The 5 Day Split
The 5 day split is the style of workout regime I find myself going back to the most often.
From experimenting with push, pull, legs style workouts, 3 day splits, 4 day splits and many variations in between the simple 5 day split always ends up being my regime of choice.
There are just as many haters of the 5 day split as there are advocates, with claims following a 5 day split workout is ineffective, overtraining or just a downright bad idea.
Here’s the thing.
Any workout regime can be inefficient.
Any workout regime can make you subject to overtraining.
The 5 day split is a style of workout, the specific exercises and scheduling of these exercises and workout days determine whether you’ve got a regime built for results or an ineffective mess.
Below are the 5 most common 5 day split workout regime mistakes I see and hear guys making in the gym.
5 Common 5 Day Split Mistakes
Are you making these mistakes with your workout regime?
Poor Scheduling Of Muscle Groups
The typical training schedule of my 5 day split workout regime looks something like this:
This isn’t because chest is my favourite muscle group and legs is my least favourite (actually far from it!) this schedule is optimized to ensure the muscle group we’re training on any given day has the most recovery time possible. Many guys overthink their workout regime and re-arrange days for no particular reason, resulting in poor recovery between workouts.
A prime example of this is training arms the day before your chest workout – when your triceps are still extremely fatigued from the arm workout you performed the previous day your chest workout isn’t going to be particularly great, as triceps are the secondary muscle group when we’re performing our heavy chest pressing movements.
Performing a shoulder workout the day after training chest is the second most common scheduling mistake I see being made, with excessive stress and tension being placed on the shoulders two days in a row (you’ll find that chest dips and incline dumbbell/barbell presses stress the shoulders) this can result in rotator cuff inpingement and niggling injuries over time following this schedule.
Leaving Weak Points ‘Till Late In The Week
Regardless of whether you’re following a 5 day split workout regime, a push/pull/legs regime or a 3 day split workout your weak points should be prioritized.
A jaw dropping physique isn’t necessarily huge, it’s proportionate and symmetrical – without bringing your lagging muscle groups and weak points up to scratch with priority training you’re not going to achieve this.
Train your weak points early in the week while both your willpower and energy are at their highest.
If your chest is your strongest muscle group and your legs are lagging far behind your first workout of the week should undoubtedly be legs.
Here’s an example of the 5 day split workout schedule I mentioned above optimized for weak point leg training:
As you can see there’s still sufficient gaps between chest/shoulders/arms to ensure we’re still able to be as recovered as possible for these workouts.
Neglecting Rest At The End Of Your Cycle
After 5 day of training have at least 1 full rest day.
I used to dismiss rest days, going from Monday to Friday with my 5 day split workout, then immediately restarting the cycle again on Saturday.
Ensure you’re getting at least 1 rest day at the end of your cycle.
Unable to train on the weekends?
Take 2 rest days at the end of the week.
Want to train on Sunday?
Have 1 rest day mid-week and 1 rest day on the weekend.
The 5 day split regime is highly customizable to fit your schedule.
- Monday – Chest
- Tuesday – Back
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Shoulders
- Friday – Arms
- Saturday – Legs
- Sunday – Rest
Keeping Volume Too High & Intensity Too Low
If you’re able to hit 25 sets per body part per workout you’re not lifting heavy enough and you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.
Each workout should consist of roughly 12 sets, with the majority of your lifts being performed in the single digit rep range.
4 – 6 reps.
3 – 4 sets.
3 – 4 exercises per body part.
The 5 day split should not be a high volume ‘pump up’ style workout regime.
If you want size and strength focus on your compound movements and focus on applying progressive overload with heavy weight.
Each workout should start with the corresponding mass mover exercise for that body part:
- Chest – Barbell Bench Press
- Back – Weighted Pull-Ups
- Shoulders – Military Press
- Arms – Barbell Curls/Triceps Dips
- Legs – Barbell Squats
As discussed above I highly recommend customizing your rest days and workout days to suit your schedule to ensure you’re consistent.
If you train hard but you’re inconsistent you won’t see the progress you’re after.
If you train inconsistently you won’t see anything.
Set your 5 day split workout and follow it for at least 12 weeks before making any adjustments.
Follow the regime, gauge your results and make the necessary pivots, if you’re chopping and changing exercises, scheduling and workouts all the time you’re not going to be able to gauge what is actually working and what isn’t.
Don’t fall victim to shiny object syndrome.