A 5 day workout split is incredibly effective if you are looking to achieve hypertrophy (increase muscle size) and strength. In this article I will be explaining how to structure your split as well as covering the benefits of performing it. If you are looking for a workout split you can do over 3 days or something a little more basic you can try our 3 Day Push / Pull Workout Split with Functional Training
How a 5 Day Split Works
When a muscle group is worked hard it needs time to repair and grow. Therefore, training the same muscle group again too soon can lead to overtraining, which in turn can cause the muscle tissue to break down. Rather than gaining muscle you will actually start to lose it, and even worse, risk an injury.
Doing a split training routine addresses this issue as it focuses on training a specific muscle group to fatigue then rests it for several days so that it has time to repair and grow. This allows you to keep on training your other muscles groups on different days. If you want more information about how your muscles repair and grow through training have a look at our article that explains this in detail. [How your muscles repair and why it effects your split training]
How to Structure your 5 Day Split
When doing a split routine we are trying to have as little overlap in the muscle groups we train as possible. For example, if we did a split that trained chest on day 1, shoulders on day 2 and arms on day 3, this would not be a very effective split as you would be using your shoulders muscles on both your chest and shoulder day. This happens because you use your anterior deltoids heavily in a chest workout. Also, providing you were doing compound movements such as presses (which you should!) you will be using your triceps on all 3 days – not good.
With a well designed split schedule you should be able to work each muscle group hard enough to encourage growth, but infrequently enough to allow it to recover fully. The tough part is that it is almost impossible to have no overlap at all in the muscle groups you train. We can however, try to keep it to a minimum.
With an understanding for how the body works and what muscle groups are used on each movement you can even structure your own splits but this one is a good place to start. Because of the frequency of training and development of muscle tissue you should be able to effectively burn fat on this routine with the correct diet.
Before going further, please note that a 5 day split with this volume and intensity should be performed by more intermediate / advanced gym goers as some of the exercises I have included are more complicated requiring an understanding of the basics and the intensity level is not suitable for someone new to the gym. This routine we will also include functional training exercises to help with core strength and stability.
5 Day Split Schedule
You will notice I have written this split as a 7 day workout however this includes 2 rest days. I’ve done this to indicate the best days for rest out of a 7 day week. As long as the order remains the same the rest days can change if needed.
Your aim is to push to between 80% of your capability and muscle failure in the provided rep range.
Training to failure can be anabolic (promote muscle growth) if performed sparingly and catabolic (break down muscle tissue) if performed too often so only train to failure on your sets sparingly. I would advise that if you choose to do so, only perform a set to failure on the third or final set for the chosen exercise and not for all.
Recent studies have shown an improvement in muscle hypertrophy with longer rest times so you will be doing between 90 – 120 seconds rest between sets.
Perform 1 – 2 sets of the first exercise listed on each day at about 30% of your target weight for the rep range I have suggested.
DAY 1 – CHEST
4 sets, 8- 12 reps Bench press
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Incline dumbbell press
4 sets 8 – 12 reps Cable flies
3 sets, 15 – 20 reps Press ups with medicine ball roll
DAY 2 – LEGS
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Squats
4 sets, 24 reps Medicine ball lunges (Alternating legs)
3 sets, 8-12 reps Leg extensions
3 sets, 8 – 12 reps Leg curls
3 sets, 12 -15 reps Glute raises on suspension trainer (can be done on floor)
DAY 3 – ARMS
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Narrow grip bench
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Tricep dips
3 sets, 8 – 12 reps Tricep extensions on cable
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Underhand narrow grip chin ups
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Barbell curls
DAY 4 – REST
DAY 5 – SHOULDERS & ABS
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Dumbbell shoulder press
4 sets, 12 – 15 reps Lateral raises
4 sets, 12 – 15 reps Vipr shoulder press with a controlled descent (if you don’t have access to Vipr do single arm kettlebell military presses)
4 sets, 15 – 20 reps Medicine ball crunches
4 sets, 12 – 15 reps Hanging leg raises
DAY 6 – BACK
4 sets, 6 – 10 reps Deadlift
4 sets, 6 – 10 reps Pull ups
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Single arm dumbbell rows
4 sets, 8 – 12 reps Inverted rows
3 sets, 8 – 12 reps Dumbbell shrugs
DAY 7 – REST
This is a split that should serve you well with enough compound lifts to stimulate hypertrophy, but also enough functional exercises to improve your core strength and stability.