Traditionally, personal trainers and fitness coaches advise against working your upper body two days in a row. This is because muscles need 24 to 48 hours of rest after exercising to promote optimal recovery and repair. It all depends on how you structure your workouts, though. By dividing your upper-body muscle groups in two, you can work your upper body two days in a row without having to worry that you're overworking your muscles or interfering with recovery. After all, if you're going to have toned arms and shoulders, you want to be fresh and energized enough to flaunt them.
Split your upper body muscle groups into two sub-groups. One great way to do this is to structure your workouts into a back and biceps day for day one and a chest, shoulders and triceps day for day two. Start with this split and then after a few weeks, you can try something else. For example, you might go with a split upper-body workout that pairs the chest and back on one day and puts the smaller muscle groups of shoulders, biceps and triceps on the other day.
Perform exercises for the largest muscle groups first. For instance, by doing your back exercises before your biceps exercises, you won't expend all your energy pumping out an intense arm workout only to be drained when it comes time to work your back. On day two, you should work your chest first, shoulders second and triceps last.
Select three to four exercises per muscle group per day to include in your workouts. Try to incorporate exercises that work your muscles from different angles or that focus on different areas of the same muscle group. For example, on "back" day, do exercises for your lower, upper and lateral back muscles like low and high rows and lat pull-downs.
Do three sets of each exercise with a 15 to 30 second rest in between sets. You can either perform high reps with low weight -- 15 to 18 reps; low reps with high weight -- 8 to 10 reps; or do declining reps, starting out with 15 reps in your first set, dropping to12 reps in your second set and finishing up with 10 reps in your last set.
- ExRx.net: 3 Day Split Workout
- Body Results: Workout Splits
- Human Kinetics: Strength-Building Techniques and Tips for the Over 50 Crowd
- Matt Siaperas; Personal Trainer, Hardbodies Gym, Blackfoot, Idaho
- Human Kinetics: Utilize Proper Workout Structure and Exercise Order
- Although you can effectively work different upper body muscles groups on consecutive days, you may experience better results by slipping your leg day in between the upper body days. Try the workouts each way to get a feel for what works best for your body and your schedule.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.