Double and Triple Splits

It is well known that certain physiological factors (metabolism and cardio respiratory activation) grant the oxygen and energetic substances used by the working muscles.

Such mobilization of the organism, done within a relatively short time window, is not possible without the active presence of the endocrine mechanisms. So, for example the release of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, boosts the adaptive functions of the organism and its skeletal musculature.

Biochemical researches show that as the workload intensity goes higher, the secretion of these cardinal hormones is boosted as well.

During a longer strength workout (1-3 hours) we mainly observe 3 phases.

In the first phase, we observe an increase in the adrenaline and noradrenaline concentration, in the blood and the musculature. However, this does not have any effect upon their level in the adrenal gland.

In the second phase, the high blood concentration is relatively preserved, and a significant reduction is observed in the glands.

In the third phase, we observe a total exhaustion of those hormones in all organs and tissues.

The interesting thing here, is that as the strength endurance levels go up, our organism tends to decrease the production of those hormones, which is an obvious increase in efficiency, caused by the years of training experience.

An increased hormonal secretion during intense muscle activity is observed with insulin, growth hormone, etc.

We’ll throw a side note here.

As the growth hormone and adrenaline concentration in the organism go up, more and more fats are entangled in the energy burning chain, while the insulin has just the opposite function.

Unfortunately, extensive training activity burns not only fat but also, muscle tissue. Important role for that matter is the hormone called “cortisol”, that gets more concentrated under that type of training conditions.


After an intense, but short workout, the testosterone levels are increased for the advanced and elite trainees.

For an untrained organism, the levels of this hormone would go down if there are conditions of higher (extreme) intensity.

This is why, the beginner phase consists of constant development of the basic qualities of the organism (strength, strength endurance, cardio, cardio endurance)

As the exhaustion and fatigue kick in, the production of these hormones decreases. Most importantly, for the adrenaline, due to the fact that after it’s reduction, we also observe a decrease in sensitivity of the nerve cells. Therefore, this brings a lower level of muscle activity.

Even with this short preview of the sharp endocrine reactions in the human organism, during physical exercise, we can say that the hormonal support is not always positive and constant.

This analysis also helps us understand that the negative consequences of the extensive physical activity can not be avoided even when training two distant muscle groups consecutively during a single workout.

This is simply because, even when you include completely recovered muscle groups, in the extensive training process, the hormonal levels in the whole cardio-vascular system will significantly decrease. And that will have all the negative effects from a bodybuilding perspective.

So, for example, researches show that during intense muscle activity of the upper limbs, the levels of adrenaline in them is almost doubled, and all the other muscle groups have an increase of 30%. From this, it’s not hard to calculate that when it comes to quantity, the organism uses significantly more hormonal substrate, for the musculature that is in a state of relative relaxation.

Here, we can conclude that if we want an intense (75-80%) and all-embracing (2-3 muscle groups) workout, we have to plan more than one workout for our day.

The idea of two workouts a day (Double split) is based on the quality, intense workout that is relatively short in duration. The benefits of this method have a physiological and psychological explanation.

Practically, when you train one or two muscle groups during a single workout, you can use the optimal amount of energy in order to achieve higher levels of intensity with the given muscle group. That, of course, will be a stimulus for hypertrophy.

Acknowledging these details, the advanced and elite trainees usually have 3 days in the week, where they workout twice a day, and for the other two or three training days, they only include one workout.

The classical scheme for advanced and elite athletes, implies the priority principle:

The first workout for the day is for the relatively weaker muscle groups, and the second workout is for the stronger groups, or the ones that require more repetitions (Calves, thighs, glutes, abdominal, obliques, etc.)

An example double split, using the classical scheme:

Workout 1 Workout 2
Monday Biceps, triceps Calves
Tuesday Quadriceps & hamstrings Glutes and abdominal
Wednesday Chest, Back Cardio
Thursday Rest
Friday =Monday
Saturday =Tuesday
Sunday Rest from weights + Cardio

The double split system for elite bodybuilders, is more complicated:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday-

First workout
Abdominal(heavy), chest, back, calves

Second workout
Abdominal (light), shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Quadriceps, hamstrings

Triple split

The things we talked about the double split, up until now, are even more important for the next method- Triple split. A mandatory requirement here however, is that one of the three workouts must not be strength related- Aerobics, mid-section work, stretching, etc.

Most athletes that use this method, separate one of the three workouts for aerobic activity.

A disadvantage to the double and triple split methods, is the lack of free time.


The methods double and triple split, are without a doubt the fundament of the idea of the principle we call progressive overload, including all the training parameters but mostly intensity.

These relatively short-lasting training loads, create perfect recovery environment for the organism, motivate us to frequently use intense methods and overall, make us want them.

The possibility of splitting your training activity into two or three workouts in one day allows us to effectively integrate the strength and cardio work- A problem that cannot be rationally and effectively solved in the frames of a single workout per day.

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