In this post, I’m going to show you five highly effective 5-day workout splits that you can use to build muscle. Let’s jump right in.
5-Day Workout Split: Push/Pull/Legs
First up, we have the push/pull/legs split.
This 5-day workout split involves three different training sessions: a push workout, a pull workout and a legs workout.
The push workout is focused on the pushing movements for the upper body, which involve the chest, shoulders and triceps.
The pull workout is centered around pulling movements for the upper body, which work mainly the back and biceps.
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With the legs workout, you train the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
You train for three days, then take a day off. This is followed by two days of training, followed by another day off.
You keep on rotating the workouts in the same order – push, pull, legs – making sure to insert rest days where appropriate. Each muscle group is trained twice every seven days.
Here’s what the 5-day push/pull/legs workout split looks like over a three-week period.
In the fourth week, the push workout ends up back on Monday, and you start the whole cycle again.
5-Day Workout Split: Upper/Lower
With an upper/lower split, you train the muscles in your lower body and upper body on separate days.
An upper body workout will hit your chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps, while the lower body workout trains your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves
Most upper/lower workout splits involve training four days a week, where each muscle group is hit twice a week.
However, there’s no reason why you can’t ramp up the training frequency and train five days per week.
In the first week, you’d do three upper and two lower body workouts, then two upper and three lower body workouts the following week. This way, you’re hitting each muscle group an average of 2.5 times per week.
Here’s what it looks like.
Monday: Upper Body
Tuesday: Lower Body
Thursday: Upper Body
Friday: Lower Body
Saturday: Upper Body
Monday: Lower Body
Tuesday: Upper Body
Thursday: Lower Body
Friday: Upper Body
Saturday: Lower Body
In week three, the upper body workout ends up back on Monday, and you start the cycle all over again.
5-Day Workout Split: Upper, Lower, Push, Pull, Legs
Let’s say you want to train five days a week, but the weekends are off limits, and you can only train Monday to Friday.
In this case, you can merge the push/pull/legs routine with an upper/lower split.
On Monday, you train your entire upper body (chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps), while Tuesday is lower body day (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves).
On Wednesday and Thursday, you split the upper body in two, and keep the pushing and pulling exercises separate. Legs are trained on Friday. Then you have the weekend off before starting the whole thing again.
Monday: Upper Body
Tuesday: Lower Body
Wednesday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Push)
Thursday: Back, Biceps (Pull)
Friday: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves (Legs)
I normally recommend taking at least one day off after two days of hard training. But if you’re determined to follow a 5-day workout split, and weekends are off the menu, this is one of the better ways to do it.
5-Day Workout Split: Push/Pull
A push/pull workout split involves two different workouts: a push workout and a pull workout.
The push workout is focused on the pushing movements for the upper body, which involve the chest, shoulders and triceps. The pull workout is based around pulling movements for the upper body, which involve the back and biceps.
The push training sessions also include some quad-dominant exercises, while the pull workouts include some work for your hamstrings.
The push/pull workout split is perfect for people who don’t want an entire day devoted to legs. Rather than train your lower body separately, you do a bit of leg work every time you train.
Like an upper/lower split, a push/pull split is normally done four times a week. But you can also bump up the training frequency to five days. This means each muscle group is worked an average of 2.5 times per week rather than twice.
In week three, the push workout ends up back on Monday, and you start the cycle all over again.
5-Day Workout Split: Upper Body Emphasis
Let’s say you want to focus on building muscle in your upper body, and you’re less concerned about making your legs grow. In which case, this 5-day workout split, which emphasizes the chest, back, shoulders and arms, will do the job.
It involves hitting the muscles in the upper body across two separate days, rather than one. The legs are trained just once a week.
Monday: Chest & Back
Tuesday: Shoulders & Arms
Friday: Chest & Back
Saturday: Shoulders & Arms
With this type of training program, you do need to be careful with exercise selection, especially when it comes to training your shoulders and arms.
Training the chest does involve the shoulders, particularly the anterior deltoid (the front part of the shoulder). If the exercises you’re doing on shoulders and arms day also involve the anterior deltoid, such as dips and overhead pressing exercises, it’s easy to overdo it and end up with some kind of shoulder injury.
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About the Author
Christian Finn is an exercise scientist and former “trainer to the trainers” based in the UK. He holds a masters degree in exercise science, and has been featured in or contributed to major media on two continents, including the BBC and Sunday Times in the U.K. and Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness in the U.S.