If you want to get the best possible results from your gym time, you need to follow a well-designed workout plan. This will ensure you train all your muscle groups equally, so they are developed to the same degree.
There are many ways to organize your weekly training program, commonly referred to as training splits. A training split refers to how you divide your muscle groups and training volume over a week.
Some training splits involve training three times, while others involve four or five workouts per week.
In this article, we discuss the 6-day workout split and explain why and how to use this high-frequency training plan.
- What is a 6-Day Workout Split?
- Are 6-Day Workout Splits Effective?
- Recovery Essentials for 6-Day Workout Splits
- Pros and Cons of 6-day Workout Splits
- Things to Consider Before Starting a 6-Day Workout Split
- Sample 6-Day Split Workout Routine
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What is a 6-Day Workout Split?
A 6-day workout split involves hitting the gym six days per week, resting one day, and then starting over. This is an intense workout plan that’s ideal for experienced exercisers with good recovery.
6-day workout splits tend to be used by bodybuilders as they allow you to train each major muscle group with a high volume of exercises and sets. Each muscle group may be hit once, twice, or even three times per week, depending on the type of 6-way split you perform.
6-day workout split options include:
Example One: The 6-day “bro” Split
Each muscle group is trained once per week, usually with several exercises and a lot of sets. For example, you might do four chest exercises for four sets each to total 16.
- Monday – Chest
- Tuesday – Legs
- Wednesday – Back
- Thursday – Shoulders
- Friday – Biceps, and Abs
- Saturday – Triceps, and Calves
- Sunday – Rest
Example Two: Push/Pull/Legs
This split divides your training week into two pushing, pulling, and leg workouts. This means each major muscle group is trained twice per week. However, weekly training volume, i.e., the number of sets per muscle group, is roughly the same as example one, but that volume is spread across two workouts instead of crammed into one.
- Monday – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
- Tuesday – Back, Traps, Biceps
- Wednesday – Legs and Calves
- Thursday – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
- Friday – Back, Traps, Biceps
- Saturday – Legs, and Calves
- Sunday – Rest
Example Three: Upper Body/Lower Body
With this split, you train your upper body one day and your legs the next. This means you can train each muscle group three times per week, although the volume per body part per workout is lower.
- Monday – Upper Body
- Tuesday – Lower Body
- Wednesday – Upper Body
- Thursday – Lower Body
- Friday – Upper Body
- Saturday – Lower Body
- Sunday – Rest
Are 6-Day Workout Splits Effective?
The 6-day workout split can be effective, and many people have found it to be productive and sustainable. It’s popular with pro and recreational bodybuilders. However, it does mean you have to commit to training almost every day of the week, which may be too much for some people.
With the 6-day training split, you have lots of time to dedicate to each muscle group, so you can accumulate plenty of hypertrophic (muscle building) training volume. It’s generally accepted that for growth, you need to do 10-20 sets per muscle group per week (1).
It doesn’t matter if you do all these sets in one workout, by using the bro split, for example, or spread them across 2-3 workouts, like push/pull/legs, or the upper body/lower body split. All of these options are equally effective when done consistently and with sufficient intensity.
However, it’s worth noting that the 6-day workout split is no better than any other type of training split, and there are lots of others to choose from. For example, suppose you cannot train consistently six times per week. In that case, you’ll probably get better results from a lower-frequency workout plan, such as a three or four-day workout split.
Recovery Essentials for 6-Day Workout Splits
Training six days per week will take a lot out of your body. This is not a training plan to be taken lightly! For it to work, you must be able to recover between workouts. Poor recovery will ultimately undermine your training and progress and could lead to overtraining.
Consider the following BEFORE starting a 6-day workout split to ensure you’ll be able to recover from one workout to the next:
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Your body does most of its muscle repair and growth while you are sleeping. Anabolic hormone production also peaks while you sleep, including levels of testosterone and growth hormone.
Getting enough sleep invariably means going to bed earlier, which takes discipline and organization. So, turn off the TV, put down your phone, and go to bed earlier to get the sleep you need to recover from doing six workouts per week!
Your body needs more than food to function properly; it also needs water – and lots of it! Water makes up about 60% of your total body mass and is involved in many of the physiological functions that keep you alive and well, including temperature regulation, lubrication of joints and your digestive system, and the transportation of essential nutrients around your body.
Hitting the gym six times a week means you’ll probably need to up your water intake to offset what you sweat out during your workouts. So how much water do you need to drink? That depends on your weight and how much you sweat.
Sleep and food put back into your body what intense training takes out. As such, your diet should support your workouts. That means you need plenty of the following:
- Protein for muscle repair and growth
- Carbohydrates for energy
- Fats for satiety and hormone regulation
- Vitamins and minerals for health and wellbeing
- Fiber for a properly functioning digestive system
While there is space in most diets for a few empty calories and a little junk food, most of what you eat should be natural and nutritious.
Depending on your training goal, you’ll also need a calorie surplus to build muscle or a calorie deficit to burn fat and lose weight. However, it’s worth noting that intense 6-day workout splits don’t work very well if you are undereating and trying to get ripped. Instead, this type of high-frequency training plan is better for bulking and lean gains than cutting.
Stress is hard to avoid and is part and parcel of daily life. A little stress can actually be beneficial. After all, without the pressure of deadlines, goals, and work targets, most people would be a lot less productive.
However, too much stress can rob you of energy, undermine your training, and lead to emotional and physiological burnout. It’s also important to remember that training is another type of stress. Excess stress will lower anabolic or muscle-building hormone production while increasing levels of catabolic cortisol.
So, if you are under the gun at work, have a stressful home life, and are also trying to train six times a week, it’s only a matter of time before all that pressure will get the better of you.
If stress is your nemesis, it’s probably best to put off starting a 6-day workout split. Wait until things are a little calmer to stack the odds of success more in your favor.
Junk volume, also known as junk sets, are sets that don’t contribute anything to the muscle-building process and waste your time and energy.
For example, because you have one day per week to focus on each muscle group, you may spend 90 minutes training your chest. You do exercise after exercise and set after set, annihilating your muscles in the process.
However, once you’ve done ten or so sets, you reach a point of diminishing returns, and each subsequent set is more fatiguing but less stimulating. This situation gets worse as you move past 20 sets.
If you plan on training six times per week, you must focus on workout quality and not just quantity. Don’t try and see how many sets and exercises you can do. Instead, see how few you need to trigger muscle growth. Start with a relatively low number of exercises and sets, increasing gradually as you see how your body adapts.
When it comes to training volume, more is not always better, and a short intense workout may be more effective than a long voluminous one.
There is an old bodybuilding saying that’s especially applicable to 6-day workout splits: you can train hard, or you can train long, but you can’t do both. We can expand this statement to also say: you can train long, or you can train often, but you can’t do both.
In other words, if you hit the gym six times a week, you’ll need to keep your workouts relatively short to maximize recovery and avoid overtraining. It’s almost impossible to recover from marathon training sessions when you do them every day.
So, limit your workouts to about an hour per session, and if you can get your training done in 40 minutes or less, that’s fine too. Some muscles need less training volume than others, so it’s okay if your leg workout takes a full hour, but you only need 30 minutes to smash your delts or biceps.
The bottom line is this: just because you’ve got an hour to train doesn’t mean you have to train for an hour. Long workouts are often harder to recover from than shorter workouts.
While you can build muscle and strength without supplements, a few well-chosen products may enhance your progress. Good options include:
- Protein powder to make getting enough muscle-building protein easier.
- Creatine for enhanced muscle building and energy.
- Pre-workout for a better pump and more energy for training.
- DHEA to naturally increase testosterone levels.
- BCAAs to support muscle growth.
- Electrolytes to replace minerals by sweating.
- ZMA for better sleep and increased testosterone production.
However, it’s worth remembering that none of these supplements will do much if you aren’t training hard, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep.
Pros and Cons of 6-day Workout Splits
Not sure if the 6-day workout split is the right choice for you? Consider these pros and cons and then decide!
- Depending on the 6-day workout split that you choose, you can train each muscle 1-3 times per week.
- Frequent workouts make it easier to accumulate the optimal number of sets per week for building muscle, i.e., 10-20 per body part.
- Many people enjoy working out almost daily, and daily workouts can make establishing a consistent training habit easier.
- With multiple workouts per body part per week, you can use a wider variety of exercises and set and rep schemes, which will help prevent boredom and training plateaus.
- Six workouts per week mean that if you have to miss one, you’ll still have a reasonably balanced and complete week of training.
- Training six times per week is a big commitment, both in terms of time and energy. Unfortunately, not everyone can dedicate themselves to such a demanding routine.
- Your recovery and diet must be on-point for a 6-day workout split to be effective.
- Training frequency and volume could be too high for older exercisers and beginners who have yet to build up their training tolerance.
- Training six days per week could lead to severe overtraining.
- Six bodybuilding workouts per week do not leave much time or energy for other types of exercise, such as cardio or sports-specific training.
- Six workouts per week may be unnecessary, and similar results can be achieved with fewer training days, e.g., 3-5.
Things to Consider Before Starting a 6-Day Workout Split
So, you’re interested in starting a 6-day workout split – good for you! Consider these points of interest and information before you begin to stack the odds of success in your favor.
The first thing to ask yourself before starting a 6-day training split is, does this approach match your training goals? 6-day workout splits are used mainly by bodybuilders looking to build muscle mass.
Suppose you aren’t a bodybuilder and are training for sports or general fitness. In that case, this high-frequency training method may not be right for you and may even be detrimental to your progress.
Fitness and Experience Level
6-day workout splits are very demanding. Training hard and often will take a lot out of your body. Because of this, 6-day training splits are best left to fit and healthy intermediate and advanced exercisers. It’s also best left to younger lifters, as older people may struggle to recover between workouts.
So, if you’ve got less than a year or two of training under your weightlifting belt or are older, deconditioned, or unfit, you should stick to something like a 4-day workout split.
Stress and Recovery
Training six days a week is stressful, and you’ll need to prioritize recovery and sleep for it to work. If you have a very stressful job or home life, don’t get enough sleep, or have any other issues that may reduce your ability to recover between workouts, you will probably benefit from a lower-frequency training program.
Does your diet support training six times a week? If it doesn’t, your workouts will not produce the results you want. So, for example, if your idea of healthy eating is Pizza Hut one day and MacDonald’s the next, you need to fix your diet before you attempt a 6-day workout plan.
Remember, you need plenty of:
- Protein for muscle repair and growth
- Carbohydrates for energy
- Fats for satiety and hormone regulation
- Vitamins and minerals for health and wellbeing
- Fiber for a properly functioning digestive system
Can you actually fit six workouts per week into your schedule? That means training almost every day, with just one day off. This is a big commitment, and you’ll need to prioritize your workouts to ensure that you complete them all each and every week.
Missed workouts will unbalance your training week, especially if it is a frequent occurrence. If you have a history of missing workouts, the 6-day workout split may not be the best option for you.
Training six times a week requires a lot of motivation, and you’ll have to hit the gym even if you don’t really feel like it. Motivation comes from within, and only you can push yourself to train when you’d rather stay home and relax.
Are you motivated enough for the 6-day workout split? If you aren’t sure, you should probably choose a lower-frequency workout plan that’ll require less motivation and willpower.
Sample 6-Day Split Workout Routine
There are many ways to do a 6-day training split, including training one muscle group per day, i.e., a bro split, or training your upper body and lower body three times per week each.
However, arguably the best 6-day split workout program is the push-pull-legs workout. This was one of the most common training methods in the golden era of bodybuilding and was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite splits.
You can learn how to write your own split programs here, but to save you the trouble, here is a tried and tested 6-day workout routine to try.
This is your weekly schedule. Feel free to move your rest day if necessary.
- Monday – Push (chest, shoulders, triceps)
- Tuesday – Pull (back, traps, biceps)
- Wednesday – Legs (quads, hamstrings, calves)
- Thursday – Push (chest, shoulders, triceps)
- Friday – Pull (back, traps, biceps)
- Saturday – Legs (quads, hamstrings, calves)
- Sunday – Rest
|1||Bench press||4||6-8||2 minutes|
|2||Incline dumbbell press||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|3||Cable crossovers||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|4||Dumbbell shoulder press||4||8-10||90 seconds|
|5||Cable lateral raise||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|6||Triceps pushdown||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|7||EZ bar skull crusher||2||10-12||60 seconds|
|2||Seated row||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|3||Face pull||3||12-15||60 seconds|
|4||Dumbbell shrug||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|5||Barbell biceps curl||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|6||Dumbbell concentration curl||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|1||Back squat||4||6-8||2 minutes|
|2||Hack squat machine||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|3||Leg extension||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|4||Leg curl||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|5||Lunge||2||12-15 per leg||60 seconds|
|6||Standing calf raise||4||10-12||60 seconds|
|1||Dumbbell bench press||4||6-8||2 minutes|
|2||Incline Smith machine bench press||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|3||Dumbbell flyes||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|4||Arnold dumbbell press||4||8-10||90 seconds|
|5||Dumbbell lateral raise||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|6||Dumbbell French press||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|7||Rope pushdown||2||10-12||60 seconds|
|1||Lat pulldown||4||10-12||60 seconds|
|2||Pendlay row||3||6-8||2 minutes|
|3||Bench shrugs||3||12-15||60 seconds|
|4||Barbell upright row||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|5||Dumbbell biceps curl||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|6||Cable preacher curl||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|1||Front squat||4||6-8||2 minutes|
|2||Leg press||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|3||Romanian deadlift||3||8-10||90 seconds|
|4||Sissy squat||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|5||Walking lunge||2||12-15 per leg||60 seconds|
|6||Seated calf raise||4||10-12||60 seconds|
Frequently Asked Questions
Got a burning question about the 6-day workout split for building muscle? Here are the answers you seek!
1. Can I make changes to the 6-day push-pull-legs routine?
Feel free to change aspects of the program that don’t work for you. For example, you can do chin-ups instead of pull-ups or use a chest press machine instead of barbell bench presses. However, if you DO make changes, make sure you use similar exercises to ensure you preserve the spirit of the workouts.
For example, while it’s okay to do split squats instead of lunges because they’re very similar exercises, you should not replace something like calf raises with cable curls as they’re entirely different movements.
2. How Long Should You Follow a 6-Day Workout Split?
A lot of lifters like to change their workouts every couple of months. This is no bad thing! Changing your workout from time to time will help prevent boredom and ensures your training is always productive. It’s also an excellent way to stay out of any training ruts.
But does that mean you can only follow a 6-day workout split for a couple of months?
Providing you change your exercises and set/rep schemes from time to time, you are free to continue training six days a week for as long as you wish. If you are making good progress, why change? As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That said, if you are feeling tired, find that six workouts per week is too big a time commitment, or just fancy a change, you can adopt a different split for your next block of training.
Remember, the sole purpose of your split is to distribute your exercises and sets throughout the training week, and there are many ways to do this. The 6-day workout split is just one of the options available to you, and other training plans may suit you better.
3. How soon until you see results with a 6-day workout split?
The 6-day split can be effective, especially for intermediate and advanced lifters. However, intermediate and advanced lifters have largely finished enjoying their fast “newbie gains,” so even though this is a great plan, it probably won’t produce rapid results.
The closer you are to your genetic ceiling for building muscle and strength, the slower the progress. In contrast, new exercisers make rapid progress because they’re far from their genetic potential.
So, while the 6-day workout can be productive, it’s impossible to say how soon you’ll start to see results. It could be a few weeks, but it could also be a couple of months. It all depends on your training status, your diet and attention to recovery, and how genetically predisposed you are to gaining muscle.
That said, if you aren’t seeing much in the way of progress, even after a few months, it could be that the 6-day workout split is not the right option for you.
4. Is the 6-day workout split suitable for a beginner?
The 6-day workout split is not really suitable for beginners, and nor is it necessary. Most beginners can build muscle with fewer workouts per week. Training six times will be overkill and is likely to lead to overtraining and burnout.
Beginners should generally plan on training 3-4 times per week, only progressing to a six-day split after a couple of years of consistent training.
5. Which is better, doing a full-body workout or a split routine?
It’s often said that beginners should do full-body workouts while more experienced lifters should follow split routines. However, this is an oversimplification, as there are advanced-level full-body workouts and split routines designed for beginners!
The truth is that BOTH types of workout are valuable and can work for beginners and more advanced exercisers. So, it’s not as simple as saying one is better than the other because your personal circumstances will determine which one is the best option for you.
For example, suppose you can only train 2-3 times a week. In that case, a full-body workout will probably be best, whether you are a beginner or an Olympic athlete. In contrast, a split routine will be a better choice if you want to train most days of the week.
So, forget the idea that split routines are better than full-body workouts or vice versa. Instead, think about what you need from your program, and choose the option that best matches your goals and the time you have available for training.
6. Is the “bro split” effective for building muscle?
The bro split is a 6-day split workout that involves training each muscle group once per week. It’s a popular approach used by many bodybuilders. With the bro split, you do several exercises per body part to hit it from lots of different angles and accumulate plenty of hypertrophic training volume.
- Bench press – 4 sets 6-8 reps
- Incline dumbbell bench press – 3 sets 8-10 reps
- Cable crossovers – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Incline Smith machine bench press – 2 sets 12-15 reps
- Pec deck – 2 sets of 12-15 reps
- Push-ups – 2 sets to failure
Given how many successful bodybuilders have used this training approach, it’s safe to say that the bro split can be effective. However, it may not be ideal for natural lifters and anyone other than genetically gifted mesomorphic easy gainers.
Muscles take about 48-72 hours to recover from training, so working each muscle group once per week may not be the best approach for some people. That’s why the push-pull-legs method is also very popular – it allows you to train each muscle group twice per week, which may be better for muscle growth.
The best way to find out if the bro split is right for you is to try it for a couple of months and see how it works out. Then, switch to training each muscle group more frequently, and see how your body responds. Stick with the method that produces the best results.
7. Is a 6-day workout split suitable for powerlifting?
Most powerlifting programs are built around the three competitive lifts: squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Each lift is done at least once per week and accompanied by accessory or assistance exercises chosen to fix muscle imbalances and shore up weaknesses.
A typical powerlifting program looks like this:
- Monday: Squat + assistance exercise
- Tuesday: Bench press + assistance exercises
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Deadlift + assistance exercises
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Bench press + assistance exercises
- Sunday: Rest
Powerlifting programs involve lifting very heavy weights, often close to your one-repetition maximum. This takes a lot out of not just your muscles but your central nervous system. As such, rest is VERY important, and most powerlifters usually take more rest days than bodybuilders.
So, while you could conceivably do powerlifting training six days per week, it’s probably not ideal and could lead to overtraining.
8. Is a 6-day workout split best for bulking or cutting?
6-day workout programs are probably best for bulking. Training six days per week takes a lot of energy, so you’ll need to consume a calorie excess to fuel your workouts, recovery, and muscle growth.
Training so often while dieting for fat loss could leave you tired, under-recovered, and overtrained. Plus, with six weights workouts per week, there won’t be much time left over for cardio, which is another important part of the fat-burning equation.
Because of this, you may want to organize your training year into seasons. Bulk for 4-6 months on a 6-day workout split, then cut for 2-3 months on a 4-day split with cardio on the days between your lifting workouts. Repeat this cycle to build muscle size, and then lean out and look your best.
More Workout Splits:
- 12 Best Workout Splits
- 7 Effective Training Splits
- The Pectoral Split
- The Functional Training Split
- The Best 3-Day Workout Split Routine
- 4-Day Split Workout: 10 Weeks To More Growth and Power
- The Best 5-Day Dumbbell Workout Split
- The Best 5-Day Workout Split Routine
- Full-Body Vs. Split Workouts: How to Choose
You can train as little as twice per week and as often six times or more. The ideal training split depends on your experience, fitness, motivation, and energy levels. For example, some people do best on low-frequency plans, such as three full-body workouts three per week, while others get better results from something like a 6-day workout split.
Ultimately, the best split for you is the one you can stick with, not for a week or a month, but for as long as it takes to get the results you want.
6-day workout splits can work, but they’re generally intense, time-consuming, and can be exhausting. They’re best left to experienced bodybuilders, younger lifters, and people with excellent recovery abilities.
For the rest of us, full-body programs and 4-day workout splits are often better, as they are less committing and provide more time for rest and recovery.
Ultimately, you’ll need to try a few different training approaches to determine which works best.
But, remember, providing you train hard and consistently, your training split isn’t actually all that important, as you’ll know if you’ve read our article on the hierarchy of successful training.
1– PubMed: Total number of sets as a training volume quantification method for muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30063555/