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December 04, 2022 10 Comments
This is the ultimate guide to the 5 day workout split. In this article, we have two complete 5 day workout split programs that you can follow, both of which are very different yet equally effective.
To get the most from strength training, you need to follow a well-designed plan. By doing so, it is easier to stay consistent and you will have a clear path of progress. Building muscle and strength requires strategy, and one of the most important aspects of that strategy is your training split.
There are many workout splits to choose from, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Among the most popular training splits is the 5 day workout split. As the name suggests, it will have you working out 5 days a week.
Working out 5 days a week takes real commitment, so it may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy working out frequently and you want to build muscle and strength, a 5 day workout split is a fantastic choice. It is a classic workout split that has been championed by bodybuilders for decades.
Table of contents:
A 5 day split is a workout routine that splits your weekly training into 5 days. So, 5 workouts per week, 5 different days.
Generally, a 5 day workout split involves training different muscles groups each workout session, which means you are training each particular muscle group once a week.
The most common 5 day workout split, which is also known as the Bro Split, is as follows:
Note: Core is to be thrown in at the trainees discretion, with once, twice or three times a week typically being recommended (we like to do it on chest, legs and/or arm days). As for cardio, that is also at the trainees discretion, as it depends on their fitness goals (i.e. lose weight or gain muscle).
While the days can be switched around as you prefer, it’s ideal to keep shoulders a few days apart from chest, as the shoulders are worked during a lot of chest exercises and both chest and shoulder exercise involve a lot of tricep work.
You can also change up your rest days, moving one in the middle and one at the end of the week. However, a lot of people like to have 2 days of rest in a row (on weekends usually) because it works best with their work-life schedule.
Now, the above split is the standard 5 day workout split, but there are other ways to create a 5 day workout routine.
Here are a few examples of different ways that you can create a 5 day workout split...
5 Day Split Example #1 (Bro Split):
The bro split (aka body part split) allows you to keep core and cardio separate from your strength training workouts, which might be ideal for someone who doesn’t want to spend extra time to do core and cardio after their workout.
If you have good shoulders and arms and you want to give yourself a full workout focusing on core strength and heart health, this is a good 5 day workout routine.
If you want to do a whole workout focusing on your shoulders or arms, because they are lagging, you can always add other muscle groups together (i.e. chest/back, chest/shoulders, back/arms, etc.).
5 Day Split Example #2 (ULPPL):
The ULPPL split is an amalgamation of an upper and lower split and a push pull leg split. It is an interesting way to do a 5 day split and it's starting to become popular. This is because studies are showing hitting multiple muscle groups twice a week may be better for hypertrophy and strength.
5 Day Split Example #3 (Upper Body Emphasis):
This is somewhat similar to the previous 5 day workout split, but you will only be working your legs once a week rather than twice a week. This is not one we recommend for most people, but it is an example of how you can tailor a 5 day workout split to your goals. For example, this one would make sense if you have good legs but your upper body is not up to par.
5 Day Split Example #4 (Core & Cardio Emphasis):
This is an example of a 5 day split that emphasizes core and cardio. If you want to lose fat while maintaining muscle, this could be a good option for you.
We could go on and on with examples. You can make small tweaks to tailor a 5 day split to different people’s weak areas, goals, and schedules. There are no rules when it comes to structuring a 5 day workout split...For example, you could do chest and biceps on one day or legs and triceps on one day, you could make a split with emphasis on your upper body or lower body, and so on.
All in all, you can get creative with your 5 day workout split and set it up however you like. But, whatever you decide on should be strategic and aligned with your fitness goals. Moreover, you need to stay consistent with it for 8-12 weeks if you want to see good results.
A 5 day workout split is among the best splits you can do, which is why it is so popular. However, it does require a big commitment of time, as you will be training 5 out of 7 days a week. Compared to other workout splits (3 or 4 day splits), you will need a greater level of dedication. And, it’s not just about working out 5 days a week, you will need to put time into proper recovery (plenty of sleep and good nutrition) if you want to build muscle.
All in all, if you are willing to put in the time, determine how long should a workout be for best results, and stay consistent, a 5 day workout split will be very effective, especially if your goal is to build muscle.
A 5 day split is arguably the best workout split for building muscle because it allows you to maximize training volume and emphasis on each muscle group while still giving you just enough rest days each week.
Only very advanced trainees should be doing 6 day splits, as one day of rest per week is simply not enough for the vast majority of people.
Any workout split can be good for weight loss because weight loss really comes down to your diet.
If you want to lose weight, you just need to eat at a calorie deficit and ideally do cardio or HIIT after your workouts.
A 5 day split with plenty of cardio will be great for fat loss because it will allow you to keep on as much muscle as possible. The more muscle you have, the more of a fat burning machine your body will become.
5 day splits are not the best for beginners (like true beginners) because it requires such a substantial commitment. Beginners would do better with a 3 or 4 day split, even just full body workouts each session. Beginners can make gains easily, so a split with so much volume is really not necessary.
On the whole, 5 day workout splits are one of the best options for building muscle and are generally recommended for people who have been training for at least 6 months (and have a solid foundation). That said, if you are a strong beginner, you can give it a try for a couple months and see how you like it. A lot of fitness is about experimenting. Try new things and stick with them for a couple months, analyze results, and adjust.
The best 5 day bodybuilding workout split is the tried and true “Bro Split” or the less talked about Upper Lower Push Pull Leg Split. The one you should choose depends on your fitness goals. We will go over the benefits of each to help you decide which of the two 5 day workout splits is right for you before getting into the actual weightlifting workout plans.
So, just for a reminder.
This 5 day training split aims to maximize work on just one major area of your body each training session. With that, you can really hammer down on your muscle groups with high volume and be sure they have recovered before the next time you hit them again. It is great for building muscle, which is why it is one of the most common splits for bodybuilders.
This 5 day training split targets each muscle group twice a week. There will be less volume for the muscle group being worked per session, but the total weekly volume will be similar as the bro split.
Below we will explain the pros and cons of these two 5 day workout splits, and then we will provide you an entire workout plan for each...
The 5 Day Bro Split allows you to maximize the training intensity and duration at the sacrifice of training frequency, whereas a full body split maximizes frequency at the sacrifice of intensity and duration per session. A routine like an upper/lower split would fall somewhere in the middle.
A lot of people like the 5 day bro split because it allows them to train more frequently and spread out the volume of their training across the week. If you like to be in the gym (or workout) often and you don’t want to cram so much into one workout or you simply like to hone in on one area and really hammer it down, the Bro Split will sound good to you.
On the other hand, a lot of people have been scrutinizing the 5 day bro split over the last few years because certain studies have shown training each muscle group at a greater frequency (2-3x per week) is best for muscle growth. The concept is that protein synthesis returns to normal levels after 36 hours. So, by not hitting that muscle again after protein synthesis levels off, you are missing out on muscle growth potential, especially in a streamlined manner.
To help you decide if the bro split is right for you, here are bulletized pros and cons of the bro split...
Another important thing to consider is that the more muscular you are and the heavier you lift, the more time you will need to recover between sessions. So, if you are big bodied, the bro split will give you the time you need to fully recover. This is why a lot of bodybuilders use a 5 day bro split. Bigger muscle takes longer to recover.
Lastly, you may just find that focusing on a specific muscle group rather than splitting your attention across multiple muscle groups is far more enjoyable. Enjoying your workouts is a very important aspect of training. The more you enjoy it, the more consistent you will be.
While a 5 day bro split only targets each muscle group once a week, there will be some inevitable overlap in the muscles worked. For example, your anterior delts will be worked on both chest and shoulder days, so they will be hit twice a week. Other examples are your erector spinae, which will be worked on both back and leg days, your biceps, which will be worked on back day, and your triceps, which will be worked on chest and shoulder days.
All in all, this applies to various muscles, which is why you do need some strategy like separating chest and shoulder days by a few days. When it comes to your biceps and triceps, there isn’t much of a concern as these muscles can handle more volume and they will recover quicker than larger muscle groups like pecs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, lats, etc. Generally speaking, even if you hit a muscle on a day where it is not the main target, it won’t end up being fully exhausted to need multiple days to recover. So, it’s fine.
On the whole, the bro split is simple, effective, and a highly focused way of training. Nevertheless, like any split, there are some drawbacks.
So, you’ll just have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons...
After reading the pros and cons, you can decide if a bro split is right for you, as they can be good for any fitness level, and many factors, especially personal preference, should be considered.
This 5 day split is not so commonly discussed, but it is a great one. It provides a good mix of both intensity, volume, and training frequency. By combining both an upper and lower split and a PPL split, you get more focus on each muscle group than you would with a PPL or upper/lower split alone, plus you are guaranteed to hit each muscle group twice a week, which people like because studies are showing hitting each muscle group twice a week is best for muscle growth potential.
Like any split, there are pros and cons. So let’s go over the pros and cons to help you can decide if this 5 day workout routine is right for you.
Overall, this is a great split for those who want to put on muscle while keeping fat off or to a minimum, but there are drawbacks to consider...
Considering the above, the Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Leg 5 Day Workout Split will be good for you if you have enough experience and your goal is to build strength and muscle, rather than just mainly wanting to build muscle. That said, it is certainly a very effective muscle building plan considering stronger muscles have greater potential to be bigger muscles.
Both 5 day splits allow you to workout 5 days a week, but the two are very different.
For complete beginners, we recommend starting with a full body routine. But if you are not a complete novice (i.e. have been training for 3-6 months), you can give the Bro Split or Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Leg split a shot. You can do one for 2-3 months than the other after. it's good to switch up your routine every couple months to avoid plateaus.
For intermediate and advanced trainees, it depends on your goal for which is best. Consider the above pros and cons and make a decision. You can always switch up your routine after 2 months if you feel the results are not as you'd expect.
To make things simple: If you are very muscular already, you will probably do best with a 5 day bodybuilding bro split. If you want to be lean, muscular and athletic, a ULPPL 5 day weightlifting split is probably best.
If you are still unsure which split to do, just think about the following points. Write down your answer for each and then you should be able to make a decision:
In any case, you can’t go wrong with either split or any well-known split. Give it a try for 8-12 weeks and keep track of progress. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. You will be able adjust to find what works for you and see what you like best over time.
Assuming you workout at the gym or have access to conventional fitness equipment, here are the best exercises for a 5 day weightlifting split (most of which we've included in the two 5 day workout plans below).
Note: If you train bodyweight only, we have a section at the bottom of this guide with a list of the best bodyweight exercises.
|Chest:||BB Bench Press||DB Bench Press||Incline Bench Press (BB & DB)||DB Fly||Cable Fly||Pec Deck||Dips||Push Ups||Machine Chest Press|
|Back:||Bent Over Row (underhand/overhand)||Single Arm Row||T-Bar Row||Wide Grip Pull Ups & Chin Ups||Machine High Rows||Lat Pulldowns (all grip variations)||Straight Arm Lat Pulldown||Seated Rows||Rack Pull, Trap Raises & Farmer's Walks|
|Shoulders:||Standing OHP||Seated OHP||Arnold Press||Seated Smith OHP||Lateral Raises||Y-Raises||Front Raises||Rear Delt Fly||Face Pulls|
|Biceps:||Barbell Curl||Supinated Curl||Reverse Grip Curl||Hammer Curl||Preacher Curl||Concentration Curl||Incline DB Curl||Zottman Curl||Overhead Cable Curl|
|Triceps:||Triceps Pressdown (overhand)||Reverse Grip Triceps Pressdown||Rope Pressdown||Overhead Triceps Extension||Triceps Kickbacks||Bench Dips||Skull Crushers||Close Grip Bench Press||Tate Press|
|Legs:||Back Squats||Hack Squats||Leg Press||Split Squats & Lunges (all variations, including Bulgarian Split Squat)||Deadlifts||Hip Thrusts||RDL & Stiff-Leg Deadlifts||Good Mornings||Leg Extensions & Leg Curl|
|Core:||Front Plank||Side Plank||Ab Rollout||Hanging Leg Raise||Lying Leg Raise||Legs Up Crunches||Pallof Press||Woodchoppers||Reverse Crunch|
Let’s start with the 5 day split that most people think of when it comes to a 5 day workout split, the BRO SPLIT. The Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Legs Split is next.
Now that you have a good idea of what you’re doing, let’s go over the actual workout.
This program is designed to build muscle & strength, with an emphasis on building muscle. Do this split for 8-12 weeks.
We are using the two-in-a-row rest day schedule, but you could put one rest day between day 2 and 3 or 3 and 4 to the same effect.
WARM UP: A dynamic warm up should be done before each workout. Focus on the mobility of the muscles and joints that you will be working on that particular workout and get your body temperature up.
WARM UP SETS: The sets below do not include warm up sets - Always do warm up sets before getting into your working weight. Do as many as you need to warm up at any given exercise, but never take warm up sets close to failure. They should be light weight and low reps, gradually increasing the load to your working weight.
DAY 1: CHEST DAY
|Flat Bench Press||4 sets||6-10 reps (pyramid)|
|Flat Bench DB Fly||3 sets||8-10 reps|
|Incline DB Bench Press||4 sets||8-10 reps|
|Low to High Cable Fly||3 sets||10 reps|
|Chest Dips||3 sets||10 reps|
|Decline Push Ups||3 sets||Max reps|
DAY 2: BACK DAY
|Deadlift||4 sets||3-6 reps (increase weight each set)|
|Pull Ups||4 sets||6-12 reps|
|Bent Over Rows||4 sets||8-12 reps (2 sets underhand, 2 sets overhand)|
|Close Grip Lat Pulldown||3 sets||8-12 reps|
|Machine High Row||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Trap Raises||3 sets||10-20 reps|
DAY 3: ARM DAY
|Barbell Curl||3 sets||8-10 reps|
|Alternating Hammer Curls||3 sets||10 reps each arm|
|Reverse Cable Curl w/ Straight Bar||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Triceps Pressdown w/ Rope||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Triceps Kickback||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Skull Crushers||3 sets||8-10 reps|
DAY 4: LEG DAY
|Back Squat||4 sets||6-10 reps (increase weight each set)|
|Stiff Leg or RDL||3 sets||10 reps|
|Split Squat||3 sets||8-12 reps each side|
|Hip Thrust||3 sets||8-12 reps|
|Leg Curl x Leg Extension (superset)||3 sets||10-15 reps|
|Standing or Seated Calf Raise||3 sets||Max reps|
DAY 5: SHOULDER DAY
|Seated or Standing OHP||4 sets||8-12 reps|
|Arnold Press||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Lateral Raise||3 sets||10-15 reps|
|Cable Y-Raise||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Rear Delt Fly||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Face Pull||3 sets||10-15 reps|
DAY 6 & 7: REST OR ACTIVE RECOVERY:
On your rest days, feel free to...REST. But if you are the type of person who has to move, do some light activities that won't affect your recovery, such as mobility training, some forms of Yoga, walk, easy hike, etc.
You probably noticed there are no core-specific exercises in the bro split above.
It's important to note that your core will be worked with the big compound lifts. However, doing a little extra core work is great and often undervalued.
For core workouts, try to do 1-2 per week. They can be done after any training day or whenever you feel like it during the day. We prefer that you rest on your rest days, but if you feel that it won't hurt your workouts the coming week, you can also do your core workouts on your rest days. Remember though, if your core is sore, your lifts will suffer, as your core is a huge element to any big compound movement.
Here are some examples of effective and efficient core workouts...
CORE WORKOUT EXAMPLE #1:
Rest 30-45 seconds per set.
CORE WORKOUT EXAMPLE #2:
Rest 30-45 seconds per set.
CORE WORKOUT EXAMPLE #3:
Rest 30-45 seconds per set.
FINAL NOTE FOR THIS CLASSIC BRO SPLIT:
The above bro split workout plan is designed to targets all of your primary muscles in full and from all angles. However, if you find yourself more comfortable with different exercises or variation (i.e. Front Squats vs Back Squats), then choose whatever works for your fitness level, mobility, preferences or weak areas, and the equipment available to you.
This workout split is designed to build muscle and strength while keeping lean. The workouts are going to provide a higher calorie burn than the bro split and you are going to be doing slightly more volume each workout.
Like any split, you should stick with this plan for at least 8 weeks if you want measurable results.
FYI: Our upper and lower workout days are going to focus on strength, so the reps will be lower and we will mainly be doing big compound lifts, and the PPL portion of the week will emphasize hypertrophy. That said, you will see improvement in both strength and size with all of the rep ranges we use, as science shows any rep range can build muscle if the weight load is correct (more on rep ranges vs weight load after we run through this workout routine).
WARM UP: A dynamic warm up should be done before each workout. Focus on the mobility of the muscles and joints that you will be working on that particular workout and get your body temperature up.
WARM UP SETS: The sets below do not include warm up sets - Always do warm up sets before getting into your working weight. Do as many as you need to warm up at any given exercise, but never take warm up sets close to failure. They should be light weight and low reps, gradually increasing the load to your first sets working weight.
DAY 1: UPPER BODY (STRENGTH FOCUSED)
|Bench Press||4 sets||4-8 reps|
|Bent Over Row||3 sets||4-8 reps|
|Seated OHP||4 sets||6-10 reps|
|Pull Ups or Chin Ups (weighted if needed)||4 sets||6-10 reps|
|Barbell Curl x Chest Dips (superset)||3 sets||10 reps|
|Hanging Leg Raises or Lying Leg Raises||3 sets||6-12 reps|
DAY 2: LOWER BODY (STRENGTH FOCUSED)
|Deadlift||4 sets||1-5 reps|
|Front Squat (or Hack Squat)||4 sets||4-8 reps|
|Hip Thrust (or Reverse Hack Squat)||4 sets||6-10 reps|
|Split Squat||3 sets||10 reps each side|
|Leg Press (wide foot placement)||3 sets||10 reps|
|Standing Calf Raise||3 sets||10-15 reps|
DAY 3: REST
DAY 4: PUSH (HYPERTROPHY FOCUSED)
|Incline Bench||4 sets||8-15 reps|
|Incline Fly or Cable Fly||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Arnold Press||3 sets||10-15 reps|
|Lateral Raise x Front Raise (superset)||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Triceps Kickback x Rope Pushdown (superset)||3 sets||12-15 reps|
|Up Down Planks||3 sets||30 seconds|
DAY 5: PULL (HYPERTROPHY FOCUSED)
|Lat Pulldown||4 sets||8-12 reps|
|Seated Row||4 sets||10-12 reps|
|Straight Arm Lat Pulldown||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Rear Delt Fly or Face Pull||3 sets||10-15 reps|
|Concentration Curl x Hammer Curl (superset)||3 sets||10 reps|
|Side Plank||3 sets||30-45 sec/side|
DAY 6: LEGS (HYPERTROPHY FOCUSED)
|Back Squat||4 sets||8-12 reps|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Stiff-Leg or RDL||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Good Mornings||3 sets||8-12 reps|
|Leg Curl x Leg Extension (superset)||3 sets||10-15 reps|
|Seated Calf Raise||3 sets||10-20 reps (pyramid)|
DAY 7: REST
FINAL NOTE FOR THIS ULPPL SPLIT:
The above workout plan is designed to targets all of your primary muscles in full and from all angles. The first part of the week focuses on strength using heavier loads and the second part of the week on hypertrophy using medium loads.
If you find yourself more comfortable with different exercises or variation, then choose whatever works for your fitness level, mobility, preferences or weak areas, and the equipment available to you.
Do this routine for 8-12 weeks and then assess and change things up as needed.
Here are some important rules and tips to follow when creating or following a workout plan with the goal of building muscle and/or strength.
It's important to understand the information below so you can make adjustments to the routine as needed or desired.
Avoid doing pushing muscle groups and pulling muscle groups back to back. For example, you don’t want to do Chest on Day 1 and then Shoulders on Day 2. Separate the days by opposing muscle groups. This is why we’ve structured the weekly routine as we did.
You don’t need to do every single exercise you know on any given day. Choose 5-6 exercises that complement each other (not repeat one another), meaning they target the same muscle group or body area but in a different way. It’s all about angles and training variables. For example, doing a flat barbell bench press and then a flat dumbbell bench press doesn’t make sense, rather you should do a flat bench press and then an incline press (which changes the training variable of body position, thus targeting your chest differently).
You’ll notice that we have various rep ranges depending on the exercise at hand. Reps can range anywhere from 1-15 for building muscle and strength, and it really depends on the exercise and how far you are into your workout.
Generally speaking, you should put the big compound lifts at the beginning of your workout when your strength levels are highest. This means you will be doing lower reps with a heavier load. Then, towards the middle and end of your workout, you focus on the “accessory” exercises, using a higher rep range with lighter weight.
So, unless you are near-advanced or advanced, stick to the the 6-15 rep range. There are only a few exercises where 1-5 reps makes sense, and that’s the big three - bench press, squats, and deadlifts. If you do these big lifts with heavy weight, use caution. If a workout plan tells you to do 1-5 reps, which ours does, and you feel you are not at that level, then work in the 5-6 rep range with a weight load you feel comfortable with yet is challenging enough to bring you to near failure (near failing meaning you have a couple reps left in the tank) - and use a spotter just to be safe.
We recommend 60-90 seconds of rest between sets. This should be enough time to let your muscle recover for the next set yet not get cold. If you are doing very heavy weight and big compound movements, you may need a little more time between sets and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you are not resting to the point where your muscles get cold. You will know when you are ready for the next set, your heart rate will tell you. But push yourself as sometimes you will extend the rest time longer than you actually need.
Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts over the course of your training period. Without doing this, you won’t be able to continue to build muscle or strength because your muscles will no longer be adequately stressed to continue adapting.
Progressive Overload Methods Include:
While there are several ways to progress, for our 5 day workout splits, all you need to focus on is increasing the weight load and increasing the reps (to the top of the given rep range).
We provided a rep range for most exercises, so if you start on the low end, you can progress to the top of the range. Once you reach the top of the range, you should increase the weight load and drop the reps down to the lower end as needed.
i.e., If the rep range is 10-15 for 3 sets, work up to 3 sets of 15, then increase the weight load slightly.
Conversely, if the plan we have for you involves too much volume, you can adjust by making it 3 sets instead of 4, or 2 sets instead of 3, then you can progress by adding sets to the exercises.
The rep ranges in our 5 day workout splits can also be slightly altered. For example, if it says 8-12 reps for any given exercise, but you prefer 10-15 reps, that's fine. Once you decide on the change you want, just keep the same rep range over the course of the training period so you can focus on the aforementioned progressive overload method.
Be sure to keep track of your workouts. Make an excel or diary of your training. It helps! It allows you to clearly see and work towards your progressive overload goals. If you do this properly, you will build muscle and strength without fail.
Note: Progress is NEVER linear. It's perfectly normal to have days where you don't outperform the previous weeks. In fact, it'll happen quite often. But as long as you progress over time, you are doing well.
No matter what split you do, you should always be implementing progressive overload if your goal is strength & mass building.
Follow a program closely for 4-12 weeks so you can actually make progress, but after that training cycle is up, change up your routine. For most people, the point of diminishing returns is around 8 weeks, so to avoid that, you need to use periodization.
Essentially, after every training cycle, you take a week or so to deload or completely rest and then start up a new training plan. It can be the same split with changes to the exercises and structure or it can be a completely different split.
This will help you avoid plateaus and injury or overtraining.
With each training cycle, you should stay consistent with your routine, only making changes in weight load, reps, sets, volume, intensity, rest time, etc., which is what we call progressive overload...
Stick with one of the plans above for 8-12 weeks.
While it’s ok to make some small variations to accessory lifts, you should be strict with your main lifts and keep the workout the same for the entire 8-12 week cycle. This will allow you to track and see real progress (employing progressive overload correctly, which we will explain more in-depth below).
After 8-12 weeks, you can change up your routine (i.e. if you were doing the bro split, try the ULPPL split after!) OR simply change the order of the muscle groups’ training days.
Using the bro split workout plan above as an example, this could be an effective change for the next 8-12 week training period:
You can also change up the order of the exercises or the exercises themselves. For example, you could switch back squats with front squats, standing overhead barbell press with seated overhead dumbbell press, and so on.
However, be sure to maintain focus on big compound lifts first, and accessory exercises second, as the big compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead presses are what build serious muscle mass and require higher strength levels, which you will have earlier in your workout.
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The concept of recovery is simple and straightforward, but for a lot of people, it’s hard to follow through.
The three pillars of recovery are nutrition, hydrations, and sleep.
Remember, muscle growth occurs outside of the gym!
If you want to build muscle, you need an ample amount of protein and high quality carbs. You should be eating around .75 gram of protein for every lb of bodyweight. So, if you weight 180lbs, you need at least 135g of protein each day (yes, even on days you are not working out). Carbs should be around 2-3.5 grams per lb of bodyweight. Avoid cards before bed and always consume carbs after your workout.
If you are looking to lose weight while keeping on muscle, then you should up the protein and lower the carbs. For a fat loss diet, your protein needs to be at around 1 gram per lb of bodyweight. Your carbs should be cut in half, only consuming them in the mornings, a little an hour or so before your workout, and just after a workout.
Water is essential for building muscle. It helps energize your muscles and keeps them performing at the highest level. It also helps you keep off fat.
You should be drinking about half your bodyweight in ounces of water. So, if you weight 200lbs, you need 100 ounces of water per day (or 3 liters).
Make sure you are getting 8+ hours a night. If you are training hard, you body needs more sleep than those who are not. If not, your immune system will suffer, as will your workouts.
When we say 8+ hours of sleep, we mean good sleep. If you are constantly waking up in the night, you are affecting your deep sleep, which is the sleep that aids in recovery and boosts the good hormones. So, if you have any issues with your sleep, work on fixing them. Good quality sleep is vital.
There are many supplements out there, but there are really only a few that you need to consider:
1. Protein Powder: Protein powder is nothing but real protein that has been processed into a powder. You will need to consume more protein than people who don’t train so protein powder is a very efficient and economical way to consume the protein you need to recovery. The best time to use protein powder is post-workout but can also be used for a healthy snack. Note: Don’t let all of your protein come from protein powder, it’s to help supplement your daily protein intake, not make up all of it.
2. Creatine: Creatine is one of the most researched supplement there is. Studies show that it is one of few supplements that actually supports sports performance. It can help you improve strength, intra-workout recovery, and lean muscle mass.
3. Caffeine: Caffeine is similar to creatine in that it has an overwhelming amount of studies to support its use. This is why it is usually the primary ingredient in many pre-workouts, as it gives you increased energy and can help you train hard throughout a session. So, if you need a boost before your workout, caffeine in the form of coffee or energy drinks will surely help.
To wrap things up, let's answer several frequently asked questions regarding exercising 5 days a week...
Working out 5 days a week is perfectly fine as long as you are not training each muscle group every day or too close together. If you want to train 5 days a week, then you should follow one of the 5 Day Workout Splits below because they are structured in a way that allows you to workout at this weekly frequency without overtraining. A systematic approach is important to ensure good recovery. By separating your body parts into different days, you can train more frequently.
Most people do perfectly fine with a 5 day workout “bro split” because the workouts are so focused on one area of your body and there's plenty of recovery, so its hard to overtrain.
WORD OF CAUTION FOR BEGINNERS:
If you are a beginner, 5 days a week may be unnecessary. Your body as a whole may need more time to recover. It’s not even about your muscles, because you are training specific muscle groups each day with a bro split. It’s about your nervous system. As a complete beginner, a workout with 16-20+ sets per muscle group can be too taxing, especially if you still haven’t dialed in on good nutritional practices or aren't getting enough sleep. This could be a recipe for failure or some serious DOMS. So, we recommend most beginners to go for a 3 day split or 4 day split that trains 2-3 muscle groups per workout with 6-10 sets each muscle group. As you become more experienced and in better shape, you can gradually increase your training volume and eventually do a 5 day split.
If you decide to go for a 5 day split and you are feeling fatigued after a couple weeks, place a rest day in-between every 2 workout sessions. It’s fine if you complete your split routine in 8 or 9 days rather than 7. Recovery is vital.
Working out 5 days a week is more than enough to build muscle. You can spread out the volume of your training throughout the week, which a lot of people find easier to manage than 3-4 days of high volume training.
If you are a beginner, you will build muscle with just 3 days a week, even at low volume per workout. It’s the newbie gain phenomenon - people new to training will see gains quickly and easily, usually in their first three months, then things start to slow down as you reach an intermediate level. By 6 months in, you will need to start ramping things up.
Follow the training plan for at least 8 weeks and at most 12 weeks. If you are a beginner, you should start seeing physical results around 4 weeks in. If you an experienced lifter, you will see some good results by the time the training cycle is over (especially if you do some before and after pics). What you will noticeably see throughout the training cycle are improvements in your strength and overall fitness. Also, if you eat right, you should be able to build muscle while keeping lean. A clean bulk is always the best bulk.
It can take years to build the body you want. One training cycle is just a step on the ladder.
We can’t give you an exact length of time for each workout for a 5 day split as it depends on your training goals, your schedule, the muscle groups you are targeting, and your fitness level. However, generally speaking, your workouts should last no longer than 60 minutes (including warm up but excluding cardio). The average time for workout sessions for a 5 day split is usually around 45-60 minutes. Remember, you are training 5 days a week, so the volume is spread out more over the week, which means you can do slightly less total volume each workout than you would with a 3 or 4 day split.
Now, to give you some ideas why your workout may be longer or shorter:
Let’s say your training goal is strength, then you would be doing heavy sets of approx. 5 reps. In this case, you’d need at least 2 minutes of rest between each set, so your workout may last longer.
On the flip side, maybe you are doing a bro split for muscle hypertrophy, using just 30-60 seconds rest between sets and aiming to do a total of 20 sets per workout. This workout shouldn’t take you any longer than 45 minutes - 30 seconds working time + 45 seconds rest = 75 seconds per set x 20 sets = 1,500 seconds, which is 25 minutes, but it would be very hard to maintain 45 seconds every set especially with setting up for new exercises. So, it would really be like 40 minutes or so. This is the perfect workout time for metabolic training, which focuses on burning a lot of calories while building muscle.
Another example of why workout times will vary is your schedule. If you only have 30 minutes, then you can make that work! It’s as simple as that. Anyway, 30 minutes 5 times a week is perfectly adequate.
As for fitness level, obviously the more experienced you are and the better shape you are in, the more your muscles can handle. So, it may take a beginner just 10 sets to reach fatigue for a specific muscle group, whereas an advanced lifter takes 20 sets, which is why beginners usually do better with splits that train 2 muscle groups per workout.
So, as you can see, it all depends. But the general rule of thumb is 45-60 minutes for a 5 day split. Just make those minutes count by not lollygagging around - a 30 minute workout that’s intense is far better than a half-ass workout that takes 90 minutes. Plus cortisol (the fat producing hormone) starts to increase after 60 minutes or so, especially for people over 40, which is obviously something you want to avoid.
If you want to lose fat or simply keep lean, cardio is a must. Calories burned when weightlifting, especially with a bro split, simply can’t compare to traditional cardio. So, if cardio is important to you, we recommend that you do 20-40 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week, although even 2 days is ok.
You can do cardio after your workout, on your rest days, or in the morning or evening separated from your weightlifting sessions. If it was up to us, we’d say do cardio in the morning and weightlifting in the evening. Your muscles are strongest in the evening because your body is warmer. For most people, they will get the best strength workouts in later on in the day.
If you are interested in comparing morning workouts to night workouts, you can read this: When should I workout, morning vs night?
Absolutely! You can use the same structure as the 5 day workout splits above, but just do bodyweight exercises. And, yes, you can build muscle like this if you employ progressive overload. You just need to focus on increasing volume, reps, intensity, as well as decreasing rest.
If you want to do a bodyweight-only 5 day workout split, follow the same workout plan above, but swap out the exercises for bodyweight exercise.
Here are the best exercises to include in a bodyweight 5 day training plan:
|Chest:||All Push Up Variations, Parallel Dips (lean upper body slightly forward)|
|Back:||All Pull Up & Chin Up Variations, Inverted Rows, Superman Extensions|
|Shoulders:||Pike Push Ups, Wall Stand Hold/Push Ups, Bear Crawls|
|Biceps:||Close Grip Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Underhand Inverted Rows, Reverse Grip Push Up|
|Triceps:||Parallel Dips (with upper body straight), Bench Dips, Close Grip Push Ups, Diamond Push Ups, All Push Up Variations|
|Legs:||Jump Squats, Glute Bridges, Nordic Ham Curl, Lunges/Split Squats, Plyometrics, Sprints|
|Core:||Leg Raises, All Plank Variations|
Notes for bodyweight training:
Have questions about 5 day workout splits? Feel free to reach out to us by email or leave a comment below.
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