Advanced Intermediate Workout Plan

5 Day Split Workout: Your Ultimate 2021 Growth Guide

photo of man with muscular body

The split workout routine has long been a staple of the fitness community, especially for bodybuilders. They give you the ability to focus on a specific muscle group for an entire training session. If you are looking for a place to start here is a program you can use, and what you need to know about the 5-day workout split.


What is a 5-Day Workout Split?

A 5-day workout split is a routine that breaks your weekly training into 5 days, splitting each workout session into a focused time period for a specific muscle group or two. These routines are meant to maximize the amount of effort put into a single muscle group while also giving them a week long recovery time so they are able to grow outside of the gym.

A 5-day workout routine might be more of a commitment because of the amount of days you must spend in the gym to hit all muscle groups, however, they can be very rewarding.

There are several different ways to organize a 5-day workout split, below are some examples of the most popular ways.

Common 5-Day Split Workout Programs
Common 5-Day Split Programs

The Classic 5-Day Workout Routine

One of the most common workout routines for bodybuilders, this is a great way to put on some muscle if that is your main goal. They will be less effective if you are trying to gain strength or increase a specific lift, but for muscle shape and size this type of workout routine is a good place to work.

Classic 5-Day Split Workout Training Schedule
Classic 5-Day Split Training Schedule

Training Schedule

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Legs
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday – Back
  • Friday – Arms
  • Saturday – Shoulders + Core
  • Sunday – Rest

This is just an example, and the days can absolutely be swapped around to fit your schedule. The main benefit of having the days split up this way is that you give your upper body some rest and aren’t hitting similar muscle groups multiple days in a row. This just means you can get better recovery and train at your most rested each day.

5 Day Classic Bodybuilding Split Workout
5 Day Classic Bodybuilding Split

Chest

  • Bench Press – 3 Sets (6-8 reps)
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Cable Crossovers – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Decline Bench Press – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Push Ups – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)

Legs

  • Squat Barbell – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Press – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Seated Leg Extension – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Curl – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Smith Machine Calf Raise – 5 Sets (8-12 reps)

Back

  • Deadlift – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Seated Cable Row – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Lat Pulldown – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Bent Over Barbell Row – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Back Hyperextension – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Pull Ups – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)

Arms

  • Standing Barbell Curl – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Hammer Curls – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Triceps Rope Pushdown – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Triceps Dumbbell Extension – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Skullcrushers – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)

Shoulders + Core

  • Overhead Barbell Press – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Side Lateral Raise – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Front Raises – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Dumbbell Shrugs – 3 Sets (8-12 reps)
  • Plank – 3 Sets (30-60 seconds)
  • Sit ups – 3 Sets (10-20 reps)
  • V Ups – 3 Sets (10-20 reps)

This workout split is meant to target the primary muscle groups from multiple angles as well as the complementary muscles such as arms and calves. This is meant to be an example, so if you are more comfortable with different lifts choose variations that work for your fitness level, experience, and mobility.

How to Gain Muscle with a 5-day Split Workout

  1. 6-15 Rep Range- This rep range is recognized as the primary rep range for hypertrophy (an increase in muscle size)
  2. Progressive Overload- Increase the weights, reps, time under tension, or sets over time to increase overall training volume. Make sure you aren’t sacrificing form for more reps or higher weight. A good way to ensure you are increasing training volume is by tracking your workouts. (I use this android app)
  3. Short Rests- 60-90 second rests between sets will allow your muscles to recover enough for the next set while also not allowing them to cool off completely. If you are trying to increase strength you can take longer rests here but remember that a part of growth comes from pumping up the muscle and stretching the fascia.
  4. Good Diet- Getting enough of the right macro and micro nutrients will make all the difference in your growth and recovery. Beyond that if your calories aren’t high enough to grow, its going to be nearly impossible to do so. Learn more about how many calories you should be eating to grow here. If you struggle to get your greens in I would highly recommend this product
  5. Sleep- Your body grows while you are sleeping. This is when hormones are replenished and your body can put energy into repairing itself instead of keeping you moving. You should be getting, at minimum, 8 hours of sleep per 24 hour period if you are trying to grow.
  6. Don’t Get Stagnant- If you notice you aren’t making progress and you are following all the previous steps, try changing out one of the lifts performed, switching their order, or changing your intensity.

Is a 5-day Split Right for Me?

Woman leg pressing

If you plan on starting a new routine it is always good to assess if that routine will fit your goals and lifestyle. Take into consideration your short and long term goals, time availability, and your level of experience. For example, if you are trying to primarily gain strength right now it probably makes more sense to use a program like Stronglifts that allows you to get more linear strength gains. Even if you are trying to build muscle, if you are fairly new to the gym, a plan that hits each muscle group more than once a week might be a more beneficial route to take.

Although this type of training won’t hurt a beginner, it might be discouraging because of the time involvement and lack of linear progression. For anyone who is just getting started or anyone who is still moving beginner weights it makes a lot more sense to build some foundational strength. Most 3-day training routines will facilitate these goals while also easing you into working out, reducing the chances of burnout.

How much can you dedicate to the gym?

If you have a particularly busy schedule a 5-day split workout probably isn’t for you either. Don’t risk your workout quality or your ability to rest and recover just to get more time in at the gym. Results require consistency, so picking a plan that you aren’t able to stick to long term will be far more beneficial.

This type of plan is really ideal for an experienced lifter who has a lot of time to dedicate to the gym and is trying to keep a lean physique. Paired with the right nutrition and rest a 5-day split workout will deliver great results to someone who already has a decent fitness foundation in place.

Alternatively, if you are fairly new to the gym and your primary long and short term goals are weight loss this is also a decent training style to follow. The amount of calories that will be burned, especially if paired with cardio and the right diet, will deliver fantastic weight loss results.

5-Day Split Vs. 3-Day Split

Shoulder press

There are a lot of different workout variants you can use. How can you know which one is best for you? Here is what you should be thinking about:

If you can get the same or better results with less work, that is going to be the best route to take. For example: as mentioned above, a beginner will most likely see better results from a 3-day split or a 5×5 program. Either of these are going to require less time dedication and will provide faster progress.

Here is what a 5-day split offers that other programs cannot:

  • Muscle Specificity– Working only one or two muscle groups a day allows you to devote training time to those muscle groups. Alternatively, programs that are not set up this way give you less time to train each muscle group per session.
  • Rest Days– Although there are less total rest days associated with a 5 day training split, the time between training the same muscle group is a full week. This means that the muscle group in question has plenty of time to recover and grow before being trained again. This is not as important for beginners as the amount of weight being moved is much less so less stress is placed on the muscles. For this reason, a training program that allows a beginner to hit the same muscle group more than once a week may help produce better results.

5-Day Workout Split: Each Muscle Twice a Week

Although it would not be a traditional split, the other option available to people still in the beginner phase of training would be a 5-day workout routine that hits each muscle group twice per week. This gives the advantage to beginners of a more linear approach to strength gains as well as the calorie burn associated with training 5 days a week.

With a program like this you generally have a heavy day and a light day for each muscle group. This ensures you have a strength focused day and a hypertrophy focused day allowing you to build muscle and increase strength consistently.

For example:

Training Schedule Example

  • Monday – Upper Body Strength
  • Tuesday – Lower Body Strength
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday – Back/Shoulders Hypertrophy
  • Friday – Lower Body Hypertrophy
  • Saturday – Chest/Arms Hypertrophy
  • Sunday – Rest

It would look like this-

Upper Body Strength

  • Bench Press – 3 (3-5 reps)
  • Weighted Pull Ups – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Horizontal Row – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Weighted Dips – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Pendlay Rows – 3 (3-5 reps)
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 (6-10 reps)
  • Cambered Bar Curls – 3 (6-10 reps)
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 3 (6-10 reps)

Lower Body Strength

  • Squats – 3 (3-5 reps)
  • Hack Squats – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Leg Extensions – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Stiff Legged Deadlifts – 3 (5-8 reps)
  • Leg Curls – 2 (6-10 reps)
  • Smith Machine Calf Raise – 3 (6-10 reps)
  • Seated Calf Raise – 2 (6-10 reps)

Back/Shoulders Hypertrophy

  • Pendlay Rows – 6 (3 reps)
  • Horizontal Row – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Seated Cable Row – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Braced Dumbbell Rows – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • Close Grip Pulldowns – 2 (15-20 reps)
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Wide-Grip Standing Barbell Upright Rows – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • DB Side Lateral Raises – 3 (12-20 reps)

Lower Body Hypertrophy

  • Squats – 6 (3 reps)
  • Hack Squats – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Press – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • Leg Extensions – 3 (15-20 reps)
  • Romanian Deadlift – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Lying Leg Curls – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • Seated Leg Curls – 2 (15-20 reps)
  • Donkey Calf Raises – 4 (10-15 reps)
  • Seated Calf Raises – 3 (15-20 reps)

Chest/Arms Hypertrophy

  • Dumbbell Press – 6 (3 reps)
  • Dumbbell Incline Press – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Incline Chest Press – 3 (12-15 reps)
  • Incline Cable Flys – 2 (15-20 reps)
  • Preacher Curls – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • DB Concentration Curls – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • Spider Curls – 2 (15-20 reps)
  • Cambered Bar Tricep Extension – 3 (8-12 reps)
  • Cable Pressdowns w/ Rope – 2 (12-15 reps)
  • Cable Kickbacks – 2 (15-20 reps)

Throw in a light core workout 3-4 days per week

If you didn’t find what you were looking for here, check out our other workout plans!

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