Tip: How to Design Your Perfect Weekly Split

How many days per week should you train? Should you do a bro split, push-pull, or whole-body? Find out here.

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It All Depends on Strength

How many days should you train per week? Should you train the whole body every workout or split things up?

The answer to these questions comes down to how strong you are. If you haven't yet reached "3-4-5 status" – a 300 pound bench, 400 squat, and 500 deadlift – you'll be better served with whole body workouts. That means using exercises for both upper and lower body every workout.

Train 3-4 times per week, using between 2-3 exercises for upper body, and 2-3 exercises for lower body each session. Here's an example of what that might look like:

Monday Wednesday Friday
High Bar Squat Flat Dumbbell Press RDL
Barbell Military Press Weighted Back Extension Dip
Forward/Reverse Lunge Chin-Up Hack Squat
Low Cable Row Split Squat Inverted Row
Hammer Curl Lying Triceps Extension Dumbbell Curl

If, on the other hand, you have reached 3-4-5 status, it's time to step up to an upper/lower split, meaning 4 sessions per week, where you train upper body twice and lower body twice each week. Example:

Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday
High Bar Squat Bench Press Deadlift Incline Dumbbell Bench
RDL Pull-Up Front Squat Low Cable Row
Step Up Barbell Curl Reverse Hyper Low Cable Curl
Leg Curl Pushdown Leg Extension French Press

Finally, if you're really strong, meaning you weigh well over 250 pounds, squat over 700, bench over 400, etc., you might be better off using the "bro-split." There are actually a few different versions of this, but typically they all have you training each muscle group roughly once per week. Here's an example:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Chest Back Legs Shoulders Arms

This works great if you're so big and strong that a back workout literally takes you 5-7 days to recover from because you're doing stuff like bent-over rows with 405 for sets of 8. But the weaker you are, the faster you recover (yes, even if you're working your nuts off), and therefore, the more frequently each muscle needs to be re-stimulated with a new training bout.

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook