June 13, 2022 6 min read
Establishing a workout plan before walking into the gym can be essential for being successful. Whether your fitness goal is to stay active or build muscle, not maintaining a consistent workout split can cause you to spend more time walking around the gym than actually working out in the gym.
Building muscle especially requires a plan of action, and a bro split can help get you there. Despite the name, this workout split isn't just for bros.
Often bodybuilders use this training split to enhance muscle growth, but anyone with the proper knowledge can take advantage of it as well.
Different workout splits target different muscle groups or movements throughout the week, and the workout schedule can vary based on the routine.
The bro split, also known as the body part split, targets a different major muscle group each day of the week.
This typically means you're in the gym five days per week with two days rest, but it can also be structured differently.
Since you're typically focusing on one muscle group, the training volume is often higher because that group will get a whole week's rest before hitting it again. If muscle growth is your goal, focusing on a higher volume of reps can be the most effective.
Having a plan when you walk into the gym is beneficial by itself, but using the bro split can come with unique benefits of its own.
A bodybuilder's goal is to maximize muscle mass, and performing a high volume of exercises on one specific muscle group can help build the muscle up more. Although higher frequency resistance training may be less controversial, training a muscle group once per week can produce similar results, provided you're putting enough work in during a training session.
Overtraining can happen through excessive exercise, and it can cause your athletic performance to suffer along with potentially serious health concerns. With ample recovery, you can help reduce the risk of overtraining. The bro split typically gives you a six or seven day period between muscle groups, which allows for the damaged muscle to repair before being stressed again.
Your first time stepping into the gym can be intimidating. With so many pieces of equipment, strength training can feel overwhelming. Using a bro split routine allows you to focus on one muscle group at a time, which can help you feel more at ease. If you walk in already knowing you're only training your pecs, it can help take the guesswork out of your workout. Aside from that, beginners may feel more soreness than more advanced lifters, so this training program allows for more recovery time.
In the bro split routine, one day of the week is reserved for legs, which means the other four days are reserved for the upper body. This can be appealing to lifters who like to train their glamor muscles and their arms in particular. Your triceps and biceps are involved in pushing and pulling exercises, and paired with isolation exercises, you can build bigger arms with this routine.
Although the bro split can be beneficial, there are some drawbacks to choosing this routine.
Rest days are important, but too much recovery in between training sessions could limit your muscle gains. A rest period of 24-72 hours for a muscle group could be sufficient depending on the training volume, and training an area three days per week versus one may produce more strength and muscle. Compared to an upper lower split, you fit in less specific upper and lower body muscles, which can produce less growth periods.
Bodybuilders may be striving for muscle growth, but powerlifters are more focused on maximizing strength for competition lifts like the squat, deadlift, and bench press. A push pull legs (PPL) routine may be more optimal because you can focus on building strength in the movement patterns of those lifts.
Dedicating a day for only leg day or chest day could mean that missing a day messes up your whole week or even your progress. Leaving too much time in between training a muscle could limit results, and you may find it hard to fit in a make up workout.
Because you're only training a muscle group one time a week, your training volume must be higher to produce results. A higher amount of reps may increase the chance of greater delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Low volume and high frequency training can be better for reducing intense DOMS.
The big question everyone wants to know is does the bro split actually work? This type of split has received a lot of criticism due to the drawbacks, and they do make good points.
If you're looking to build muscle quickly, the bro split may not be the most optimal, but it can definitely help you build muscle over time.
Bro splits can be effective as long as they're used properly.
Increasing your intensity and volume as needed is progressive overloading, and it is essential when using this training program.
Since you have a greater amount of time between muscle groups, you need to be intense during your training time.
Aside from the potential physiological benefits, bro splits help increase your training frequency without suffering from exhaustion. If you enjoy being in the gym all week, the bro split can be a good choice.
Some important factors to keep in mind are proper nutrition and progressive overload. Keeping track of your macros is essential for bodybuilding, and progressive overload helps push past plateaus.
Using the bro split helps you train your full body through the week by performing a combination of isolation and compound exercises. Utilizing barbells for heavy weight and dumbbells for unilateral work can help you build muscle and strength, and incorporating bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or dips can help add in variety.
A typical bro split week may look like:
It's important to know that this isn't the only way to structure a bro split routine. You can mix your rest days in between the week, or you can program two muscle groups instead of one in a session, but that may require a longer session.
With one day dedicated to only one muscle group, you'll need plenty of different exercises on deck.
For chest and back day, you'll want to make sure you're hitting the upper and lower parts of the body. For leg day, hitting the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves is important, so it might be a longer workout. Shoulder day needs different exercises to target the different heads of the deltoid, and arm day will incorporate biceps and triceps.
A sample workout may look something like:
Dumbbell chest fly 3 x 12 reps
Incline dumbbell chest press 3 x 12 reps
Push ups 5 x 10 reps
Close grip bench press 3 x 8 reps
Bench press 3 x 8 reps
Reverse flys 3 x 12 reps
Lat pulldowns 3 x 12 reps
Seated cable row 3 x 10 reps
Dumbbell row 4 x 8 reps
Barbell row 4x 8 reps
Calf raises 3 x 12 reps
Leg extension 3 x 12 reps
Hamstring curl 3 x 12 reps
Romanian Deadlift 4 x 8 reps
Back squat 4 x 8 reps
Lateral raises 3 x 12 reps
Front raise 3 x 12 reps
Dumbbell shoulder press 4 x 8 reps
Face pulls 4 x 8 reps
Overhead press 4 x 8 reps
Bicep curls 3 x 12 reps
Triceps extension 3 x 12 reps
Chin ups 3 x 10 reps
Dips 3 x 10 reps
Barbell curl 4 x 8 reps
Although the bro split gets some backlash, it can be an effective weightlifting routine as long as you stay consistent and train at a higher volume. Since you're training at a higher volume, your endurance will need to be higher, and you might find yourself dealing with more intense DOMS.
A glycogen supplement like HyperAde can be taken pre-workout to boost performance, during the workout to keep your energy high, or post-workout to help restore muscle glycogen.
Actually showing up to the gym is the part that requires the motivation and dedication to see results.
Maintaining a consistent routine is what a lot of lifters are lacking, and that could cause you to backtrack.
The bro split may be popular among bodybuilders, but they don't have to be the only ones who use it.
Using this program can help you build muscle, get enough recovery, and keep you active in the gym all week.
Compared to a full body split or an upper lower split, this split is definitely one of a kind.