3, 4 & 5 Day Split Workout Routines for Reshaping Your Body Fast!

Are you looking for the "ultimate" workout routine that'll get your body freaky ripped and shredded in just a single night?

You're smart enough to know that results don't come overnight, so now that we've got your attention, here's the main point...

There's NO such thing as the "ultimate" workout. The truth is, there are multiple approaches to effective training, many ways to build muscle, and there definitely isn't a "One-Size-Fits-All" solution that works for every person in every situation.

With that said, there ARE tried and true principles to training, proven fundamentals and laws for building muscle...but these principles, fundamentals & laws can be organized in a variety of ways and they evolve with an individual as he/she goes from beginner to advanced levels.

One of the most common approaches to bodybuilding, whether recreationally or competitively, is to "split" up the muscle groups to train them separately in different workouts over a week. In other words, Body Part Splits refers to the concept of training 1-3 muscle groups in a given workout, with all of the major muscles being worked over the course of a week.

In contrast to body part splits, full-body training is just that, working out your whole body in a single workout, typically repeating the same workout a few times a week. As shown by the success of HIT(High Intensity Training), HST(Hypertrophy-Specific Training) and PCT(Power-Circuit Training), full-body workouts can definitely be an effective way to build muscle and strength, not just for beginners but for experienced trainees as well.

And as mentioned in our 4-Part Weight Lifting Tips Series(a highly recommended read), it's a good idea to cycle your workouts between training the 1)full body to doing an 2)upper/lower split and even 3)body part splits. By cycling between full body workouts and body part splits, you'll take full advantage of the benefits each style has to offer, while manipulating frequency/intensity/volume in a way that prevents plateaus, allows for recovery of connective tissues and makes your muscles more responsive to training.

Body part splits can range from 3 days/week all the way up to 6 days/week, depending on how many muscle groups are trained per workout and the intended volume. Generally, 3-4 day splits are very common and highly effective for the vast majority of trainees, while 5-6 day splits are typically used temporarily or by "doped up" bodybuilders who can artificially handle insane training volume.

The truth is, if you're intensely weight training 5-6 days per week, you're most likely over doing it, unless you're an advanced lifter who's trying hard to break a plateau. Even then, in the case of an advanced lifter, this would be for the short-term and would probably lead to overtraining in the long term without the aid of powerful drugs.

Here's an explanation of the different type of splits, their advantages & disadvantages and some sample routines that you can get started with:

Note: to learn about how much to rest between sets, repetition tempos, repetition ranges, how many sets to perform and many more essential details...see our 4-Part Weight Lifting Tips Series

3-Day Split Workout Routine

Three days per week is considered to be on the low end in terms of training frequency(how often you workout), but if done right, it can still generate good results. Its a nice transition for beginners looking to advance from circuit training workouts to a body part split with more volume, and it can also be used by intermediate/advanced lifters to deload and lower volume for active recovery.

Basically, think about all your major muscle groups and split all of them up into 3 days...which means that you'd be training about 2-3 muscle groups per day.

When designing a 3-day split, careful attention has to be placed on smaller muscles that are worked in a variety of compound movements. For example, when training the chest, bench pressing movements hit the front deltoid and tricep muscle pretty hard. When training the back, most pulling movements heavily recruit the biceps. Infact, the front delts, triceps and biceps are muscles that'll get trained indirectly through a variety of exercises, so they don't need a great deal of volume(reps x sets) on their dedicated days.

Logically and instinctively, two muscle groups that are usually trained on the same day are Chest and Back, because one involves "push" movements while the other involves "pull" movements, and also because the chest and back are basically antagonist to each other in terms of both positioning and function. In other words, they complement each other nicely, and by training them on the same day, one won't limit the progress of the other.

The other major region is Legs, which definitely needs a separate day of its own to cover it from butt to toe(no pun intended). So now that we've covered 2 of the days by training Chest/Back and Legs, that only leaves a 3rd day in which Shoulder, Triceps & Biceps must fit.

Here's what a typical 3-day split routine looks like:

Day 1: Chest & Back
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Legs & Abs (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Shoulders & Arms (biceps & triceps)
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
*Click the links above to see exercises, workouts & training tips for each muscle group.

Notice how the week starts with upper body, then lower body, and then upper body again. The reason for this is to give the arms & shoulders a break from training, because the chest/back day will stimulate these muscles.

Alternatively, the 3 days can be done consecutively without any rest days in between, but this would NOT be recommended in the case of beginners and individuals doing a high volume of work in their workouts. Unless there's a very good reason or strong need to do so, its usually not a good idea to attempt these workouts on consecutive days.


4-Day Split Workout Routine

Four days per week is the most commonly used split because the frequency and volume of the workouts is suitable for the vast majority of trainees, while allowing for enough rest days to keep training more manageable.

Just like the 3 day split, care has to be taken not to overuse the smaller muscle groups that are indirectly recruited in a variety of compound movements. The biggest difference between the 3 & 4 day split is the ability to further finetune and separate out specific muscle groups.

An alternative to "splitting" is to simply do 2 upper body workouts and 2 lower body leg workouts, for a total of 4 workouts a week. This approach has many advantages and we recommend it if you want to have good balance in your upper and lower regions. 

Since the shoulders are a relatively large muscle group with 3 distinct areas to train(front, lateral & rear), they typically get their own dedicated day of training. This means that Arms also have their own day. Or, the other alternative is to keep Shoulder & Arms training together, while separating the Chest & Back to give each a dedicated training day.

There are also other ways to segment the muscle groups into smaller parts and split them up further, but the following scenarios are the most common and can be easily modified to slightly emphasize a preferred muscle group.

1st Scenario:
Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper Body
Day 5: Lower Body  
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
*Click the links to see exercises, workouts & training tips for each muscle group.

2nd Scenario
Day 1: Chest & Back
Day 2: Legs & Abs (quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves)
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Arms (biceps & triceps)
Day 7: Rest

3rd Scenario:
Day 1: Chest
Day 2: Back
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Legs & Abs (quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves)
Day 5: Shoulders & Arms (biceps & triceps)
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest

4th Scenario:
Day 1: Chest & Triceps
Day 2: Back & Biceps
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Legs
Day 5: Shoulders & Abs
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest

Additional Scenarios:
Further segment the muscle groups into smaller regions. For example, split Quadricep & Hamstring training on separate days, or split Biceps & Triceps on separate days.

Upper: Abs | ArmsBack | Chest | Shoulders | Forearms | Biceps | Triceps | Lats | Full Upper
Lower: Quadriceps | Hamstring | Glutes | Calves | Full Lower

5-Day Split Workout Routine

Now we're really stepping up the volume and frequency of workouts, so its not a territory that a beginner should trespass! A 3-4 day split is suitable for most trainees, but there may be situations in which a 5-day split can be temporarily used by advanced trainees to break a plateau or specialize on a lagging muscle group.

With a 5-day split the bigger muscle groups usually get their own dedicated training day by default. At this point, the total weekly workload is going to be pretty high, so the sequence/order of workouts becomes very important.

There are many different possibilities of arranging the various muscles, depending on whether you want to specialize on a particular one or keep things more balanced. The most common way is to dedicate one day for each major region. Or, each large muscle can be paired with a smaller one, as in scenario 2 below. Lastly, the week can be divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on heavier volume and the 2nd part lower volume, as shown in scenario 3.

1st Scenario:
Day 1: Chest
Day 2: Back
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Arms
Day 5: Legs
Day 6: Shoulders & Abs
Day 7: Rest
*Click the links to see exercises, workouts & training tips for each muscle group.

2nd Scenario:
Day 1: Chest & Triceps
Day 2: Back & Biceps
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Quadriceps & Abs
Day 5: Hamstrings, Glutes & Calves
Day 6: Shoulders & Traps
Day 7: Rest

3rd Scenario:
Day 1: Chest & Back
Day 2: Legs & Abs
Day 3: Shoulders & Arms
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Chest, Triceps, Quadriceps & Calves
Day 6: Back, Biceps, Hamstrings/Glutes & Abs 
Day 7: Rest


6-Day Split Routine

Before you read any further, know that 6 days of intense weight training is likely to lead the majority of trainees into overtraining, increasd risk of injury, and extended feelings of burnout and fatigue. In short, you're probably gonna get sick and tired of lifting weights, quite literally!

Competitive bodybuilders that are "juicing" can handle this type of insane training volume regularly, but for an advanced trainee that's completely natural, 6 consecutive days of intense weights should only be used sparingly, temporarily, and followed by a long period of rest.

The most sensible way to use a 6-day split is to basically repeat the 3-day split twice, in order to make the best use of both high frequency and volume. By using this type of structure, at least a single muscle group won't get super overloaded on a single day.

If you're an advanced trainee with at least a few consecutive years of training under your belt, and you've hit a plateau that is tough to break, 1 to 2 weeks of a 6-day split as laid out below can dramatically stimulate strength and muscle gains. But, at least 7-10 days of complete rest should follow a cycle of this type of training.

Ideal Scenario:
Day 1: Chest & Back
Day 2: Legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves)
Day 3: Shoulders & Arms(biceps & triceps)
Day 4: Rest
Day 1: Chest & Back
Day 2: Legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves)
Day 3: Shoulders & Arms(biceps & triceps)
*Click the links to see exercises, workouts & training tips for each muscle group.

Remember, more is NOT better when it comes to weight training, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels. There are clear limits on how much your body can handle and how much your muscles can grow, so trying to force them to grow beyond their limits too fast can spell doom for you in too many ways to list here...so beware of overtraining. Stick to a 3-4 day split the majority of the time.

 

Upper: Abs | ArmsBack | Chest | Shoulders | Forearms | Biceps | Triceps | Lats | Full Upper
Lower: Quadriceps | Hamstring | Glutes | Calves | Full Lower