"Bro-Splits"? What the...

By Raymond Shipley

Much has been said on the subject of training splits in recent history, and it seems a relatively new term has been coined -- bro-splits -- in reference to training each body part once per week. I'm not entirely sure where this term originates and, considering most "bros" I've seen in the gym spend consecutive days solely training beach muscles, I'm not sure it is accurate. So, is the condemnation of the so-called "bro-split" justified?

The short answer, as usual, is both yes and no. It is justified when the intensity, volume and other variables make these splits susceptible to overtraining. The same variables, however, can necessitate the once per week technique. Likewise, age plays a huge factor, so there really is no easy answer.

According to research at the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health the recovery for each individual is unique to the person. After many tests it was found, "the results suggest that individual recovery testing before exercise prescription is practical, and this protocol may be sensitive to differences in training volume and subject age." For older athletes, as well as those training in high volume and intensity, up to 96 hours was at times required for full muscle recovery in larger muscles. Totally blasting a muscle multiple times per week may not be the best idea for certain clients.

Most of the negative claims concerning once per week training splits is due to poor program design. Often choice of exercise, rep ranges, volume and other factors render such programs practically useless. However, in training with heavy, compound lifts in proper rep ranges, along with appropriate volume and intensity, a once per week training regimen can prove very effective. 

There are myriad training styles and splits for a reason, and that reason is the uniqueness of the individual and his/her needs. The basic truth of fitness training is to understand everyone is different to a degree, and the grail of training can only be truly found through hard work, consistency, trial and error. The proof is always in the pudding, so rather than debate the issue ad nauseam get out there and train. 

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