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Whether you’re looking to chisel your chest, beef up your biceps, or perfect your pecs, the bro split workout offers excellent muscle-building potential. A tried-and-true training method that’s as iconic in the bodybuilding world as protein shakes and gym selfies, this program dedicates one day to each major muscle group, giving you the focus and intensity needed to sculpt your dream physique.

RELATED: Scheduling Workout Splits

As a certified personal trainer (CPT) who’s experimented with everything from body part splits to full-body workouts, I understand the value of having a structured routine. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore what the bro split workout entails, provide a sample strength training plan, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks. Plus, I’ll compare this popular protocol to other training splits so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you. 

So, step on board the gain train and get ready to pack on muscle mass one body part at a time. 

What Is a Bro Split Workout Program?

A bro split workout is a training regimen where each workout session targets a specific muscle group. Also referred to as a body part split in some circles, its nickname stems from its strong association with bodybuilders and physique-focused athletes. However, you don’t have to be a fitness influencer or “gym bro” to follow this program

This type of split typically follows a weekly schedule, where you’ll train each major muscle group once per week. 

Coop does a barbell bench press.

For example, a common bro split might include:

  • Monday: Chest Day
  • Tuesday: Back Day
  • Wednesday: Leg Day
  • Thursday: Shoulder Day
  • Friday: Arm Day
  • Saturday and Sunday: Rest Day

Synonymous with the bodybuilding community, this training style allows you to tackle one body part with a variety of isolation and compound exercises. The split method may not be ideal for powerlifters or CrossFit enthusiasts, but it can be an effective way for intermediate and advanced lifters with a solid foundation of training experience to target areas of weakness—and enhance areas of strength. 

RELATED: How Many Sets Per Muscle Group Per Week

Sample 5-Day Bro Split Workout Routine

Below is a sample bro split workout plan designed to target different muscle groups each day. After performing full-body workouts for many years, I’ve relied on a similar split for about six months to help me pack on lean muscle without wearing down my central nervous system. 

This weightlifting routine includes specific exercises, sets, and reps to optimize muscle hypertrophy and strength. According to a 2019 study1, performing three to six sets of a moderate number of reps (six to 12) 

Monday: Chest Day

Chest day—aka the best day—focuses on compound exercises like the bench press to engage the entire chest, while exercises like incline dumbbell press and cable flys target the upper chest and pectoral muscles from different angles. Push-ups and dips round out the session, ensuring your chest (and triceps) are thoroughly exhausted by the end of Day 1. 

ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Bench Press48-12
Incline Dumbbell Press310-12
Cable Fly312-15
Push-Up3-412-15
Parallel Bar Dip3-410-12

RELATED: Best Chest Exercises

Tuesday: Back Day

Back day emphasizes both vertical and horizontal pulling movements to fully engage your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboid muscles. Deadlifts provide overall back strength, while exercises like lat pulldowns and cable rows specifically target your lats. Pull-ups offer a bodyweight challenge to conclude your second session of the week.

Woman performing lat pulldowns on the Bells of Steel Power Rack
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift46-8
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row38-12
Lat Pulldown310-12
Wide-Grip Cable Row310-12
Pull-Up38-12

RELATED: Best Back Exercises

Wednesday: Leg Day

Leg day covers the major muscle groups of the lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The back squat and leg press are primary compound movements that tax your quads and hammies. Meanwhile, the Romanian deadlift provides an excellent stimulus for your hamstrings and glutes. Calf raises ensure no lower-body muscle group is left behind.

ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Back Squat46-8
Leg Press3-410-12
Romanian Deadlift310-12
Lateral Lunge310-12 (per leg)
Seated Calf Raise415-20

RELATED: Best Leg Exercises

Thursday: Shoulder Day

Shoulder day incorporates exercises to hit all three deltoid heads. The overhead press serves as the primary compound movement, while lateral raises, front raises, and face pulls focus on shaping and strengthening the delts. Shrugs target the trapezius muscles for a balanced shoulder workout.

Coop doing an overhead press on the RitFit Smith Machine.
ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Overhead Press48-10
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise3-412-15
Seated Dumbbell Front Raise312-15
Face Pull312-15
Dumbbell Shrug3-412-15

RELATED: Best Shoulder Exercises

Friday: Arm Day

Arm day is dedicated to both biceps and triceps via a mix of compound and isolation exercises. Starting with the close-grip bench press puts your triceps and pecs to the test. Next, barbell curls and hammer curls move the focus to your biceps. Finally, you’ll finish with two triceps exercises—cable overhead triceps extensions and skull crushers—to end your weekly training cycle with a bang. 

ExerciseSetsReps
Close-Grip Bench Press38-10
Barbell Curl410-12
Hammer Curl410-12
Cable Overhead Triceps Extension312-15
Skull crusher3-410-12

RELATED: Best Arm Exercises

Benefits of the Bro Split Workout

Why separate your workouts into such specific sessions? Here are ways you can benefit from implementing a bro split workout regimen. 

Your Training Is More Focused

Each muscle group receives your undivided attention, allowing for higher training volume and intensity. This focus can lead to greater muscle hypertrophy and strength gains as each session exhausts the targeted muscles completely.

You’ll Get Sufficient Recovery Time

By training each muscle group only once per week, bro splits provide ample recovery time. This reduces the risk of overtraining and injury, allowing your muscles to repair and grow before your next training session.

woman-using-foam-roller-on-quad

RELATED: The Science of Post-Workout Recovery

More Training Variety and Flexibility

Bro splits offer a wide range of exercise variations, which can prevent workout monotony and keep you motivated. Lifters can tailor their workouts to include different exercises and rep schemes, adding variety and keeping the training process enjoyable. 

Drawbacks of the Bro Split Workout

Although the bro split workout offers several benefits, there are also drawbacks to taking such a hyper-focused approach. 

Less Training Frequency

Since you’ll train each muscle group only once per week, it may not receive enough frequent stimulation for optimal muscle growth, especially for beginners. A 2016 study2 on the effects of resistance training frequency on hypertrophy shows that training muscle groups twice per week produces superior hypertrophic outcomes.

You May Experience Training Plateaus

Lifters might experience plateaus due to the repetitive nature of focusing on one muscle group per session. Failing to follow progressive overload principles can cause your progress to stall, making it harder to achieve continued muscle gains. 

RELATED: What Is Progressive Overload?

Can Be Time-Consuming

Bro splits typically require five days of training per week, which may be challenging for individuals with busy schedules. The time commitment can be a significant drawback for those unable to dedicate sufficient time to the gym.

Bro Split Vs Other Types Of Workout Splits

Understanding how the bro split compares to other popular workout splits can help you choose the best routine for your fitness goals. Here are some common workout splits and how they differ from the bro split method:

  • Full-body split: Trains all major muscle groups in a single session, typically performed two to three times per week. This method promotes frequent muscle stimulation and is ideal for beginners and those with limited time.
  • Upper-lower split: Divides workouts into upper-body and lower-body sessions, usually performed four times per week. This approach allows for more focused training than full-body splits but still offers more frequent muscle stimulation than the bro split.
  • Push-pull-legs (PPL): Separates workouts into pushing movements (chest, shoulders, and triceps), pulling movements (back and biceps), and leg exercises. The push-pull-legs split is often performed six times per week, providing a balance between focus and frequency.
  • Body part split: Similar to the bro split but may involve more varied muscle groupings, like combining biceps and triceps or including abs and calves on specific days. This method also focuses on isolating muscle groups but with different combinations.

RELATED: Full-Body Workout Vs Split

Bro Split Workout: Final Thoughts

The bro split workout is a classic resistance training program that’s helped countless bodybuilders and lifters achieve an impressive aesthetic. Focusing your attention on a single body part can help you develop a strong mind-muscle connection and the mental fortitude to push through tough, highly focused sessions. If you want to build a well-developed, symmetrical physique, don’t sleep on this split. 

From one bro to another: 

  • By concentrating on one muscle group per session and providing ample recovery time, this split reduces the risk of overtraining and related injuries.
  • Due to the repetitive nature of focusing on one muscle group per session, it’s crucial to vary exercises and progressively overload to avoid hitting a plateau.
  • While the bro split workout allows you to zero in on one muscle group at a time, it may not be ideal for beginners who need more training frequency. 

Bro Split Workout: FAQs

How often should you train each muscle group in a bro split workout?

Each muscle group should be trained once per week in a bro split workout.

Is the bro split suitable for beginners?

While the bro split may be suitable for beginners, starting with a full-body or push-pull-legs routine can help you build muscle and strength and hone your technique for fundamental movement patterns. This will also allow you to train muscle groups multiple times per week rather than just once.

RELATED: Workout Schedule For Beginners

How do you structure a bro split workout for each muscle group?

A bro split workout is structured by dedicating each day to a different muscle group, focusing on compound and isolation exercises, each with specific sets and reps.

What muscles should I target on each day of a bro split workout?

A typical training schedule targets chest on Mondays, back on Tuesdays, legs on Wednesdays, shoulders on Thursdays, and arms on Fridays. 

References 

  1. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 46(11), 1689–1697. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8

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