When it comes to exercise, there's no singular workout plan that's right for everyone. But if you've never considered a five-day workout schedule before, let us introduce you.
A five-day workout split is one of the most common ways to divide your training across the week, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). The idea is that your workouts throughout the week are broken up by muscle group over the course of five days.
The benefits of programming your workouts this way include making sure you work each muscle group enough each week and giving your muscles enough time to recover before you work them again, per the NASM.
However, if you don't have five days a week to dedicate to hitting the weights (which we totally understand!), following this bodybuilding schedule might not work for you.
If you're ready to give a bodybuilding five-day split a try, we've got you covered. Below, you'll find five days' worth of workouts that target every muscle group along with an active recovery day and a full rest day to give your muscles time to repair and rebuild.
A Note on Language
Here at LIVESTRONG.com, we carefully consider language surrounding sex and gender. We typically avoid language that implies a sex or gender binary in favor of inclusive language.
However, most exercise research still categorizes people as men or women, so we're using those terms where they are used by primary sources throughout this article.
More research is needed to more fully understand how biological differences may affect training in people taking hormones as part of gender-affirming care.
All that's to say, anyone can follow this five-day bodybuilding schedule if they think it's right for them.
Day 1: Chest and Abs
1. Banded Push-Up With Pause
- Wrap a resistance band around your back underneath your armpits, gripping the ends of the band in each hand. If it's an open band with no loops, tighten the band by looping it once around each hand.
- Kneeling down and placing the handles on the floor, position yourself on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Step your feet back and straighten your legs so that you're balanced on your palms and toes. Your body should make a straight line from head to hips to heels, and your hands should be directly under your shoulders or slightly wider apart.
- Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body and lower your body to the floor.
- Make sure to keep your body in one straight line from the neck through the spine to the hips and down to the heels.
- Press into your palms and push the floor away from you to come back up to a high plank, still keeping your body in one straight line.
2. Incline Dumbbell Fly
- Lie down on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand directly over your chest.
- With a slight bend in your elbows, rotate your shoulders so your elbows point out to the sides and your palms face each other. This is the starting position.
- Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest in an arcing motion until you feel a mild stretch (not pull or pain) in your chest.
- Exhale as you reverse the motion and use your chest muscles to press the dumbbells back to start.
3. Triceps Dip
- Grip each of the two handles on a dip machine with your hands.
- Extend your arms and bend your knees with your feet out behind you so you’re suspended from the floor.
- Bend your elbows to slowly lower yourself toward the floor (without your feet touching it).
- Straighten your elbows to slowly lift yourself back up.
To add support, loop a resistance band around the handles on the dip machine so it loosely stretches between them. Then, place your knees on top of the band before beginning the exercise.
4. Dumbbell Hex Press
- Lie down on a bench. Plant your feet on the floor, directly under your knees and point your feet straight or angled out at 45 degrees.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand above your chest. Palms should be facing each other and dumbbells should be touching.
- Drive your feet into the ground as you press the weights up. Press until your elbows are straight.
- Lower the weights back down to your chest with control.
1. Bicycle Crunch
- Start lying flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Contract your lower abs to raise your legs a few inches off the ground.
- Twist your torso and bend your left knee so that your right elbow crosses your body and reaches toward your left knee.
- Now switch and twist to the other side so that your left elbow reaches toward your bent right knee.
- Keep alternating sides without tucking your chin toward your chest.
- Repeat for 40 reps total (20 reps per side).
2. Hollow Hold
- Lie down on your back on the floor or on an exercise mat and press your lower back down into the ground.
- Squeeze your navel down toward the floor to activate your abdominal muscles. Make sure your legs are glued together as you gently raise them up off the ground.
- Float and extend both arms overhead and gently raise your head and shoulders off the floor, keeping your arms by the side of your face.
- Keeping your lower back flush against the floor, hold this position for 30 seconds. Think about pulling your bellybutton into the ground.
3. Spiderman Mountain Climber
- Press up into a high plank like you're about to do a push-up, with hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and anchored to the floor on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your hips level and don't let your lower back sag.
- Bring your right knee toward your right elbow so your knee and elbow touch (or come as close to touching as they can), engaging your abs at the same time.
- Return your right knee to starting position.
- Bring your left knee toward your left elbow so your knee and elbow touch (or come as close to touching as they can), engaging your abs at the same time.
- Keep your breath steady throughout the exercise, breathing in and out through your nose.
Day 2: Legs
1. Dumbbell Bench Lunge
- Holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides (palms facing in), stand a few feet in front of a bench, box or chair, facing away from it.
- Reach your right foot back and place the top of your foot flat on the surface. To help with balance, widen your base of support by moving your left foot a few inches to the left.
- Lean your torso forward slightly and bend your front knee to sink your hips toward the floor as low as you can comfortably go.
- Your front-leg shin should be vertical or close to it, while your back knee should point down toward the floor. If either leg is out of place, move your front foot forward or backward until you’ve found the ideal positioning.
- Push through the middle of your front foot to return to standing.
- Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
2. Dumbbell Sumo Squat
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. (If the position feels uncomfortable, move your feet in a little closer).
- Grasp a dumbbell with both hands, your arms hanging down straight in front of you.
- Keeping your back straight, push your hips back and bend your knees out over your toes to squat down. Thinking about sliding down a wall, keeping your back as straight as possible and avoiding leaning forward or sticking your butt out.
- Lower until your your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as you can go).
- Activate your core, glutes and quads to propel your body back upright, driving your weight through your feet to return to a standing position.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and repeat.
3. TRX Leg Curl
- Adjust the straps to mid-calf and sit on the floor facing the anchor point, place both heels in the foot cradles and roll onto your back.
- Lie down with your legs extended and feet directly below the anchor point.
- Lift your hips off the ground, drive both heels down and pull your heels toward your hips.
- Return to start.
4. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Brace your core.
- Push your hips back and lower your torso, allowing a very small bend in your knees.
- Keeping the weights close to your body, lower the weights until they're at about shin height.
- Pause, then push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand up tall.
5. Dumbbell Calf Raise
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides.
- Rise up on the balls of your feet as high as you can go. Pause here for a moment.
- Lower back down to the ground.
Day 3: Active Recovery
Based upon your energy levels or what exercise you're drawn to, choose from one of the following:
Day 4: Back
- Approach a secure, sturdy bar with your arms about shoulder width apart and hips tucked under.
- Grab the bar with an underhand grip, your palms facing toward your body.
- Squeeze your lats, core and glutes to make your body as rigid as possible
- Start the exercise at the shoulder blades by pulling them down and together. Squeeze your upper back then use the biceps to pull yourself up, keeping your hips tucked under.
- Once your chin is over the bar, or as high as possible, carefully reverse the move until your arms are fully extended at the elbows and shoulders.
If you can’t do chin-ups, try dead hangs or slow negatives at the top position.
2. Front Lat Pulldown
- Sit on the bench of the lat pulldown machine with your legs at 90-degree angles.
- Grab the bar with your palms forward (overhand grip) and your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- While holding the bar, brace your core and lean back slightly. Keep your spine in a straight line and make sure you aren’t arching your lower back.
- Pull the bar down toward your chest, stopping when it reaches your upper chest or just above your chest.
- Return to the starting position with your arms straight overhead.
- Focus on pulling down for 1 to 2 seconds and going back up for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Keep your motions slow and controlled.
3. Cable Pullover
- Attach a straight-bar to a cable machine slightly above head-height, and stand facing the machine.
- Grasp the handle using an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart.
- Step back one or two steps from the machine.
- Keeping your shoulders back and down and your core engaged, plant your feet shoulder-width apart and bend slightly forward.
- Keeping your arms straight, use your lats to pull the bar down.
- When the handle gets to your thighs, pause momentarily while squeezing your lats.
- Slowly allow your arms to return to starting position while being sure to keep your hips hinged forward until you've completed all your reps.
- After completing all your reps, slowly unhinge your hips to return to an upright pose while carefully letting the bar go back to its position at the top.
4. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
- Start standing upright and hold a dumbbell with a neutral grip in one hand.
- Bend forward at your waist with one knee, and the hand of the same side are on a bench. Bend at your torso so the floor and your torso are approximately parallel with one another or your torso is slightly higher than a right angle.
- With a weight in your opposite hand and arm fully extended, begin driving your elbow behind your torso while you make your shoulder blades retract.
- Continue to pull the dumbbell toward your torso until your elbow reaches beyond your back.
- Lower the dumbbell in a slow and controlled manner to return to starting position.
Day 5: Shoulders and Abs
1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your core braced, raise the weights out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
- Lower the weights slowly to the starting position.
2. Dumbbell Around-the-World Lateral Raise
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
- Lift your arms up out to the side and ahead of you until they are directly overhead; at the top, let your hands connect keeping your palms facing away from you.
- Slowly lower your arms back down and in front of you to return to starting position.
3. Dumbbell Reverse Fly
- Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Push your hips back behind you and bend your knees slightly as you lean your torso forward with a flat back. Maintain this hip-hinge position throughout the exercise.
- Let the weights hang down toward the floor with your elbows slightly bent and palms facing each other.
- Keeping your shoulders down away from your ears and a slight bend in your elbows, lift the weights out to your sides until they're in line with your shoulders.
- Lower the dumbbells with control.
1. Cable Crunch
- Select the cable rope attachment for this exercise.
- Adjust the weight stack, starting out light to learn the movement.
- Get down on your knees on the floor in front of the weight stack. Keep your knees about hip-distance apart and sit down on your heels with your toes tucked under.
- Grasp either end of the cable rope with each hand and pull it down to the top of your head. Position your wrists against your head.
- Contract your abdominal muscles as you bend at the waist, using your abdominal strength to round your back into a crunch position.
- Return to the starting position with control, resisting the weight of the cable.
2. Vertical Leg Raise
- Standing in the captain’s chair (or Roman chair) frame, lay your forearms over the padded armrests and, if available, grab any handles.
- Bracing your core, lift your legs with knees slightly bent until your quadriceps muscles and the floor are parallel (or as close to parallel as you can get.
- In a slow and controlled manner, lower your legs to return to starting position.
Day 6: Arms
To save time, perform the following exercises in two supersets, or circuits, made up of a biceps exercise followed by a triceps exercise. Repeat each superset three times.
1. Cable Biceps Curl
- Attach the sliding adjustment at the bottom of the cable machine.
- Stand in front of it with your knees bent slightly and hold the metal grip with your palms up and arms outstretched. Keep you back straight and your gaze facing forward.
- Moving only your forearms, curl the weight up to your chest.
- Pause at the top before slowly lowering your forearms back to starting position.
- Maintain tension on the cable before each rep.
2. Triceps Pushdown
- Start by facing a cable machine and situating the cable attachment at a height above your head. Attach the bar or rope and grasp it securely.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core, push your shoulders back and down and try to maintain this position throughout the exercise.
- Press the handles of the bar or rope down in front of your chest, so your elbows are aligned with the middle of your trunk.
- Straighten your elbows by pressing the cable down toward the floor.
- Extend your arms fully, while maintaining the same position with the rest of your body and keeping your elbows in place by your sides.
- After your elbows are fully extended, bend your elbows again to raise the cable back to the top with control.
1. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, core braced.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, holding the weights with a neutral grip, palms facing your body.
- Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height.
- Then, slowly lower the weights back down with control.
2. Overhead Triceps Extension
- Hold a dumbbell behind the back of your head, palms facing the base of your skull and elbows high above your head.
- Raise the weight until your arms are straight, and then lower back down.
- Keep your neck and spine aligned, maintain a strong core without arching your back.
Day 7: Rest Day
Congratulations! You've made it through the tough part, but this day is just as important as all the others. That's because your muscles need rest to rebuild bigger and stronger than they were before. The hardest part of this day, in fact, may be avoiding exerting yourself at all.
After six days of a heavy workout, you might be in the perfect mindset for a day's rest; or, you might feel like you have to do something physical now that you've gained momentum. But remember, it's not momentum you're trying to gain, it's muscle. And, to do that, you need this day of rest. So, take it.