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Sample Routines And Splits!

For those of you who do not know, when you pyramid a set, the reps go down as the weight goes up.

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In bodybuilding, the routine that you follow plays a huge role in determining your overall progress. You must design and follow it to meet your specific goals, whether they are to gain mass and power, endurance and definition, or whatever you're striving for. In addition to meeting your goals, there are things you must avoid too, overtraining for example. So this article is dedicated to providing splits and routines for the beginner, the intermediate who is training for mass, and the intermediate who is training for definition. There really is no need for me to list an advanced, or competition routine. Someone at that point needs to design their own individualized split so they can target what they need at that point- weak areas and such. However, a split is totally different. A good split could be used by a competitor or a beginner, its what's in the routine that's important.

Now the way I set this article up was so you can pick a split that you prefer, and then apply the routines for each body part to it. However, some of you are just starting out and some of you have been training for awhile, so of course this means that more than one routine is needed for each body part. So what I've done is listed an example routine for beginners, intermediates training for mass, and intermediates looking to bring out definition and detail. When I say beginner I'm generally referring to someone who has been training for anything under a year; intermediate is anywhere over a year. A lot of bodybuilders never progress past the intermediate stage. That change is what makes the difference between bodybuilding being a hobby, or becoming a way of life.

The Splits

I believe that beginners should work out 2-4 days per week, intermediates 3-5, and advanced/competition 4-6. Some of the off days (the ones not marked with a *) are optional, but where I have placed them is just my recommendation- feel free to change them your preference. Just to mention it, I would definitely recommend 4-day splits, I believe they are the best for optimal growth. I use this first one listed. So here goes...

Four Day Splits

  • Day 1: Quads and Calves
  • Day 2: Upper and Lower Back, Hamstrings,
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Chest and Tris, Biceps
  • Day 5: Shoulders and Traps
  • Day 6: Rest

  • Day 1: Legs
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Upper/Lower Back, Biceps
  • Day 3: Chest and Tris
  • Day 5: Rest*
  • Day 4: Shoulders and Traps

  • Day 1: Chest and Upper/Lower Back
  • Day 2: Shoulders and Traps
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Bis, Tris
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Day 6: Rest

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, and Traps
  • Day 2: Quads, Calves
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Upper and Lower Back, Hamstrings
  • Day 5: Bis and Tris
  • Day 6: Rest*
  • Day 7: Rest*

    Three Day Splits

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, and Traps
  • Day 2: Off
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Upper/Lower Back, Arms

  • Day 1: Back, Shoulders, and Traps
  • Day 2: Rest*
  • Day 3: Chest, Bis, and Tris
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Legs
The Routines

It's a good idea to change your routine up here and there. With all of these routines, any of the exercise orders can be switched around in order to keep the change-up technique in effect. There is not a set time period that you should use any given routine, but it's the opinion of many to switch it up at least every 2-4 months. By switching it up I mean changing the volume, frequency, order of exercises, or the exercises themselves.

Also, if you are a beginner, make sure that you take some time to get comfortable with the form of each exercise. You will find that some exercises take longer to learn than others, deadlifts or rows, for example. Trust me here: Do not even think about going heavy or at maximum intensity on an exercise until you are completely comfortable and in habit of doing it in perfect form! It's not worth risking an injury than could put you out of training for weeks, months, years, whatever. And be especially careful when it comes to the lower back- you don't want an injury that could stay with you for the rest of your life. Just train safely- bottom line.

Below each type (beginner, intermediate mass, etc...) I have listed "Other Exercises", or exercises that you could switch in for exercises listed in the split above. However, there are certain exercises I believe should not be bumped out for the section they are in (mass, definition, etc...), and those are marked with a *. Sets with decreasing reps are pyramided. For those of you who do not know, when you pyramid a set, the reps go down as the weight goes up. The number form here represents Sets/Reps. 3-4/12 means 3 to 4 sets, with 12 reps each- you get the picture. Now I have left a slightly broad range when it comes to sets, but a beginner isn't at the same point after 6 months of training that he was when he first started. Same thing goes for an intermediate. When you start out, take it easy and don't overdo it. If you have never been on a workout program, assuming you are healthy, start out at the minimum sets given, and if you feel you can handle more, increase slowly and gradually.

Quad Routines

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Upper Back

Note: If you aren't in good enough shape to get a good pump going from wide-grip chins, then follow them up a few sets of lat pulldowns. Wide-grip Chins are hard because the minimum weight available is your own bodyweight. Lat Pulldowns allow you to use less than your bodyweight, so you can do more full reps. In other words, do not do the lat pulldowns if you are able to handle wide-grip chins. And if you can't handle them, do a few sets of each.

Click Here for the Back routine in Word.
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Chest Routines

Note: You must remember when doing incline presses of any kind that you must hit the chest from many angles. Don't just kick the incline to 20 degrees, and then stop there- you have to use variety. Instead, do a few sets at 20 degrees, then do a few more at 30 or 35 degrees, or do all of your incline sets at 20 degrees one workout, then do all of them the next workout at a higher or lower degree. Also, remember that the higher the incline, the higher the area of the chest you are recruiting, but also the greater the involvement of the front delts. This is why it is a good idea to do flats first, so when you do inclines, your chest gives out before your shoulders do.

Click Here for the Chest routine in Word.
Click Here for the Chest routine in text.


Click Here for the Biceps routine in Word.
Click Here for the Biceps routine in text.


Click Here for the Triceps routine in Word.
Click Here for the Triceps routine in text.

Traps, Forearms and Abs

Click Here for the Traps, Foreamrs and Abs routine in Word.
Click Here for the Traps, Foreamrs and Abs routine in text.

Note: Hit the abs twice per week, or whenever they're not sore. It's your choice which days to place them in, but since they take only about 10 minutes or less to train, it will be easy to slide them in somewhere. If you want definition in your abs, you have to be in shape. Just working them out hard won't cut it--it's all about the cardio.

I hope these routines and splits can serve you as a guide. Feel free to email me any questions, and I'll be glad to answer them. But remember, if you have a question about the performance of an exercise, look at the anatomy section of, it has an awesome selection- best of all: pics. I also plan to write a follow-up article on where to place supersets, drop sets, etc... in these routines.

Keep Pumpin'
John Giljum