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Body split training – not for beginners!

by Soft2share.com

For me, unless you are a competitive bodybuilder or a “serious” gym rat, the concept of a traditional split training routine is lost on most people, writes John Hill – personal trainer and boot camp owner based in Birmingham.

I remember when I started weight training, I read a lot of magazines and articles about split training and I figured that this is the way to go. I did the traditional chest, shoulders, legs and back (never went as far as an arm day though) split and did okay. The problems I encountered were when I missed sessions for whatever reason. This meant that I was all out of sync and would end up not training a certain area of my body for that week. This could lead to muscle imbalances because of me using the split training method at the time.

What I tend to see nowadays in the gym is younger guys coming in and after reading a bodybuilding magazine go in doing split routines straight from the start. I have seen skinny kids doing tons of triceps exercises for example and also overweight individuals doing small isolated movements that don’t burn many calories. This is where the problem lies in traditional split training for the average person. The youngsters want big arms and chests but don’t do the basics and the overweight guys may build great muscles but never get to see them. There is also a tendency to spend hours and hours in the gym training one muscle from all different angles. This is fine if you are a bodybuilder competing in £100,000 plus contests but the average guy on the street? I am not so sure.

Don’t neglect the fundamentals

The truth is that there are loads of exercises that can give people a solid foundation to start from which I don’t often see people doing. A good example is the squat, you don’t very many kids doing squats at the gym and if you do, it’s using the smith machine (which is not really effective as it is a fixed motion) I remember doing front squats one day and a bunch of teenagers smashing their triceps looking at me like I was mad! (I was probably using about 400 more muscles and burning far more calories) I believe most people don’t attempt a squat because of the difficulty and the fact that you can’t see your legs all the time so why bother. You can’t ever be truly powerful and functional unless you train the foundation of your body and the largest muscle groups like the legs. Another great example is the triceps dip, works a load of muscles and gets the heart rate going but you don’t see it very often, why? It’s far more difficult than the triceps pushdown! These exercises will produce the best physical gains, as well as spiking endorphins and positively affecting mental health.

My advice to anyone looking to start weight training is to do your homework. There are plenty of great resources available that give practical balanced advice on muscle gain and nutrition. One book I would recommend is “Huge in a hurry” as it gives good solid guidance on the type of exercises that really build muscle and burn calories (I am the only one in my gym that does a clean and press for example) This book focuses on the big movements with the option to use isolation to increase gains. I would recommend super setting on isolation movements to increase the heart rate and save time.

Piecing it together

In conclusion, what I have written about is not rocket science but sometimes I believe many people get turned off from weight training because of the myths surrounding the way you need to train. Professional bodybuilders are just that and train the way they do for a living, most people haven’t got the time or discipline to do this. I have found my best results from a lot of variation and also using the basics such as pressing, pulling, squatting and lifting really well. If I was to have my time again, I would have got really good at these movements first and hogged the preacher curl machine less!

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