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

Strength and muscle-building workouts can be done with split training.

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

image of woman spotting a man performing a bench press
Guaita Studio/Stocksy United

It is common to split your training when you are following a balanced exercise program.

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 divide your training into different parts and focus on them. The upper/lower and push/pull/legs splits are examples.


Split training is when you divide your workouts into separate days to focus on one element.

Your body has enough time to recover between workouts if you split your training up. It also gives you the freedom to change the training schedule.

The method can be used to target certain muscles when you feel fresh and rejuvenated 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.

It is helpful to divide your sessions into smaller ones to target one body part at a time.

“It can feel like your workouts burn you out if you don’t do it in moderation. If you are doing many different exercises per muscle, this can be true.”

You can learn how to split your workout program.


Splitting up your training can help you maximize your recovery and strength. It allows for more variety in exercise.

What is it?

This is the most straightforward split. You are dividing your time between resting and going to the gym.

You need time to recover between workouts because you work out all your muscles. This is a two or three day program.

Who is it for?

This is the best place for beginners to start, but it is not a bad 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).

You are not shortening yourself with this option.

“This is a great split for athletes who want a good training program but don’t have a lot of time to train every week.”


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.

“If you miss a day or two at the gym, you won’t have any major muscle imbalances because you train every time.”

This program is great for anyone who wants to work out with weights.


The problem with this style of training is when you want to add more exercises or sets.

You can only do one exercise per body part for one to four sets because you are working your whole body every time you train. It may be too long or taxing to work out if you have more than that.

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

You may want to train more than one to three times per week, which will likely not match how much recovery you need.

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


3-day split

1 movement per body part with 8 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. If you want to train more than three days per week, you should pick another split.

What is it?

You work on your upper body on one day, then on the next you work on your lower body. You repeat the process again.

You can take a rest day in between cycles. You can make it a six-day split where you repeat upper and lower sessions before taking a rest day.

It may not make a difference if you choose to train for four or six days a week.

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.

You can train your lower body and upper body at the same time.


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

You can make this one of the most flexible splits because you can make it a two, four, or six day program depending on your needs.


There is a push/pull/legs split and a full-body beginner split.

You may not have enough time to fully stimulation all the muscles in your upper or lower body in each session, and you may have a hard time recovering in time. This is likely if you choose a six-day version.


4-day split

For 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps, you should perform 2 movements per body part.

  • 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

For 3 sets of 6–12 reps, you should perform 2 movements per body part.

  • 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 you can train. If you choose the six days per week option, you may find recovery difficult and lack of exercise.

What is it?

You can train in three sections.

On one day, you train the upper body muscles. The upper body muscles help with pulling, like the back, bicep, and forearms. The third day is when your legs are prioritized.

Who is it for?

This is a more advanced option.

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

Strength athletes who want to work on specific lifts or weaknesses will find this split great.

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.


You can add more exercises and volume to your upper body workouts.

You get more rest time per body part. If you train your push-dominant muscles on a Monday, you have three days of rest until you work them again.


If you want to hit all body parts in a week, you need a six-day split. It is not the best option for people who miss workouts.

“If your schedule is unpredictable and you don’t always hit the gym six days per week, it can lead to muscle imbalances.”

Six days per week of training can be taxing on your body and mind. The fatigue of the program can make it hard to recover even if your muscles have recovered by the time you train them again.

If you have been doing a push/pull/legs split for an extended period and start to feel tired and 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

For 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps, do 3–4 exercises incorporating the muscles involved.

  • 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

If you want to separate your lower body training into squat-dominant movements that focus on the quads and calves, and hinge-dominant movements that train the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, you can divide it into four or eight days.

If you like to have the same workout on the same day every week, you might have to rethink your plan.


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.

For 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps, do 3–4 exercises incorporating the muscles involved.

  • 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 a good option. It allows for more variety and recovery time. You have to train at least six times per week.

What is it?

You focus on one or two body parts per day with this split.

If you train legs on one or two days, this can be a five- or six-days-per-week program.

Who is it for?

This split is great for someone who wants to focus on their strength.

You can pick a variety of movements and add a lot of volume to fatigue specific body parts by working on each muscle.

This option is great for someone who wants to do a lot of exercise and for someone who wants to correct a 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).

If you want to maximize your strength, you could split your routine up.


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.

It can be hard to fully separate a single muscle because of the synergistic nature of your muscles.

The main muscle group is aided by synergistic muscles in compound multi-joint exercises. If you push the intensity and volume, you can end up not being fully recovered by the next workout.

If you train your shoulders on Wednesday using any pressing movements, you will also train your triceps as these help with pressing. If you train arms on Friday, you should make sure that your triceps are recovered enough to target and train them hard.


5-day split

For 3–4 sets of 6–15 reps, incorporate the muscles involved.

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

6-day split

Involve the muscles in the exercises, 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 is not as flexible as possible. Depending on your training volume, you may not have enough time to recover between workouts.

All of these options can be used. The most important thing to consider is which one feels right for you. You can find this out through trial and error.

If you are new to weights, you can start with the full-body split and see how it goes.

If you want to add a few more days to the gym, try out the upper/lower split. If you want to take it up to six days a week, you can incorporate the push/ pull/leg routine.

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).

If you want to get stronger and healthier, the best split is likely the one that fits your schedule.

The most powerful training split is the one you will follow through with.


The best split is the one that fits your schedule and allows you to train in a consistent way.

Here are a few tips to help you with your 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 many ways to split your routine.

You can choose the one that suits your schedule or the one that you enjoy the most. If you like training six days a week and can recover from that, then go for it.

If you only have a few days to hit the gym, you can do the full-body split, which is equally well-suited for that time.

Consistency is the primary driver of long-term results from your training program.