Very common question related to training is which muscle groups we should train together and which should be separated. We can hear very often arguments like: ‘you shouldn’t train biceps with your back’ or ‘triceps has to be done the same day as shoulders’. What is the right answer and does it really matter which body-parts we combine.
Which muscle groups work together
First we have to figure out which body parts cooperate – work at the same time as others. For this reason we can divide muscle groups this way:
- Chest + triceps (pushing or pressing action);
- Shoulders + triceps (also pressing exercises);
- Back + biceps (pulling),
- Legs + core muscles (lower body work).
This is only general description because shoulder muscles work most of the time during upper body training so as core muscles with all standing exercises. However this isn’t the point here.
What I want you to remember is that biceps cooperates with back (pulling exercises) and triceps along with chest and shoulders (all upper body pushing movements).
What are the usual ways to train
Constant argument between gym goers is which body parts should be trained together. Some of guys believe that triceps should be done along with chest or shoulders; and biceps with back because these muscles work together.
The rest think opposite saying that you are not allowed to exercise body parts that work simultaneously in the same day. What means that triceps should be worked out with back where biceps with chest or shoulders.
Where lays the truth? Which way of training is more effective?
1. Training cooperating muscle groups (triceps with chest or shoulders; back with biceps)
When we work out triceps after finishing chest or shoulders we’ll not be able to train it as hard as it was fresh. After 9 sets of heavy pressing exercises our triceps will be fatigued. When we add to it another 6 sets of direct work for arm extensors it might be too much or maybe we’ll be too tired to exercise triceps at all.
Only exception from this rule will be advanced or intermediate bodybuilders. After several months or years of training their muscles are much more endure than beginning lifters. They are still able to keep up high intensity of training even when cooperating muscle groups are trained in the same day.
Advantage of this type of training is that we don’t need as much volume (sets and exercises) for smaller muscle groups (biceps and triceps) to grow. Additionally such a heavy workouts can give them extra boost to grow.
Besides we won’t need as many warm-up sets for arms what makes workout much shorter.
2. Training non-related muscle groups (chest/biceps, back/triceps)
On the other hand we can train together muscles that are not related. After several sets of heavy bench pressing our biceps is still fresh, rested. It has a potential and energy to receive heavy stimulation without worry of fatigue or overtraining. In other words it can be trained heavier and harder.
Leg training doesn’t really correlate with any other body part, well maybe a bit with core muscles especially lower back, therefore can be mixed with any muscle group we want or can be performed on its own.
So what is the best way to train
Taking this into consideration we have two ways to train:
- Chest/biceps and back/triceps for example: beginners split;
- Chest/triceps or Shoulders/triceps and back/biceps i.e. push/pull/legs workout.
In the first example muscles trained aren’t related (don’t work together simultaneously), in the second option they are. Of course there are many more variations of training however these are two most common ways of combining small and large muscle groups.
In my opinion there’s no best way to train. Both forms are correct. However every individual will find one way better than the other that’s why you have to experiment and see what causes grater growth for yourself.
I prefer to do chest with biceps and back with triceps. Smaller muscles aren’t fatigued after heavy compound exercises and I can give 100% to train them however when I cut, I change my routine into chest/shoulder/triceps and back/biceps. It helps me to lower the volume a bit while still train very intense and short during calorie deficit. Besides it makes whole process more interesting and shocks my muscles what helps me to avoid stagnation.
As a beginning lifter you shouldn’t train co-related muscle groups on the same session. Your biceps will be too fatigued after training back so as triceps after heavy presses. However it doesn’t mean that this type of training is wrong.
Intermediate and especially advance bodybuilders can benefit from training this way. It can increase the stimulation for smaller muscles (biceps and triceps) while keeping quiet low volume and workout relatively short. But this isn’t necessary better.
My advice is: if you are beginner don’t exercise biceps with back neither triceps with chest or shoulders. In your case it’s a mistake. If you train for several months or years and feel that you have some experience or more endurance you can experiment – try if training co-operating muscle groups together is more effective for you, do you like it more and what gives you the best results.