Is The Split Routine Bodybuilding Workout Best For You?

Bodybuilders have a choice of performing a full-body routine or a split routine for their weight training workouts. It appears that most bodybuilders opt for the split routine in its many forms. There are 2-day, 3-day and 4-day split routines.  

While I believe that split routines can be very effective, they may not be appropriate for all bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders seem to gravitate to the split routine without much serious thought. Perhaps this is because the split routine is mentioned more often in the muscle magazines and bodybuilding internet sites.  

While many bodybuilders use split routines, the split routine is not the best choice for a workout program for Ectomorphs or “hardgainers”. An Ectomorph is a somatype category that has a high metabolism, small bone size, and slender muscular frame. Ectomorphs usually have a difficult time gaining muscle mass, hence the term “hardgainers”. Ectomorphs also have very little bodyfat. Therefore, a high volume split routine is not needed to lose fat. In addition, many Ectomorphs who use a split routine will usually not make any appreciable gains in muscle mass.  

The Ectomorph should use a full-body low volume routine to gain muscle mass. The full-body routine should be done 2-3 times per week and consist mainly of compound exercises such as barbell squat, deadlift, bench press, chins, parallel dips, barbell rowing, shoulder presses. No isolation exercises need to be performed in the beginning stages of their muscle building program. As the Ectomorph gains more muscle mass, then some isolation exercises such as crunches, calf raises, barbell curl, leg curls, and triceps pushdowns can be added sparingly. 

On the other hand, split routines are the logical choice for bodybuilders who want to lose excess bodyfat while gaining or maintaining muscle mass. This is the ideal routine for Endomorphs, who put on muscle and fat easily. Endomorphs tend to be stockier and carry more bodyfat. Therefore, Endomorphs need a high volume split routine to help lose unwanted body fat while building or maintaining muscle. The split routine is a high frequency, high volume workout protocol. This style of training will increase the energy expended to increase metabolism and fat loss.  

The split routine offers the opportunity to incorporate compound and isolation exercises into the workout. Other exercise techniques such as super-sets, compound sets, drop-sets, and rest-pause sets can be incorporated to increase the intensity and energy expenditures during an Endomorph’s workout. 

The third somatype, the Mesomorph, is categorized as the “ideal bodybuilder” body type. Mesomorphs can put on muscle easily and usually have low bodyfat. The Mesomorph has the advantage of being able to use either full-body routines or split routines depending upon what his/her training goals are at the time. For instance, if a Mesomorph wants to bulk-up and gain muscle mass, the predominant workout protocol would be full-body routines. After achieving the desired muscle mass, the Mesomorph may want to refine the muscle, work on weak areas, increase definition and lose any bodyfat accumulated during the bulk-up phase. In this case, split routines would be the best training program choice.  

As you can see, whether to incorporate full-body routines or split routines in your bodybuilding training depends upon your somatype and goals. You need to consider your goals, your body type, your ability to add muscle, and your ability to lose bodyfat before you select which routine to use. 

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