The Best Workout Splits of All Time [2, 3 & 4 Day Templates]

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There are many different types of workout splits you can use to achieve your goals.

But as you probably already do know, fitness is highly individualized. There is no perfect workout routine that is ideal for everyone in every circumstance.

So which is the best workout split for you?

Today, we are going to cover the 3 best workout splits you can do to maximize your fitness results.

I’ll also show you how to do a 2 day workout split, a 3 day workout split, and my personal favorite, the 4 day workout split.

best-workout-splits

Welcome to the second installment of the WCT series of workout routine basics:

In today’s post we are going to cover:

  • The Full Body Training Split

  • The Upper/Lower Body Training Split

  • The Push/Pull Training Split

  • The Training Split You Should Avoid

  • Examples of 2, 3 and 4-day Training Splits

Alright, let’s get started.

3 Factors To Consider Before Choosing A Training Split

It is important to note that there are many different variables that must be taken into consideration before determining which split you are going to use.

These include:

1) Your Lifting Schedule and Availability

Just as we discussed in Part 1, you must determine how often you can workout on a weekly basis.

If you can only exercise twice a week, then you will have to get creative with the split that you choose.

A decreased training frequency will benefit more from upper/lower splits and full body splits.

2) Your Training Experience

Are you an absolute beginner, or have you trained before? Beginners benefit more from full body workout splits over the others.

Intermediate trainees can use any one of the splits listed below.

3) Your Goals

Are you trying to build muscle? Look a certain way? Simply exercise more?

If you don’t have specific goals, then the split you choose won’t matter that much.

However, if you have a specific goal, it is important to choose the split that will allow you to customize your training to achieve that goal.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s cover the actual splits themselves.

Split #1: The Full Body Workout Split

First off is the full body split. This is by far one of the, if not most effective training splits for the vast majority of the population.

The full body split makes you train your entire body at each training session.

Don’t worry, it is not as gruesome as it sounds.

You don’t actually train every single muscle in your body every day.

Instead, you combine exercises that train muscle groups of the upper body with exercises that train the lower body in the same session.  

For example, one day you may do Squats, Bench Press, and Pullups and on another day you do Overhead Press, Lunges, and Romanian Deadlifts.

Full body splits are ideal for beginners or novices who are new to lifting and need to practice the major functional exercises often.

More advanced athletes can also use full body training splits, but they need to focus on balancing out the exercises that are used on a weekly basis.

Pros of The Full Body Split:

Total Body training splits are ideal for beginners who need to practice the exercises multiple times per week.

Only 1 or 2 exercises are needed per each half of the body to elicit a proper stimulus.

This makes each workout easier to recover from and minimizes soreness.

In addition, the workouts can be tailored to be of short duration if you do not have a lot of time to spend at the gym.

full-body-workout-split

Cons of The Full Body Split:

Full body splits require you to focus only on the major exercises and thus limits the amount of exercise variation you can use in your program.

As such, it is possible to completely neglect one of the critical functional movement patterns such as the horizontal pull and smaller muscles such as the biceps and posterior deltoids.

Lastly, someone who is no longer a beginner may need to pay careful attention to exercise selection, as one workout can interfere with the recovery of a past workout.

I highly recommend the full body workout split for most people, especially beginners.

The vast majority of my own personal training uses full body splits.

Example of a Full Body Workout Split

Day 1 Full Body Training
Day 2 Off
Day 3 Full Body Training
Day 4 Off
Day 5 Full Body Training
Day 6 Off
Day 7 Off

Split #2: The Upper Lower Workout Split

One of the most popular training splits is the upper lower split.

What this means is, that you train all or some of the major muscle groups in the upper body on one day, and then all or some of the major muscle groups in the lower body on another day.

For the upper body, you are generally training the shoulders, the chest, the triceps, and the many muscles of the back.

For the lower body, you are training the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes and the abdominal/core muscles.

The upper/lower split is ideal for anyone who can train 4 times per week, but it could also be done if you are training less frequently.

This is one of my favorite ways of training.

Check out my entire post on Upper/Lower Splits: The Best Way To Train for Busy People.

I have personally used the upper/lower workout split for many years with great results.

Pros of The Upper/Lower Split:

Upper/lower splits simplify your training, as you are only focusing on one half of your body per day.

This makes your warm-up easy to tailor, and decreases the number of exercises you have to do per day.

In addition, the upper/lower split is ideal for anyone who wants to increase the number of times they train a specific muscle group, as you have two dedicated training days for each half of your body.

upper-lower-workout-split

Cons of The Upper/Lower Split:

The upper/lower split can be difficult to recover from.

Since you are hammering one half of your body each day, you may notice increased fatigue and soreness that can interfere with the subsequent workout.

But if you program correctly, this will likely not be an issue for you.

With that said, the upper lower split is a great option for intermediate level trainees.

A lot of popular training programs such as 5/3/1 use an upper lower split.

Example of an Upper/Lower Body Workout Split:

Day 1 Upper Body
Day 2 Lower Body
Day 3 Off
Day 4 Upper Body
Day 5 Lower Body
Day 6 Off
Day 7 Off

Split #3 The Push/Pull Workout Split

The third most popular workout split is the push-pull split.

Rather than focusing on which body parts you will train on each session, the push-pull split focuses on the actual exercises instead.

Any exercise that is considered a push will be trained on one day, and any exercise that is considered a pull will be trained on another.

So in other words, the push-pull training split is a specific variation of the full body training session. The Push muscles are located in the front of your body, while the Pull muscles are located in the back.

The Push Exercises

Horizontal Pushes: such as Pushups, and Bench Presses

Vertical Pushes: such as Overhead Press and Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

Lower Body Pushes: such as all Squat variations

The Pull Exercises

Horizontal Pulls: such as Barbell Row, Cable Rows, and Dumbbells Rows

Vertical Pulls: such as Pull-ups and Pulldowns

Lower Body Pulls: Deadlifts and all other hip hinge exercises

Pros of The Push/Pull Split:

Similar to upper and lower body split, the push/pull workout split allows you to train a few muscle groups multiple times per week.

It also has the benefit of being a full body workout session as you train both upper and lower body exercises in one day.

push-pull-workout-split

Cons of The Push/Pull Split:

This routine works well for individuals who can train 4x per week.

The volume for each individual muscle group may be too low if you cannot consistently workout more than 3x per week.

Example of Push/Pull Training Split:

Day 1 Push Day
Day 2 Pull Day
Day 3 Off
Day 4 Push Day
Day 5 Pull Day
Day 6 Off
Day 7 Off

Bonus Split: The Push Pull Legs Training Split

The push pull leg split is slightly different variation of the push pull split.

Instead of mixing and matching upper body and lower body movement, all of the lower body movements are done on a separate day.

Example of Push/Pull/Leg Training Split:

Day 1 Push Day
Day 2 Pull Day
Day 3 Leg Day
Day 4 Push Day
Day 5 Pull Day
Day 6 Leg Day
Day 7 Off

The advantage of this split is that you get to really focus on specific muscle groups on each training day.

The obvious disadvantage of this split is that you must train 6 times a week if you want to train each major movement pattern two times a week.

This, in my opinion is way too much compared to my recommended 4 day training plan, and I do not recommend it.

The Workout Split You Should Avoid: The BodyBuilding Bro Split

There is one final training split that I would like to discuss. It is known as the bodybuilding split.

This is by far the most common split done in gyms across the nation.

Some have even dubbed it the bro split.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Each training session is dedicated to one or more specific body part.

For example, Monday is Chest Day, Tuesday is for Back and Biceps and so on and so forth.

Since each body part has its own day dedicated to them, this type of training requires you to go to the gym approximately 5-6 times a week.

Bro splits are popular among the bodybuilding crowd, as most programs that you find online or in fitness magazines utilize this workout split.

I personally used a bro split for the first 2 years of my training before I knew any better.

Pros of The Bodybuilding Bro Split:

The bodybuilding split allows for maximum focus on one dedicated muscle group.

This makes training very simple and specific and allows you to utilize a wide variety of exercises.

If your sole purpose is to build one specific muscle group such as the biceps, then this type of training is ideal for you.

Cons of The Bodybuilding Bro Split:

Bodybuilding splits are extremely time-consuming and do very little to improve your athleticism and fitness.

This split is not ideal for busy individuals who have limited time to spend at the gym.  If your goal is to improve your fitness and your performance, then this style of training should be avoided.

I highly recommend that you avoid using a body part split in your training.

Example of a Bodybuilding / Bro Split:

Day 1 Chest
Day 2 Back
Day 3 Legs
Day 4 Shoulders
Day 5 Biceps and Triceps
Day 6 Off
Day 7 Off

Putting The Training Splits To The Test

Okay, so now let’s go over a few examples of workout splits depending on how often you can go to the gym.

We will give you some real examples of splits that you can do if you can train 2, 3, or 4 times a week.

If you are reading this, you are probably a busy professional.

Therefore, our goal is to provide you with workouts that can be done in less than 45 minutes per day.

If you are even shorter on time, just perform the first 2-3 exercises listed.

You can find the Major and Minor exercises listed below in The Only Exercises You Need To Improve Your Fitness

You could also download our workout template to give you a concrete idea of how we recommend you set up your schedule.

A Comprehensive Full Body Workout To Build Muscle & Burn Fat (In just 30 minutes a day)

Download this valuable FREE template that goes over the best exercises to do to and how to do them to get the best science-based results (especially if you don't have a lot of time to exercise.)
Send Me The Template Now
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Alright, let’s get started.

The 2 Day Workout Split

First, we will start with the 2-day workout split.

I know that some of you are super busy and you can only afford to go to the gym twice a week.

I get it.

Working out twice a week won’t give you the absolute best results, but something is always better than nothing. Thankfully, you can utilize all three of the recommended training splits by working out twice a week.

It is ideal to have at least one day off in between sessions, but if you have to work out on 2 consecutive days, so be it.

Here are the two day workout splits.

2 Day Workout Split Using the Full Body Routine

Day 1Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps       
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 5Off
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Front Squat 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Overhead Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Goblet Squat, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Ab Wheel Rollouts 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Low Incline Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Romanian Deadlift, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Pull-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Plank Rows: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

2 Day Workout Split Using the Upper/Lower Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Hip focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps           
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 5Off
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Close Grip Bech Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Cable Row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises, 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Deadlift, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Reverse Lunge, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Pull Throughs, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Side Plank Core Work: 2-3 sets of 20 seconds

2 Day Split Workout Using the Push/Pull Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 5Off
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Step Ups, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Leg Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Reverse Crunch, 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Sumo Deadlift, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Weighted Pull-ups, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Face Pulls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Loaded Carries: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

2-day-3-day-4-day-workout-split

So there you have three examples of the best 2 day split workout routines.

Of the three, I recommend the full body routine, or the upper lower routine.

Now let’s move on to the best 3 day workout splits.

The 3 Day Workout Split

The 3 day workout split is one of the most popular because it is easy to adhere to.

In addition, it gives you enough time out of the gym so that you don’t feel like you are always working out.

Any of the three training splits can be done using a 3 day split. Here’s how.

3 Day Workout Split Using the Full Body Routine

Day 1Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps 
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps 
Minor Upper Body Exercise,  3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 4Off
Day 5Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • High Bar Squat, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Incline Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Bulgarian Split Squat, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Goodmorning 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Power Cleans, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • EZ Bar Rows  3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 3:

  • Trap Bar Deadlift 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Overhead Press 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Kettle Bell Swing, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

3 Day Split Workout Using the Upper Lower Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Hip focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 4Off
Day 5Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Low Incline Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Push-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Horizontal pull-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Alphabet Plank: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Box Squat, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Step Up, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Kettle Bell Swing, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Side planks: 2-3 sets of 30 seconds

Example Day 3:

  • Overhead Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Push Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Cable Row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Week 2:  For the following week, you must alternate the workouts: I.e: Day 1 is Lower Body, Day 3 is Upper Body and Day 5 is Lower Body

3 Day Split Workout Using the Push Pull Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Off
Day 3Major Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 4Off
Day 5Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Paused Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Paused Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Handstand push-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Sumo Deadlift, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Barbell Row, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Face Pulls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 3:

  • Touch and Go Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Front Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Front Rack Reverse Lunge, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Week 2: For the following week, you must alternate the workouts: I.e: Day 1 is a Pull Day, Day 3 is Push Day and Day 5 is Pull Day.

2-day-3-day-4-day-workout-split

I really enjoy the 3 day split, as it keeps things nice and simple. When I first got into training, the 3 day workout split using the full body routine was my go to program.

Next up is the 4 day workout split.

The 4 Day Workout Split

As you may recall from the first post in this series, the ideal number of workouts per week is 3-4.

4 day workout splits are by far the easiest to program as every week will be structured the same way, and you will effectively hit each major muscle group more than once.

The ideal set up for a 4 day split is 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off.

Here is what it should look like.

4 Day Split Workout Using the Full Body Routine

Day 1Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps               
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Minor Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 5Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps               
Minor Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps 
Minor Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

The 4 day split workout using the full body training split is what The Best Workout Template For Busy Professionals is based on.

Example Day 1:

  • Squat, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Push-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Walking Lunges, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Core Work

Example Day 2:

  • Low Incline Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Goblet Squat, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Overhead Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Core Work

Example Day 3: 

  • Romanian Deadlifts, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Bench Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Back Raises, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 4:

  • Overhead Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Single Leg RDL, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Pull-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Core Work

 

You can download a copy of that 4 day workout split here.

A Comprehensive Full Body Workout To Build Muscle & Burn Fat (In just 30 minutes a day)

Download this valuable FREE template that goes over the best exercises to do to and how to do them to get the best science-based results (especially if you don't have a lot of time to exercise.)
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4 Day Workout Split Using the Upper Lower Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps              
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Upper Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Push focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Exercise (Pull focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 5Major Lower Body Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Exercise (Hip focus), 3 sets of 8-12 reps             
Core Work: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Push Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Cable Row 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Deadlifts, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Goblet Squats 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Ab Wheel Rollouts: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Example Day 3:

  • High Incline Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Handstand Push-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Horizontal Pull-ups 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 4:

  • High Bar Squat, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell RDL, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Plank Rows, 2-3 sets of 10 reps

4 Day Split Using the Push Pull Routine

Day 1Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Major Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 3Off
Day 4Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 5Major Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Major Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6Off
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Weighted Push-ups,  3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Front Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Step Ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Deadlifts, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Weighted Chin-ups, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Face Pulls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 3:

  • Close Grip Bench Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Low Bar Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Overhead Press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 4:

  • Trap Bar Deadlift, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Barbell Rows 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Pull-ups, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

2-day-3-day-4-day-workout-split

The 4 day workout split is now my go to training split.  Despite my busy work schedule, I find that the four day a week workouts give me enough training volume while still giving me enough time to rest.

In my opinion the best 4 day split is the full body and the upper lower routine.

What About 5 Day or 6 Day Workout Splits?

Can you workout 5 or 6 days a week?

Sure.

In an ideal world, you should do some type of physical activity just about every single day.

However, when it comes to the gym and resistance training, I think 4 days a week is sufficient.

Once you do 5 or 6 days a week, you may start to notice difficulty in recovering from your workouts.

To combat this, you can make the 5th or 6th day a “light” day or an active recovery day where you do light cardio and minimal isolation exercises such as biceps, or posterior deltoids.

If you are a beginner or an intermediate, I do not suggest doing moderate to heavy resistance training more than 4 days a week.

However, if you insist, here is how to do it.

6 Day Workout Splits

If you want to workout 6 days a week, I recommend that you follow either the upper/lower training split, or the push/pull/legs training split like I mentioned above.

Here are some examples:

Day 1Major Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 2Major Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 3Major Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-10 reps             
Minor Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 4Major Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 5Minor Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Upper Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 6Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps             
Minor Lower Body Push Exercise, 3 sets of 6-12 reps           
Minor Lower Body Pull Exercise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Day 7Off

Example Day 1:

  • Overhead Press,  3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Seated Rows, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 2:

  • Snatch Grip Deadlifts, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Goblet Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Back Raises, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 3:

  • Barbell Rows, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Face Pulls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 4:

  • Front Squats, 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Walking Lunges 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Kettle Bell Swings, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Example Day 5:

  • Weighted Push-ups 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Pike Push-ups 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Pull-ups, 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Example Day 6:

  • Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Knee Extensions 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

*Note that Day 5 and Day 6 are using only “minor” exercises – to allow for adequate rest and muscle recovery.

What Is The Best Workout Split For Beginners?

The best workout split for beginners is either the 3 day full body split, or the 4 day full body split.

This will should provide your body with enough of a training stimulus while giving you adequate rest in between.

When doing a full body split, you can increase the frequency in which you train the major muscle groups which include

  • The Pullers: AKA The Back and the Lats
  • The Pushers: AKA The Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
  • The Knee Extensors: AKA The Quadriceps and Adductors
  • The Hip Extensors: AKA The Hamstrings, Glutes, and Low Back

Try to train each of the big muscle groups twice per week.

What Is The Best Workout Split For Intermediates/Advanced Lifters?

Once you become an intermediate or advanced, the full body workout split will begin to have diminishing returns.

In this situation, the upper/lower split becomes the best split for intermediate/advanced athletes.

The push/pull/legs split is also another great option, but it is impractical to go to the gym 6 days a week for most of us.

Is The Bro Split Workout Good?

If your goal is to become a bodybuilder, then yes it is a good workout. Otherwise, I generally don’t recommend it. Especially not for beginners.

Splitting up your workouts into distinct muscle groups requires a lot of time and effort.

The biceps don’t need their own training day. Neither do your arms for that matter.

As a busy professional, it’s best to maximize the time spent at the gym using one of the splits recommended above.

What Is The Best Workout Split For Fat Loss?

The best workout split for fat loss would have to be full body split training. That’s because full body workouts will burn more calories than isolating any particular muscle group or body part.

It is important that you focus only on big compound exercises that require a large range of motion.  Good examples include deadlifts, pull-ups, and over head press.

Otherwise, you can do HIIT workouts, which burn the most calories.

How Many Sets Should I Aim For?

In general, you should try to train each of the four major muscle groups twice a week.

At the minimum, you should do at least 3 sets per exercise, per day.

That means that you should do at least 6 weekly sets of exercises targeting the

  • The Pushing Muscles
  • The Pulling Muscles
  • The Knee Extensors, and
  • The Hip Extensors

If you have time, 4 sets per day can yield better results than 3.

My Recommended 4 Day Split Workout For Beginners/Intermediates

That was a lot of information.

Now you can go and piece together all of this information into one cohesive plan that is right for you.

Or…

You can save yourself the time and conveniently let me do the work for you.

I have created a ready-made workout template that takes advantage of a full body training split so that it takes all of the guesswork out of the equation.

The WCT Strength Template is 15 week training program that conforms to your busy schedule.

It doesn’t matter if you can only train 2, 3, or 4 days a week.

The template will allow you to modify your training as your schedule sees fit (but with that said, it works best with a 4 day split workout.)

Best of all, the workouts are designed to only last 30 minutes a day.

This program is good for beginners or intermediates.

4-day-split-workout 4-day-split-workout

The Bottom Line On Workout Splits: Which is The Best Split Routine?

So which workout split is right for you?

It depends. If you are a beginner, then the full body split is the obvious choice.

If you are a more intermediate trainee, then you can use any of the three approaches.

I personally think the upper/lower is the best split routine for intermediate trainees, however, the full body split is a close second.

I also recommend sticking with a 4 day split routine if you can.

workout-split

But the bottom line is that all three of these approaches work. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, all that matters is that you adhere to it.

Knowing which of these splits to pick will depend on your training schedule, and what you can adequately recover from. Only through trial and error will you identify what works best for your body.

In addition, if you get bored with your training, you can always choose a different split with a different training frequency.

That is the beauty of exercise.

The next step is to learn:

Now we turn it over to you:

Have you ever done any of these three splits?

Which is your favorite and why?

Are you guilty of having done a body part split early in your training career?

Comment below and let us know!

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Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

Learn More About Them Here

6 thoughts on “The Best Workout Splits of All Time [2, 3 & 4 Day Templates]”

  1. I have Sunday to Monday to workout with enough time to do so. My goal is to look fit and be stronger. Is the bro split still a bad idea or would you still recommend another split. Thank you

    1. thewhitecoattrainer

      Hey Eric,
      Thanks for your comment. The bro split is definitely better than nothing, however, I would still recommend that you use one of the other three splits (if you are a beginner or intermediate). With that said, if you have already established a decent strength base ( for example; you can squat 2x your bodyweight and bench press 1.5x your bodyweight) then it is perfectly fine to use a bro split.

      How long have you been training?

  2. I see that you have 3 exercises per day @ 3 sets 8-12 reps each. I also read that these workouts are about 1/2 hour.
    Is this enough for 1/2 hour? Or is there cardio or something else incorporated in this. I normally workout about 40 minutes that includes 10 minutes of cardio but I do about 6 exercises, 3 sets 12 reps each.
    I am just wondering if I am not reading this correctly.
    Thanks.

    1. thewhitecoattrainer

      Hi Patty
      This includes a 5 minute warm up routine, followed by the workout protocol. Start to finish should be 1/2 hour. Given that the majority of these exercises are barbell lifts, the 30 minutes also includes the time it takes to work up to the starting weight, and a 3 minute rest period between sets. How heavy are you going on these exercises?

  3. Hi,

    I just wanted to know – if someone is a beginner/intermediate and is focusing on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy + (VH2) cardio, do you suggest separating cardio & resistance training onto different days i.e. resistance training 3-4x a week , cardio – 2-3x a week. Would a good split be
    day 1: Legs, day 2: Cardio (VH2), day 3: Push, day 4: Cardio (VH2), day 5: Pull, Day 6: REST OR Cardio, DAY 7:REST
    OR does this seem like too much and would be best kept on the same day, with approx 15-20min cardio after resistance training? Additionally, I would prefer sessions to be around 1 hour or so using shorter rest periods 1.5-2mins since I would focus on a higher rep range/slightly lower intensity – maybe around 70% – what wouldyou suggest? The general idea and area I am confused by, is adding in cardio at VH2 threshold without having a major intereference effect with the resistance training.

    Sorry for any confusion!
    Thanks

    1. thewhitecoattrainer

      Hi Selina
      Overall it does sound like a lot of volume. Why do you want to train so frequently? I would suggest 3 days of resistance training, and 2 days of cardio on a separate day. There is no need to train daily or for more than 1 hour a day unless fitness is your job. I fear training that much just isn’t sustainable for a long period of time.

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