What Is The Best 5-Day Workout Split?

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. An example would be like this:

Legs
1

Barbell Full Squat

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 reps
Barbell Full Squat Barbell Full Squat

Superset
2

Leg Press

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

Seated Leg Curl

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

3

Leg Extension

3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Standing Calf Raise

3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Standing Calf Raise Standing Calf Raise


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
1

Barbell Full Squat

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 reps
Barbell Full Squat Barbell Full Squat

Superset
2

Leg Press

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

Seated Leg Curl

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

3

Leg Extension

3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Standing Calf Raise

3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Standing Calf Raise Standing Calf Raise

Day 2: Chest
1

Barbell Incline Bench Press

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 reps
Barbell Incline Bench Press Barbell Incline Bench Press

Superset
2

Dumbbell Bench Press

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Fly

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Fly Dumbbell Fly

3

Butterfly

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Butterfly Butterfly

4

Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Day 3: Back
1

Pull-Up

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 reps
Pull-Up Pull-Up

Superset
2

Bent-Over Barbell Row

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row

Straight-Arm Pull-Down

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Straight-Arm Pull-Down Straight-Arm Pull-Down

3

Barbell Shrug

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

4

V-Bar Pull-Down

3 sets of 12-15 reps
V-Bar Pull-Down V-Bar Pull-Down

Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Shoulders
1

Push Press

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 reps
Push Press Push Press

Superset
2

Upright Barbell Row

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise

3

Front Dumbbell Raise

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise Front Dumbbell Raise

4

Bent-Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Bent-Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral Bent-Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral

Day 6: Arms
1

Preacher Curl

5 sets of 3, 2, 1 sets
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

Superset
2

Decline EZ-Bar Triceps Extension

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Decline EZ-Bar Triceps Extension Decline EZ-Bar Triceps Extension

Hammer Curl

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Hammer Curl Hammer Curl

3

Triceps Dips

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Triceps Dips Triceps Dips

4

Barbell Curl

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

Day 7: Rest

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.



Abs
1

Crunch

5 sets of 5 reps
Crunch Crunch

Superset
2

Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

Cable Crunch

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch

3

Plank

3 sets of failure
Plank Plank

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
1

Barbell Bench Press

3 sets of 6-10 reps
Barbell Bench Press Barbell Bench Press

2

Incline Dumbbell Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

3

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

4

Dumbbell Fly

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Dumbbell Fly Dumbbell Fly

5

Cable Crossover

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Cable Crossover Cable Crossover

6

Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover

7

Crunch

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Crunch Crunch

8

Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

9

Russian Twist

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Russian Twist Russian Twist

Day 2: Back
1

Barbell Deadlift

4 sets of 8-10 reps
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

2

Pull-Up

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Pull-Up Pull-Up

3

Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row

4

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

3 sets of 8-12 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row One-Arm Dumbbell Row

5

Lat Pull-Down

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Lat Pull-Down Lat Pull-Down

6

Dumbbell Shrug

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Dumbbell Shrug Dumbbell Shrug

Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders
1

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

4 sets of 6-10 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2

Arnold Dumbbell Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Arnold Dumbbell Press Arnold Dumbbell Press

3

Side Lateral Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

4

Front Dumbbell Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise Front Dumbbell Raise

5

Upright Barbell Row

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

6

Crunch

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Crunch Crunch

7

Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

8

Russian Twist

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Russian Twist Russian Twist

Day 5: Legs
1

Barbell Squat

4 sets of 6-10 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

2

Leg Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

3

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

4

Leg Extension

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Leg Extension Leg Extension

5

Seated Leg Curl

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

6

Donkey Calf Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Donkey Calf Raise Donkey Calf Raise

Day 6: Arms
1

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

4 sets of 6-10 reps
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

2

Triceps Push-Down

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Triceps Push-Down Triceps Push-Down

3

Lying Triceps Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

4

V-Bar Pulldown

3 sets of 8-12 reps
V-Bar Pulldown V-Bar Pulldown

5

Barbell Curl

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

6
Dumbbell Alternating Biceps Curl Dumbbell Alternating Biceps Curl

7

Preacher Curl

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

8

Reverse Barbell Curl

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Reverse Barbell Curl Reverse Barbell Curl

6

Crunch

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Crunch Crunch

7

Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise Flat-Bench Lying Leg Raise

8

Russian Twist

3 sets of 8-12 reps
Russian Twist Russian Twist

Day 7: Rest

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.