Are Split Workouts Good? Pros and Cons

Split Workouts

When you are working out, the most important factor is going to be consistency in your training. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to lose weight or trying to build muscle, you need to train consistently to achieve your goal. Split workouts are exactly that, with a plan to work out every part of your body on a consistent rotation of focus.

They can be great as they will work for every muscle group equally, provide extra recovery days for muscle groups, are shorter workouts, and follow ACSM guidelines. However, split workouts burn fewer calories, are less effective at burning fat, and you can miss any workouts.

If you are just learning about split workouts, or considering swapping from full-body workouts to split workouts, you will want to continue reading to see if split workouts are going to be the best option for you. I will go over the major pros and cons of split workouts so that you can make the best choice for your goals.


Workout Every Muscle Equally

The biggest draw that there is to split workouts is the fact that you are going to be working out every part of your body equally. Split workouts work by focusing on just a select area of your body for the day and focusing on the muscles in that area. You then won’t work in this area again until next week. This means you can focus on every muscle group in your body, and build up muscle equally throughout.

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Maximize Muscle Gains

Because you are focusing on specific muscles, you are going to be maximizing muscle growth. Traditional full-body workouts work a number of muscles and don’t focus too long on one part, while split workouts focus on one each day and build muscle from there. Concentrated workouts on specific parts of your body are the best way to build muscle, and split workouts do exactly that!

Extra Days To Recover

Another positive that you are going to have if you are doing split workouts is plenty of recovery time for your muscles before you focus on them again. Since you are only working out each muscle group once a week and then focusing on the other, you give those muscles plenty of time to recover. This helps prevent injury and muscle fatigue when you are working out, making split workouts safer than full-body workouts.

Helps You Follow ACSM Guidelines

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a number of guidelines that it recommends people follow while participating in sports and working out. One of the guidelines is to give a period of at least 48 hours between doing resistance training on the same muscle group. They recommend even more time between training if you are working a smaller muscle group, which is exactly what happens if you choose to do split workouts.

Workouts Tend to be Shorter

Split Workouts

The last major pro for split workouts is the fact that you are going to have shorter workouts. When doing full-body workouts it takes a long time because you are focusing on so many muscles. But with split training, you are focusing on a select group of muscles and just training those. This will help your workouts be shorter, so you can get onto whatever else you might have in your day.

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Only Workout Each Muscle Once a Week

A negative that some people have with split workouts is that they only work for each muscle group once a week. This means if you are trying to build up a specific muscle group it will take a long time. It also means that you aren’t going to be perfect with your form in every workout, making the exercise less effective, while increasing the chance of injury.

It Is Easy To Miss Weaker Muscles

Since there are a few different methods you can do for split workouts, it can become easy to miss out on training some of your smaller and weaker muscles. You have to take care to make sure you are working out all of your muscles in order for split workouts to be the most effective. Consulting a trainer is a great way to make sure you have a good workout plan.

You Can’t Skip or Miss Workouts

Split workouts have you focusing on one group of muscles per day, as opposed to working out multiple muscle groups at a time. This does mean that you really can’t miss or skip a day as it will throw off the routine, making you either push back the whole schedule or push back a workout on a specific muscle group by an entire week. Either of these can give too much rest to your muscles and slow down your progress.

Doesn’t Follow ACE Guidelines

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends that beginners start training with full-body workouts. This is because full-body workouts give newcomers time and training in order to learn proper technique and form for the majority of workouts, and they learn it much faster.

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You burn Less Calories

An unfortunate aspect of split workouts is the fact that you are going to be burning far fewer calories than if you do a full-body workout. The biggest reason for this? You are working out for a shorter period of time. Along with that, full-body workouts tend to be more intensive because they are longer and work out the majority of muscles. While split workouts can be intensive, since they are shorter they don’t burn nearly as many calories.

Not as Effective for Burning Fat

The fact that split workouts don’t burn as many calories is just one of the reasons that they aren’t as effective for burning fat. Since you’re focusing on the muscle groups, and trying to strengthen them, you are building up muscle instead of trying to burn calories or lose weight. It is this exact reason that many bodybuilders do split workouts, while most trainers at gyms recommend that you do a full-body workout instead.


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