It seems like as long as I can remember every workout had to be four days a week with two days devoted to the upper body and the other two be all about your lower half. If you were in college, then the upper body days were broken up into chest and tri, back and bi days, and the lower body days were skipped and replaced with more benching and bicep curls. All jokes aside, the upper lower split is a great way to workout and get results, if you have time for it.
The often forgotten full body workout is another option as well. The full body workout is not as popular due to the fact that it did not have a following behind it. What I mean by this is that the split body workout had the bodybuilding craze backing it. But there are some distinct advantages to using a full body workout over the split routine. These I will most certainly discuss in more detail later on.
I am partial to the split routine because it is the one I have used the most over my lifting career. I have focused primarily on strength, and in my personal opinion believe that if you are trying to get strong the split routine is the way to do so.
By breaking up your days into upper body and lower body days you are able to focus more of your energy on a particular region of the body. This results in more weight lifted for the group of muscle you want to target.
This structure also works well with people that are training for size, like bodybuilders or people who like beach tanning. The four day routine gives you the ability to break days up into more specific focuses, or foci, again letting you focus your energy on the group of muscles you would like to see increase in size. This is where you would see the back and bi, chest and tri, and legs scheme.
There are some downsides to the split routine. The big one is that it takes up four days, and most people have a hard time making it one day a week to the gym. So a four day commitment would be out of the question for many people.
Full Body Routine
The full body workout has a lot going for it. If you are a person that can only go to the gym two to three times a week, I would highly recommend this routine. The benefit of this routine is that at every workout you are hitting all of your major muscle groups. If you do miss a workout, I would argue that missing a workout on a full body routine is less detrimental then missing one on a split routine.
When working with athletes, the full body routine makes more sense then the split. This is because an athlete uses all their muscles during a sporting event. So training all of their muscles during the same block of time also makes sense as well. During the in season athletes may only have one to two days to devote to lifting weights, so a full body routine would be the better choice. This allows them to hit their upper and lower muscle groups up to two times per week compared to just one with the split.
Both of these routines offer some benefits. I would argue that the split is better for building strength and hypertrophy, whereas the full body routine is better for athletes and people that feel they don’t have the time or have commitment issues with the gym.
These two ways of organizing your training are just two of the most popular ways to organize. There are many different ways to structure your workout week. When it comes to choosing which one is best for you, I would recommend looking at how much time you are willing to give to the gym first. After that, look at which way you prefer to workout. It all comes down to what you like to do and what you will stick to doing.
No new fresh to death blog this week. Truth be told I got a little behind this week. I would love to blame it all on the fact that I am graduating this saturday, but the real reason was I got myself into a time management funk. What this means is I just spent countless hours playing disc golf (my new found love) and getting lost in the black hole that is watching Youtube videos.
Next week I promise, well almost guaranty, promise seems like a really strong word, a new post filled with adventure, laughs, and some hot romance (or just filled with stuff I know about, so mostly romantic lifting).
So to make it up to all you knowledge hungry, weight crushing people out there here are some good articles to get your knowledge fix for the week.
Last week I put out a blog on increasing your grip strength to help increase your overall strength. If you have not read it yet give it a reads: 5 Ways for You to Get A Grip
As for the rest:
The growth of the female sports industry has exploded in the past 10 years. This is seen in the increased participation in high school sports by female athletes and at the college level as well. In 2012 there were more then 200,000 female athletes participating at the college level. This is a huge increase in participation compared to just a few years ago in the early to mid 90’s. This growth trend should only increase with more opportunities and scholarships available for young female athletes.
The weight room has always been primarily thought of as a male’s place, but it should not be looked at that way. Strength training is just as important to the female athlete as it is to the male athlete. A good strength program will increase strength, increase stability, and decrease the chances of injury.
Even though the female athlete needs a strength program just as much as the male, there is some noticeable differentness between the two. For starters – appearance. Females look different than males. It is vital that you can tell the difference between the two.
On the left is a female and on the right is a male. Take notice of the differences.
Other things that need to be taken into consideration are that the majority of females that come into your facility will have no previous weight training experience; they are more prone to joint laxity, and have a larger Q angle. These need to be considered when training and programming for your female athletes.
New Environment Considerations
As I stated above, the majority of female athletes that come into your gym have no previous weight training experience. This is a new environment and can be intimidating. Walking into a warehouse setting with circular metal objects just lying around is not always the most welcoming sight for a middle school or high school girl.
Many of the girls that I have worked with at first seem a little sheepish and come across as not confident in our first meeting. This is all because they are in a whole new surrounding. After a few sessions, they will feel more relaxed and eventually they will think of the gym as their own.
This process takes longer for some then others. If they have friends working out at the same facility this can help speed up the process. Different personalities take different amounts of time. A smile, caring words, a few jokes and knowing their names goes a long way.
Weight Training Considerations
Let’s get some things out of the way right off the bat. One, girls will not bulk up when they workout. Two, girls can do squats, deadlifts, bench and all the other lifts men can do.
Ok, girls can bulk up, if they want to, but for the most part their body is working agents them hormonally. Women have less testosterone, testosterone is a key contributor to muscle growth and without it you will not have big muscles. So unless you are taking testosterone or any other PEDs you should not worry about it. Don’t worry, you can still get your tone on without it.
As for those big bad multi joint lifts. They are just as effective for the development of the female athletes as they are for the male, and should not be held back from them, if they have shown that they are capable of doing them.
Now that those two are out of the way, lets move on to my last two considerations.
The Q Angle and Joint Laxity
A common difference between male and female athletes is that the female, on average, has wider hips. This results in a larger Q angle, the angle in which the femur meets the tibia. This causes instability in the knees and tracking problems. This could be one of the reasons females are more prone to ACL injuries.
Have you ever noticed that a large number of girls can hyper extend their elbows and knees. Females have a tendency to have more joint laxity. Males can also be extremely lax as well. It is not safe to assume that all female athletes are overly lax, but it is something to take into consideration when working with them.
If you combine a larger Q angle with joint laxity the chances of injury will increase. The injury in particular that we want to avoid is ACL injuries.
ACL injuries will likely happen in three situations, landing, change of direction, and deceleration.
The training program should take into account all of these variables. The program should create stability. This will happen with the introduction of strength training, but you may have to direct it at a specific area depending on the athlete. Some laxity may actually be desired in some sports such as throwing or gymnastics, but it should be managed in such a way that we do not inhibit their performance, while decreasing the likely hood of injury.
With ACL injury prevention we must teach proper jumping, and more importantly, landing technique. Watching out for the knees coming in as well as making sure they are landing softly, absorbing the force of impact correctly.
Changing direction can be taught by teaching the athlete to bend at the knees when making quick cuts. Bending the knee takes tension off of the ACL decreasing the likely hood of a tear.
Controlling deceleration comes with having strong hamstrings and gluts. A good program will make sure their posterior chain is getting the proper attention.
When looking at the female athlete, all of these factors should be considered, from how they are treated to how their programs are designed. Without your female athletes feeling comfortable they will never stick around long enough to reap the benefits that a strength program can offer.
What this program will offer is more stability, better landing and cutting technique, and stronger hamstrings and gluts. If all of these are considered, you will have a stronger less prone to injury athlete. This is what we want for all of our athletes regardless of gender.