What's the best training split to build more muscle?

January 18, 2021

Training schedules and the right formula is a hot topic amongst fitness folk.

You may have heard about the “bro” split which has increased in popularity over the years.

Should you “bro” split?

The idea behind bro training is to workout 3-6 times a week, isolating your muscle groups and targeting one group per session. The theory behind this is that each muscle group is worked hard only once a week.

However, research has shown that the “bro” split is probably not the most effective training model. For best results I recommend training each muscle group a minimum of twice a week.

When training your muscle groups twice a week

You need to be selective with the reps and sets combinations you choose.

The general rule of thumb is:

• Low weights + high reps = build muscle size

• Heavier weights + low reps = build muscle strength

For best results I recommend you include a mixture of the above rep and set combinations into your training program. This variation will reduce the possibility of a plateau and allow you to obtain the optimum ratio of strength and muscle size for you.

How often should you work out per week?

As always this depends on the time you have available for workouts, what your goals are and what your individual needs are. As mentioned earlier, my recommendation is to work each muscle group at least twice a week. Taking this into consideration, let’s look at some weekly routines:  

2 or 3 days per week

Compound movements are particularly good for those strapped for time to workout. Two or three days a week should be enough to meet your goals.

Monday: Whole Body

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Rest or Whole Body

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Whole Body

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

Feel free to be flexible with this schedule should you need to. The key is to have a rest day after each whole body workout.

3 days per week

With an extra day at your disposal you can now add lower and upper body focused sessions to the above training plan:  

Monday: Whole Body

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Upper body

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Lower body

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

Again, you can be flexible with were you place your sessions. Just be sure to have a rest day between each session.

4 or 5 days per week

Now that you have more days to play with you can alternate the muscle groups at work, remembering not to train the same muscle group two days in a row.

Monday: Lower Body

Tuesday: Upper Body

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Lower Body

Friday: Upper Body

Saturday: Rest or Weakest muscle group isolation workout

Sunday: Rest

This training routine allows for a more targeted workouts that can be completed in a shorter amount of time.  

In summary

Ultimately, the best training split for you is highly dependent upon the time you have available, your goals, motivation and recovery.

3 – 4 weight sessions a week seems to be the optimum workout to rest ratio for most. The margins for improvement here are high. The recovery between sessions is adequate for most and you find that many people simply do not want or have the time to work out more than 4 times a week.