Training

Here Are Two Reasons Why I Will Never Do A Bro Split Again

May 14th 2019

When you first start off working out, you do not know what to do. To the untrained eye, working out just means going to the gym. Machines versus barbell workouts versus bodyweight workouts do not even register in your mind. Yet, these are some of the most crucial reasons why some athletes prefer one training method over another.

A bro split involves separating your workouts into different body parts. One of the most common bro splits is chest/triceps on Mondays, back/biceps on Wednesdays and legs on Fridays. In fact, this was one of the first programs I did when starting off. However, it was not the most optimal and this is why:

Are bro splits bad?

Bro splits are classified as performing an exercise for a certain body part only once a week. For all lifters in any experience level, working out a body part only once a week is not optimal. Ideally, your workout program needs to support your fitness and strength goals.

Inefficiency of time

One reason why I will never think about doing a bro split again is because it is a waste of time. My primary goal is to gain strength. For all general strength training programs, they include the squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press. At least one upper body compound lift and one lower body compound lift is done a day. For a beginner, a general strength training program is usually three times a week.

With a bro split, I will only be doing each of the compound lifts once a week. As a world-class lifter, very few athletes are able to get away with this very low amount of frequency. On the flip side, these same lifters make it up by lifting at extremely high intensities. We are talking about 1000+lbs squats, 800+lbs deadlifts and 600+lbs bench presses. Imagine trying to train these compound lifts more than once a day. Some lifters, like Stan Efferding and Lillibridge Brothers will claim to do infrequent training. For stan Efferding, during his peak strength levels, he would only bench press once a week, squat every other week and deadlift on alternate weeks. This meant that he only squatted twice a month and deadlifted twice a month. That is an absurdly low amount of training time. But when you lift to break world records, you will need to just do something that works for you.

I was not having fun

This is another reason why I do not want to do any bro splits - they were not fun for me. Very early on, I wanted to be strong. I do not know what appealed to me from strength training but I just knew that becoming the strongest I can be is something that I wanted badly.

With a bro split, I could not see that happening. I was doing more machine exercises than barbell compound exercises. I was not the biggest guy in the gym and when I first lifted weights, I did about average. I was not the strongest guy but I was also not the weakest. I did not put on muscle easily as some other athletes. At the same time, I was not a skinny kid who had to eat 3000+ calories just to gain 5 lbs. With an objective perspective, I was quite average in terms of building strength and size. And for me, I could not get away with just doing any random program in order to get results. I am sure you have read about many freak athletes that were able to bench press their bodyweight in their first gym session. Or squatted 225lbs for reps. Or deadlifts 405lbs for reps.

Yeah, I was none of that. I had to work for all my PRs. And one thing was certain - if I was not laser-focused on achieving my goals, who else would care? My friends and family would not give a damn whether or not I continued to increase my strength or not. So, why not do a program that I enjoyed rather than just follow any buff dude from an online forum.

So, with some research, Starting Strength became my first strength training program. If you want to read my review of it, feel free to use the link above.

PPL split

As more lifters started to lift weights, new programming ideas emerged. Push/pull/legs is another popular program that is not quite a bro split but does represent some type of body part split. It is usually a 6 day a week program, where you perform each movement twice a week - two pushing days, two pulling days and two leg days. However, there are some people who can morph this program into a 3,4, or even 5 day program.

This is a typical PPL split for many lifters:

Training 3 days a week

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Pull
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Rest

Training 4 days a week

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Pull
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Push

Training 5 days a week

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Legs
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: Push
  • Day 7: Pull

Training 6 days a week

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Rest

What exercises to do for PPL splits?

This is one of the strengths of a PPL program. You have the freedom to choose which exercises you want to do. Normally, push and pull days are designed for you to work on your upper body. Without further ado, here are some exercises you can add to your PPL routine. Ideally, 5-6 exercises should be plenty. If you need more ideas about the best compound exercises to add to your program, that is linked above.

  • Push: Bench Press, Overhead press, Skullcrushers, Dumbbell Presses
  • Pull: Rows, Curls, Shrugs, Lat Pulldowns, Face Pulls, Reverse Flies
  • Legs: Squats, Deadlifts, Calf Raises, Leg Presses, Plyometrics, Glute-Ham Raise

Takeaways

In my opinion, a PPL split would be a much better substitute than a bro split. While I do not regret doing a bro split, I would have preferred to do a PPL split so that I can build both my size and strength. Your training does not need to bore you but it should help you get closer to your goals. Your main objective should be to find a program that fulfills both of your desires.

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