Any split "can" work, because the split by itself is just an empty shell. Fill it properly, it works. Mangle it, the split breaks.
We really have to look at the complete picture to comment intelligently. No one aspect of a program stands alone, independent of the rest. Things like volume, intensity, experience of the trainee, exercise selection, fatigue management, etc must be known to comment properly.
Advanced lifters are a special breed. They do what they do based on extended periods of personal experience.
When an intermediate lifter wants to train 5 days per week the first question I ask is why? In most cases the answer comes down to:
1) I like training more often.
2) Shorter workouts work better for me because of my schedule.
3) A 5 day split has a certain sizzle that appeals to the lifter, and they just like the way the idea sounds. This is sort of like a food craving.
There is nothing wrong with playing, but a lifter has to be prepared for possible consequences. I see a ton of young lifters training more frequently and they wind up with tendinitis or nagging injuries because they are just crushing their bodies with volume and advanced training techniques, trying to blast and blitz their way to glory.
I'm all for intelligently designed programs of any length as long as they make sense.
I work with a ton of bodybuilders who use 5 day splits. It's safe to say that most bodybuilders try 5 day splits during their career, and they either evolve and modify them so they are more efficient, or devolve them back down to 4 day splits for a myriad of reasons.
I personally am an evolution guy. I like to see trainees evolve their approaches based on current needs, or things they learn about their bodies.
I'm all for playing, specialization programs, whatever, but I believe testing one thing at a time in the context of a familiar program is the wisest way to do so. On that same note, if someone is going to jump to a 5 day split, I would hope they would structure it based on what currently works, or close to what currently works, so that the frequency is the biggest change.
One thing I will add is that the majority of guys I see who jump from major changes to major changes don't make much progress. I was one of these guys. Somewhere in the intermediate stage progress slows dramatically and it's easy to pick up a form of training ADD.
Today it's Hepburn, next week Doggcrapp, next week a 5 day split, the following week Max-OT, the next back to Wendlers because I need to simplify. If I see people jumping to a 5 day split in this context, I neither encourage or discourage them.
Most times they won't listen. They think somehow they're going to land on a magic space on the board game and find once again the excitement and progression they are lacking. My honest opinion is that this chase, once started, is hard to end.
Certainly they aren't hurting anyone, so it's not like they are the Devil incarnate. With that said, this usually isn't the way forward. The key at this point is really found in exploring what other lifters at your stage or beyond are doing to be successful; finding common patterns and testing these pieces and concepts.
Wholesale program revision is like picking a date from an Internet chat room. They all sound good for a night, but once you spend some time with them you find out the ugliness, and see all the warts. I prefer to see someone testing principles rather than making sweeping changes.
At some point as intermediates we each have to ask ourselves...,what's my ultimate goal? If there really is no defined goal, or urgency, then play around. Lifting isn't life or death.
If the goal is to be Elite in your sport, you don't have time for wholesale changes and playing around. You need to get serious, start analyzing what's working and what isn't, and change the details that are broken.
Recently I found that after 6 weeks I was reaching my peak with heavy triples on bench. I didn't jump to Doggcrapp training, or change to a 5 day split. I decided by analysis that I was trying to progress too quickly. It struck me that this approach doesn't work well for an advanced lifter. So I moved my heavy bench day to singles, and allowed for a possible 5 pound progression every 30 days.
Point being...once you build a fast car from the ground up, piece by piece, and it becomes a fine tuned machine, you don't change everything when it isn't winning races, you dial things in. It's a lot like logical troubleshooting.
Sorry for the long post. It's late and a lot of this probably has no bearing on your question.
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."
Last edited by BendtheBar; 08-21-2012 at 08:09 AM.