform cardio on your recovery days from weight training.
  • Space your cardio and weight training by at least six hours.
  • Lift weights first, then do your cardio.

Regardless of what training approach you follow, the above three rules will help you fit cardio in without it interfering with your progress. For example, let's say that you follow a four-day upper/lower split. In this case, you can do your cardio on recovery days––Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays:

Monday - Upper
Tuesday - Lower
Wednesday - Off or cardio
Thursday - Upper
Friday - Lower
Weekend - Off or cardio

If that option does not work, you can do some cardio on the days you weight train. For instance, do cardio in the morning and lift in the evening. Or you can even lift weights first and do some cardio to finish off. It is important to be careful with your overall cardio volume and your chosen modality. Riding a bike, hiking, and swimming are less impacting options and work great for overweight people. In contrast, running is more demanding and can stress the hips, knees, and ankles, so you have to be careful.

To Conclude

As you can see, there is no one best way to train. However, choosing the best method for training is difficult for many people. While some prefer to go to the gym and exercise, others are not fond of it and prefer to train at home. And again, others are traveling regularly and need to adjust every time they are in a different hotel gym.

The best method is the one that works best with your current lifestyle, Which also can change over time as you might develop new or different requirements. You can train at any time and place by choosing the right training method. However, avoid doing too much cardio, regardless of your weekly training schedule, because that can interfere with your recovery and prevent you from making good progress in the weight room.

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