Whether you’re a strength athlete working to get an edge in the gym or someone trying to improve their appearance and health with a bit of weight training, there’s likely a suitable split workout schedule for you.

Split training is an effective way to program strength and muscle-building workouts, especially when lifting weights.

This article tells you everything you need to know about the most popular splits out there, so you can decide which one to try based on your own goals and experience.

When designing or following a balanced exercise program, it’s common to split up your training.

For example, one way to split up your workout routine is to exercise on some days and rest on others. The full-body split is an example of this approach.

You can also divide your training and focus on different body parts or movements on different days. Examples of this include the upper/lower and the push/pull/legs splits.

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Split training involves dividing your weekly workout sessions or volume of exercises into separate days to focus on individual elements.

Splitting up your training gives your body enough time to recover between workouts. It also gives you the freedom to control the frequency of your training.

You can also use the method to better target certain muscles or movement patterns when you feel fresh and energized at the beginning of a workout.

Research shows that exercise order affects performance over multiple sets. In other words, you might not be able to train a second movement as hard as your first one. For example, if you squat before bench pressing, you may not get the most out of your bench press (1).

So, if your goal is maximum full-body strength, it can make sense to prioritize different exercises on separate days. Instead of doing a bench press following a squat on the same day, you can do the bench press first on one day and the squat first on a different day.

Finally, it can be helpful — both mentally and in terms of energy and recovery — to divide your sessions to target one body part at a time.

Otherwise, it can feel like your workouts burn you out or take up too much time per session. This can be especially true if you’re focusing on bodybuilding or performing many different exercises per muscle.

Keep reading to learn the main ways to split your workout program.


Splitting up your training can help you train more days per week while maximizing recovery and strength across multiple exercises. It also allows for more exercise variety per body part.

What is it?

This is the simplest split. You’re dividing your time between going to the gym to train your entire body or resting.

Because you work out all your muscles at each session, you’ll also need time to recover your full body between each workout. This makes this a two or three days-per-week program.

Who is it for?

This is generally the best place for beginners to start, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerful approach.

Hitting your whole body several times per week with compound movements that work multiple muscles at a time can be both taxing and strengthening.

In fact, a recent study found that as long as the weekly volume of work was the same, two weekly full-body workouts generated the same strength gains and muscle hypertrophy as a four-day split-muscle routine (2).

In other words, you’re not shortchanging yourself with this option.

This is also a great split for anyone who doesn’t have a whole lot of time every week to train but still wants a good training stimulus — like athletes who also perform sport-specific training sessions that take up a lot of time and energy resources.


This program is great at introducing you to the habit of working out for a few days every week and creating consistency. You can pick a few compound exercises and really focus on improving on them — which really should be the core of any training program.

Also, because you train everything every time you go to the gym, you won’t have any major muscle imbalances if you miss or postpone a day here or there.

This is a great program for anyone who wants to work out with weights two to three times per week.


The major problem with this style of training comes when you want to start adding more exercises or more sets.

Because you’re working your whole body every time you train, you’re generally limited to one exercise per body part for one to four sets. Any more than that may make the workout too long or taxing.

You also may find you can’t properly prioritize any one muscle group while also trying to target everything with broad strokes.

Additionally, you may want to train more than one to three times per week, which likely won’t match how much recovery you’ll need.

Furthermore, once you get more advanced, you may need more than 48 hours between workouts for certain muscles to recover.


3-day split

Perform 1 movement per body part with 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

  • Day 1: full body routine
  • Day 2: rest
  • Day 3: full body routine
  • Day 4: rest
  • Day 5: full body routine
  • Day 6: rest
  • Day 7: rest

A full-body split is a great option for beginners or people who have limited training time. However, the exercise selection can be too narrow for some, and if you want to train more than three days per week, you should pick another split.

What is it?

With this split, you work on your upper body on one day, followed by your lower body the next time you train. Then, you repeat the process.

This can be a four-day split where you take a rest day in between cycles. Or, you can make it a six-day split where you repeat upper and lower sessions before taking a rest day.

Whether you opt for four or six training days per week may not make a big difference.

A 2015 study had 10 elite bodybuilders train either 4 or 6 days per week for a month and found no major differences in body composition afterward. Although this is a small study, it indicates that you can choose how many days you train this way based on preference and recovery (3).

Who is it for?

This is a good option for someone who likes the simplicity of the beginner full-body split but wants to train more often.

While the muscles in your upper body recover, you’re able to train your lower body and vice versa.


The upper/lower split allows you to add a few more exercises per body part or sets per session compared with the full-body split.

This is one of the most flexible splits because you can make it a two, four, or six days-per-week program depending on your exercise and recovery needs.


This split is a middle ground between a full-body beginner split and a push/pull/legs split.

You may find that you don’t have enough time to fully stimulate all the muscles in your upper or lower body in each session, while also having a hard time recovering in time. This is especially likely if you choose a six-day version.


4-day split

Perform 2 movements per body part for 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps.

  • Day 1: upper body routine
  • Day 2: lower body routine
  • Day 3: rest
  • Day 4: upper body routine
  • Day 5: lower body routine
  • Day 6: rest
  • Day 7: rest

6-day split

Perform 2 movements per body part for 3 sets of 6–12 reps.

  • Day 1: upper body routine
  • Day 2: lower body routine
  • Day 3: upper body routine
  • Day 4: lower body routine
  • Day 5: upper body routine
  • Day 6: lower body routine
  • Day 7: rest

The upper/lower split is the most flexible in terms of how many days per week you can train. However, if you choose the six days per week option, you may find recovery challenging and lack a little more exercise variety.

What is it?

With this option, you train in three sections.

On one day, you train the upper pushing body muscles like the shoulders, chest, and triceps. This is followed by the upper body muscles that help with pulling, like the back, biceps, and forearms. The third day prioritizes your legs, including quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Who is it for?

This is a slightly more intermediate to advanced option.

The split is great for someone who wants to train six days a week and still have enough time for their muscles to recover between sessions. You’ll be able to really focus on individual muscle groups while being able to train them twice a week.

This is also a great split for strength athletes who want to work on specific lifts or weaknesses.

For example, a powerlifter aiming to improve their bench press can spend the push day focusing on the bench and any pushing movements that assist that lift. On the leg day, they can work on the back squat and any supporting lifts without interfering with the bench press.


Compared with the upper/lower split, you can add more exercises and volume to your upper body workout days.

You also get a little more rest time per body part. For example, if you train your push-dominant muscles like the shoulders, chest, and triceps on a Monday, you have three full days of rest until you work them again.


This generally has to be a six-day split if you want to hit all body parts multiple times in a week. That means it’s not the best option for people who have a tendency to miss workouts.

For instance, if your schedule is hectic and unpredictable and you don’t always hit the gym six days per week, it can lead to muscle imbalances.

In addition, training six days per week can be taxing on your body and mind. Even if your muscles have recovered by the time you train them again, the overall nervous system fatigue of this program can make it hard to always properly recover.

If you’ve been doing a push/pull/legs split for an extended period and start to feel more tired and/or you no longer progress in your lifts, you might want to switch to a four or five-day program to give your body some extra time for rest and recovery.


6-day split

Perform 3–4 exercises incorporating the muscles involved for 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps.

  • Day 1: push — chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Day 2: pull — back, biceps, forearms
  • Day 3: legs — quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves
  • Day 4: push — chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Day 5: pull — back, biceps, forearms
  • Day 6: legs — quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves
  • Day 7: rest

You can also divide this into a four- or eight-day split if you want to separate your lower body training into squat-dominant movements that prioritize the quads and calves, followed by hinge-dominant movements that train the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

However, this can get a little tricky if you like to have the same workout on the same day every week since your split won’t fit neatly into a predictable seven-day cycle.


Another option for this type of split is to divide your days by type of movement performed. The squat and hinge days will target the legs while the push and pull days will target muscles of the upper body.

Perform 3–4 exercises incorporating the muscles involved for 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps.

  • Day 1: push — chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Day 2: squat — quads, calves
  • Day 3: pull — back, biceps, forearms
  • Day 4: hinge — glutes, hamstrings, abs
  • Day 5: rest

The push/pull/squat split is among the best intermediate to advanced options. It allows for more variety and recovery time and is great for focusing on individual lifts. However, it requires you train at least six times per week.

What is it?

With this split, you focus on one or two body parts per day.

This can be either a five- or six-days-per-week program, depending on if you train legs on one or two days.

Who is it for?

This split is great for someone who wants to focus mainly on bodybuilding or hypertrophy.

Because you spend a whole exercise session working on each muscle, you can pick a variety of movements and add a lot of volume per session to fatigue specific body parts.

This option is also great for someone looking for a lot of exercise variety or for individuals who want to correct a specific muscle group imbalance.

A recent study in 21 trained men determined that while full-body programs are better at improving strength, a split program like this one was better for stimulating muscle growth (4).

So, if your goal is to maximize hypertrophy, splitting up your routine in this way could be the right choice


This style of training allows you to focus on specific muscles and do as many exercises and sets as you need for that group without the workout taking over an hour.


As with the push/pull/squat split, you can’t regularly miss workouts with this split or you risk throwing your training out of balance.

Also, because your muscles work synergistically, it can be hard to fully isolate a single muscle.

This is especially the case with compound multi-joint exercises because synergistic muscles tend to aid the main muscle group. Thus, you can end up not being fully recovered by the next workout, particularly if you’re really pushing the intensity and volume.

For instance, if you train shoulders on Wednesday using any pressing movements, you will also train your triceps as these assist with pressing. If you then train arms on Friday, you should first make sure that your triceps have recovered enough to then target and train them hard.


5-day split

Perform 4–5 exercises incorporating the muscles involved for 3–4 sets of 6–15 reps.

  • Day 1: chest
  • Day 2: back
  • Day 3: shoulders
  • Day 4: rest
  • Day 5: legs
  • Day 6: arms
  • Day 7: rest

6-day split

Perform 4–5 exercises incorporating the muscles involved, 3–4 sets of 6–15 reps

  • Day 1: chest
  • Day 2: quads/calves
  • Day 3: back
  • Day 4: shoulders
  • Day 5: hamstrings/lower back
  • Day 6: arms
  • Day 7: rest

The individual muscle split is great for advanced lifters who want to focus on hypertrophy, but it’s also the least flexible in terms of scheduling. Also, depending on your training volume, you may not have enough time to recover between workouts.

All of these options can be effective. Yet, the most important thing to consider is which one feels right for you. You may find this out through trial and error.

If you’re a bit newer to picking up the weights, you can start with the full-body split and see how that goes over a couple of months.

After that, if you decide you want to want to add a few more days in the gym, try out the upper/lower split. Then, if you later want to take it up to six days a week, you can incorporate the push/pull/leg routine or the individual body parts split.

Assuringly, a 2018 meta-analysis concluded that in terms of strength, anywhere between 2 and 5 days per week can provide the same results (5).

So, if your goal is to generally get stronger and healthier, the best split is likely the one that fits your schedule.

Ultimately, the most powerful training split is the one you’ll consistently follow through with.


The best split is the one that fits your schedule and allows you to be most consistent with your training.

Here are a few tips to help you design a split routine:

  • Recovery. It’s important to recover between sessions. If you’re doing a four- or six-day routine and don’t recover a body part before it’s time to train it again, lower your volume per session or switch to a program with more rest between training the same muscle.
  • Strength. If you want to focus on strength, try either the full body split or the push/pull/legs split to get lots of exposure to compound movements.
  • Legs. If you often forget to train legs — or purposely skip them — try doing the full-body routine to make sure you consistently hit all body parts.
  • Abs. If you want to add abdominal-specific training into your split, aim to add it to whichever day is the least fatiguing for the rest of your body.
  • Seek guidance. If you’re unsure of how to get started or which program may best suit your lifestyle, preferences, and goals, consider seeking professional guidance, like from a personal trainer.

Split routines are a type of comprehensive strength training program that targets all the muscles in your body.

There are lots of great ways to split up your routine.

Choose the one that fits your schedule and the one you enjoy the most. For instance, if you like training six days a week and can properly recover from that stimulus, go for it.

On the flip side, if you only have two or three days to hit the gym, that can work equally well — for example by going for the full-body split.

No matter which option you choose, consistency over time is the primary driver of long-term results from your training program.