BlogPhysical Activity5-Day Split Workout to Build Muscles (Guide for Beginners)

5-Day Split Workout to Build Muscles (Guide for Beginners)

Every exercise is a unique piece of magic to your body. The 5-day workout split routine, indeed, accumulates all the magic tricks of pumping up in one training system.

Taisiia Dobrozorova
Written by Taisiia Dobrozorova on October 27, 2021

Table of contents

Once a year, almost all of us have a desire to tighten our bodies and gain some muscle. Somebody just wants to get back in good shape by the summer, somebody goes to a more professional level of sports.

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In any case, the need to make our bodies lean and fit makes us look for new training options. 

Quite often, you can meet people training 3 times a week, but they’re mostly beginners. More experienced athletes switch to a 4-day training program.

An increase in training days is an opportunity to work out certain muscle groups. A 5-day split provides even more possibilities. Now we’ll try to analyze it.

Disclaimer: 5-day split workouts take less time than full-body training, but require adequate physical condition.

What is split-system training? 

A 5-day split is a workout routine that splits your weekly training into 5 days. So, 5 workouts per week, 5 different days. Generally, a 5-day workout split involves training different muscle groups in each workout session, which means you are training each muscle group once a week.

Unlike full-body workouts, splits do not increase strength and endurance(1) but lead to rapid muscle gain(2). 

With a split program you can work out 5 days a week (but do not forget about one day of rest between workouts).

Women doing plank with alternating knee to elbow
Women doing plank with alternating knee to elbow

Are 5-day splits effective?

Briefly: yes

If you're wondering why splits are so good for a body, there is a one-sentence answer. The 5-day split workout program is an ideal way for building lean muscle mass and making your frame look bigger and harder. 

Very convenient you may say. And you'll be right! 5-day splits allow you to dramatically increase the volume and intensity of training because they concentrate on each muscle group as much as possible.

Still, for some people, 5 days a week may occur too much, while for others it may be too little. But for most athletes looking to gain muscle mass, 5-day splits are much better than 3-day splits, for example.

The 3-day split is primarily for strength training. In this case, an athlete needs ample time to fully recover their muscular and nervous systems. A 5-day split, instead, allows the athlete to work consistently on each muscle group with greater intensity. Plus, training five days a week definitely burns more calories.

Can you build muscle with a 5-day split?

Briefly: yes

A five-day split is likely the finest workout split for muscle growth since it allows you to optimize training load while focusing on each muscle group(3). It also divides your training schedule so that you always have enough rest days each week.

Is it okay to work out 5 days straight?

Briefly: it depends on your body's capabilities

Of course, if you are a jock person, then it won’t be hard to switch from the basic training schedule to splits. But let's suppose you’re not. And if you’re trying this technique for the first time, then get ready for immediate feedback from your body.

In order to keep your muscles safe, try to follow these tips.

  • Do not put days in a row when you pump the same muscle groups. Typical examples are the back and arms, chest and deltas, and the like.
  • Don't use too many basic exercises in one day. Two basic exercises are already a lot, more than two are overkill. This rule especially applies to large muscle groups.
  • Try to train the working muscle to the maximum, loading each of its muscle bundles. Periodically change the order of your chosen exercises.

Types of 5-day split workout routine

Coaches distinguish different types of 5-day splits, and they all have their own goals and benefits. You can use this program to build muscle mass, work out strength indicators, or to improve muscle quality, that is, to reduce the level of subcutaneous fat.

Athletes of different levels of training can use the power-split option. The mass-gaining cycle is mostly in use by advanced level athletes, and practicing such a program will only be able to “dry out” when using sports nutrition since otherwise, it will be very difficult to maintain muscle mass.

Workouts for shredding are the most common reason for switching to a 5-day split. The more often and longer people exercise during the “drying” period, the more they accelerate their metabolism. 

However, such a schedule requires high-quality physical training, so do not try to "dry out" without a preliminary course of workouts.

Warm-up and stretching 

Warm-up is the way to prepare your body for intense exercising. Start with 8-12 minutes of running / jumping rope, basic exercises - squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.

For women who want a toned and slender body, the final stretch is also important. It helps to relax muscles and calm breathing. Skipping a stretch leads to severe muscle soreness the next day.

Best 5-day workout schedule

The principle of building a 5-day split routine is to work out each large muscle group on a separate day. When drawing up a training plan, you should correctly distribute the loads so as not to overtrain(4) any part of the body. 

For example, we do not recommend pumping your shoulders the next day after working on the chest, since the front and middle deltoids are actively involved in all kinds of presses for the pectoral muscles.

Day 1: back

Deadlift: 3 sets of 8 reps

Incline dumbbell rows: 3 sets of 12 reps

T-bar row: 3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell shrugs: 3 sets of 12 reps

Weighted hyperextensions: 3 sets of 12 reps

Deadlift
Deadlift

Day 2: chest

Classic bench press: 3 sets of 8 reps

Dips from the bars: 3 sets of 12 reps

Incline dumbbell press: 3 sets of 12 reps

Bench press 3 sets of 12 reps

Wide push-ups: 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 3: legs

Barbell squat: 3 sets of 8 reps

Bending legs in the simulator: 3 sets of 10 reps

Small bar lunges on the shoulders: 3 sets of 12 reps

Romanian deadlift: 3 sets of 10 reps

Standing calf raises: 3 sets of 20 reps

Barbell squatt
Barbell squatt

Day 4: shoulders

Standing straight-bar military: 3 sets of 10 reps

Behind head shoulder press: 3 sets of 12 reps

Dumbell front raise 3 sets of 12 reps

Cable Oblique Twists: 3 sets of 12 reps

Front Incline Dumbbell Raise: 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 5: arms

Close-grip bench press: 3 sets of 12 reps

The biceps curl: 3 sets of 12 reps

French bench press: 3 sets of 12 reps

Crossover curl: 3 sets of 12 reps

Push-up bars exercises: 3 sets of 12 reps

Close-grip bench press
Close-grip bench press

Exercise your abdominal muscles 3-4 times a week. To facilitate the split, Saturday rest can be moved to Wednesday.

Rest between exercises

For instance, researches prove(5) that women whose main goal is to lose weight, need a rest of 30-60 seconds between sets and 90 seconds between exercises. To build muscle mass, the optimal rest time will be 60-90 seconds between sets and 2-2.5 minutes between exercises.

Rules of the 5-day split

  • Make sure your body is ready enough to stress
  • Exercise different types of muscles on adjacent days
  • Combine patterns of reps
  • Mix it up sometimes
  • Don't try to increase the load by simply raising the volume

Do I need to follow a diet?

Briefly: surely yes

Be sure to pay attention to nutrition. If you are overweight - eat right, reduce the number of calories. If, on the contrary, you need to build muscle, increase calories. In any case, choose a healthy meal plan as a source of proteins, fats, and carbs. 

For women, this is especially true, since the female body stores fat easier than the male body and build muscle more difficult. This is due to the different levels of hormones - testosterone and estrogen.

In order to achieve muscle definition (i.e., the minimum content of subcutaneous fat), you must first of all monitor your diet.

Healthy food and a dumbbell for split workouts
Healthy food and a dumbbell for split workouts

Summing up

  • 5-day splits are the training routine that day by day activates different types of muscle groups.
  • Almost all athletes looking to gain muscle mass can have pros from this type of training. However, 5-day splits are more likely to benefit the more experienced athlete than the beginner.
  • A split technique is extremely effective for "drying" the body and shedding calories by accelerating metabolism.
  • You can individualize a 5-day split plan for yourself based on your body type and physical characteristics. It is also vital to remember about nutrition, which accounts for 70-80% of the total effect of splits.

Sources:

  • A. L. Evangelista, T. V. Braz, C. V. L. S. Teixeira, et al. (2021, August). Split or full-body workout routine: which is best to increase muscle strength and hypertrophy? DOI: https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000003573
  • S. Bartolomei, F. Nigro, I. M. Lanzoni, et al. (2021, June). Journal of strength and conditioning research. A Comparison Between Total Body and Split Routine Resistance Training Programs in Trained Men. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000003573
  • M. Wernbom, J. Augustsson, R. Thomeé (2007). Sports medicine. The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737030-00004
  • M. Kellmann (2010, October). Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01192.x