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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. Read on!

By: Workout Of The Week

TOPIC: What Is The Best 5-Day Workout Split?

The Question:

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.

What is the best 5-day workout split? Be specific.

Are 5-day splits better for training muscles once per week or twice?

Are 5-day splits more or less effective than 3-day splits?

Who would benefit the most by using this type of training? The least?

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1st Place - -J-Dawg
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

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.

What Is The Best 5-Day Workout Split? Be Specific.

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.

    1 of 3: The Central Nervous System (CNS):

    The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

    This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

    The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

    Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

    Learn More... Back Next

    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:

-> Week 1:


    As for the set/rep range, trainees should train both heavy and light to target all the muscle fibers available to allow optimal growth during recovery period. There are also various techniques that a trainee can use to improve training quality. A set of superset has already been shown above.

    Other techniques that prove to be useful are supramaximal hold, heavy eccentrics, rest-pause, heavy lifting and ballistic lifting. For example:

-> Week 1:


    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.


[ Click here to learn more. ]
Post Workout Basics - Optimizing Glycogen!
When you workout, you deplete muscle glycogen. This primary fuel source needs to be increased after a workout to feed your muscles.
Christopher Mohr

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

-> Week 1-3:

-> 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.

Click To Enlarge.
Video: MPEG - Windows Media

    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.

Weight Lifted Reps
110% 1RM

    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 30min jog or a couple interval runs at the track will help with recovery as well as trimming 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.

    + Click To Enlarge.
    Basketball Works Great For Cardio.

    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.

Once Or Twice Per Week
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 Better For Training Muscles Once Per Week Or Twice?

Once Per Week.
Twice Per Week.

5-Day Vs. 3-Day
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.

What Is The Best 3-Day Split For Muscle Building? What Is The Best 3-Day Split For Muscle Building?
See what our forum members have to say and see the great routines they share right here. Routines range from beginner to advanced.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Who Would Benefit
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.


[ Click here to learn more. ]
Why Powerlifting (And Not Bodybuilding)?
Described simply, powerlifting is training to maximize one's strength in the squat, bench press and deadlift with the end goal to achieve a PR ...
Victor Calia

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!

2nd Place - MattyH7688
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

What Is The Best 5-Day Workout Split? Be Specific.

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.

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:

-> Day 2: Back:

-> Day 3: Off:

-> Day 4: Shoulders:

-> Day 5: Legs:

-> Day 6: Arms:

Once Or Twice A Week
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.


[ Click here to learn more. ]
Overtraining: Signs and Solutions!
Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.
Fawnia Mondey

5-Day Vs. 3-Day
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.

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

More Effective.
Less Effective.
They're About The Same.
It Really Depends On The Person.

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?
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.

What Is The Best 5-Day Workout Split?

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