In terms of gaining muscle, volume rather than training frequency seems to be of greater importance. Interestingly, a new study found that when lifters were told to increase their training frequency, they had greater increases in muscle growth but increased their volume. Whether you want to follow a 3-day workout split or a full body workout every other day, both can produce gains in muscle.
ARNOLD SPLIT 4 DAYS VS FULL BODY HYPERTROPHY WORKOUT SUMMARY
- Whether you prefer a traditional bodybuilding split or a full-body hypertrophy workout, both can result in gains in muscle.
- There was no difference in muscle gains between training a body part 2 vs. 3 times per week when training volume is similar.
- Volume seems to be a limiting factor for muscle growth rather than training frequency.
Every March, in Columbus, Ohio, the annual Arnold Classic is held in which bodybuilders, fitness, and figure competitors come from around the world to compete. About every fitness magazine will have Arnold on the cover with his workout and headlines like, “Get a Physique like Arnold!”
ARNOLDS BODYBUILDING SPLIT ROUTINE
Throughout most of his bodybuilding carer, in his offseason, Arnold trained six days a week and used a workout split. His workouts lasted about an hour and a half, and his workouts consisted of very high volume (i.e., sets x reps). He used a push-pull leg routine to train the quads and hamstrings. He used a similar upper-body push-pull routine in which he would train incline bench press followed by bent over rows.
Arnold’s blueprint to mass was using up to 26 sets per body part! What is the Arnold Split? Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime workout, consisted of a 3 day workout split, which looked something like this:
- Day 1: Chest and Back.
- Day 2: Shoulders and Arms.
- Day 3: Legs.
- Day 4: Chest and Back.
- Day 5: Shoulders and Arms.
- Day 6: Legs.
The workout separated body parts into an upper-lower split routine. Exercises on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday are upper body focused, and lower body splits on Wednesday and Saturday to maximize the intensity of the muscles being trained. Also, with split routine exercises, more isolation exercises can be used with less fatigue. Arnold also used drop sets to add volume to the muscles trained.
Let’s be honest; this would destroy just about anyone! Even elite bodybuilders today would have difficulty recovering from a 3 day split workout with a high-volume workout like Arnold used. As covered previously, in Evidence Based Muscle, doing more sets does not always translate into more muscle growth.
FULL BODY HYPERTROPHY WORKOUT AND VOLUME
There needs to be a certain amount of sets performed, which current research indicates is between 10-20 sets per week.(Ralston et al., 2017; Schoenfeld et al., 2017)
Below is the graph of the inverted U hypothesis, which states a minimum and maximum number of sets must be performed for optimal muscle growth. Doing more or fewer sets is not conducive to gaining muscle. A new study found that adding more volume does a weight loss/cutting phase does not have advantages for gaining lean muscle mass.