As far as bodybuilding and resistance training is concerned, no doubt you will have heard people, countless times, talking about the sheer importance of not overtraining and of getting enough time to rest and recover following extensive workouts.
When it comes to bodybuilding and making muscle and strength gains, rest and recovery is a critical component of any training regime, but that isn’t to say that spells of extensive physical exercise with less rest and recovery time, can’t be beneficial as well.
Most bodybuilders typically follow a five day split, in which they train one body part per day, I.E Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, etc… Like all things in life, there are upsides to following a five day split, and there are downsides to following a five day split.
If you’ve been following a five day split and have noticed your gains and improvements becoming less and less impressive as time has gone by, this could be an indication that you have reached a natural plateau, and it could be your body telling you to make some changes.
Most people when they come across natural plateaus in their training, will take some time off from the gym, or will train less frequently, as they think that perhaps they are overtraining.
Some experts however, actually increasing your training frequency, and training even MORE, by following a 7 day split workout instead.
Why follow a 7 day split workout routine?
If you were to talk to the average Joe, who happens to have a limited pool of knowledge regarding health and fitness, if you were to tell them that you were training 7 days per week, they would gasp in horror and tell you that you are overtraining and that you should stop immediately, before the entire world ends!
Ok, that last part was pretty dramatic, but they would tell you to stop immediately and would talk about the importance of rest and recovery. Rest and recovery are indeed both vital components of any training regime, but, providing you are getting enough good quality sleep each night, if you were to follow a 7 day split for a limited amount of time, you would see some pretty fantastic results.
By training 7 days a week, your body doesn’t know whether it is coming or going, and so it will begin to overcompensate by generating more energy by burning more calories, which means you not only have more energy, you also burn more fat as well.
It is also a great way of shocking the muscles into new growth as it really helps to stimulate muscle hypertrophy, which is exactly what you want when it comes to making new gains.
How to structure a 7-day workout plan
If you decide that a 7-day gym workout plan is suitable for you, it’s important to design a plan that matches your current fitness levels and goals.
First choose the exercises you intend to perform over the week. Include both compound (exercises targeting more than one muscle group, for example push-ups and bench press) and isolation exercises (exercises targeting a single muscle group, for example dumbbell bench press and tricep kickbacks).
General advice for workout plans is to add some rest days, and it is still important to consider rest in a 7-day plan. Rest is important to give your body – and the different muscle groups you are training – time to recover. Since you will be training 7 days per week, consider have some days of the week that are less intense forms of exercise.
It is important that you target different muscle groups of different days of the split routine. This ensures, over the week, you work all muscles – major and minor muscles. Avoid overtraining any muscle group by leaving a day or more between working on that group.
Continue to build up a full plan for all 7 days of the week.
Day 1 — Chest
- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- 3 sets of 10 reps
- 3 sets of 15 reps
- 4 sets of 20 reps
Things to know about this 7-day split
Before going any further, it is worth clearing up the fact that this type of training is not sustainable as it is only designed to help you to break natural plateaus and to help you bring up lagging muscle groups, or to perhaps help burn off stubborn and unsightly body fat that you can’t seem to shift otherwise.
Ideally, follow this program for no longer than 6 weeks, and then take an entire week off from training altogether, to help your body to reset itself.