When you head to the gym, do you already have a workout in mind? Or do you head to the first machine you see and start pushing out crazy reps? Oh, how we do hope it’s the former.
Whether you’re looking to build muscle and strength, shed fat or up your endurance – you need to know what you’re aiming for and how to achieve it. In order to crack your training plan for maximum gains, you need to know the best workout split.
But what is a bro split?
The best workout split divides up your workouts across the week. This can be by body region, specific body part, movement or even by lift. Many bodybuilders and gym-buffs formulate their own bro split, optimizing results through a focused approach in the gym.
So instead of wishing for huge gains or fat loss, following a tried and tested push pull legs routine will set you on the path to success. In order to create the best workout split for fat loss or muscle growth, you need to keep several things in mind:
- Training levels
- Body and fitness goals
- How much time you can dedicate
- Rest time/recovery needs
- Weak spots
Now, let’s dive in.
Why is a bro split important?
When you’ve got certain goals in mind, creating the best workout split is crucial for working towards something specific. Stepping into the gym shouldn’t feel like a minefield of guesswork, but a carefully planned strategy.
Creating a bro split that aligns with your goals will help you stay on track, especially when you take into account how much time you can dedicate to your new push pull legs routine.
But don’t just take our word for it. Plenty of guys stress the importance of finding the best workout split to build muscle – with a survey of 127 competitive bodybuilders all reporting that they follow a bro split.
This is because it’s important to carve your own pathway to succeeding in bodybuilding. Having a regime is one of the first things any decent bodybuilder will tell you that you need! Once you work out the optimum recovery times, time to workout and the type of movements, sticking with your proven bro split will lead to success.
When you’re absent-mindedly hitting the gym without any prep, your countless hours will go nowhere. By creating the ultimate bro split, you’ll be working a handful of muscles to exhaustion.
Then, with time to recover, you can hit the next session hard. The best workout split to build muscle results in maximum gains, working smarter, not harder.
But what is the best workout split?
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Finding the best workout split for you
The key thing to keep in mind here is knowing what you’re trying to achieve. Once you know what your goals are, you can create a bro split that works for you.
However, the amount of time you can dedicate also counts here. If you’re unable to dedicate several days a week to the gym, you’re going to have to switch up your workout split to suit your schedule.
Next, you need to consider your starting ability. If you’re a total bodybuilding rookie, you’re going to need to keep your workouts a little lighter at first. As you progress, you can start to really push your muscles further.
Then, you’ll need to take your weaknesses into account. Let’s say you’re well aware you have an underdeveloped midsection, head for movements focused on aesthetics at first.
How the best workout split is organized
Put simply, your bro split is geared towards your end goal. For one guy looking to improve endurance, their workout split would be very different to one focused on aesthetics.
Typically, bodybuilding workout splits are organized into three main workout splits:
- Body part workout splits
- An upper/lower workout split
- A push pull legs routine split
A closer look at body part workout splits
During a body part workout split, you’ll typically train 1-3 body parts per training session, twice a week. Some bodybuilders consider this combo the best workout split, since it allows you to train muscles more often for muscle growth.
Researchers have found that this type of bro split results in the most hypertrophy, when compared to other types of training styles. This was also the same result of a 2018 study, which found that hitting a muscle twice per week increased overall body composition and muscle thickness.
For bodybuilders, the main goal is a totally symmetrical physique with full muscle development. Since this is such a common goal for those seeking the best workout split, it makes sense to pair certain muscles together – for example, the chest with the triceps.
These two muscles can cleverly work together during exercises such as push-ups and bench press. It simply makes sense to pair these two for maximum results.
Other popular body part splits include:
- Back and biceps
- Legs and shoulders
In line with these pairings, a typical body part workout split may look like this:
- Monday: Chest and triceps
- Tuesday: Back and biceps
- Wednesday: Legs and shoulders
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Chest and triceps
- Saturday: Back and biceps
- Sunday: Legs and shoulders
Our muscles usually need around 48 hours to rest and recover post-workout. If you look a little closer at the workout split above, you’ll notice that each muscle group gets 72 hours of rest.
In some instances, a bodybuilder who wants to enhance a weak point may train that muscle 2 to 3 times per week, adding the exercise to a less difficult training day.
Also Read: How to build muscle
Let’s say you’re looking to boost your hamstrings. Keep the split above, but try adding six sets of hamstring exercises onto the end of your first chest and triceps session.
Pros of this type of bro split:
- Easy to focus on two muscles per session
- Full recovery time
- Less equipment needed
- Less fatigue, since you’re not working multiple muscles
Cons of a body part workout split:
- If you miss a session, it can take longer to catch up
- Easy to become impatient waiting for a session
- Some body parts may have faster recovery time
Best workout split to build muscle on a tight schedule
If you’re new to bodybuilding, or tight on time, the upper/lower body workout split is one of the best workout splits you can use.
Also Read: How to burn fat by building muscle
As well as a focus on gaining strength, this is also considered the best workout split for fat loss, since it forces you to prioritize the basics and cut fat.
The upper/lower body workout split:
- Monday: Upper body
- Tuesday: Lower body
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Upper body
- Friday: Lower body
- Saturday & Sunday: Rest
What are the pros and cons of this upper/lower bro split?
- You spend less time in the gym
- You’re still hitting each muscle twice a week
- You can gradually increase the main lifts
- Less volume per workout
This type of workout split divides your time across your upper and lower body perfectly. When you’re trying to train more muscles per workout, you need to be a little more selective about the exercises you choose.
During your upper body workout split, you’ll be targeting the chest, but also triceps, biceps, back and shoulders. So instead of opting for 4 to 5 exercises for your chest alone, you’ll need to aim for 1 to 2 moves per body part to avoid injury and fatigue.
To maximize the best workout split for fat loss AND muscle growth, focus on compound movements that engage more than one muscle. Cut out moves such as chest flyers, curls and lateral raises, as these isolation movements won’t maximize your efforts.
What is the best workout split to build muscle?
With so many different bro split variations to choose from, finding the best workout split to build muscle can depend on your goals and starting ability.
However, each workout split has its own advantages. For example, when looking for the best 5 day workout split, you’ll find a focus on strength gains and building mass, with less body part fatigue.
What is the best 5 day workout split?
Looking for the best workout split to build muscle? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a couple of different examples to choose from, so you can decide according to your goals, ability and schedule.
One contender for the best 5 day workout split:
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Back
- Wednesday: Shoulders
- Thursday: Arms
- Friday: Legs
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
- Weekend off
- Clear definition between body region on each day
- Focused strength gains
- Less body part fatigue
- Easy to move around your schedule
- Potentially less volume per workout
What about a push pull legs routine?
A push pull legs routine is considered one of the best workout splits around. This type of workout split allows each muscle group to get the rest they need while ensuring that there is not too much time between each session.
This type of bro split goes as follows:
- Pushing muscles – chest, shoulder, triceps
- Pulling muscles – back, traps and biceps
- Legs – including glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads
Here’s a push pull legs routine to get you started:
- Monday: Push (heavy bench press)
- Tuesday: Pull (heavy deadlift)
- Wednesday: Legs (heavy back squat)
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Push (high volume or bench press alternative)
- Saturday: Pull (high volume or deadlift alternative)
- Sunday: Legs (high volume or back squat alternative)
A second bro split push pull legs routine – adapt accordingly:
- Monday: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
- Tuesday: Back, Biceps, Abs and Forearms
- Wednesday: Legs
- Thursday: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
- Friday: Back, Biceps, Abs and Forearms
- Saturday: Legs
- Sunday: Rest
Unlike single body part workout splits, if you miss a push pull legs routine, you’ll be able to make it up in 3 days.
If you’re looking for the best workout split to build muscle, a push pull legs routine is a viable option. This type of routine will allow you to maximize muscle growth and strength gains, while hitting each muscle twice per week with enough time for recovery.
What are the pros of a push pull legs routine?
- Focus on training specific muscles
- Plenty of recovery time
- More time spent in the gym
- Less room to modify the routine to hit weak points
- More equipment
Power hypertrophy upper-lower (PHUL) workout routine
If you’re looking for the best workout split to build muscle, why not try out this 4-day workout split?
Here’s an example to get you started and gaining muscle in no time:
- Monday: Upper Power
- Tuesday: Lower Power
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Upper Hypertrophy
- Friday: Lower Hypertrophy
- Saturday/Sunday: Rest
Think heavy compound movements, such as shoulder press, deadlift, squats and bench press. This is one of the best workout splits around for athletes who want to enhance their strength and pack on some muscle.
Over four workout days:
- 2 days focus on pure strength training
- 2 days of muscle building (hypertrophy)
Ready to get BIG?
Working out the best workout split for you is crucial to hitting your goals. Another tip to remember is: Always have a backup plan. Let’s say you head into the gym ready to push your legs to their limits, only to find every guy in there already working out their legs.
Can’t get on an open bench press? Try dumbbell presses. Can’t squat? No problem, try heavy lunges. You get it. The same applies to those days you may not be able to make it the gym.
Let’s say your car breaks down. Having a way to workout at home will help you to stick to your new bro split routine, maximizing efforts, even if you can’t get to the gym.
Keep the following in mind for determining the best workout split to suit you:
- Your end goal
- Your time commitment
- Create a plan and stick to it
- Have a back up
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