You don’t have to be a “bro” to hit the gym on the reg. Everyone from your grandma to your soccer mom to your high school aged kid should be lifting weights on a weekly basis. Why? Because everyone stands to benefit from getting—and staying—strong.
If you’ve been in the workout world long enough, then you may have heard of “bro splits” before—or perhaps seen people doing them without actually knowing what they are.
The big question is, are they effective? Are “bro splits” actually beneficial for building muscle and preventing injury—or are they totally “broverrated”?
Reasonable questions indeed. But perhaps the first one we need to answer is this:
What Exactly Are “Bro Splits” Anyway?
In short, a “bro split” is a training session that targets only 1 or maybe 2 muscle groups at a time. For example, a typical “bro” following a “bro split” program may have a weekly workout schedule that looks like this:
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Saturday & Sunday: Rest
Notice that bro splits are a lot different from other training programs that recommend combining multiple different muscle groups in some capacity. Examples of would be full body routines or a routine that involves upper body pushing plus lower body pulling (e.g., bench press + deadlifts) or upper body pulling and lower body pushing (e.g., lat pull downs and squats).
By design, bro splits only allow you to train certain muscle groups about 1 time per week. Full body or combo workout programs (typical of many other body building and/or CrossFit-like plans) tend to have you working the same muscle groups with a higher frequency of at least twice per week.
When Good Bros Go Bad: The Pros & Cons of Bro Splits
The good thing about bro splits is that because you are only dedicating one day per week to each major muscle group, you technically should be able to hit each session a little harder. In other words, by lowering the volume of your workouts, you may be able to increase the intensity (and high intensity, by and large, is really where all the magic happens).
But—and it’s a big “but”—increasing intensity may increase the risk of injury, for one thing. You have to make sure you are super warmed up before doing an entire session of just chest, or quads/hammies, or bi’s and tri’s, whatever the case may be. Plus, basic physiology tells us that stimulating your muscles 1 day a week may not allow you to hit the “minimum effective dose” for eliciting actual improvement in muscle strength and size.
Our recommendation? Bro splits can be super fun and focused, and something is 100 times better than nothing. However, for maximal strength gains achieved with greater efficiency and potentially greater safety, follow a training program that has you working out multiple muscle groups per day at a rate of at least 2-4 times per week. By all means, you can still be a “bro” if you want—you just may not want to work out like one.
What’s your favorite way to pump up? Let us know about it by sharing in the comments!