The Ultimate 5 Day Workout Split for Building Muscle & Gains

This comprehensive guide provides you with two distinct 5 day workout split programs that are equally effective.

Following a well-designed plan is essential for maximizing your strength training. By doing so, you can maintain consistency and make clear progress. Building muscle and strength requires strategic planning, and your training split is a crucial aspect of this strategy.

With various workout splits to choose from, the 5 day workout split is among the most popular options, tested by pro bodybuilders for decades. As the name suggests, this split entails working out five days a week. While it demands real commitment, it is an excellent choice if you enjoy frequent workouts and aim to build muscle and strength.

Table of contents:

  • Discover various options for 5 day workout splits and explore the benefits they offer.
  • Learn more about the effectiveness of 5 day workout splits and find out which routine is considered the best. Delve into the pros and cons of both the bro split and the ULPPL split to make an informed decision.
  • Maximize your workout with a compilation of the best exercises for your 5 day weightlifting split.
  • Get ready to dive into detailed 5 day bro split and ULPPL split workout plans.
  • Enhance your training experience with valuable tips on progressive overload, recovery, and nutrition.
  • Lastly, find answers to frequently asked questions about training 5 days per week.

Ultimate 5 Day Workout Split for Building Muscle Gains

WHAT IS A 5 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT?

A 5 day split is a workout routine that splits your weekly training into 5 days –  5 workouts per week on 5 different days.

A 5 day workout split routine often involves training different muscles groups each workout session, which means you are training each particular muscle group once a week.

The Standard 5 Day Workout Split:

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

1. 5 DAY SPLIT:

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Back
  • Day 4: Shoulder & Arms
  • Day 5: Core & Cardio

2. 5 DAY ULPPL SPLIT:

  • Day 1: Upper Body
  • Day 2: Lower Body
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Rest

3. 5 DAY BODY PART SPLIT WITH UPPER BODY EMPHASIS:

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

4. 5 DAY BODY PART SPLIT WITH CORE & CARDIO EMPHASIS:

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Day 2: Core & Cardio
  • Day 3: Back, Biceps
  • Day 4: Core & Cardio
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Day 6 & 7: Rest

ARE 5 DAY WORKOUT SPLITS EFFECTIVE?

Yes, a 5 day workout split is one of the best options available and is highly popular. It does require a significant time commitment, with training sessions scheduled for 5 days a week. Compared to other workout splits like 3 or 4 days, it demands a higher level of dedication.

However, it’s not just about the frequency of workouts. To effectively build muscle, it’s important to prioritize recovery through sufficient sleep and proper nutrition. If you’re willing to invest the time, determine the ideal workout duration for optimal results, and maintain consistency, a 5 day workout split can be highly effective, especially for muscle building.

I) IS A 5 DAY SPLIT GOOD FOR BUILDING MUSCLE?

A 5 day split is considered to be an excellent workout split for building muscle. It allows for maximum training volume and emphasis on each major muscle group, while also providing sufficient rest days each week. This is particularly beneficial for advanced trainees, as one day of rest per week is generally not enough for most individuals.

II) IS A 5 DAY SPLIT GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

When it comes to weight loss, any workout split can be effective as long as your diet is in check. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn and incorporate cardio or HIIT after your workouts. Implementing a 5 day split with plenty of cardio can be highly advantageous for fat loss, as it helps preserve muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the better your body becomes at burning fat.

III) IS A 5 DAY SPLIT GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?

While 5 day splits may not be ideal for beginners, who would benefit more from 3 or 4 day splits or full-body workouts, they are highly recommended for individuals with at least 6 months of training experience and a solid foundation. However, if you are a strong beginner, it’s worth experimenting with a 5 day split for a couple of months to see how it suits you. Fitness is about trying new things, evaluating results, and making adjustments accordingly.

WHAT IS THE BEST 5 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT? 

The best 5 day training split for bodybuilding is the well-known Standard 5 Day Split or the lesser-known Upper Lower Push Pull Leg Split, Siimilar to a PHAT workout. The choice between the two depends on your fitness goals.

The Standard Split focuses on one major area of the body each training session, allowing for high volume and efficient recovery. It is a popular choice among bodybuilders for building muscle. On the other hand, PHAT style routine (Upper Lower Push Pull Leg Split) targets each muscle group twice a week with slightly less volume per session.

However, the total weekly volume is comparable to the Standard Split. Ultimately, understanding the benefits of each split will help you decide which 5 day workout split is right for you.

THE ULTIMATE 5 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT ROUTINES

Let’s start with the 5 day split that most people think of when it comes to a 5 day workout plan – the Standard 5-Day Split.

5 DAY  SPLIT WORKOUT ROUTINE:

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

WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

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

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds between sets.
  • You can switch between DB and BB for presses, and cable machine and DB for flys.
  • You can also switch the order of Incline Bench Press & Flat Bench Press each week.

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds (90+ seconds for deadlifts)
  • You can switch grip variations for lat pulldowns and pull ups each week.
  • You can swap trap raises for rack pulls.

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60 seconds or less between sets.
  • Use an EZ bar instead of a barbell if you have wrist pain.
  • Feel free to use a variety of equipment (i.e. DB, cable, machine).
  • Swap out exercises with our list of best exercises further above.

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 90 seconds (90+ for back squats)
  • You can replace hip thrusts with Good Mornings or even Reverse Hack Squats (although they are not as effective at targeting the glutes).
  • Switch from seated to standing calf raises each week.

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds (longer if needed for OHP).
  • You can switch from standing to seated OHP weekly or as you want.
  • Dumbbells, cables, and machines can be used for raises. Feel free to switch things up.

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. 

WHAT ABOUT AB/CORE EXERCISES?

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: 

  1. Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 10 reps
  2. Plank: 3 sets x 30-60 seconds
  3. Pallof Press: 3 sets x 20 seconds 

Rest 30-45 seconds per set. 

CORE WORKOUT EXAMPLE #2:

  1. Side Plank: 3 sets x 30 seconds (each side)
  2. Oblique Side Bends: 3 sets x 15 reps (each side)
  3. Woodchoppers (high-to-low or low-to-high): 3 sets x 10 reps (each side)

Rest 30-45 seconds per set.

CORE WORKOUT EXAMPLE #3:

  1. V-Ups: 3 sets x 10 reps
  2. Russian Twists: 3 sets x 20 reps (10 each side)
  3. Mountain Climbers: 3 sets x 20-30 seconds

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. Barbell Exercises), then choose whatever works for your fitness level, mobility, preferences or weak areas, and the equipment available to you. 

5 DAY UPPER/LOWER/PUSH/PULL/LEGS WORKOUT SPLIT ROUTINE:

This 5 day 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. 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

  • Day 1: Upper Body
  • Day 2: Lower Body
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Rest

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 90-120 seconds between sets.
  • Increase the weight load each set for the first three exercises, which will likely cause a decrease in reps. Aim to work at an RPE8, which means you have 1-2 reps left in the tank (or 80-85% max effort).

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 120+ seconds for deadlifts & squats, and 90-120 seconds for the others.
  • Increase the weight load each set for the first three exercises, which will likely cause a decrease in reps. Aim to work at an RPE8, which means you have 1-2 reps left in the tank (or 80-85% max effort).

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds.
  • Work at an RPE of 6 or 7, which essentially is about 60-70% your 1RM (or several reps left in the tank).
  • Work through a full range of motion to really maximize contraction and stretching.

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

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds.
  • Work at an RPE of 6 or 7, which essentially is about 60-70% your 1RM (or several reps left in the tank).
  • Work through a full range of motion to really maximize contraction and stretching.

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)

Notes:

  • Rest time: 60-90 seconds.
  • Work at an RPE of 6 or 7, which essentially is about 60-70% your 1RM (or several reps left in the tank).
  • Work through a full range of motion to really maximize contraction and stretching.

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.

TRAINING RULES & TIPS FOR BUILDING MUSCLE AND STRENGTH

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.

1. SEPARATE THE MUSCLE GROUPS STRATEGICALLY:

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.

2. CHOOSE EXERCISES STRATEGICALLY:

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). 

3. USE MULTIPLE REP RANGES:

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.

  • Primary Big Lifts: Your strength training movements will consist of your big compound movements working in a rep range of 1-8 with 3-5 sets and using loads of about 80-90% of your 1RM. 
  • Accessory Movements: These are going to consist of your “smaller” compound movements as well as some isolation exercises. These will work in a rep range of 8-12+ with 2-3 sets using loads of about 65-80% of your 1RM.
  • Rep Ranges For Building Muscle: While studies show that all rep ranges can build pure size if the weight load you use brings you to near failure, the best rep range to be in is 6-15 reps. Lower than 6 reps and you risk injury because you’ll be using such heavy weights, and higher than 15 reps is really taxing on your body. 

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 loads, 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. 

4. REST TIME:

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.

5. PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD:

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:

  • Increase weight load
  • Increasing reps
  • Increasing sets
  • Decreasing rest
  • Increasing Intensity (i.e. slower tempo or greater range of motion)
  • Progression exercises

While there are several ways to progress, for our 5 day split workout routines, 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 split programs 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.

Related: Guide to Progressive Overload for Hypertrophy & Strength 

6. PERIODIZATION:

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…

RECOVERY METHODS FOR TRAINING 5 DAYS A WEEK

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!

1. NUTRITION:

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. 

2. HYDRATION:

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). 

3. SLEEP: 

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.

Related: The Importance of Sleep for Fitness Performance

WHAT SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD YOU TAKE? 

There are many supplements out there, but there are really only a few that you need to consider for your 5 day gym workout routine:

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.

If you are like us, shopping on Amazon is usually easiest. So, here’s our top recommendations for a perfect 5 day workout routine supplement stack:

  1. Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein
  2. Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein
  3. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate
  4. Ghost Pre-Workout

FAQS ABOUT 5 DAY WORKOUT PLANS:

To wrap things up, let’s answer several frequently asked questions regarding exercising 5 days a week…

1. IS WORKING OUT 5 DAYS A WEEK TOO MUCH?

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 split options 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 different 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. 

2. IS 5 DAYS A WEEK ENOUGH TO BUILD MUSCLE?

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, or even a 2 day split, 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.

3. HOW LONG SHOULD I FOLLOW A 5 DAY SPLIT TO SEE RESULTS?

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.

4. HOW LONG SHOULD MY WORKOUTS LAST IN A 5 DAY SPLIT WORKOUT? 

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.

5. WHEN SHOULD I DO CARDIO WITH A 5 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT?

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?

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