5 Best Workout Splits for Strength and Muscle Gain with PDF

Designing an effective workout plan for yourself can be time-consuming because it involves selecting exercises for every muscle group, mixing up compound and isolation movements, combining heavy and moderate lifts reps-sets, etc.

To help you save time, I’ve shared five of the most effective training splits used by fitness professionals for muscle and strength gain.

Whether you’re starting out or training for a while, you can use one of the workout splits to build your best shape and scale your fitness to the next level.

The 5 Best Training Splits for Muscle and Strength Gain

Many of us want to maximize strength and growth, but not all of us follow the same training split. For example, some people adhere to a full-body training program, some PPL, whereas others follow the upper-lower split.

The different workout splits have their own pros and cons, and based on your choice, you can follow the one to achieve your best physique.

The workout splits I’m going to uncover in this article are:

  • Push-Push-Legs (PPL) Split
  • Upper-Lower Split
  • Hybrid Split (Combined Body Part)
  • Muscle Group Split (BRO Split)
  • Total Body (Full-Body) Split

All these split workout programs are effective and can help you stimulate your muscle growth and build an aesthetic physique.

You can try one or some of them to see which suits you the most. I’ll also hand out a sample of each program so you can download it, make suitable changes (if needed), and start your training.

Let’s find out more about each exercise split.

1. Push Pull Legs (PPL) Split Workout

Push Pull Legs Training Split

The push, pull, and legs (PPL) is one of the popular bodybuilding splits for maximizing strength and hypertrophy. It involves performing push workouts on day one, pull workouts on day two, and leg workouts on day three.

  • Push workouts involve pressing the weights up, down, or against the body, such as bench presses, overhead presses, push-ups, dips, and pushdowns, and these exercises work on the chest, shoulder, and triceps.
  • Pull workouts involve pulling the weights up, down, and toward your body, for example, pull-ups, lat pulldowns, bent-over rows, and seated rowing, and these exercises target the back, biceps, rear delt, and forearms.
  • Leg day includes all exercises that reinforce the different lower body parts, primarily the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Examples include squats, machine leg presses, lunges, step-ups, leg extensions, and leg curls.

You can structure a three or six-day PPL split workout, depending on your fitness goal. The three-day split is suitable for those who are starting out and want to bolster their fundamental strength and build lean mass. While a six-day weekly routine can help intermediate maximize their muscle growth.

Here’s an example of the 6-day push-pull-leg training program.

  • Day 1 – Push Workout
  • Day 2 – Pull Workout
  • Day 3 – Legs and Core
  • Day 4 – Push Workout
  • Day 5 – Pull Workout
  • Day 6 – Legs and Core
  • Day 7 – OFF

Perform five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and light resistance training to prepare your muscles for an intense workout.

Day 1 – Push Workout (High Reps)

ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Incline Dumbbell PressChest312-15
Pec Deck FlyChest312-15
Parallel Bar DipsChest310-20
Barbell Overhead PressShoulder312-15
Dumbbell Lateral RaisesShoulder310-12
Triceps Rope PushdownTriceps315-20
Triceps KickbackTricep310-12

Day 2 – Pull Workout (High Reps)

ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Pull-upBack38-12
Lat PulldownBack315-20
Bent-Over RowBack312-15
Seated Cable RowingBack315-20
EZ Bar Bicep CurlBiceps315-20
Incline Dumbbell CurlBiceps310-12
Hammer CurlBiceps310-12

Day 3 – Legs and Core (High Reps)

ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Leg ExtensionQuad315-20
Dumbbell LungesLegs310/leg
Leg PressQuad315-20
DB Romanian DeadliftHamstring310-12
Machine Leg CurlHamstring315-20
Calf RaisesCalves320-25
Cable Chop + Knee Lifts + Decline Crunch (Triset)Core210-20

Day 4 – Push Workout (High Load)

ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Flat Bench PressChest46-8
Incline Dumbbell PressChest36-8
Hammer Chest PressChest36-8
Lateral RaisesShoulder38-10
Rear Delt RaisesShoulder38-10
Shoulder ShrugShoulder38-10
Overhead Triceps ExtensionTriceps38-10
Rope PushdownTriceps38-10

Day 5 – Pull Workout (High Load)

ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Deadlift/Rack PullBack46-8
T-Bar RowBack48-10
Seated Cable/Machine RowBack48-10
Cable FacepullBack38-10
Standing Barbell CurlBiceps48-10
Concentration CurlBiceps38-10
Reverse Barbell CurlBiceps38-10

Day 6 – Legs and Core (High Load)

Leg and Core ExercisesMusclesSetsReps
Back SquatQuad46-8
Machine Leg PressThighs48-10
Leg CurlHamstring410-12
Hip ThrustGlute48-10
Calf RaisesCalves410-12

Core workout (Perform each exercise with little to no rest in between)

  • Mountain Climber – 30 seconds
  • Reverse Crunches – 20 reps
  • Leg Raises – 10 reps
  • Hanging Knee Raise – 10 reps
  • Front Plank – 60 seconds
  • Side Plank – 30 seconds on each side

2. Upper Lower Split

Upper Lower Split Workout

This split workout involves training the upper body and the lower body individually on separate days and helps you develop a firm and attractive physique.

With this split workout, you can train your upper and lower body one to three times a week. For example, you can set up your routine into a two to six-day split, depending on your fitness level.

If you choose to follow a two-day split, you’ll have one upper Monday and one lower body session on Thursday, with five days of ample rest during the week.

And if you structure your routine into six days, you’ll have three upper and lower body sessions with one day of rest during the week.

To help you understand, here I’ve formulated a five-day routine for you:

  • Monday – Upper Body
  • Tuesday – Lower Body
  • Wednesday – Upper Body
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – Lower Body
  • Saturday – Upper Body
  • Sunday – Rest

Monday – Upper Body

ExercisesMuscleRepsRest
Flat Bench PressChest12 x 32 min
Incline Dumbbell PressChest12 x 32 min
Bar DipsChest, Tris10 x 32 min
Dumbbell Lateral RaiseShoulder10 x 32 min
Barbell Skull CrusherTriceps10 x 32 min
Rope PushdownTriceps12 x 32 min
Barbell Biceps CurlBiceps12 x 32 min
Dumbbell Hammer CurlBiceps10 x 32 min

Tuesday – Lower Body

WorkoutMuscleReps x SetsRest
Barbell Back SquatQuad12 x 33 min
Machine Leg PressQuad12 x 32 min
Hamstring CurlHam12 x 32 min
Romanian DeadliftHam8 x 32 min
Hip ThrustGlute10 x 32 min
Calf RaisesCalves15 x 360-sec

Wednesday – Upper Body

WorkoutMuscleReps x SetsRest
Pull-upBack10 x 32 min
Front Lat PulldownBack12 x 32 min
Seated Cable RowingBack12 x 32 min
Bent-over RowBack12 x 32 min
Dumbbell PulloverLat, Chest10 x 32 min
Face PullBack, Rear Delt12 x 390-sec
Dumbbell Incline CurlBiceps10 x 390-sec
EZ Bar CurlBiceps12 x 390-sec

Friday – Lower Body

WorkoutMuscleReps x SetsRest
Dumbbell LungesLegs12, 10, 82 min
Landmine Sumo SquatLegs12, 10, 82 min
Leg ExtensionQuad12, 10, 890-sec
Dumbbell Step-upLegs12, 10, 890-sec
Hamstring CurlHams12, 10, 890-sec
Farmers Walk on ToesLegs12, 10, 890-sec

Saturday – Upper Body

WorkoutMuscleRepsRest
Conventional DeadliftFull Body6, 4, 23-min
One-arm Dumbbell RowBack10 x 390-sec
Incline Bench PressChest12 x 32 min
Military PressShoulder12 x 32 min
Dumbbell Lateral RaisesShoulder10 x 390-sec
Reverse Machine FlyShoulder10 x 390-sec
Dumbbell ShrugShoulder10 x 390-sec

It would be best to work on your core on any day of the week, at least once a week.

Example of core workout:

  • Mountain Climber – 30 seconds
  • Reverse Crunches – 20 reps
  • Leg Raises – 10 reps
  • Wood Chop (L2H) – 10 reps
  • Hanging Knee Raise – 10 reps
  • Wood Chop (H2L) – 10 reps
  • Front Plank – 60 seconds
  • Side Plank – 30 seconds on each side

3. Hybrid Split (Combined Body Part)

Hybrid Bodybuilding Split

The hybrid split is my favorite one, and I usually stick to it to sustain and grow my mass. It involves mixing up upper and lower body parts and focusing on each muscle equally.

For example, I train the chest, triceps, and core on day one, the back and biceps on day two, and the legs and shoulder on day three.

It is suitable for all fitness levels, and I think it is best to follow it before starting a PPL or body part split.

Here’s a sample of a six-day hybrid split for muscle and fitness development.

  • Day 1 – Chest, Triceps, and Core
  • Day 2 – Back and Biceps
  • Day 3 – Legs and Shoulder
  • Day 4 – OFF
  • Day 5- Chest and Triceps
  • Day 6 – Back, Biceps, and Core
  • Day 7 – Shoulder and Legs

Day 1 – Chest, Triceps, and Core

ExercisesSetsReps
Flat Bench Press312-15
Incline Bench Press310-12
Pec Deck/High Cable Fly312-15
Triangle Pushup310-15
Rope Pushdown312-15
Bench Dips312-15
Hanging Knee Raise310-20
Front Plank21-min
Side Plank230-sec/side

Day 2 – Back and Biceps

WorkoutSetsReps
Pullup38-12
Deadlift36-10
Front Lat Pulldown312-15
Seated Cable Rowing312-15
Bent-Over DB Row310-12
Incline DB Curl310-12
Concentration Curl310-12
Hammer Curl310-12

Day 3 – Legs and Shoulder

WorkoutSetsReps
Leg Extension315-20
Machine Leg Press412-15
Leg Curl315-20
DB Romanian Deadlift310-12
Calf Raises315-20
Barbell Overhead Press312-15
Dumbbell Lateral Raise312-10
Reverse Pec Deck Fly310-12

Day 5 – Chest and Triceps

WorkoutSetsReps
Flat Bench Press312-16
Incline Bench Press312-16
Dumbbell Pullover310-12
Bar Dips310-15
Skull Crusher310-12
Rope Pushdown315-20
Tricep Kickback310/arm

Day 6 – Back, Biceps, and Core

WorkoutSetsReps
Close Grip Lat Pulldown315-20
T-Bar Row310-12
Standing Lat Pullover312-15
One-arm Dumbbell Row310-12
Chin-ups310-15
Preacher Curl310-15
High Cable Curl312-15
Reverse Barbell Curl310-12

Day 7 – Shoulder and Legs

WorkoutSetsReps
Arnold Press310-12
Bent-arm Lateral Raise310-12
Rear Delt Fly310-12
Shrug312-15
Back Squats310/leg
Bulgarian Squat315-20
Hip Thrust310-12

4. Muscle Group Split (BRO Split)

Bodybuilding Bro Split

The bro split is also known as the muscle group split. It involves training one muscle group a day, for example, chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, and back on Wednesday.

The muscle group split is popular among gymgoers as it is convenient, easy to follow, and less taxing.

However, you won’t be able to train your muscle group twice a week with this training split. Still, it can produce decent results over time with consistent training and a balanced diet.

Here’s an example of a simple bro split training schedule:

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Legs
  • Wednesday – Back
  • Thursday – Arms
  • Friday – Shoulder
  • Saturday – Core
  • Sunday – OFF

Monday – Chest

ExercisesSetsReps
Flat Bench Press410-15
Incline DB Bench Press410-12
Machine Chest Fly315-20
Cable Crossover312-15
Parallel Bar Dips310-12
Dumbbell Pullover310-12

Tuesday – Legs

ExercisesSetsReps
Barbell Back Squat48-12
Dumbbell Lunges310/leg
Leg Extension415-20
Machine Leg Curl415-20
Romanian Deadlift38-10
Calf Raises415-20

Wednesday – Back

ExercisesSetsReps
Deadlift/Rack Pull48-10
Pull-up48-10
Front Lat Pulldown412-18
Barbell Bent Over412-18
Cable Rowing412-18
Cable Lat Pullover410-12

Thursday – Arms

ExercisesSetsReps
Triangle Pushups310-20
Cable French Press312-18
Overhead Tricep Extension312-18
Triceps Press-down312-18
Preacher Curl312-16
Incline Dumbbell Curl312-16
Concentration Curl312-16
Bent-Over Wrist Extension312-16

Friday – Shoulders

ExercisesSetsReps
Barbell Overhead Press312, 10, 8
Dumbbell Front Raises312, 10, 8
Dumbbell Lateral Raise312, 10, 8
Seated Rear Lateral Raise312, 10, 8
Cable Upright Row312, 10, 8
Shoulder Shrug312, 10, 8

Saturday – Core

Perform in a circuit.

ExercisesSetsReps
Hanging Knee Lifts310-20
Reverse Cable Crunches310-20
Decline Crunches310-20
High Cable Wood Chop310-20

5. Total Body (Full-Body) Split

6 week full body workout program

The total body workout involves training almost every body part per session, making it a functional exercise routine for fitness development.

A study has also shown that split training and full-body training are equally effective in gaining strength and size throughout the body.1 Evangelista, Alexandre Lopes et al. “Split or Full-Body Workout Routine: Which is Best to Increase Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy?.” Einstein (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 19 eAO5781. 30 Aug. 2021, doi:10.31744/einstein_journal/2021AO5781

Anyone looking for a time-efficient and effective muscle-building split can follow this total body workout plan.

  • Monday – Workout
  • Tuesday – Workout
  • Wednesday – OFF
  • Thursday – Workout
  • Friday – Workout
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – OFF

Monday

ExercisesMusclesRepsRest
Barbell Back SquatLeg10-12 x 32-3 min
PullupsBack6-12 x 32 min
Front Lat PulldownBack10-12 x 32 min
Weighted Glute BridgeGlute8-10 x 31-min
Flat Bench PressChest8-12 x 32 min
Incline DB Bench PressChest8-12 x 32 min
Dumbbell Lateral RaiseShoulder8-12 x 390-sec

Tuesday

Pull ExercisesMusclesRepsRest
Parallel Bar DipChest, Triceps8-12 x 31-min
Diamond PushupChest, Triceps15 x 290-sec
Barbell Bent OverBack8-12 x 32 min
Seated Cable RowingBack8-12 x 32 min
Barbell Bicep CurlBiceps8-12 x 390-sec
Arnold PressShoulder10 x 32 min
Hamstring CurlHamstring8-12 x 390-sec

Thursday

ExercisesMusclesRepsRest
DeadliftLeg, Back4-6 x 33 min
Good MorningHam, Glute6-8 x 360-sec
Machine Leg PressQuads10-12 x 32 min
DB IYT RaisesBack6-8 x 32 min
Face pullBack, Shoulder8-12 x 32 min
Dumbbell PulloverChest8-10 x 32 min
ShrugShoulder8-12 x 390-sec

Friday

ExercisesMusclesRepsRest
Chin-upsBiceps8-12 x 32 min
Barbell JammerFull Body8-10 x 32 min
One-arm DB RowBack8-10 x 390-sec
Pec Deck FlyChest8-12 x 390-sec
Seated Rear Delt RaiseShoulder8-10 x 390-sec
Dumbbell Biceps CurlBiceps8-12 x 390-sec
Hanging Knee RaiseCore8-12 x 290-sec
High Cable Wood ChopCore8-12 x 290-sec

Download The Best Workout Splits PDF


The Takeaway

When it comes to picking the best workout splits for muscle growth, you have multiple options to choose from, such as PPL, upper-lower, and hybrid splits. You can follow any routine you think is suitable for you.

The push-pull-leg involves splitting workouts into three parts: training chest, shoulder, and triceps on day one; back, rear delt, and biceps on day two; and legs on day three. It is the most popular split routine in the fitness community for physique development.

The upper-lower split is suitable for those who want to focus on hitting the legs and torso separately.

A hybrid split is suitable for those who want to train the upper and lower body parts in each session and want to stimulate muscular hypertrophy.

Bro Split is a simple, convenient, and effective training plan for muscle-building and is suitable for those who want to concentrate on one muscle group per day. It is not as effective as the other four splits but can help you achieve good results in the long run.

And if you want a time-efficient and effective workout plan for shaping your physique and taking your fitness to the next level, full-body is for you. The full body involves working on multiple muscle groups in one session.

You can try each split for 2-3 months to see which one works for you. Once you get your best route, stick to it and continue for the desired time.

Besides training, focus equally on your nutrition and sleep to see prompt growth.

References

  • 1
    Evangelista, Alexandre Lopes et al. “Split or Full-Body Workout Routine: Which is Best to Increase Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy?.” Einstein (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 19 eAO5781. 30 Aug. 2021, doi:10.31744/einstein_journal/2021AO5781
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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm an online personal trainer, fitness blogger, and fitness enthusiast. I love researching and writing about exercise and nutrition. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.
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