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Why A 5-Day Split Routine Works for Mass

You’ve been training for years, using the same routine day in and day out. You can’t remember the last time you saw a positive change in your body composition. Perhaps it’s time to change your routine up.

For decades, bodybuilders have used a 5-day split routine to bring about the positive change in their bodies where growth and gains are concerned.

Why, you ask? Because it’s been proven to work time and time again.

When it comes to taking the white coat research written up by weak-ass science nerds and making it applicable to training, bodybuilders have always understood how to smash science with practice to make muscle gains.

Sure, there are many training splits that you can use and that work just as well, if not better. Even whole body training has been found to be just as effective in certain situations.

However, the 5-day training split could be considered to be the gold standard of all training splits.

So, what makes the 5-day split so unique and special — more so than its other training split counterparts? Read on as we discuss it in a little more depth.

The Benefits of a 5-Day Split Routine

Below are just a few reasons why the 5-day split routine is so popular and why it works for so many who incorporate it into their gym life.

You cant train full body workouts 5 days per week

Some people say bodybuilders are strange. F*ck those guys.

The fact that we prioritize our physiques above most other things means we have 5 solid days to blast our bodies and make some huge gains.

There’s no ‘3 workouts per week’ here. That’s some part time sh*t for those that like the idea of a great physique but rent willing to devote the time and effort it carving it out.

To be honest, if you’ve only got 3 workouts per week in your schedule, full-body workouts are great. They help you get in some good volume and maintain prolonged muscle damage.

You train one day, then have the next day off for recovery.

The problem is that with 5-day split routine you can’t get a day off between workouts. That means hitting the same muscles two or three days in a row.

Remember, part of the muscle growth process is recovery. If you don’t rest, you can’t grow.

More Recovery

By devoting more days of your week to training, you’ll provide your muscles with more time to recover between workouts. If you were to follow a 3-day training split, your workouts would either be very high volume or very under-stimulating for growth.

If your workouts are extremely high volume, your body will burnout sooner than it would if you were to follow a moderate volume workout.

By utilizing a 5-day split routine, you’ll be able to disperse the workout volume more equally throughout your week, lessening the recovery requirements after a workout.

You’ll also be able to keep your workout volume above moderate if training for 5 days a week.

Not only that, but you’ll also be able to increase your intensity because you’ll have a whole week to recover between workouts.

More Volume Without Crashing

Piggy-backing off of our previous point, training for 5 days a week will allow you to decrease your total daily volume for your workout but increase your total volume per bodypart.

ronnie coleman doing overhead extensions

What I mean by this is that if you were training for less than 5 days a week, the volume of your workouts (sets and reps) will be high but the volume of your body parts will be low.

By decreasing your total daily workout volume and increasing your total daily body part volume, if I may call it that, you’ll create more stimulation which in turn will lead to more muscle growth if paired correctly with rest and nutritional requirements.

More Variety to Include

If you’re training for more than 3-4 days a week, you’ll be able to include more variety into your workout which you were unable to do if you were training for fewer days. That is unless you’re one of those bros who does one or two sets of every single exercise that he can possibly think of doing.

By training for 5 days a week, you’ll be able to do more which you previously were unable to do with a training split that has you training for a few days a week.

Things You Should Always Do Before and During Training

Here are a few things that you should always strive to do and keep in mind before and during your workout.

Have a Warm-Up Routine

Some folks just don’t realize the importance of having a pre-workout warm-up routine. They think that by doing a quick set of side lateral raises will suffice for warming up their shoulders and ultimately preparing them for a heavy set of bench pressing.

It may be a little tedious and time-consuming to spend 10-15 minutes warming your muscles up, but trust me, it will save you pain in the long run.

By performing a little warm-up routine, you’ll be able to lift heavier without the risk of suffering a possible injury.

Time Your Rest Between Sets

You might think that this is unnecessary but it’s not. Depending on what your training goal is, the amount of time that you spend resting between sets is absolutely crucial to help you meet that goal.

Are you training for strength or are you training for gains in size?

If your goal is to train for size, you should rest between 30-75 seconds.

If your goal is to train for strength, resting for 2-5 minutes between sets is what you should be aiming for.

a guy performing tricep pushdowns

Hydration

Remaining hydrated during a workout session is absolutely crucial for health reasons. However, over-hydrating can be just as detrimental to your health as not drinking enough water is.

By drinking too much during your workout, you’ll dilute the levels of sodium in your body which will begin to cause cramps and spasms as you train. I don’t know about you, but getting cramps in your calves while doing calf raises can be a real problem.

Use progressive overload

Your body is lazy.

Unless you force ti to pack on muscle it just won’t. To make gains you have to take your body to a point that it isn’t accustomed to – the dark place we call fatigue.

Choose a weight that’s challenging. If you’re aiming for 8-12 reps for example and you can thrash out 15 reps you aren’t lifting heavy enough.

And when you get stronger and that weight isn’t heavy enough anymore you’ve got to grab the next pair of dumbbells up to challenge your body once again.

The 5-Day Split Routine Workout

Now that we’ve established what needs to be done, it’s time to have a look at the workout itself.

As per the title of this article, you’ll be training for 5 days a week.

I will be naming the workouts from A to E. The order in which you follow or perform the workouts are entirely up to your own personal preference.

Workout A — Chest

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Flat Bench DB Fly — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Incline DB Fly — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Flat Bench DB Pullover  — 4 sets, 15 reps

Workout B — Back

  • Deadlift  — 4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Bent-over BB Row — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Underhand Pulldowns  — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • One-arm Cable Rows  4 sets, 12-15 reps

Workout C — Legs

  • Barbell Squat — 4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Leg Extensions — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Seated Leg Curl — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Walking Lunges — 3 sets, 12 steps per foot
  • Lying Leg Curls  — 3 sets, 10-12 reps

Workout D — Shoulders & Calves

  • Standing Military Press — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Front Barbell Raise — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Side DB Raise — 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Bent-over DB Raise — 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Donkey Calf Raises — 4 sets, 15 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises — 4 sets, 15 reps

Workout E — Arms

  • Barbell Curl — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Seated DB Curl — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • One-arm Preacher Curl — 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Close-grip Bench Press — 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Seated Overhead DB Press — 4 sets, 12-15 reps
  • One-arm Rope Pressdown — 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Conclusion

There are many benefits that training for 5 days offers as opposed to training for fewer or more days.

a guy performing concentration curls

To put it simply, the 5-day split routine is the middleman for training — it’s in between intermediate and advanced-level training, which is ideal for many looking to get that extra boost from their time spent in the gym.

You can’t go wrong following a 5-day training split.

15 Comments

  1. Why do people say training one body part a day is a waste of time vs someone who trains a body part twice a week.

  2. Hi chad, Thanks for the quick response. Should i add Straight arm pull down to the back routine?
    4×12-15. Or is this overkill.
    What training day is optimal? Mon- Tue- we (rest)- Thu – Fri – Sat- Sun (rest)

    1. Hi Nick,

      Yes, you could add that in. 20 sets per week seems to be the approximate cut off point before athletes reach maximum recovery volume and slip into overreaching. So, theoretically, straight arm pull down should be fine. See how you feel volume wise and judge from there. As for what days to train on, it really doesn’t matter. Stereotypical 5-day splits usually go back-to-back days, mon-fri, with the weekends to rest. However, it’s completely up to you. If you’d rather split your training like you’ve suggested it should be fine. Again, it’s all down to volume, so track how you are recovering between sessions.

      Hope that all helps bro,

      Chad

    1. You’re absolutely right there, Nick. The writer who wrote this article is no longer working for us… I’ll personally jump in and rectify the problem.

      Thanks for the heads up,

      Chad

  3. Thank you for your reply chad! i see also that there are no pull ups. Is it better to do pull ups instead of straight arm pull downs?

    Maybe overhead db press should be overhead db tricep extension.

    1. Pull-ups are a great shout. Nice, wide grip too. Yes, feel free to go DB tricep extension to really isolate the underside of the arm.

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