If you’re someone who’s looking to build muscle mass, one thing that you may come to consider at some point is a specialization routine. When you first get started with the goal to build muscle, using a basic full-body workout program tends to yield the best results.
You hit the muscles at a high-frequency rate of three times per week and are focusing mostly on compound movements that will be excellent for increasing your muscle mass.
But, as time progresses onwards, you may come to find that progress slows down as now you need something a little more advanced to take your results to the next level.
Or, perhaps one certain muscle group is really lagging and you want to devote more time and attention to it to bring it up to the rest.
This is precisely when a specialization routine will come into play. By using this approach you can target one or two muscles more individually to help see greater growth while keeping the rest of your body at maintenance.
It’s important to never stop training muscles entirely when focusing on the lagging muscle groups as you would then suffer muscle mass loss. Specialization routines are perfect for overcoming your weakness while maintaining all the muscles you’ve built so far.
Let’s have a quick peek into the specialization routine set up so you can get a feel for what you should be doing.
Creating Your Workout Split
The very first thing that you should consider is what your workout split will be. One very good option to use is a hybrid program that’s a mix between body part splits upper-lower splits, and the full-body workout program.
You always want to make sure that you’re stimulating each muscle group in the body at a minimum twice per week as this is the frequency required to maintain lean muscle mass.
But yet, you want to put forth extra work and attention to that specialization group so that you can get it growing faster and stronger.
The following set-up will allow you to accomplish these objectives perfectly:
- Monday – Upper Body Workout
- Tuesday – Lower Body Workout
- Wednesday – Off
- Thursday – Full Body Workout
- Friday – Off
- Saturday – Specialization routine
- Sunday – Off
As you can see, you’ll hit each muscle group twice per week doing the upper/lower sections and then the full-body workout and then you’ll also target that specialization muscle group a third time, devoting an entire session to it to really bring up its strength level.
In addition to this, you’re never working for any given muscle group two days in a row, which is important for recovery purposes, making this a very ideal setup.
You could also choose to perform two full-body workouts and then one specialization workout as well, leaving one day off between all three sessions if you are someone who can’t get to the gym four days per week or does have a slightly lower recovery ability.
Take All Other Muscles To Maintenance
So now that you know the workout split you will be doing, it’s time to take all other muscle groups to maintenance. For any given muscle that you don’t want to specialize in, you can generally reduce the total workload from that of what you were doing to about 50%.
So if you used to do 4 sets of bench press and you’re specializing on the back, now you can do just 2 sets of bench press instead.
Or, if you really like the bench press exercise, you could eliminate a whole other exercise entirely, keeping the total sets for bench press the same.
At the end of the day, the important point to note is that the total sets performed for any given muscle group can be slashed in half without risking lean muscle mass loss.
But, and this is important, intensity must stay the same. That means that whatever you do, don’t start lowering the weight. If you begin lowering the weight, that will be the impetus for the body to start losing muscle mass since it doesn’t think it requires as much muscle tissue to maintain its strength.
Employ Advanced Techniques For The Lagging Groups
So once all other muscle groups are at maintenance, then it’s time to focus on the specialization muscle. Since you are trying to really ramp up growth and strength, you want to use a combination of heavy lifting sets, along with some higher rep, advanced strategy sets.
Supers sets, drop sets, pyramid sets, and half rep sets will all be good to use here. Just make sure that you perform the most compound movements that you’re going to include in the routine first when you’re most fresh before moving on to the advanced higher rep sets that you’re going to do.
Remember to also maintain proper form at all times. Especially during the specialization workout, fatigue could become a major factor as you’re just working one muscle for the whole session, so be sure that it doesn’t cause you to sacrifice proper form.
Finally, make sure that you’re constantly changing the specialization workout around as well. Muscles respond best to constantly changing stimuli, so if you want to get stronger and bigger, this needs to be changed almost daily.
Whether you’re doing new exercises, taking the rep range higher, adding another set, or changing the order of exercises, just do something to evoke change.
Since the other groups are staying at maintenance anyway, change won’t be required but for that specialization workout, it’s key.
So there you have the main things that you must note about designing a specialization workout.
If you’re currently plateaued and want to take your body to a whole new level, these definitely can help take you there. Feel free to interchange the muscles that you specialize with over time as well to help build your absolute best body yet.
Choosing Your Ideal Workout Schedule
After making the decision that you want to start up a workout program, the next question that you need to answer is what type of split workout routines you’ll want to consider.
There are a number of different ways that you can perform your sessions in the gym and by taking the time to learn what each variation has to offer, you can ensure that whatever method you chose is going to serve you well and lead to fast results.
Let’s have a look at a few of the different types of split workout routines to know about as you make your decision.
1) The Upper Body Lower Body Split
The upper-lower split workout is one of the most popular forms of workout routines and for good reason.
First, it provides you with a number of days off so that you can get your cardio training into the schedule or play any sports that you happen to be involved with, and second, it provides a little more specialization over that of a full-body workout session.
Since you’ll be working just your upper body or just your lower body, you’ll easily be able to perform multiple exercises for each muscle group.
On a full-body workout program, you may only get to choose one exercise per muscle group, thus you won’t get that degree of specialization in there.
2) The 4 Day Split Routine
The second type of routine to consider is the 4-day split routine.
This routine has you working the same number of days as the upper body lower body split routine, but rather than focusing on upper and lower body divisions, you might divide it up by doing chest and shoulders one day, back on the next, legs on the third, and arms and abs on the forth.
This workout routine gives you even more specialization than the workout set-up above but neglects the frequency factor.
You’ll really only hit each muscle group once per week on this workout routine, so generally, this isn’t as effective except for those who are looking to either maintain their current muscle mass or really bring up one specific lagging muscle group.
3) A 2 Day Split Workout Routine
Our next workout type is the 2 days split workout routine. This setup is great for those who are on intense fat loss diets. Since your recovery will be lower when on a reduced calorie intake, you don’t want to be doing hours and hours of training each week.
This two-day split will have you working all muscles in the body twice per week using a full-body workout design, still providing you with the frequency you need but without overloading your system.
This is also a perfect workout design for anyone who wants to maintain their muscle but who doesn’t have a lot of time during the week to hit the gym.
Two, 30-45 minute sessions are all it will take with this setup.
4) The 3 Day Split Routine
The 3 day split routine is another very common workout that some people will choose to use and can be executed a couple of different ways.
First, you could approach it from a full-body perspective, performing three full-body workouts three days per week. This is great for those who want to build up a high level of strength since you’re not only working the muscles quite frequently, but you’re also allowing sufficient time to relax and recover.
Or, you may choose to divide it up into one full-body workout, one upper body workout, and then one lower body workout.
This type of set-up is great for those who do like the upper/lower scheme but who have poorer recovery abilities and find recovering from four days to be a bit much. Or, if you have a busy schedule and three days is all you can handle, this allows you the customization benefits of the upper-lower split routine while still allowing you to hit the gym just three times per week.
Finally, some people will choose to use the four-day split routine type of set-up only break it up into the three-day routine instead. So with this, you would perform a workout for the chest, shoulders, and triceps on one day, the back and biceps on the second, and then finish up with some leg work on the third.
This design is good for those who want maximum specialization but a low time commitment.
5) The Five Day Split Routine
Finally, last but not least you have the five-day split routine. This is the classic ‘body part split’ where you hit just a single muscle group in each workout.
This type of workout design proves to be least effective since first you’re not getting much frequency with the workout (each muscle is hit just once per week) and secondly, you don’t get very many days off either between sessions.
You’ll find that after three hard workouts in a row your CNS is really just burned out and your strength level really begins to falter.
Unless you have a very specific reason for choosing a five-day split routine, you’d likely be much better off choosing any one of the above-mentioned options instead.
So there you have the main types of workout designs that you should consider. Remember that you never have to choose one and stick with it forever. A better strategy would be mixing up the workout designs you choose to use over time so that you can keep your body guessing as to what’s coming next and also ensure that you don’t hit a training plateau.