Bro science – The Bro split vs Push-Pull-Legs

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There are surely some good ways to successfully organize your workouts. We all know that there are so many experts out there who claim that their exercise plan is “optimal”. But what exactly does that mean? Who are they best for? There are a lot of controversies out there on choosing that particular training split that’s best for “everybody”, with researchers doing their “thing” and coming up with different results but Dude, you and I were not even included in this research! At Parallelo Health, we would say; the key to choosing the perfect workout routine for you is to do your research into the Bro Split and also the Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) methodology in order to understand what exactly these two splits offer, weigh your options and eventually stick with the one that keeps you motivated and consistent with your training. Sounds simple, right?

Good news is; this article contains all you need to know about the Bro Split and the Push-Pull-Legs. So before structuring your next training program and hitting the gym for your next gym session, be sure to digest this properly. Bro, let’s dig in!

What is a Split training program?

A split training routine – also called a Split Weight Training – is an exercise workout variation that involves dividing (this explains the “split” in the name) weight training sessions to allow for different body regions or muscle groups to be trained on different days of the week. If after your regular workouts, you are still interested in something more challenging, a workout that’s hinged on more weights and muscle – want to be initiated into the gym “bro” cult, then what you need is the perfect split session for you.

Common types of split routines are the upper body/lower body split, the Push-Pull-Legs split, and the Bro Split (or the body part split). These split training routines are popularly used among fitness trainers, body builders, shot putters, weight lifters etc. However, for the purpose of this article, only the Bro Split and the Push-Pull-Legs will be thoroughly examined.

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Bro split (The body part split)

Particularly, this split routine is quite popular in the lifting world and has been (and is still being) widely used to increase strength and give you that old-school muscle pump. The Bro Split involves organizing your workouts so you can target and train a specific muscle group(s) once per week. Most of the typical bro split layouts involves a 4-6 day split routine. Here is an example of a 5-day split and a 6-day split:

A 5-day bro split

Monday– Back

Tuesday– Chest

Wednesday– Hamstrings/quads

Thursday – Shoulders/calves

Friday– Triceps/ Biceps

Saturday and Sunday– Rest.

A 6-day bro split

Monday– Chest

Tuesday– Back

Wednesday– Legs

Thursday– Shoulders

Friday– Arms/Abs

Saturday– Fore arms/Trap

Sunday– Rest

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Pros of the Bro Split

Due to the low training frequency structure of the bro split – dedicating one day per week – you can easily hit it hard on that particular muscle group and max up the volume – i.e the number of reps – since you have the whole day to it anyway. Still talking about “hitting it hard”, bro split can also allow you to really increase the intensity – how much weight you lift – and max up the hypertrophy response of that particular muscle being targeted through isolation exercises. Obviously, that increases your strength. The Bro Split may be specifically ideal for pre-contest or just doing it up OLD SCHOOL!

Cons of the Bro Split

The bro split is not quite the best split training option for beginners. By utilizing the one-day-per-week bro split format – a lower training frequency – a beginner/a novice lifter will likely experience a slower rate of muscle growth. This is because, stimulating a muscle group once per week might not be enough to produce the desired growth for that week, thus delaying the growth rate. Besides, full recovery of a stressed muscle only requires about 2-4 days, a beginner can easily hit the gym a couple of days more per week to pack more weight and reps – instead of leaving the muscle “unused”.

Also, increasing the Intensity of a particular muscle group leaves you with a higher risk of muscle injuries and muscular imbalances. Thus, the natural beginner or novice lifter won’t really see a faster growth rate when adopting the bro split as his starting point. Full body routines are advised as an alternative for beginners.

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A bro split workout routine sample

Chest days

Barbell bench press– 3 sets, 8reps

Incline Dumbbell Bench press– 4 sets, 6 reps

Dumbbel Fly– 3 sets, 8 reps

Push ups– 3 sets, 10 reps

Back days

Dead Lifts– 3 sets, 10 reps

Dumbbell pullover– 3 sets, 8 reps

Cable Row– 4 sets, 20 reps

Lat Pull Down– 3 sets, 8 reps

Shoulder days

Seated overhead press– 3 sets, 8 reps

Arnold Press– 3 sets, 15 reps

Barbell upright Row– 3 sets, 10 reps

Dumbbell Reverse Fly– 3 sets, 15 reps

Leg days

Squats– 3 sets, 15 reps

Leg press– 3 sets, 10 reps

Romanian Dead Lifts– 4 sets, 10 reps

Lying Hamstring curls– 4 sets, 15 reps.

Arm days

Dumbbell Curls– 3 sets, 15 reps

Dip– 3 sets, 15 reps

Preacher curl– 4 sets, 10 reps

Skull crushers – 4 sets, 10 reps

Cable Push Downs– 3 sets, 15 reps.

The Push-Pull-Legs Split

The push-pull-legs split training routine (also known as the PPL split) focuses on training specific muscle groups in the upper and the lower body regions according to their movement patterns. As the name implies, on “push” days, you train the muscle groups required to perform all pushing movements– your shoulder muscles, chest muscles and your tri’s. On “pull” days, you also train the muscle groups required to perform all pulling movements – your traps, bi’s, rear delts and back.

Similarly, on “Leg” days, you train the muscle groups on your leg (lower body) – your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves. Most of the typical Push-Pull-Legs split involves a 3-6 days split routine. Here is an example of a 3-day split routine and a 6-day split routine.

A 3-day PPL split routine

Monday– Push workouts

Tuesday– Rest

Wednesday– Pull workouts

Thursday– Rest

Friday– Leg workouts

Saturday and Sunday – Rest

A 6-day PPL split routine

Monday– Push Workouts

Tuesday– Pull workouts

Wednesday– Leg workouts

Thursday– Push workouts

Friday– Pull workouts

Saturday– Leg workout

Sunday– Rest

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Pros of the PPL split

The PPL split is particularly a good workout routine for bodybuilders with a somewhat busy schedule, especially the 3-day routine which gives room for more flexibility in planning. Aside this, the PPL split routine also help you correct or reduce the chances of muscular imbalances by ensuring that all related muscle groups of a body are trained uniformly (unlike the bro split) in the same Workout.

The 6-day PPL split routine  allows for more frequency. Thus, related muscle groups are trained more often about twice a week.

Cons of the PPL split

The PPL split is preferably for the intermediate to advanced level bodybuilders and not for beginners. Due to the frequency of a 6-day Push,Pull,Leg split, more muscle groups are trained in a day when compared to the bro split, thus often times leading to training muscle groups with less intensity.

Also, as a result of this (training more muscle groups), a  couple of the last trained muscle groups usually suffer from the fatigue of previous workouts, thus it does not favour super setting – negatively affecting your overall performance.

A study showed that there is little difference in high frequency training, compared to low frecuency training when it comes to muscle gains.

A PPL Split workout routine sample

Push days

Flat Dumbbell Inclined Press– 3 sets, 10 reps

Dumbbell Arnold Press–3 sets, 15 reps

Seated shoulder press– 3 sets, 15 reps

Weighted Dips– 3 sets, 20 reps

Dumbbell Pullovers–3 sets, 10 reps

Skull Crushers–3 sets, 8 reps

Pull days

Dead Lifts– 3 sets, 10 reps

Resistance Band Pulldown–4 sets, 15 reps

Dumbbell shrugs– 3 sets, 15 reps

Dumbbell Rows– 3 sets, 15 reps

Barbell Curls– 4 sets, 10 reps

Leg days

Barbell squats– 3 sets, 15 reps

Reverse Lunges– 3 sets, 15 reps per leg

Romanian Dead Lifts– 3 sets, 10 reps

Standing Calf raises– 3 sets, 15 reps

Dumbbell Lateral raises– 3 sets, 15 reps.

Tips for Deciding on the best workouts split

To most beginners/skinny guys hoping to change their physique, gain more weights and join the community of the gym “bros”, deciding on the best resistance workout routine is often overwhelming. Here are a few tips for your consideration:

Your current experience level

As a beginner, we strongly do not advise you jump at neither the Bro Split nor the Push-Pull-Legs to begin with, rather a higher full body frequency training is advised to yield more results at this stage.

Now to the intermediate or advanced level lifter

Your Availability and Convenience

Before deciding on which one to settle with, consider your schedule and convenience. Are you a full time worker with limited available time and days? If your answer is yes, then Bro Split is probably not best for you! For more convenience, you can do both the Bro Split and PPL at home in your indoor home gym.

Your Diet, Rest and Recovery needs

These are also huge determinants when it comes to muscle recovery and growth. Remember, you grow muscles while resting, not in the gym. This is,  if your diet supports the growth. So also take diet as a priority since a longer recovery period means a lower frequency workout. Be sure to eat enough protein.

Deciding which split training is best is totally dependent on your preferences.

Are you getting your desired results yet? Which workout routine are you using currently, bro split or ppl? Dude, Comment!

Author : Marco

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