The 5 All-Time Best Workout Splits (With Full Routines) - SET FOR SET
best workout splits

The 5 All-Time Best Workout Splits (With Full Routines)

July 07, 2021

Deciding on the right split to run for your training can sometimes be a difficult task. Talk to five different people about what workout split is the best and you are likely to get five different splits. 

Moreover, workout splits are not free from fads. As times change, it seems what workout splits are "the best" does too.

The truth is...just about any split can work if applied correctly and done in a progressive manner.

Still, some splits are tired and true, backed by many years of results and proven studies.

This article will take you through the most effective training splits that you can do. It’s a long one, so buckle up.

workout split

WHAT IS A WORKOUT SPLIT?

A workout split refers to how you break up which areas of the body you are training on different days of the week. It is essentially a detailed, systematic weekly training schedule that you will repeat week after week for an extended period of time (i.e. 4-12 weeks).

In the most basic sense, a workout split will be created based on:

  • How many days a week you will train (i.e. 3, 4 or 5 days per week)
  • Targeted muscles for each workout session (i.e. chest, shoulders and triceps for one of the workout days)
  • (Usually) specific exercises that you will do for each of those workouts.

But, we are sure you already know what a workout split is...You are here to find out what’s the best split for YOU!

Thankfully, by the time you finish reading this, you will have all the info you need to choose a training split that fits your demands.

WHY ARE WORKOUT SPLITS IMPORTANT?

Workout splits are great because they provide you with a clear path toward a specific goal.

While you can go to the gym and workout without any training plan (just doing whatever you feel like each day), deciding on a workout split and sticking with it will provide you with the best possible results.

The main benefit of doing a workout split is that it helps you divide and conquer your body in a way where you exhaust specific muscles and then let them recover while you train other muscle groups. It’s a calculated approach that allows you to maximize the intensity, training volume, training frequency, and recovery time of all your muscles.

What’s more, workout splits enable you to track progress and focus on purposeful goals such as building muscle, strength, endurance and/or athleticism. Without following a plan, it’s extremely hard to achieve positive results. 

Overall, workout splits are important, which is why everyone knows they should be doing one. However, not all workout splits are “created equal”. There are so many different kinds of workout splits and different splits will be better for different people.

To start, let’s go over what factors you need to consider when choosing a workout split.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT WORKOUT SPLIT?

There are several things you need to consider when deciding on a workout split.

1. Training Experience

The right training split for a beginner will look a lot different than one for a more advanced lifter. While the overall strategy and goal can be similar, the workout splits training frequency, volume and intensity will differ based on your training experience and fitness level.

Note: If you are a true beginner, like brand new to working out, you will always be recommended to do full body workouts.

2. Goals

People’s fitness goals vary. From establishing a solid foundation and baseline of fitness to maintaining muscle to building muscle to improving strength to improving endurance to improving athleticism, etc., what goal you are trying to achieve will determine both your split and the finer details of it.

The workout split you choose should be influenced by whatever your end goal is. A workout split for someone who wants to strictly build muscle will look a lot different than someone who wants to lose fat.

3. Availability

Not everyone has a schedule that allows them to workout whenever the want. You need to determine how many days of the week you can actual commit to working out as that will be a big factor on what workout split you should choose. For example, if you can only guarantee a commitment of 3 days per week, then your workout split will need to be designed so that you hit all muscle groups and the most important movements in those three days.

So, how many days you workout per week is not just decided on your fitness level, but also your availability. A 3 or 4 day workout split can be effective for even the most experience lifter if designed appropriately.

It’s very important that you truly think about your availability because sticking to your plan to the T will give you best possible results.

4. Rest & Recovery Needs

This relates back to your training experience but it also includes things like your job, lifestyle, and age. It’s not just beginners who may need more recovery time between workouts. For example, older people and people who have trouble getting plenty of sleep will likely require a workout split that gives them more recovery time.

Don’t underestimate rest and recovery! It’s just as important as the workouts. Remember, your growth will take place outside of the gym as a result of good nutrition and sleep. The last thing you want is to be on a split that is too demanding for you and you are constantly training sore muscles. That is a recipe for disaster, or in other words, overtraining.

So, choose a split that you feel will give you the recovery time that your age, fitness level, and lifestyle needs, and if you have plenty of energy on a rest day, then do another activity like a sport, hiking, cycling or whatever you like. Think of it as active recovery.

5. Weaknesses

If you have certain weaknesses that you want to emphasize then choose a workout split or structure one in a way that allows you to improve upon those weaknesses to the fullest potential.

For example, if you feel your legs are way behind, then make sure you are doing legs on days that you will definitely be fresh and full of energy or choose a split that allows you to hit legs twice or just legs during one workout session.

Note: Just because you have a weak area doesn’t mean that’s all you should focus on. Your training should be well-rounded. But, you can ensure that your split is designed to tackle that weakness.

All in all, your workout split should be dictated by your goals, training experience, lifestyle, age, availability and weaknesses, which is why there is no one size fits all in the world of fitness.

what is the most effective workout split

HOW WORKOUT SPLITS ARE ORGANIZED (5 BEST WORKOUT SPLITS)

There are literally countless ways that you can organize a workout split. However, to keep things simple, we are going to cover the most popular, tried and true workout splits.

With the below splits, you simply can’t go wrong.

Here are the 5 workout splits we will go over:

  1. Full Body Split
  2. Upper Lower Split
  3. Push Pull Leg Split
  4. Push Pull Split
  5. Bro/Classic Bodybuilding Split

Beginners should start with the first option, but other lifters can choose from any of the five. Just consider the above factors we discussed and the advantages and disadvantages of the workout splits below and all will be stellar.

Note: Depending on your level, the exercises, intensity, and volume can be adjusted, but the overall protocol will be the same.

1. FULL BODY WORKOUT SPLIT

A full body split involves workouts that target both your upper and lower body each training session...or in other words, full body workouts!

However, you aren’t going to be targeting every single muscle in your body each session.

Rather, you will be performing compound movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time and allow you to hit your major muscle groups each session.

For example...

One full body workout may entail squats, bench press, overhead press, and pull ups, while another has deadlifts, dips, farmer’s walks, and hanging leg raises.

This is a simplified example, but as you can see, you aren’t necessarily specifically targeting every single muscle group each workout, but you are working your full body. Over the course of the week, you should do at least one or two exercises that does specifically target a muscle group. i.e. you should have squats in one of your workouts to target your quads, bench press for your chest, overhead press for your shoulders, and so on.

2, 3 or 4 days Per Week

Full body workout splits are best done on a 2, 3 or 4 day schedule.

With full body workouts, you should have a rest day in-between sessions, as you will be training all your major muscle groups each session. You will need these rest days so that you can bring good energy and intensity to each workout. Full body workouts are taxing on the overall nervous system, even for beginners who aren’t lifting heavy.

Regardless of whether you decide on 2, 3 or 4 days, it’s important that you hit all major muscle groups each week. Split up your workouts so that you are doing all the main compound lifts throughout the week.

2 Day

Day 1: Full Body Workout
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Full Body Workout
Day 5-7: Rest

3 Day

Day 1: Full Body Workout
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Full Body Workout
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Full Body Workout
Day 6 & 7: Rest

4 Day

Day 1: Full Body Workout
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Full Body Workout
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Full Body Workout
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Full Body Workout
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

For a 2 and 3 day split, each workout will be different. So, that’ll be 2 or 3 different workouts. For a 4 day split, you can either have 2 different workouts that you do twice a week or 4 different workouts. Then you repeat those same 2, 3 or 4 workouts each week for the duration of your training cycle.

While you should keep your workouts consistent each week, it is OK to switch up the order of the exercises on any given day. So, you’ll be doing the same exercises, but in a different order. You will have the most energy on the first exercise, so this will help keep everything even.

PROS OF A FULL BODY SPLIT:

Full body splits emphasize a high frequency of muscle stimulation (you will be hitting each muscle group multiple times per week), which is great for hypertrophy and strength, especially for beginners.

This split is also great for fat loss as you will be doing mostly compound exercises, which burn the most calories and boost metabolism. Not to mention, keeps testosterone levels higher.

Another great thing about full body splits are that after a week or so, you really won’t get sore because the frequency is high and the overall volume per muscle group is low. As such, you should have no trouble recovering fully between workouts.

Full body splits typically involve big compound movements which train your body to work as a single unit. This is great for improving athleticism. Also, continuously practicing these movements helps you build these functional movement skills quicker. 

There’s also less time commitment, which is great for people with busy schedules. A full body workout split will usually involve just a few big exercises per workout and there will always be a rest day in-between workout sessions. There is really no “fluff” when it comes to full body splits. You could get all you need from working out with three or four 30-45 minute workouts per week. 

Finally, if you were to miss a workout it’s not going to throw off your routine like it would with a body part split because regardless you are still training your entire body that week. 

CONS OF A FULL BODY SPLIT:

The biggest downfall of the full body split is the limited exercise variety and low overall volume per muscle group. This can lead you to neglect certain functional movement patterns or smaller muscles (i.e. middle delts, biceps, triceps). Moreover, there is less wiggle room for customization of reps schemes, sets, and so on. This is the downside of minimizing your workout schedule. 

Note: Beginners won’t need to worry about the smaller muscle groups as big compound lifts will provide enough stimulation for growth. 

Regarding more advanced lifters, your intensity will likely be too high to do multiple big compound lifts each workout. For example, if you are squatting heavy then it’s going to be hard to deadlift heavy or bench press heavy that same workout. And as an advanced trainee, you will need to have the high intensity for each of those exercises if you want to build muscle and strength. Overall, this can make full body workouts difficult to recover from and/or not effective for building muscle and strength. 

WHO SHOULD DO FULL BODY SPLITS?

Full body splits are best for beginners and anyone who just wants to simply keep fit. They are also great for people with busy schedules and those who want to lose fat. A full body split is just not ideal for more advanced, serious lifters looking to build muscle. 

So, if you are a beginner or you just want to workout to keep healthy, lean and fit and not have your life completely revolve around fitness, then a full body split is definitely the best choice. With that understanding, most people should actually consider a full body split, at least for a portion of the year. 

2 Day Full Body Split PLAN 

With a 2 day full body split, your workouts will need to be a little longer as you need to fit all the most important exercises that you need to do each week into 2 workouts. That said, it’s not like you are squeezing in what you would have done in 3 workouts into 2. With a 2 day split, your exercise variety and total volume will be less than a 3 or 4 day full body split.

Workout 1:

  1. Squats: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  3. Seated DB Shoulder Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Rows: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  5. Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 6-12 reps

Workout 2:

  1. Deadlifts: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Overhead Press: 4 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Pull Ups: 3 sets x max reps
  4. DB incline Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  5. Planks: 3 sets x 30-60 second holds

3 Day Full Body Split:

A 3 day full body split will allow you to spread out the main compound lifts a little more and add a little more movement variety to your workouts.

Workout 1:

  1. Squats: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Overhead Press: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  3. Rows: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Dips: 3 sets x 8-15 reps

Workout 2:

  1. Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Pull Ups: 3 sets x max reps
  3. Split Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  4. Planks: 3 sets x 30-60 second holds

Workout 3:

  1. Deadlifts: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Seated DB Overhead Press: 4 sets x 10-15 reps
  3. Push Ups: 3 sets x 15-20+ reps
  4. Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 8-12 reps

4 Day Full Body Split:

The 4 day split allows you to get even more volume and variety into your training, but it will require a higher level of recovery (you’ll need to sleep well and have good nutrition). You can also keep your workouts a little shorter with a 4 day split. 

Workout 1:

  1. Standing Overhead Press: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Hip Thrusts: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Pull Ups: 4 sets x Max reps
  4. Dips: 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Workout 2:

  1. Squats: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Incline DB Bench Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  3. Seated Rows: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Leg Raises: 3 sets x 8-12 reps 

Workout 3:

  1. Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Split Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  4. Bicep Curl x Tricep Extension: 2 sets x 10-20 reps each

Workout 4:

  1. Deadlifts: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Seated DB Overhead Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  3. Chest Fly or DB Pull Overs: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Planks: 3 sets x 30-60 second holds

Related: 17 Best Full Body Dumbbell Exercises & Workouts

how to choose a workout split

2. UPPER LOWER WORKOUT SPLIT

An upper lower split involves splitting up your workouts by upper body days and lower body days.

So, on upper body days, you will hit all of your major upper body muscles and on lower body days you will hit all of your major lower body muscles. 

Upper Body Muscles: Chest, Shoulders, Back, Triceps, Biceps

Lower Body Muscles: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves

What about core? You can do one or two core exercises each workout or add them to either your lower body or upper body days. Even though your core is part of your upper body, most people choose to add core to their lower body days because the lower body has less muscle groups to hit.

Similar to a full body routine, your workouts will mainly focus on big compound movements as they will give you the biggest bang for your buck when needing to hit many muscles each workout. This is particularly true for the upper body. However, some accessory exercises can be thrown into the mix to ensure you are not neglecting smaller muscle groups like the triceps, biceps, and calves.

2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 Days Per Week

An upper lower split can be done 2, 3, 4, or even 5 or 6 days per week. It’s very flexible. 

However, the most common upper lower workout split is 4 days. Upper and lower body workouts will be taxing if using the right intensity so those three days of rest are crucial. 

4 Day

Day 1: Upper Workout
Day 2: Lower Workout
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper Workout
Day 5: Lower Workout
Day 6-7: Rest

There are many ways to structure your upper body and lower body workouts in terms of what exercises you choose, how many sets and reps, protocols like supersets and circuits, and so on. It really depends on your goal. 

However, you should include several main lifts.

For upper body days:

  • Upper Body Pushes: Bench Press and Standing Overhead Press
  • Upper Body Pulls: Bent Over Rows, Pull Ups

For lower body days:

  • Lower Body Pushes: Squats
  • Lower Body Pulls: Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts

Besides that, you can mix in some other great compound movements like... 

Upper Body Assistance Compound Lifts:

  • Incline DB Bench Press
  • Dips
  • Seated DB Press
  • Upright Rows
  • Trap Raises or Farmer’s Walks
  • Variations of Rows 

Lower Body Assistance Compound Lifts:

  • Split Squat or Lunges
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts or RDLs
  • Leg Press
  • Good Mornings

If you have time for isolation exercises, you can add them to the end of your workouts. 

The hierarchy of your workouts should always be:

  1. Main Lift(s)
  2. Assistance Lifts
  3. Isolation Exercises

PROS OF UPPER LOWER SPLIT: 

The upper lower split is very popular because it is so versatile. It’s like the middle ground between full body workouts and body part splits.

Where full body workouts maximize frequency and body part splits maximize volume, the upper lower split is like the perfect mix of the two.

You’ll be able to do just enough volume each workout to exhaust your muscles and you get to hit your muscles groups twice a week.

Studies show that hitting your muscle groups twice a week is best for hypertrophy.

The upper lower split is particularly effective for building your legs because of this, as you have less muscle groups to focus on comparing to upper body days so you can really hammer your legs each lower body day. 

A lower body workout in this split is essentially the same as a body part split’s “leg day” so you will be doing 2 leg days each week!

The upper lower split also allows for plenty of recovery time between sessions too, even with the higher frequency. For example, you hit your upper body on day 1 and you won’t have to hit it again until day 4, so that’s 2 full days of rest, which should mean you are coming into each workout with energy charged to 100%. 

What’s more, upper lower splits are easy to manage. Again, most people do the 4 day upper lower split. It’s both manageable and effective enough to build muscle and strength.

Like full body workouts, the major focus of each workout are a couple big compound movements. This is great for movement skill and keeping androgen levels high. You’ll also burn a lot of calories each workout due to performing mostly compound lifts. With that, it’s easier to keep fat off as you work to improve strength and size.

Overall, it’s flexible in terms of what you can do. As you are training opposing muscle groups (like chest and back) you can do a lot of supersets to keep workout times shorter and more metabolic.

If we had to sum it up, the upper lower split is great because it optimizes both volume and frequency as best as possible.

CONS OF UPPER LOWER SPLIT:

Upper body workout days can be on the longer side. There’s your chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and that’s not considering core. That can make for a long workout. Because of this, you may end up neglecting certain smaller muscles that are under stimulated with your big compound lifts or important exercises just to save time.

Note: There is a fix for this, which you will see in our upper lower split workout plan below.

WHO SHOULD AN UPPER LOWER SPLIT? 

The upper lower split is a fantastic choice for most intermediate lifters. This is because it allows you to hit your muscle groups twice a week with just 4 workouts per week (super doable). Total volume per upper body muscle group may not be as much as a classic bodybuilder split, but you are hitting them twice a week, which is shown to be more effective for building muscle. With that, you should see great results with an upper lower split.

It’s also a good split for advanced bodybuilders who are trying to get shredded (cutting phases) and advanced powerlifters who are doing a 5/3/1 workout plan for strength. The upper lower split works very well for strength training as you can just focus on big lifts without concern of accessory exercises for aesthetics on upper body days. 

As for beginners, if you have a good foundation of fitness, then the upper lower split is great. Let’s say you were brand new to working out and you started with a full body split for 3 months. The upper lower split would be a great split to try next. 

4 DAY UPPER LOWER SPLIT ROUTINE

The following 4 day upper lower split is great because it spreads out your main movements over the four days. It will allow you to focus on a couple main lifts and then some accessory movements that bring up the volume of your workouts and ensure you aren’t neglecting any muscles.

Day 1: Upper Workout #1
Day 2: Lower Workout #1
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper Workout #2
Day 5: Lower Workout #2
Day 6-7: Rest

Workout #1 - Upper Body:

Primary movements (Strength) - Upper Pushing
Accessory movements (Hypertrophy) - Upper Pulling

Workout #2 - Lower Body

Primary Movements (Strength) - Lower Pushing
Accessory Movements (Hypertrophy) - Lower Pulling

Workout #3 - Upper Body

Primary movements (Strength) - Upper Pulling
Accessory movements (Hypertrophy) - Upper Pushing

Workout #4 - Lower Body

Primary Movements (Strength) - Lower Pulling
Accessory Movements (Hypertrophy) - Lower Pushing 

**Note: This does include any type of isolation movements which is always done at the end of the session.

Your strength training movements will consist of your big compound movements working in a rep range of 3-6 with 3-5 sets and using loads of about 85-90% of your 1RM.

For your “smaller” compound movements and some isolation work, you will work in a rep range of 8-12+ with 2-3 sets using loads of about 70-80% of your 1RM. 

Upper Body Pushing Movements: These movements will train your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Exercises include the bench press, shoulder press, dips, and skull crushers 

Upper Body Pulling Movements: These movements will train your entire back, posterior deltoids (the shoulder muscle on the back), and biceps. These exercises include rows, chin-ups, and bicep curls. 

Lower Body Pushing Movements: These movements are primarily going be your quad-dominant movements and calf exercises. Exercises include Back Squats, Front Squats, Lunges, Leg Extensions.

Lower Body Pulling Movement: These movements are going to target your glutes and hamstrings. Exercises include deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Barbell Hip Thrust, Leg Curls.

Here’s how the workouts should look... 

Sample Upper Body Workout #1

  1. Bench Press: 3-5 sets x 3-6 reps
  2. Overhead Press: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
  3. Rear Delt Fly: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Trap Raises: 2-3 sets x 8-12+ reps
  5. Bicep Curls: 2-3 sets x 8-15 reps

Sample Lower Body Workout #1

  1. Squats: 5 sets x 3-6 reps
  2. Split Squats: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Hip Thrust: 2-3 sets x 8-12+ reps
  4. Leg Curls: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  5. Calf Raises: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Core Work: 2-3 sets 

Sample Upper Body Workout #2

  1. Bent Over Barbell Row: 3-5 x 3-6 reps
  2. Weight Pull Ups: 3-5 sets x 5-10 reps
  3. Incline DB Bench Press: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Seated Arnold Press: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
  5. Lateral Raises: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Tricep Kickbacks: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps

Sample Lower Body Workout #2

  1. Deadlifts: 5 sets x 3-6 reps
  2. Good Mornings: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Leg Press: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  4. Stiff-Leg Deadlift: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  5. Leg Extensions: 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Core Work: 2-3 sets

...OR... 

Here’s another simplified example of what an upper and lower body split could look like: 

Upper Body Workout #1:

Bench Press, Bent Over Rows, Lateral Raises, Pull Ups, Bicep Curls 

Lower Body Workout #1:

Back Squat, Hip Thrusts, Lunges, Standing Calf Raises, Planks

Upper Body Workout #2:

Overhead Press, Chin Ups, Dips, Shrugs, Tricep Extensions 

Lower Body Workout #2:

Deadlifts, Split Squats, Good Mornings, Seated Calf Raises, Side Planks

Related: Full Guide to Upper Lower Splits

should i do a 3 4 or 5 day workout split

3. PUSH PULL LEGS WORKOUT SPLIT

The push pull leg split breaks your training days into push days, pull days and leg days. 

Push days refer to upper body pushing muscles, which are your chest, shoulders and triceps. 

Pull days refer to upper body pulling muscles, which are your back muscles and biceps. 

Leg days refer to all your leg muscles, which includes your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.

As your core is worked during compound lifts, you can throw in some accessory core exercises like planks, hanging leg raises, and wood choppers every other workout session or even one core exercise at the end of your workout each training session. 

3 or 6 days Per Week

The push pull leg split is best done either 3 or 6 days per week. However, you can do it with a 4 or 5 day schedule as well by just picking up on the day you left off each week.

A 3 day push pull leg split is best done with one day rest in-between workout days. i.e. M, W, F or Tu, Th, Sa. 

A 6 day push pull leg split will involve 3 days on, one day off. This should be saved for those who are advanced. 

With 4 and 5 day PPLs, you are essentially adding rest days where needed (some people prefer to take the weekends off - i.e. Push, Pull, Legs, Push, Pull, Rest, Rest, Legs, Push, etc.). 

PROS OF A PPL SPLIT: 

The PPL allows you to train every muscle group in just three days and with a good amount of training volume. This makes it great for building muscle and strength.

You only have to commit to three days of training each week and It’s almost just as focused as a bro split, but far more efficient.

If far left side of the spectrum is full body, and the far right side is the bro split, then the PPL is middle right.

If you are advanced and have great recovery, you can do 5 or 6 day PPLs that allow you to hit each muscle group twice a week (or approximately twice a week). This means you get even more volume than an upper lower and the same high frequency.

What’s more, you get plenty of rest days between sessions, even with 5 and 6 day PPLs. As you are hitting opposing muscle groups, there won’t be any conflict with sore muscles. 

Overall, the PPL is easy to plan. You should have no trouble hitting all your muscle groups effectively and there should be no reason for any neglected muscles or exercises. 

CONS OF A PPL SPLIT:

If you are doing a 3 day PPL, which is most common, then you will only be hitting each muscle group once a week.

Note: If you decide on a 3 day PPL, you can structure it in various ways, such as M, Tu, W, then 2 days off, and repeat. This will essentially be a 5 day PPL, which will allow you to increase the frequency. You don’t HAVE to do rest days in-between each workout if your recovery is good. 

It may get a little confusing if you do a 4 or 5 day PPL as you will need to remember where you left off each week. Not a real con, but some people may find this unorganized.

If you are doing a 3 day PPL and aesthetics are one of your top goals, your workouts may be a little long as you will need to make time for isolation exercises to hit the muscles that aren’t being sufficiently exhausted during bigger lifts.

If you are doing just a 3 day split, you may end up having to do squats and deadlifts on the same day, or bench press and overhead press, which can be difficult for some people as these are both taxing lifts. Because of this, some people opt for one or the other and miss out on the benefits of certain big lifts. The fix is to just switch which one comes first each week.

A 6 day PPL is taxing and would require very good ability to recover.

WHO SHOULD DO A PPL SPLIT?

A 3 day PPL is actually a better option for a beginner than a 4 day upper lower split, although both can be good once a solid foundation of exercising has been made. 

Besides that, a PPL split is great for all levels as it is customizable for different training frequencies and intensities. A beginner can go for a 3 day PPL, an intermediate lifter can go for a 4 or 5 day PPL and an advanced lifter can go for a 5 or 6 day PPL. At 5 and 6 days, you get the benefit of both volume and frequency, which means you can pack on muscle and build strength efficiently, so long as recovery is on point.

All in all, anyone with a busy schedule who can only make time for 3 days of working out per week and that wants to build both muscle and strength will do well with a PPL split as it allows for the highest volume for each muscle group in just 3 days.

SAMPLE PPL WORKOUT SPLIT ROUTINES

Being that 3 and 6 day PPLs are the most popular, we will give you sample routines for just these two. However, a 4 and 5 day PPL can be just like the 6 day PPL, just with more rest days, or a 3 day PPL with less rest days.

Before we get into the routines, we need to quickly go over the six movement patterns that must be included in your PPL workouts. 

  • Vertical Pushing Exercises (i.e. overhead press)
  • Horizontal Pushing Exercises (i.e. bench press, push ups)
  • Vertical Pulling Exercises (i.e. pull ups, chin ups)
  • Horizontal Pulling Exercises (i.e. dumbbell rows, bent over rows)
  • Hip Hinge Exercises (i.e. deadlifts, hip thrusts)
  • Squat Exercises (i.e. back squat, front squat, split squat) 

The above are musts.

3 Day PPL Workout Split Routine

For a 3 day PPL, you will have a rest day between push and pull, and pull and legs, and two rest days after legs. You can choose any day of the week to start, but assuming you are starting on a Monday, it’ll look like this:

Monday: Push
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Pull
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest

Sample Push Workout:

  1. Bench Press: 3 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Standing Overhead Press: 3 sets x 6-10 reps
  3. Parallel Dips: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  4. Dumbbell Fly: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  5. Lateral DB Raises: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  6. Tricep Extensions: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
  7. Core work: 2-3 sets

Note:

  • Switch exercise 1 and 2 with each other each week. So, week 2 will be overhead press first, then bench press second.
  • You can alter the exercises for 3-7 if you like as these are accessory lifts. For example, week 2, you can opt for incline bench rather than parallel dips, skull crushers rather than tricep cable extensions, etc. Overall, aim to do 2-3 chest focused and 2-3 shoulder focused exercises.
  • Feel free to mix up your rep scheme for the accessory lifts and be sure to employ progressive overload for your main lifts.

Sample Pull Workout:

  1. Pull Ups or Chin Ups: 3 sets x max reps (full range of motion)
  2. Bent Over Rows: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  3. T-Bar Rows: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  4. Rear Delt Flys: 3 sets x 12-20 reps
  5. Shrugs: 3 sets x 12-20 reps
  6. Bicep Curls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
  7. Core work: 2-3 sets

Note:

  • Switch exercise 1 and 2 with each other each week. So, week 2 will be bent over rows first, then pull ups second.
  • You can alter the exercises for 3-7 if you like as these are accessory lifts and isolation exercises. For example, week 2, you can opt for seated close grip rows rather than T-bar rows, hammer curls rather than for regular curls, etc. Overall, make sure you focus one big lift on horizontal pulling and one big lift on vertical pulling each week, then the rest of the pulling exercises you can mix it up to ensure you are hitting your back and biceps from all angles.
  • Feel free to mix up your rep scheme for the accessory lifts and be sure to employ progressive overload for your main lifts. 

Sample Leg Workout:

  1. Back Squats: 3 sets x 5-10 reps
  2. Deadlifts: 3 sets x 5-10 reps
  3. Split Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  4. Hip Thrusts: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  5. Calf raises: 3 sets x 12-20 reps
  6. Core work: 2-3 sets

Note:

  • Switch exercise 1 and 2 with each other each week. So, week 2 will be deadlifts first, then squats second.
  • You can alter the exercises for 3-5 if you like as these are assistance lifts. Other good exercises are good mornings, stiff-legged deadlifts, lunges, leg press, Bulgarian split squat.
  • Feel free to mix up your rep scheme for the accessory lifts and be sure to employ progressive overload for your main lifts. 

6 Day PPL Split Routine

A 6 day PPL split will look like this:

Day 1: Push
Day 2: Pull
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push
Day 6: Pull
Day 7: Legs
Day 8: Rest day
Repeat

Since you have two push, pull and leg days each week, the workouts will look different. 

You can do one hypertrophy focused day and one strength focused day, i.e.

Day 1: Push Strength
Day 2: Pull Strength
Day 3: Legs Strength
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push Hypertrophy
Day 6: Pull Hypertrophy
Day 7: Legs Hypertrophy
Day 8: Rest day
Repeat

For strength days, you will focus on just 2-3 big lifts, for 4-5 sets, and work in a low rep range (3-8 reps) with 70-85% of your 1RM.

For hypertrophy days, you will focus on various assistance/accessory lifts like split squats, leg press, stiff-legged deadlifts, for 2-3 sets, and work in a higher rep range (10-20 reps) with about 60% of your 1RM. 

OR 

The more common way is to have A & B workouts, which will be designed for both strength and hypertrophy (in the same workout) based on the rep scheme (use an appropriate load)

For example:
 

Day 1: Push A
Day 2: Pull A
Day 3: Legs A
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push B
Day 6: Pull B
Day 7: Legs B
Day 8: Rest day
Repeat 

Essentially Push A’s main focus is a Horizontal Pushing Exercise and Push B’s main focus is a Vertical Pushing Exercise, Pull A’s main focus is a Horizontal Pulling Exercise and Pull B’s main focus is a Vertical Pulling Exercise, and Leg A’s main focus is a Squat and Leg B’s main focus is a Hip Hinge Exercise.

So, it’ll look something like this...

Push A:

  1. Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Seated DB Press: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Dips: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  4. Incline Fly: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  5. Lateral Raise: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  6. Skull Crushers: 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Pull A:

  1. Bent Over Barbell Row: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Lat Pull Down: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Seated Close Grip Row: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Shrugs: 3 sets x 12-20 reps
  5. Rear Delt Fly: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
  6. Bicep Curls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps

Leg A:

  1. Back Squat: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Stiff-legged Deadlift: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Split Squat: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  4. Leg Curl: 3 sets x 10-20 reps
  5. Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Core Work: 3 sets

Push B:

  1. Standing Overhead Barbell Press: 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. DB Incline Bench: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Upright Rows: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  4. DB Front Raises : 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  5. Push Ups: 3 sets x 20+ reps
  6. Tricep Pressdown: 3 sets x 10-15 reps 

Pull B:

  1. Pull Ups: 4 sets x max reps (or weighted pull ups for 6-10 reps)
  2. Neutral Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets x max reps
  3. Seated Wide Grip Rows: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Seated Close Grip Rows: 3 sets x 12-20 reps
  5. Face Pulls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
  6. Hammer Curls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps

Leg B:

  1. Deadlifts: 4 sets x 5-8 reps
  2. Hip Thrusts: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Leg Press or Lunges: 3 sets x 10-20 reps each side
  4. Leg Extensions: 3 sets x 10-20 reps
  5. Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Core Work: 3 sets 

Of course, this is all flexible, but the point is, A and B day will have a different big lift to focus on for strength and much of the rest of the workout is a mix of strength and hypertrophy. The good thing about doing big compound lifts for low reps and heavy weight is that while you will be focusing on strength, you will also build muscle as compound lifts can build pure size in any rep range.

Related: Full Guide to the PPL Split

best training split

4. PUSH PULL WORKOUT SPLIT

The Push Pull Split breaks your workouts into Push Days and Pull Days.

Unlike a push pull leg split, the push days and pull days will include lower body pushing exercises and lower body pulling exercises, respectively.

Pushing Exercises:

  • Horizontal Pushes (i.e. Push Ups, Bench Press)
  • Vertical Pushes (i.e. Overhead Press)
  • Lower Body Pushes (i.e. all Squat variations, calf raises)

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Quads/Glutes/Calves

Pulling Exercises

  • Horizontal Pulls (i.e. Rows)
  • Vertical Pulls (i.e. Pull Ups, Pulldowns)
  • Lower Body Pulls (i.e. Deadlifts and all hip hinge exercises) 

Back, Biceps, Hamstrings/Glutes 

Like the other splits, core work is to be thrown in at your discretion as big compound lifts do a good job of working your core through most planes of motion (except the transverse plane). 

2, 4 or 6 Days Per Week

The Push Pull split can be done 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 days per week, but 2, 4 and 6 days will keep things even and organized each week as your full body will be trained every 2 workouts. 

The most common frequency for a Push Pull split is 4 days, just like it is for an Upper Lower split. It just works best for both maximizing the frequency of hitting your muscles and recovery. 

2 days can work for beginners, and 6 days for those who are advanced. 

As for 3 and 5 days, you’d just have to start each new week where you left off on the previous week. For example, week 1 would be push pull push then week 2 is pull push pull.

Since 4 days is the best for a Push Pull, we will just discuss this split based on that. 

PROS OF A PUSH PULL SPLIT:

Essentially, the push pull split gives you both the same benefits of the upper lower split and the full body split. You get a good mix of frequency and volume, so you can hit your muscle groups twice a week with a fair amount of volume. And you are training both your upper and lower body each workout which is great for boosting test levels and burning calories. It’s a great workout split for movement skill acquisition and building lean muscle, getting shredded, and improving strength.

CONS OF A PUSH PULL SPLIT:

Like the upper and lower split, the workout sessions can be long if you want to get a higher total weekly volume per muscle group and if you want to focus on smaller muscle groups that were not sufficiently stimulated during the big compound movements.

Moreover, it can be taxing for more advanced individuals who train with high intensity as Push Days and Pull Days will involve many big lifts (i.e. a push day can include both bench press, overhead press and squats) 

WHO SHOULD DO A PUSH PULL SPLIT? 

The push pull split is good for someone who wants to improve their movement skills and get lean and fit, rather than someone who wants to pack on muscle and strength. So, it can be good for intermediate to advanced lifters, but not if they are trying to bulk. If trying to use this split to build muscle when you are already muscular, it will likely be too difficult to recover from taxing workouts that involve many big lifts. 

It is also good for beginners, as it is similar to a full body split. Beginners won’t be lifting with so much intensity so recovery should be no problem. This is a good split for beginners who want to train 4 times a week and build a solid foundation of movement skill and strength. 

On the whole, it is a great split for overall fitness for all levels.

4 Day Push Pull Workout Split Routine

A 4 day Push Pull Split can be set up in two ways. 

Option 1:

Day 1: Push
Day 2: Pull
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Push
Day 5: Pull
Day 6-7: Rest 

OR 

Option 2:

Day 1: Push
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Pull
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Pull
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

Option 2 is recommenced for beginners.

Rather than doing 2 of the same exact push and pull days each week, you should do a Push A and Push B and Pull A and Pull B workout.

i.e.

Day 1: Push A
Day 2: Pull A
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Push B
Day 5: Pull B
Day 6-7: Rest 

There are various ways to go about differing your A & B workouts. It’ll depend on your goals.

If you want to build both strength and muscle, your A workouts can be strength focused and your B workouts can be hypertrophy focused OR your A workouts can emphasize lower body movements and B workouts can emphasize upper body movements. 

If you are looking to simply build movement skill and a solid foundation, you can just change up the exercises in your workouts. For example, if you do squats, bench press, and seated Arnold presses on Push A, then you can do standing overhead presses, push ups, and split squats on Push B. 

Because we prefer separating Strength and Hypertrophy Days, we will break it up like that.

Sample Push A Workout (Strength):

  1. Squats: 5 sets x 5 reps
  2. Bench Press: 5 sets x 5 reps
  3. Standing Overhead Press: 5 sets x 5-10 reps 

Change the order of the exercises each week

Sample Pull A Workout (Strength):

  1. Deadlifts: 5 sets x 5 reps
  2. Bent Over Rows: 5 sets x 5 reps
  3. Pull Ups or Chin Ups: 5 sets x max reps

Change the order of the exercises each week

Sample Push B Workout (Hypertrophy):

  1. Seated DB Overhead Press: 2-3 sets x 8-16 reps
  2. Incline DB Bench Press: 2-3 sets x 8-16 reps
  3. Leg Press: 2-3 sets x 8-15 reps
  4. Split Squats: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  5. DB lateral Raises x Incline Fly (superset): 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Close Grip Push Ups x Tricep Overhead Extensions (superset): 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps 

Can do different variations each week 

Sample Pull B Workout (Hypertrophy: 

  1. Seated Rows: 2-3 sets x 8-16 reps
  2. Lat Pull Downs: 2-3 sets x 8-16 reps
  3. Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  4. Hip Thrusts: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  5. Rear Delt Fly x Shrugs (superset): 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Bicep Curl x Hammer Curl (superset): 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps

Can do different variations each week

Core work: Throw in a 2-3 sets of core each workout or for two of the workouts each week.

The other way to go about it is like this....

Sample Push A:

  • Major Upper Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Major Lower Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Minor Lower Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps
  • Minor Upper Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps

Sample Pull A:

  • Major Lower Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Major Upper Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps
  • Minor Lower Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps 

Sample Push B:

  • Major Lower Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Major Upper Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Minor Upper Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps
  • Minor Lower Body Push Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps 

Sample Pull A:

  • Major Upper Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Major Lower Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  • Minor Lower Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps
  • Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise: 3 sets x 8-16 reps 

Major Upper Body Push: Barbell Bench Press, Barbell Overhead Press
Minor Upper Body Push: Lateral Raises, Incline DB Bench, Arnold Press, Upright Rows, Tricep Extensions

Major Lower Body Push: Back Squats, Front Squats
Minor Lower Body Push: Step Ups, Lunges, Split Squats, Leg Press, Leg Extensions
Major Upper Body Pull: Bent Over Barbell Rows, Pull Ups, Rack Pulls
Minor Upper Body Pull: Row Variations, Lat Pull Downs, Rear Delt Fly, Shrugs, Curls
Major Lower Body Pulls: Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts
Minor Lower Body Pulls: Stiff-leg Deadlifts, Single Leg Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Leg Curls 

What about 2 day Push Pull Splits?

If you are doing a 2 day Push Pull Split, then you just choose the most important compound exercises and fit them into your workouts (i.e. squats, horizontal presses, vertical presses, deadlifts/hip hinge, and horizontal pulls and vertical pulls).

best exercise splits

5. BODY PART WORKOUT SPLIT (aka BRO SPLIT)

The body part split, otherwise known as the BRO SPLIT, is a classic bodybuilding workout split. It is arguably the most popular training split there is. 

You’ve most certainly heard people say “don’t skip leg day”.  That’s referring to one workout in a body part split...Leg Day, Back Day, Chest Day, and so on...

So, a body part split breaks your workouts into muscle groups or body parts. So, you basically train one major muscle group or body part per workout. 

However, there are slight variances to how the muscle groups can be separated based on how many day per week you will train, which is usually 4, 5 or 6 days per week.

Before the mid-20th century, full body workouts were customary. Then the body part split came to prominence and from the 1960s on it pretty much reigned supreme. 

However, these days a lot of people are shifting away from the body part split as studies are showing that hitting muscle groups twice a week leads to more growth potential and professional trainers are really pushing this M.O.

Be that as it may, the bro split is still the most common split among gym rats, bodybuilders, and those who aspire to be bodybuilders do. And it definitely does have it’s merits.

4, 5 or 6 Days Per Week

The body part split can easily be worked into 4, 5 or 6 days.

Here’s how it will look for each. 

4 Day Body Part Split 

Day 1: Chest
Day 2: Back
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders & Arms
Day 5: Legs
Day 6-7: Rest 

5 Day Body Part Split:

Day 1: Legs
Day 2: Chest
Day 3: Back
Day 4: Shoulders
Day 5: Arms & Abs
Day 6-7: Rest 

The above is the most common. It gives the weekends off! 

6 Day Body Part Split: 

Day 1: Chest
Day 2: Back
Day 3: Core
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Biceps & Triceps
Day 6: Shoulders
Day 7: Legs
Day 8: Rest
Repeat 

The order of which day you hit each body part can be changed, but it is important to separate certain days as some muscle groups are synergists with others. 

For example, the shoulders are often worked during chest exercises, so you’d want shoulder and chest days to be separated by a few days to avoid soreness as that will affect your workouts. 

Mainly, you just don’t want chest and shoulders together and legs and back together (as your low back will be worked during many leg exercises). Muscles like your traps, biceps, and triceps recovery quickly and/or will not likely get sore from compound movements.

PROS OF A BODY PART SPLIT: 

The main advantage of the body part split is that it allows for maximum volume for each muscle group. With the body part split, you are guaranteed to hammer down on each muscle group to full exhaustion. 

Another reason the body part split is good is because it gives you a full week of recovery before you have to hit that muscle group again. This is actually more important for people who already have big muscles because bigger muscles take longer to recovery. So, this kind of split is best for more advanced bodybuilders. 

What’s more, you will actually be training certain muscle groups twice a week. If you think about it, your front delts will be worked on chest day too, so that’s twice for your shoulders, your biceps will also be worked on back day, so that’s twice for biceps, and your triceps will be worked on both shoulder and chest day, so that’s three times for triceps. The only issue is, your largest muscles groups (legs, chest, and back) only get worked once. So, depending on your physique, this may be good or bad for you.

And that’s not all, contrary to people thinking it’s a hypertrophy only split, the body part split is actually good for building strength too. This is because you only have to do one big compound lift each workout, which you will do as your first exercise. For this first exercise, you can go heavy and use low reps to build strength and size. Moreover, you can easily employ progressive overload like this as you won’t have to do this lift again for a week, at which point you will be fully recovered. So, each week, you should be able to get a little bit stronger.

Finally, a lot of people like going to the gym often, and the body part split allows you to hit the gym effectively for 5 or even 6 days a week. Compared to a 6 day PPL, a 6 day body part split is a lot easier both mentally and physically.

CONS OF A BODY PART SPLIT:

While the body part split maximizes volume, it does so at the expense of frequency for your legs, chest, back, and other muscles like your side delts. 

For the average person, maximizing frequency is more effective than maximizing volume. The data is clear at this point.

Protein synthesis (which is a natural process for repairing muscle) levels off at about 48 hours. So by not hitting that muscle group again after protein synthesis levels off, you are missing out on growth potential.

Related: Training Each Muscle Group Twice a Week

Lastly, with a body part split, you need a bigger commitment of time. If you miss one workout, then you didn’t train an entire muscle group for that week. Moreover, workouts can be long as they involve a fair amount of exercises (big compound lifts, accessory compound lifts and isolation exercises). Most people do around 6-8 exercises per workout, whereas a Push Pull or Upper Lower split likely involves 4-6 exercises, and with a body part split, it’s not as convenient to implement protocols like circuits as you can’t hit opposing muscle groups.

WHO SHOULD DO A BODY PART SPLIT?

The body part split is best for people who want to be in the gym 5 days a week without basically killing themselves each workout. Although this is not really a good reason to choose this split, as other 3 or 4 day splits can be just as effective.

Really, this split is best for people with big muscles who want to be or are bodybuilders. It’s also good for intermediate and advanced lifters who want to hone in on certain muscle groups. For example, if someone who’s been training for years needs more work on their shoulders, the body part split will ensure their shoulders get the right amount of attention. It can be good to do the body part split for one or two training cycles per year.

Overall, it’s a good split for serious lifters who want to bulk. However, the vast majority of people should opt for a split with higher frequency of training each muscle group as they will get better results that way.

Nevertheless, if you want to try a body part split, go for it! Don’t let all the bro split hate deter you from doing it. We don’t recommend doing it all year round, but for 2-3 months out of the year for even the average intermediate lifter is fine. You may end up seeing great results as you will be able to maximize volume and your muscles won’t be use to that coming from a higher frequency split (this is why we like to switch up splits every couple months). 

5 Day Body Part Split Routine 

While you can do a 4 or 6 day body part split, we are going to show you an example of a 5 day body part split because it is the most popular option AND a 4 or 6 day split won’t look much different. This will give you the general idea of how you need to structure your workouts either way. 

Day 1: Chest Day
Day 2: Back Day
Day 3: Arms & Abs Day
Day 4: Leg Day
Day 5: Shoulder Day
Day 6-7: Rest

Sample Chest Day Workout:

  1. Barbell Bench Press: 3-4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Incline DB Bench Press: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  3. Cable Fly High to Low: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Cable Fly Low to High: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  5. Dips: 3 sets x 10-20 reps 

60-90 seconds rest between sets & exercises 

Sample Back Day Workout:

  1. Deadlifts: 3-4 sets x 5-8 reps
  2. Pull Ups: 3 sets x max reps
  3. Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 sets x 6-12 reps
  4. Seated Close Grip Row: 3 sets x 8-15 reps
  5. Kroc Row (aka Single Arm Row): 3 sets x 8-15 reps each side
  6. Rear Delt Fly: 3 sets x 8-15 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets & exercises

Sample Arm & Abs Day Workout:

  1. Barbell Bicep Curl: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  2. Alt. Hammer Curl: 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps each
  3. Concentration Curl: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  4. Close Grip Bench: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  5. Tricep Overhead Extension: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
  6. Tricep Kickback: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
  7. Hanging Leg Raises: 2 sets x 8-12 reps
  8. Plank: 2 sets x 30 sec holds
  9. Side Plank: 2 sets x 30 sec hold each side
  10. Woodchopper: 2 sets x 10 reps each way

This workout should use minimum rest time. Around 30 seconds each set. To speed up this workout, you can superset bicep exercises with tricep exercises.

Sample Leg Day Workout:

  1. Back Squats: 3-4 sets x 5-10 reps
  2. Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Barbell Hip Thrusts: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  4. Split Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side
  5. Leg Extensions: 2 sets x 10-20 reps
  6. Leg Curls: 2 sets x 10-20 reps
  7. Calf Raises: 3 sets x 10-20 reps 

60-90 seconds rest between sets & exercises

Sample Shoulder Day Workout:

  1. Standing Overhead Press: 3-4 sets x 6-12 reps
  2. Seated Arnold Press: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  3. Lateral Raises: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  4. Front Raises: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  5. Upright Rows: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  6. Shrugs: 3 sets x 12-20 reps 

Note for all workout days: Exercises can change each week, but be sure to keep the main compound lifts.

best workout routines

HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK SHOULD YOU TRAIN?

Now that you know the pros and cons of each split, you need to decide how many days per week you will train, as that will help you decide on the right split. 

Ideally, you want to train 3-5 days per week. 

Beginners: 3-4 days
Intermediate: 4-5 days
Advanced: 4-6 days

No one should train 7 days a week. That’s an overkill. If you must be active for 7 days, then do something else like a sport or go for a hike! There’s no need to lift weights 7 days a week. If you are able to do that without overtraining, then you aren’t training hard enough.

Related: How to Create a 7 Day Workout Plan That's Sustainable

What is the best 2 day split? 

If you are going to workout 2 days a week, you can choose a Full Body Split, Push Pull Split or Upper Lower Split. The best bet is the full body split though because of the higher frequency per muscle group.

What is the best 3 day split? 

If you are going to workout 3 days a week, the best option is the Push Pull Leg Split.

For beginners, we recommend a 3 Day Full Body Split.

Related: Guide to 3 Day Workout Splits

What is the best 4 day split?

If you want to workout 4 days a week, the best option is either the Push Pull or Upper Lower split for those who have general fitness goals like improving strength and muscle and keeping fit. 

If you are a bigger person at an intermediate to advanced level and you are looking to build muscle, then a 4 day bro split is good.

Beginners should do a 4 day full body split, or an upper lower or push pull split.

What is the best 5 day split?

If you are intermediate to advanced and you want to build muscle and get stronger, then a 5 day body part split is good. It’s easier to manage than other 5 day splits. You can train hard each workout without overtraining. 

If you are looking to get shredded, then do a 4 Day Upper Lower or Push Pull split with a fifth day of HIIT OR a 3 day PPL with two days of HIIT. OR a 5 day PPL where you pick up each week where you finished on the previous week.

Another good option is the Upper Lower Push Pull Split. You can read about this in our 5 day workout split guide (which also covers the 5 day bro split more in depth).

What is the best 6 day split? 

We only recommend advanced trainees to workout 6 days per week. Remember, this is very taxing on the body. If you are worried about overtraining, then a 6 day body part split will be the easiest to handle or a 5 day body part split with a sixth day of cardio or HIIT works too. 

If you are really a beast at recovery, then a 6 Day Upper Lower or Push Pull or PPL can be good. But you shouldn’t do this year round. Do this for a few months out of the year at most. It’ll be tough. 

Related: The Ultimate 6 Day Workout Split

What is the best 7 day split? 

There are none. We can’t recommend people to train 7 days a week. Sometimes, less is more.

7 days per week can be fine if your workouts are short and mostly bodyweight exercises.

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WORKOUT SPLIT FOR YOU?

The best workout split for you will depend on your goals, your fitness level, your availability and whether or not you are working out with free weights.

To sum up everything above as concise as possible: 

Full Body Split - Maximizes Training Frequency 

Bro/Classic Split - Maximizes Training Volume

Upper Lower, PPL, Push Pull - Good Mix of Both Training Frequency & Volume

For beginners, frequency of hitting your muscles will lead to the best results.

For advanced bodybuilders with large muscles, volume is the most important.

For everyone else, the best results will come from optimizing both frequency and volume.

There are plenty of other splits out there. For example, the Upper Lower Push Pull Legs split, the PHAT workout split, the PHUL workout split. But, unless you are trying to be a powerlifter or what not, then we recommend sticking to one of the 5 workout splits we’ve went over.

Related: 5 Best Training Programs for Strength & Powerlifting

How Often Should You Change Your Workout Split?

If a workout split is working for you and you are seeing good results, you can stick with it. However, it’s good to switch up your training split every 2-3 months. If you are noticing that your results and workouts have plateaued, that’s a good time to switch splits.

FAQ: 

What Is The Best Workout Split For Beginners?

The absolute best split for a true beginner is a 3 day full body split. This will give you enough training stimulus as well as recovery days. 

Focus most of your time on big compound movements and as you progress through your plan, work to increase the frequency (add another day per week) and volume of your workouts (more sets and/or exercises). Also, increase the weight load or decrease rest time. These are methods of progressive overload. Progressive overload must be employed to see the results you want and to continue pushing forward toward your goals.

Should I Train Full Body Or Split?

A full body split will be best for beginners or people with specific goals like maintenance or cutting.

Once you get to an intermediate or advanced level, a full body split will have diminishing returns, especially if you do it all year round.

Note: Even for those who are intermediate and advance, a full body split can be good to do for one training cycle per year.

Other than that, most intermediate and advanced will do best with one of the splits that optimizes both volume and frequency, like the upper lower, push pull, or push pull leg splits.

Is The Bro Split Workout Good? 

For bodybuilders, yes. Otherwise, it’s not the most efficient split, especially for beginners.

If you are already have a lot of muscle, then a bro split can be good as your muscles will need more time to recover and having a week between big lifts is good for continuing progressive overload at a point when you are already lifting fairly heavy.

What Is The Best Workout Split For Fat Loss?

The full body split is arguably the best for fat loss because it consists mainly of compound exercises, so you will burn a lot of calories. However, you can get the same results with a push pull or upper lower split as well, as they will also mainly involve big compound movements.

Note: You can lose fat with any split. Remember, fat loss is simply about consuming less calories than you burn. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn each day while resting. 

What’s the Best Split For Building Muscle?

You can gain muscle with all of the splits as long as you are using the principle of progressive overload and you are dieting and sleeping correctly.

However, the best splits for building muscle would be the Push Pull Legs or Body Part split because they provide the most volume, which will be needed as your muscles get bigger. 

What’s the Best Split For Athletes?

Splits that involve doing functional compound movements like squats and deadlifts more often will be best for athletes. Moreover, you want to do a split that isn’t too time consuming as you will need time for your sport specific workouts and training. So, we recommend a 3 day PPL or 3 day full body split for athletes. The PPL will probably be best for intermediate to advance and the full body for beginners, but intermediate and advanced can also do the full body split.

How Long Should A Workout Last?

Your workouts should last no longer than 60 minutes. Ideally, you should be in and out in 30-45 minutes, especially if you are doing a 4-6 day split. If you are taking too long working out, then you need to improve your workout efficiency, as the 45 minute range is best for metabolic health and building muscle. After 45-50 minutes, cortisol levels start to rise (which is not the good hormone, it is the fat producing hormone). Short and sweet (30-45 mins of intense training) is always best. 

When Should I Do Cardio? 

Cardio is optional. If you want to improve your cardiovascular health, we recommend doing it on your off days...or if you have the energy, on mornings or after your workout 2-3 times per week.

Cardio is not the best for losing fat. Diet and building muscle is the best. Think of cardio as cardiovascular health, not fat loss. 

That said, you will burn more calories during a cardio session than even an intense weightlifting session - however, it’s still negligible if you aren’t dieting right - diet is everything and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. 

Is It Better To Workout 4 Or 5 Times A Week?

For most people, 4 times a week is plenty. If you are a busy professional, 4 days is perfect.

If you have the time and you are able to recover, then 5 days is also good. 

But any more than that should be saved for the most advanced. At some point, less is more.  You really need to be able to recover well to lift weights 6 days per week.

CONCLUSION:

We hope this guide through the best workout splits has been informative for you. While choosing a split that works best for your goals, experience and availability is important, the most crucial element of all is that you train hard and stick to your plan. It’s all about consistency. Consistent hard work will surely lead to success.

Looking for more training splits?



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.