Training one body part a week…

Why train one body part a week?

For anyone that has been training for any period of time, they quickly  discover that there are just as many training programs as there are stars in our galaxy.

Part of the reason for such variety is determined by each person’s goal such as:

1. Each particular sport requires specialized training methods that best effectively utilizes muscles, motor nerve patterns, flexibility, speed and agility just to name a few.

2. Desire of the individual to either tone up, slim down, bulk up.

3. Special permanent physical conditions that may inhibit them to perform exercise(s) one way but can be done using other methods.

4. To rehab an injury to a particular part of the body.

What even makes this more confusing is that within each category above, you can further break it down into endless sub categories!

This post will deal strictly with training one body part a week, why, and two methods to accomplish this.

As you may have read when I first started this blog, I have been working out for over 40 years, initially in competitive weightlifting then lately, just to stay in shape.

As I have gotten older I started to notice that the body was not responding or recuperating like it used to.  I was on a three day on, one day off split and getting two training sessions in per bodypart within a seven day period.

I was on this program for many many years…

I noticed that the first initial training session for a body part would range from good to great and the second training session ranged from so-so to ‘it sucked’.  This was even happening if I lightened the load and changed the exercises. I tried changing volume and intensity, that didn’t work. I even went to a two on, one day off split but the same thing was happening.

Then one day I read about the one body part per week split.  At first I was very skeptical because I had never done this and I was relating it to how the week would look like based on how I had been training before.

Once I started using the program, however, and making adjustments here and there with set and rep count as well as always mixing up the exercises, I found that each and every workout was a great workout. The muscles are super strong because of all the rest they receive. You not only get a great physical workout, you also get a great mental boost and we all know that staying fit is just as much mental as it is physical.

The logic behind the system…

Part of the theory behind working the body part once a week is that you get plenty of recovery time before your next session. After all, if you do a part on Monday and you are training Monday-Friday, your next session for that part would be the following Monday. Wow, that’s an entire week worth of rest or is it???

This is where the second part of the theory kicks in and is part of the beauty of it all. You can not train one body part without impacting auxiliary body parts with any exercise, all your muscles are interconnected with each other.

This means if you are doing bench presses for chest, as an example, you are also training some triceps and front delts.  The same is true if you were doing lat pull downs for back, you are also kicking in some biceps.

So the logic is that you are training each body part, hard core, once a week then hitting it very mildly at least one other time during the week.  This is part of the reason why you don’t lose size and in fact can increase size, definition and tone because you are allowing your body plenty of rest, recuperation and restoration time!


So how do you break up the parts across the week?

First you have to determine how many days a week you are going to train then you have to determine the sequence.  Keep in mind that you can actually train more days in the week than you normally do for two reasons, first, you are only training a body part once a week and secondly, your workouts will be shorter if you split the body across more days.

It is my belief that how you split your body parts to train across the week must be carefully staggered in a way or sequence where you are not training the auxiliary body part the following day.

I will use myself as an example.  I have split up the week into five workouts, Monday – Friday.  Each workout is no longer than 60 minutes long.  This is resistance training. I also add 20 minutes of HIIT cardio training four of those days as well as abs when I perform HIIT training. The only time I do not perform HIIT or abs is when I do legs.

So my week would look like this and I have included the auxiliary muscles that is involved via parenthesis () when I work out a particular body part:

Chest (triceps, front delts), HIIT cardio

Back (biceps, medial and back delts), HIIT cardio

Legs (core)

Shoulders (triceps), HIIT cardio

Biceps and Triceps, HIIT cardio

So as you can see from the split above, I am giving each ‘main’ body part a full week of rest and each ‘auxiliary’ body part about 48 hours rest before making it my main body part, i.e. work out chest with auxiliaries being triceps and front delts which won’t be worked out until two or three days later.

With this five day split you can ‘add’ an extra day to do legs again if you wish. I do this almost every week. I have found that legs can take the punishment and also because they are not being trained as an auxiliary muscle in any of the other days. You also mix or lower the intensity on the second leg day of the week or use it to work on your weak points, i.e. hams or quads.

Now if you can’t train five days a week you can do a four day split. I do not recommend a three day split because the workouts would be too long and there isn’t enough rest period between main and auxiliary muscles. It just gets too congested if you are going to do it with intensity.

Four day split…

With a four day split I recommend two on one off or Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday.  One program would be something like this:


Chest and Triceps, HIIT cardio


Back and Biceps, HIIT cardio


Legs (core)


Shoulders (triceps), HIIT cardio

I also need to add that your workouts now go to 75 minutes instead of 60 minutes since you are adding one more body part to that session. HIIT cardio still remains at 20 minutes.


Final Notes…

I hope you enjoyed this article and would love to hear your feedback or experience.  This is a routine that will get you in fantastic shape.  I am not advocating this as a ‘one size fits all’ routine for entering a contest or improving in a particular sport.

Remember what I said in the beginning, there are endless types of routines based on what you want. This is just one method to stay fit, get good hard workouts in, and see great improvements in your body.

One body part for week leads to….Fit Forlife





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