In a recent post, I talked about split routines for building muscle. You’ve got a lot of choices! A 5 day split, 4 day workout split, 3 day and 2 day split are all good options. There are also options within options like doing a classic 3-day split or a 3 day push-pull-legs split. All of these workout schedules can work well if you set them up properly. What you didn’t hear from me in my last blog post about split routines is: Which of these splits is the single best routine to gain muscle?
There’s a reason I didn’t name one workout split as superior to all others. That is, there is no single best muscle building workout for everyone.
Each person has different goals, time availability, experience levels and personal preferences. All these factors play into your decision about which routine is best for you.
What’s more, according muscle hypertrophy research, even given individual differences, there’s a good argument for changing training programs throughout the course of a year. That might produce the best muscle gains of all.
However… what if… gun to the head, I was forced to pick the one muscle building program I thought was the best, based on my more than 40 years of lifting experience, including for bodybuilding competition training?
I’ve been asked this question many times and I’m happy to answer…
My #1 pick for bodybuilding and physique goals is… the 4-day workout split!
4 Day Workout Split Body Part Groupings
A typical 4 day split is looks something like this:
Day 1: Chest, biceps, abs
Day 2: Quads, hams
Day 3: Shoulders, triceps
Day 4: Back, calves
Make a note, there are many other ways to group the body parts. Here is an alternate 4 day split that’s also popular:
Day 1: Chest, triceps, calves
Day 2: Quads, hams
Day 3: Shoulders, abs
Day 4: Back, biceps
And here is yet another:
Day 1: Chest, shoulders
Day 2: Quads, calves
Day 3: Biceps, triceps, forearms
Day 4: Back, hams
Make a note: This is an advanced training schedule. It’s not for beginners.
Another note: These are bodybuilding-style training schedules. In most sports where the athletes are training for strength and performance, they don’t use programs like these. But if your goal is an aesthetic physique, these types of body part split routines are the best way to do it!
Those are just the body part groupings. There’s also the weekly schedule to consider.
4 Day Workout Split Weekly Training Schedule
In most of my early competitions, I performed this 4 day workout program using a 4 days on, 1 day off schedule. That means each muscle is worked once every 5 days. That’s just about perfect for my own goals and recovery needs. (Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT have to work each muscle twice a week to make great gains).
The first week, I’d be training Monday through Thursday. Friday would be the off day. Then I’d train Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. During that second week, Wednesday would be off and then I’d continue with this pattern.
This is called a rotating schedule.
Quite a few readers and members have shared with me over the years that they don’t like this type of schedule. It didn’t bother me one bit. I didn’t mind if Sunday was a training day one week and it was an off day the next and so on.
But most people have told me that they like to have the same training days and same rest days. For example, every Thursday and Sunday are off, and they can count on that schedule being the same every week.
This is called a fixed schedule.
Because this is more popular, I developed fixed schedule 4 day splits.
In a calendar week, it would look like this:
Monday: Chest, biceps, abs (day 1 workout)
Tuesday: Quads, hams (day 2 workout)
Wednesday: Shoulders, triceps (day 3 workout)
Thursday: Off (rest and recovery)
Friday: Back calves (day 4) workout
Saturday: Chest, biceps, abs (return to day 1 workout)
Sunday: Off (rest and recovery)
Monday: repeat the cycle, picking up where you left off (day 2 workout)
On this schedule (4 day split, 5 days a week, fixed), every Monday will not be the same body parts (sorry, no International chest day every Monday).
However, the training days and the rest days are always the same. This kind of weekly schedule has been very well received by our readers and members. I use it more often myself these days compared to the older 4 on 1 off schedule.
So there you have it. My #1 choice of best bodybuilding routine that I have used since the early 1990s and still use a variation on it today. (Most of the time… I do change occasionally and also experiment with novel programs once in a while).
What About 3-Day Splits Like Push-Pull-Legs?
I must admit, the 3-day split is a close second best choice for me. I believe the results are just as good as a 4 day split. Push-pull-legs (and 3 day classic muscle) programs are fantastic.
The only reason I give 4 day splits the nod (aside from the hypothetical gun to the head), is because I enjoy the 4 day split more. It’s simply personal preference, not that 4 way splits are far superior to 3 day splits. I like doing workouts where fewer muscles are trained in each session because I can focus and intensify better.
What’s the best muscle building split and schedule for you? I can’t say without knowing your goals, experience level, time available, and preferences.
What I can say is, I’m sure you will find more than one option in the Burn The Fat Inner Circle Training program department.
You get access to 16 training plans when you’re a member with us, and we’ve been adding new programs quarterly. (And new exercise instruction tutorials monthly).
Plus if you’re experienced at lifting and you have physique transformation goals like I do, you can now get access to the 4 day split, 5-day workout that I use (also including the exact exercises, sets and reps).
If you need something slightly easier, we just released the 4 X 4 Muscle & Physique program. This is also a great 4-day split, but less intensive, requiring only 4 workouts a week.
As a bonus, the 4 X 4 Muscle & Physique program also includes “Tom’s Choice” – the 4 X 5 Advanced Muscle program.
If you’re a Burn the Fat Inner Circle member, these programs are included with your membership. Just log in and download.
If you’re not an Inner Circle member, then here’s the page with more information about 4 X 4 Muscle And Physique: ==> 4 X 4 Muscle And Physique
And you can learn more about our Burn the fat Inner Circle on this page: ==> Burn The Fat Inner Circle Support Community For Natural Body Transformation
In upcoming blogs, we’ll talk more about splits and schedules and cover the whole spectrum of training plans, from different options for beginners (3 days a week) all the way up to ultra-advanced programs (6 days a week).
Train hard and expect success!
Founder and CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle
PS. Follow on Instagram: www.instagram.com/tomvenuto/
About Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details