The holidays are over, so everyone is running in droves to the gym. No matter your current level of fitness, there are always areas to be improved on. That’s the enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle – it never has to get stagnant or boring. Being in shape is always in season, and sweater weather shouldn’t be an excuse to let the flab creep back on.

Splitting up your muscle groups allows for a more effective workout.
Splitting up your muscle groups allows for a more effective workout.

I’d like to introduce you all to one of the most effective approaches to toning up: doing a weekly split. Now don’t worry, this has nothing to do with your level of flexibility. Instead, a weekly split refers to splitting up the muscle groups, and working each one on a different day. The key to why a weekly split is so effective at muscle toning lies in two factors: volume and recovery. Because you’re only working a major muscle group each day, you can do more movements (volume) focusing on that group than during a full-body workout.  Once you’ve completely fatigued those muscles, you won’t focus on that group again until the next week, allowing proper time for recovery and for your muscles to repair.

As long as you have a pair of five pound dumbbells, you will be able to perform all of these movement from home. If you don’t know what any particular movement is, consider Google images your new best friend…

The Weekly Split

Perform each individual movement 15-20 times, repeating as a circuit 3-5 times. 

Day 1: Legs/Abs

Legs – bodyweight squats, jumping lunges, glute bridges, donkey kicks, side lunges

Abs – side plank oblique raises, Russian twists, bicycle crunches

Day 2: Chest – push-ups from the knees, laying dumbbell chest press, incline pushups, laying dumbbell flyes

Day 3: Back/Abs

Back – bent over dumbbell rows, renegade rows with dumbbells, supermans, bent over reverse flyes with dumbbells

Abs: 30 second plank, laying v-ups, sit-ups

Day 4: Active Rest – rest is a vital part of your workout regime! Today rest, but stay moving to keep your muscles from cramping and to facilitate recovery. Go for a walk, try some yoga, stretch, etc.

Day 5: Shoulders/Abs

Shoulders – downward dog push-ups, dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell shadow boxers, front dumbbell raise

Abs – flutter kicks, laying straight legged toe-touches, side plank oblique raises

Day 6: Arms – dumbbell bicep curls, kneeling dumbbell tricep kickbacks, push-ups, dumbbell bicep hammer curls, overhead dumbbell tricep extensions

Day 7: Rest – Today, really rest. Enjoy your day off, you earned it!

Now, this is far from a comprehensive weekly split. Feel free to mix the order of the days, just as long as you hit each muscle group weekly and remember to keep an active rest day mid-way through. If you have your own favorite movements that target a specific muscle group, feel free to incorporate those too. Stay consistent with this guideline and your muscles will thank you!