Some tips for how to organise your training week in regards to your exercise splits to maximise benefits and getting the recovery time needed, and the best time of day to train!
I’ve mentioned before on this blog that it’s not wise to train every single day. So in order to get the most out of your training, it’s important to be smart about how you split your days to reap the most benefits and be able to perform at your best.
Obviously, it’s advisable to avoid training the same muscle groups two days in a row as you want to allow for optimum recovery after each session. You can, however, have two upper body days in a row if they're split synergistically, essentially meaning you do a pull and push split. Pull involves back and biceps, and push involves chest, shoulders and triceps. This split avoids any overlap, however you may find that the stress applied to joints and the rotator cuff in your shoulders may cause you problems on the second day. Beginners might benefit from lower volume workouts (less sets and/or reps) to avoid this.
For lower body workouts, I tend to schedule my rest days after leg days whenever possible as they’re the most taxing on my body. But if you’re only doing cardio or lighter training (not including HIIT), you may find it possible to do cardio one day and then hit the weights for leg day the day after. What’s most important is to listen to your body and allow for full recovery and any soreness to subside before you hit the same muscle group again.
A good synergistic split over week days could look like this, including one day of cardio:
Monday - push (chest, shoulders and triceps)
Tuesday - legs and abs
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - pull (back and biceps)
Friday - cardio
When is the best time of day to train?
For a lot of people this is unfortunately a redundant question, as their life and work schedules dictates when they can train. Additionally, a typical ‘type A’ person might find they get most out of their workouts first thing in the morning, while a ‘type B’ will prefer the evening.
If you want a scientific answer, the afternoon is the best time of day to train. This is when your body temperature is at its warmest, making your muscles and joints more supple and increasing your cardiovascular performance. Training later on in the evening has been linked to affect sleep quality negatively, though more recent studies on the subject have gone to show the opposite. However, a lot of people find it’s a mind over matter problem come the evening, and are tired after a long day at work and struggle to find the energy for a big workout. Working out in the morning could be linked to a potentially higher risk of heart attacks, however for healthy people in good health with a normal cardiovascular function this shouldn’t pose a big problem.
If you want the scientific ‘sweet spot’, hit the gym between 3 and 6pm. And don’t be too worried if your schedule doesn’t allow for that!