What is the best 5-day workout split? Our forum members share complete 5-day split training routines, how effective they are compared to a 3-day split, who would benefit, and more.

You often hear that 3-5 days per week in the gym will help you achieve any of your goals. Well, with time on your hands and goals to achieve it's time for a 5-day split.

We scoured the Bodybuilding.com forums to see what our members were doing to make gains in the gym and achieve their goals. Below are the two best 5-day splits that we found in our search.

The Winners

J-DAWG 1st Place

Five day splits are among one of the most common splits used among bodybuilders these days. Not only does it allow for proper recovery in each muscle group, it allows the trainee to work at a much higher intensity since each muscle group is only trained once a week.

A typical split would be like this:

Note: The reasons for prescribing those muscle groups in that order are as follow: For most trainees, training the lower body is probably the most taxing for their bodies. Therefore it is crucial to train it first in the beginning of each week to ensure that the workout is done while the body is still fresh.

Instead of training five days in a row, it is also beneficial to rest in between training days to allow the CNS to get proper recovery. This is especially important for new trainees because their bodies are not primed to be able to work at a high intensity five days in a row yet.

Lastly, it's more optimal to space shoulder and arm days as far as possible from chest day to allow the joints and triceps to recover properly.

For each day, trainees should use 4-5 exercises with two main exercises and 2-3 accessory exercises.

Things to keep in mind during the workout:

  1. Lift each rep as fast as possible otherwise noted.
  2. Recovery should be set at 60s-90s between exercises.
  3. Because 5-day splits can fatigue a muscle group relatively quick, consume BCAA's and recovery shakes to replenish the body's glycogen supply during mid-workout.
  4. It's best to lift a load that is lighter and you can handle than to cheat. "Leave your ego in the locker room."
  5. Make sure is rep is done with full ROM unless stated.

An example of something that I have been working on lately looks like this:

Weeks 1-3

Day 1: Legs Workout
1
Barbell Full Squat
5 sets, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 reps
2
Leg Press
Superset with Seated Leg Curl
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
3
Seated Leg Curl
Superset with Leg Press
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
4
Leg Extensions
4 sets, 12-15 reps (3-4 sets.)
5
Standing Calf Raises
4 sets, 12-15 reps (3-4 sets.)
Day 2: Chest Workout
1
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip
2
Dumbbell Bench Press
Superset with Dumbbell Fly
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
3
Dumbbell Flyes
Superset with Dumbbell Bench Press
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
4
Butterfly
3 sets, 12-15 reps
5
Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover
3 sets, 12-15 reps
Day 3: Back Workout
1
Pullups
5 sets, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 reps
2
Bent Over Barbell Row
Superset with Straight-Arm Pull-Down
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
3
Straight-Arm Pulldown
Superset with Bent Over Barbell Row
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
4
Barbell Shrug
3 sets, 12-15 reps
5
V-Bar Pulldown
3 sets, 12-15 reps
Day 5: Shoulders Workout
1
Push Press
5 sets, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 reps
2
Upright Barbell Row
Superset with One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
3
One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise
Superset with Upright Barbell Row
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
4
Front Dumbbell Raise
3 sets, 12-15 reps
5
Bent Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral
3 sets, 12-15 reps
Day 6: Arms
1
Preacher Curl
5 sets, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 reps
2
Decline EZ Bar Triceps Extension
Superset with Hammer Curl
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets.)
3
Hammer Curls
Superset with EZ Bar Triceps Extension
4 sets, 8-10 reps (3-4 sets)
4
Dips - Triceps Version
3 sets, 12-15 reps
5
Barbell Curl
3 sets, 12-15 reps

Abdominal Workout

While there are many ways to target the abs, I find that a mixture of heavy and light lifts yield the best result. Doing nothing but a high volume of crunches and side bends to lose fat around the abdominal region is a common mistake that many trainees make. Diet and proper nutrition are the key to a solid 6-pack.

Cable Crunch

Abs Workout
1
Crunches
5 sets, 5 reps
2
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
Superset with Cable Crunch
3 sets, 10-12 reps
3
Cable Crunch
Superset with Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise
3 sets, 10-12 reps
4
Plank
3 sets, to failure

After every three weeks, switch either the main exercise or technique (or both). For example, instead of using rest-pause for squat, you can choose to do heavy eccentrics, where you set the weight of the bar at roughly 110% 1RM and lower it over a certain period of time.

As for the other exercises, you can also choose different exercises, increase the volume and/or vary the set/rep but keep the same number of total reps. For example, if you choose to do 3x8 for Leg Press (24 reps total), you can switch it up by increasing the volume to 4x10 or switching the set/rep to 4x6 (still 24 reps total).

Cardio

Although I'm not a strong advocate of doing cardio during bulking phase (mainly because I have a hard time gaining weight), I still believe it can be useful.

For those who choose to do cardio, perform it two times a week - a 30-minute jog or a couple interval runs at the track will help with recovery and trim off some excess calories. If you play sports such as basketball, soccer, football, etc. I'd use those as cardio instead of doing additional ones.

"A 30-minute jog or a couple interval runs at the track will help with recovery and trim off some excess calories."

As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from when doing a 5-day split. Use different technique and exercise from time to time and try new things. When you find one that works, stick to it. When it stops working, search for a new one.

Are 5-Day Splits Better For Training Muscles Once Per Week Or Twice?

Generally, 5-day splits are used to train a muscle group once a week. The purpose is to train a muscle group extremely hard once a week and thus allowing it to have a long period of recovery before hitting it again the next week. This is important because it is during the recovery period that muscles grow.

Additionally, training a muscle group once a week allows the trainee to use high volume training and not worry about having not enough time for recovery. Training a muscle group twice a week during a 5-day split is possible, but I would not recommend it because it leaves little room for recovery. Without a doubt, training muscles once a week during 5-day splits are better than training it twice a week.

Are 5-Day Splits More Or Less Effective Than 3-Day Splits?

This will depend on the trainee. For some, training 5 days a week is too much while for others it's too little. But for most people whose goal is to increase mass, 5-day splits are far superior.

3-day splits are mainly used for strength training, where the trainee wants to be able to have plenty of recovery time to fully recover their muscle and nervous system because their workout consists of lifting heavy reps and high intensity training.

5-day splits, on the other hand, allow trainees to consistently work on their muscles and exert stress; therefore stimulating more muscle growth. In addition, working out five days per week will burn more calories than three days a week.

On the other hand, 3-day splits can be beneficial to someone who is new to weight training. However, that can only be made possible if those three days consist of light and total body training. That will prime the new trainee's muscle and nervous system for harder workouts. A new trainee can still benefit from 5-day splits as well. Working out 5 days per week will keep the new trainee motivated and teach them the proper dedication bodybuilding requires.

Who Would Benefit The Most By Using This Type Of Training? The Least?

Almost all trainees whose goal is to gain mass can benefit from using this type of training. However, the 5-day splits will probably benefit a more experienced trainee than one who just started because an experienced lifter is more primed to handle the amount of workload 5-day splits impose upon the body.

Trainees who will benefit the least from this kind of training will be those whose aim is only to gain strength, such as the power lifters. Working out five days a week is calling out for overtraining for power lifters since they will not have enough time for recovery.

"The 5-day splits can be used for both mass gaining and fat loss training."

For those whose goal is fat loss, 5-day splits are definitely a good choice. By training five days a week (along with cardio), trainees will lose a lot calories and thus priming for fat loss.

The 5-day splits can be used for both mass gaining and fat loss training. As you can see, it is versatile as it allows many different training techniques and exercises to be chosen from. Try it out and see how it goes!

MattyH7688 2nd Place

I have often done many 5-day workout splits and have found this split to be the best in terms of recovery/strength/size. I am a huge fan of both deadlifts and squats and both are very important to me. I try to spread my back and leg day apart as much as I can so I can have complete recovery for both exercises.

The split is organized as follows:

On every lift the sets are 3-4. On power movements (Squat, Deadlift, Presses), I keep the reps low and usually do 4x6, 3x8, or 10,8,6. Every other lift vary the sets from 12,10,8 to 3x12 to 3x8. I like to total around 15-18 total sets per body part.

It is key to switch up the rep scheme to keep your body guessing and to avoid plateaus and overtraining.

Day 1: Chest Workout
1
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
3 sets, 6-10 reps
2
Incline Dumbbell Press
3 sets, 8-12 reps
3
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
3 sets, 8-12 reps
4
Dumbbell Flyes
3 sets, 8-12 reps
5
Cable Crossover
3 sets, 8-12 reps
6
Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover
3 sets, 8-12 reps
7
Crunches
3 sets, 8-12 reps
8
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
3 sets, 8-12 reps
9
Russian Twist
3 sets, 8-12 reps
Day 2: Back Workout
1
Barbell Deadlift
4 sets, 8-10 reps
2
Pullups
3 sets, 8-12 reps
3
Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows
3 sets, 8-12 reps
4
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
3 sets, 8-12 reps
5
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
3 sets, 8-12 reps
6
Dumbbell Shrug
3 sets, 8-12 reps
Day 4: Shoulders Workout
1
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
4 sets, 6-10 reps
2
Arnold Dumbbell Press
3 sets, 8-12 reps
3
Side Lateral Raise
3 sets, 8-12 reps
4
Front Dumbbell Raise
3 sets, 8-12 reps
5
Upright Barbell Row
3 sets, 8-12 reps
6
Crunches
3 sets, 8-12 reps
7
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
3 sets, 8-12 reps
8
Russian Twist
3 sets, 8-12 reps
Day 5: Legs Workout
1
Barbell Squat
4 sets, 6-10 reps
2
Leg Press
3 sets, 8-12 reps
3
Barbell Lunge
3 sets, 8-12 reps
4
Leg Extensions
3 sets, 8-12 reps
5
Seated Leg Curl
3 sets, 8-12 reps
6
Donkey Calf Raises
3 sets, 8-12 reps
Day 6: Arms Workout
1
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
4 sets, 6-10 reps
2
Triceps Pushdown
3 sets, 8-12 reps
3
Lying Triceps Press
3 sets, 8-12 reps
4
V-Bar Pulldown
3 sets, 8-12 reps
5
Barbell Curl
3 sets, 8-12 reps
6
Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl
3 sets, 8-12 reps
7
Preacher Curl
3 sets, 8-12 reps
8
Reverse Barbell Curl
3 sets, 8-12 reps
9
Crunches
3 sets, 8-12 reps
10
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
3 sets, 8-12 reps
11
Russian Twist
3 sets, 8-12 reps

Are 5-Day Splits Better For Training Muscles Once Per Week Or Twice?

Five-day splits are primarily done to work one muscle group per week. This allows you to break down the muscle to the fullest and allowing a full seven days before working that muscle again to fully recover. Recovery is key in bodybuilding. This will help prevent overtraining, from working a muscle to much in one week.

Are 5-Day Splits More Or Less Effective Than 3-Day Splits?

I believe 5-day splits are more effective than 3-day splits. I have gotten my best results from 5-day splits. This allows me to focus on one muscle group per workout and to work it to its fullest.

3-day splits are great for someone who is newer to weight training, but to the more experienced lifter who knows his recovery and body much better will benefit more from a 5-day split. 5-day splits allow one day each week to fully break down the muscle tissue with complete intensity then having a full week to recover.

Who Would Benefit The Most By Using This Type Of Training? The Least?

More advanced bodybuilders would benefit from this type of training. Their bodies are accustomed to weight training and this allows them to work one muscle group to the fullest creating awesome growth.

Someone who would not benefit from this type of training are people new to weight lifting and people who do not have a lot of time. This workout is intense and hard on the body. Someone who is new to lifting may not be ready for it and risks overtraining. Also, someone who doesn't have a lot of time cannot spend five days at the gym a week so may have to opt for a 3-day split.