Training one body part per day is a common workout method for bodybuilders. Arranging your workout like this is known as a body-part split and involves working one large muscle group each session, possibly with a smaller muscle group added in as well. This type of training has distinct advantages over other methods, but it also has its drawbacks.
There’s no best way to set up your workout. A traditional body-part split would consist of one day each for chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. However you could take this a step further and train every day of the week by sticking with the same combination, but giving biceps and triceps their own day and splitting your leg training into separate quadriceps and hamstring sessions. Calves can be added into one of the leg days, traps grouped with shoulders or back and abdominals added wherever you see fit.
Body-part split training is superior for muscle building and body shaping, writes strength coach Marc Perry, CSCS, on his website BuiltLean.com. By dedicating a whole session to just one body part, you can give the muscle more stimulation and maintain mental focus for the whole session, really working on training the muscle to the point of failure, which encourages more growth. It’s also easier to rearrange your workouts if needed. For example, if your biceps are still sore on your back day, you can switch and perform a chest or leg workout instead, then train your back the next day when your biceps have recovered.
Split training isn’t suitable for beginners, claims Tony Gentilcore, head trainer at Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. Rather than focusing on working a muscle group, you should focus on movement patterns instead, which works better with total-body training. Split sessions also burn fewer calories than full-body workouts, as you’re working fewer muscle groups, meaning that working one body part each day isn’t a smart choice for fat loss.
For bodybuilders and more advanced trainers looking to put on mass, training one body part each day is an effective training method. For beginners and those seeking weight loss, however, it may not be the best approach. It takes between 24 and 72 hours for a muscle to recover after a training session, according to the American Council on Exercise, so provided you’re training different body parts each day, you should recover in time for each workout. However it may still be wise to take a day or two of rest each week. So rather than giving each muscle group its own workout, it may be better to give each large muscle group its own day and add smaller body parts in each session, too.