5 Day Workout Routine to Get Ripped | Complete Guide

Throughout my 15 years of weightlifting experience, I’ve found one workout routine to be dominant— the 5 day split. If your goal is to build the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time (or in other words, you are a bodybuilder) and get ripped, the 5 day workout routine is optimal.

It is the perfect amount of days to hit the gym and, when done correctly, will yield gains you have only dreamt of.

What Is the Best 5 Day Workout Routine to Get Ripped?

Here is an overview of the 5 day workout routine that we will be discussing. For specific workouts, please check out the section below titled “The Completed Version!”.

  1. Chest + (Light) Triceps
  2. Back + (Light) Biceps
  3. Rest (Core Workout- optional)
  4. Shoulders + (Heavy) Triceps
  5. Legs + (Heavy) Biceps
  6. Rest (Light Core Workout)

What is a 5 Day Split and Why is it Useful? 

In general, a split is a workout routine that targets specific muscle groups on specific days. There is the 2 day split which targets the upper and lower body on two separate days. The three day split targets “push”, “pull”, and leg related movements on three separate days. The four day split typically involves a back, chest, shoulder, and leg day. And a 5 day split typically follows this format; Chest, legs, arms, shoulders, back.

Bodybuilder Squating

The 5 day workout split is great as it targets each muscle group optimally. The pectoral muscle, for instance, develops fastest when targeted for an hour every 5-6 days. The bicep and tricep muscles are much smaller and require less time to recover.

Thus, it is best to target them twice a week (Charlebois, 2007). All of this is simply not possible with a 2 or 3 day split.

Constructing a proper split is complicated and I see so many lifters doing it incorrectly. When you are in the gym for 5 days a week, you need to make sure what you are doing is efficient. Working out for an hour a day, 5 days a week, is a huge time investment.

In this article, I will demonstrate how to construct the best 5 day workout routine to get ripped. A perfect 5 day split considers more than just what body part is hit each day. It considers what specific workouts are done each day, the amount of sets and repetitions, and even the length of the workout.

I will also show you the mistakes that so many bodybuilders make. In learning the art of building workout splits, you will gain a lot of effective bodybuilding knowledge. Implement the knowledge you obtain from this guide and I guarantee that you will see major improvements!


Who is the 5 day Workout Split For?

For anyone who has the time for it! Whether you’re a professional bodybuilder or a novice lifter, male or female, you should be implementing a 5 day split if you want to build muscle quickly.

Female bodybuilder

In any case, going to the gym 5 days a week is a hassle. But if you are determined enough, you will make time. Sometimes this is simply impossible due to work or school related restrictions. For this reason, we will develop a split that allows for a single at home core workout. Four out of the five workouts will be at the gym, and one will be in the comfort of your home.


How to Construct the Best 5 Day Workout Split.

Let’s consider and critique a 5 day split that a user recommended on a bodybuilding forum.

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Shoulders
  • Day 3: Arms
  • Day 4: Legs
  • Day 5: Back

Take a moment and try to spot some errors.

The first issue is that the chest and shoulder muscles should not be hit so closely to one another.

Why?

Because no chest workout targets the pectoral muscles exclusively. For example, the bench press, in addition to targeting the pectoral muscles, targets the anterior deltoids (AKA the front shoulders), the triceps brachii, and the latissimus dorsi (back).

Of the three additional groups that a chest press targets, the most targeted is the anterior deltoid. It is therefore logical to separate chest and shoulder days as far as possible, correct?

Let’s do that.

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Arms
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Back

I prefer to separate chest and shoulders by two days as they are the two most interconnected muscle groups. You might be thinking “If shoulder day is moved to day 4, isn’t it now separated from the next chest workout by a day”.

This leads us to the next issue with the original split— It has no rest days! For a 5 day split, I find it best to rest a day within the split and to rest a day after completing the entire 5 day cycle. Here’s what I mean:

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Rest Day
  • Day 3: Arms
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Back

Rest between day 2 and day 3, then rest after day 5 and start the cycle over.

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Arms
  • Day 5: Shoulders
  • Day 6: Back
  • Day 7: Rest

In this current version, you lift five days a week and rest two days a week. You may find that resting a single day will suffice. In that case, ignore day 7 and return back to day one after completing day 6.

We have now separated chest and shoulder days. But they are not separated equally (chest, 3 days, shoulders, 2 days, chest, 3 days, etc). Shoulder day comes 3 days after chest day and chest day comes 2 days after shoulder day. Does it matter which group is allowed more time to rest?

Absolutely. Consider any chest press and any shoulder press. A chest press activates the anterior deltoid muscle to a certain degree. A shoulder press (such as the military press) only hits the shoulder muscles when done with proper form. Let’s call the military press a 90° press. The flat bench is therefore a 0° press and the incline press is a 45° press.

As you increase the angle, you active more of the deltoid muscles and less of the pectoral muscles. Therefore, a flat bench press activates less deltoid muscles then an incline bench press which activates less deltoids muscles than a military press. You can go below zero degrees to isolate the chest even more (i.e a decline bench press). The concept also applies to flyes.

This is important to keep in mind as you are constructing your own split. If you separate chest and shoulder days by one or two days, you should focus on flat and decline presses and flyes during chest day.

Another thing to consider while pressing is your hand placement. The farther your hands are, the more you target the chest. The closer your hands are, the more you target the triceps. So if you are hitting triceps the day after chest day, do not do any close grip presses.

Lets jump back to the split.

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Arms
  • Day 5: Shoulders
  • Day 6: Back
  • Day 7: Rest

On the first day we hit chest and day two we hit legs. Your legs should not be sore from a chest workout… so far so good. We rest on the third day then hit arms on the fourth day.

But is it a good idea to devote an entire day to muscles as small as the biceps and triceps? I say no and for two reasons. Firstly, as these muscles are small they require less time to recover.

It is therefore optimal to hit them twice a week. Secondly, doing so can interfere with other workout days. For example, all shoulder presses activate the tricep muscles.

Thus hitting shoulders the day after arms is not good. You may be able to do shoulder raises but you certainly won’t be able to shoulder press a lot of weight with sore triceps.

Which days should we workout biceps and triceps on? All pushing movements require tricep activation and all pulling movements require bicep activation. So let’s pair triceps with chest and shoulders, and back with biceps.

  • Day 1: Chest + Triceps 
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Shoulders + Triceps
  • Day 5: Back + Biceps 
  • Day 6: Rest

We agreed that biceps should be worked out twice a week. Lets pair it also with legs. Doing two full blown bicep and tricep workouts a week might work well for you. I

find the sweat spot to be somewhere between hitting them once a week and hitting them twice a week. In other words, implementing a “heavy” and “light” day. Here is what I mean:

  • Day 1: Chest + (Light) Triceps 
  • Day 2: Legs +  (Heavy) Biceps 
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Shoulders +  (Heavy) Triceps 
  • Day 5: Back + (Light) Biceps
  • Day 6: Rest

On “light” days do 1-2 workouts (6-8 sets) and on heavy days do 3-4 workouts (9-12 sets). Chest workouts target the triceps muscles more than shoulder workouts and so it’s better to pair the “light” day with chest and the “heavy” day with shoulders. By hitting biceps heavy on leg day, we allow two days for bicep recovery before we workout our back. The worst thing for a back workout are sore biceps as almost every single back movement requires heavy bicep activation.

The next issue we encounter is the proximity of shoulder day to back day. Have you ever done lateral or front shoulder raises and found your back and trap muscles extremely sore the next day? I know I have. These types of movements are extremely difficult to do without activating your back muscles.

How do we target the posterior deltoid muscle on shoulder day without burning out our back? On which day do we hit traps? If you hit it on shoulder day, your back will be very sore the following day. It’s best to separate these two muscle groups as far as possible, as we did with chest and shoulder. 

  • Day 1: Chest + (Light) Triceps
  • Day 2: Back +  (Light) Biceps 
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Shoulders +  (Heavy) Triceps 
  • Day 5: Legs + (Heavy) Biceps
  • Day 6: Rest

First we hit chest and triceps (lightly). On day two we hit back and biceps (lightly). All of these are unrelated muscles so no issues so far. We rest on the third day and allow our triceps and pectoral muscles to fully recover for tomorrow’s shoulder workout. Then we hit legs and biceps heavy. Both muscles should be fully recovered at this point. We then rest and start the cycle over again the next day.

Perfect, isn’t it?

Not quite yet. We are forgetting a few things: Core workouts and cardio! Don’t underestimate the importance of a solid core. Whenever I get asked for advice pertaining to strength development, one of the first things I advice is to develop a stronger core.

For the sake of being active every day of the week, let’s do a core workout twice a week. On day three we will do a full core workout (20-25 mins) and on day 6 a light one (7-12 mins). A solid core workout can be done at home and doesn’t require a trip to the gym. As for cardio, I will leave that up to you. Some people prefer to do cardio everyday before a workout. I will write an article on this soon. Please subscribe to our newsletter on the right for an update when it’s ready.

Here is the completed split:

  • Day 1: Chest + (Light) Triceps
  • Day 2: Back +  (Light) Biceps
  • Day 3: Cardio + Core Workouts.
  • Day 4: Shoulders +  (Heavy) Triceps
  • Day 5: Legs + (Heavy) Biceps
  • Day 6: Rest (Light Core Workout)

How to Construct the Best 5 Day Workout Split (PART 2)

In the previous section we developed the foundation for the best 5 day workout split. If you skipped this section, please read it over as it contains valuable information. Now we want to consider some specific workouts, rep ranges, and number of sets. For more information on each exercise, use this great exercise finder from bodybulding.com.

Day 1 (Chest + Light Triceps).

Best Chest routine

Do 3 chest presses, 2 chest fley, and 1 or 2 workouts for triceps. Chest fly movements don’t require much tricep activation and so you can jump back and forth between flyes and tricep workouts. It is best to get the heavy presses out of the way first.

  • Flat Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps)  
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps)  
  • Triceps Pushdown – V-Bar Attachment: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets(8-12 reps)
  • Skull Crushers: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
  • Decline Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps each)

Day 2: Back + light Biceps

Best Back Workout Routine

As someone who suffers from tennis elbow, I have to start my back days a little differently than most. As already mentioned, almost all pulling movements require heavy bicep activation.

Therefore I find it best to leave biceps workouts towards the end of the workout. Unlike the other muscle groups, there are so many ways to hit the back muscles.

I find it best to reduce the sets to 2 and hit the back from allot of angles. This is a technique that was utilized by the great Dorian Yates.

  • Seated Cable Rows: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Front Lat Pulldown: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Bent over barbell rows: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Hammer curls: 3 sets ( 8-12 reps)
  • Deadlift: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Barbell curl (EZ-bar): 3 sets 8-10 (reps)
  • Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Concentration Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)  

Day 3: Cardio + Core Workouts

On the third day and complete a 15-25 min core workout. I will publish an article soon on this topic. Please subscribe to our newsletter for an update!

Day 4: Shoulders + Heavy triceps  

Best shoulder workout routine.

My personal favorite workout day! First do the heavy presses then alternate shoulder raises and flyes with triceps workouts.

  • Seated Dumbbell Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Military Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Dips: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Side Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Front Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Triceps Pushdown – Rope Attachment: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Reverse Flyes: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Shrugs: 3 sets (8-10 reps) 

Day 5: Legs + Heavy Biceps   

Best leg workout routine

I have always struggled with leg workouts. I was never able to squat deep enough and my legs always wobbled under a lot of stress. A few years ago I did some research and discovered the issue.

It turned out I was lifting with the wrong shoes. Running and basketball shoes are terrible for weightlifting. One of the best investments I made was purchasing a proper pair of weightlifting shoes.

All my lifts went up and and I no longer felt pain in my knees and lower back. If you want more info, please CLICK HERE for a great guide to weightlifting shoes. Legs and biceps are

  • Squats: 4 sets (6-8 reps)
  • Wide-Grip Standing Barbell Curl: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Press: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Spider Curl: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Smith Machine Calf Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Machine Bicep Curl: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets (8-12 reps) NOTE: please skip if you have knee complications.

Day 6: Rest + light core workout

Day 6 is a rest day, but you can do a light 7-12 core workout in the morning if you are up for it. Return back to day 1 the following day.


The Completed Version! 

You can swap exercises (or drop a few if you want), although I highly recommend you following the routine as close as you can. Its challenging, but it will yield great results. Whats important is the ordering of the days. For instance, if decide to target your chest today, you don’t have to target back the next day (you can rest instead), but the following workout should be a back workout.

Day 1: Chest + Light Triceps

  • Flat Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps)
  • Triceps Pushdown – V-Bar Attachment: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets(8-12 reps)
  • Skull Crushers: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
  • Decline Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps each)

Day 2: Back + (Light) Biceps

  • Seated Cable Rows: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Front Lat Pulldown: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Bent over barbell rows: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Hammer curls: 3 sets ( 8-12 reps)
  • Deadlift: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Barbell curl (EZ-bar): 3 sets 8-10 (reps)
  • Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Concentration Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)

Day 3: Core + cardio session

  • 20-25 min core workout followed by a cardio session.

Day 4: Shoulders + (Heavy) Triceps

  • Seated Dumbbell Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Military Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Dips: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Side Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Front Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Triceps Pushdown – Rope Attachment: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Reverse Flyes: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Shrugs: 3 sets (8-10 reps)

Day 5: Legs + (Heavy) Biceps

  • Squats: 4 sets (6-8 reps)
  • Wide-Grip Standing Barbell Curl: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Press: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Spider Curl: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Smith Machine Calf Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Machine Bicep Curl: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets (8-12 reps) NOTE: please skip if you have knee complications.

Day 6: Rest (Light Core Workout)

  • Rest day (optimal light core workout in the morning)

Day 7: Rest

If you want something a little more challenging, check out this guide on the 6 day workout split.

A good exercise program- combined with proper dieting, supplementation, and rest- will help you build muscle in no time.

But if you want to get RIPPED, lifting weights 5 days a week is only half the battle. You must incorporate some sort of cardiovascular activity.

And- lucky for you- it turns out that all you need is 16 minutes a week of running to build head-turning muscle and demolish stubborn fat. I didn’t believe it at first, but apparently scientists have have made groundbreaking research that has confirmed a 530% increase in growth hormone following a brand new anabolic running trick. Definitely worth checking out.


Supplement to get ripped!

VINTAGE BURN Fat Burner

Supplements can be a great tool to augment your fitness Journey. If you are trying to lose weight, a greet option is Vintage Burn. Vintage Burn is one of the most successful fat burners on the market and has (by far) produced the most amount of satisfied customers.

It is produced by Old Schools Labs, a company based in California that specialize in all-natural fitness supplements. They claim to produce the world’s first muscle-preserving fat burner.

And thousands of customers, including myself, can attest to this claim. The product contains 9 simple and all natural fat burning ingredients—  raspberry ketones, chrysin, caffeine, and 6 extracts (green tea leaf, Green coffee bean, olive leaf, bacopa leaf, garcinia fruit, and forskohlii root extract).

Each ingredient is effective in weight loss and is backed by scientific research. As a matter of fact, Vintage Burn contains 5 out of 6 fat burning ingredients that my research suggests are the most effective fat burners (garcinia cambogia extract, caffeine, raspberry ketones, green coffee bean extract, green tea extract, and CLA).


Track Your Progress!

Best fitness trackerOne of the most important things you should do is to keep track of your progress. Doing so provides a visual representation of your fitness development. A fitness journal keeps you accountable and gives you confidence.

Progress in strength development and weight loss happens slowly and my not be evident without documentation. For instance, you feel unmotivated when you find that you have been bench pressing the same weight for two weeks.

But with a fitness journal, you may discover that you actually did 7 reps last week and was able to push 8 reps this week. You can then set a goal to hit 9 reps next week or increase the weight by 5 pounds.

These small victories gives you the motivation to continue grinding. With so many different workouts, it is impossible to keep track of everything you do without a good workout tracker.

When you wake up with zero motivation to hit the gym, flip open your fitness journal, look at the great progress you made, and watch your body fill up with energy and motivation. The best way to motivate yourself is to provide your subconscious mind with solid and tangible proof that what you are doing is paying off. Studies have shown that keep track of your progress helps you stay on course and achieve your goals faster.

One of the best fitness trackers I have ever used is the NewMeFitness Journal. It is simply the best way to track your progress. The NewMeFitness Journal is written by experts and designed for bodybuilding and cross-fit.

It comes with a sturdy binding, thick pages and a nice laminated protected cover. This is not a flimsy journal and will withstand whatever you trow at it. The quality is excellent, but what I enjoy most is the format. Click the link below for more information and to check the price!


5 day Workout Routine (at home)

What if you don’t have access to a gym? While that’s not the most ideal scenario, you could still do the 5 day workout routine at home and get ripped. You just need two things— a proper squat rack and a bench. And if you really what to do this the right way, get an ez-curl bar as well.

Best squat rack with pull up bar If you can make room for one, I highly suggest you consider making this purchase. A squat rack will allow you to effectively target every single major muscle group in the body without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.

And don’t let the name confuse you— while its traditional purpose was to allow you squat safely, squat racks have evolved into multi-function, all-in-one machines. If you are interested, check out this guide which discusses squat racks in more detail. It will provide everything you need to make a safe and confident purchase.

The squat rack will cover all the larger muscle groups (legs, chest, back, and shoulders) and the ez-curl bar will cover the rest (biceps and triceps). While it is possible to target the biceps and triceps with an olympic bar, I don’t suggest it. I did this for many years and ended up developing tennis elbow.

The following split can be done with just a squat rack and an EZ-curl bar.: 

Day 1: Chest + Light Triceps 

  • Flat Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps)
  • Incline Bench Press: 4 sets(8-10 reps)
  • Bench Dips: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
  • Chest Flyes with plates: 4 sets(8-12 reps)
  • Skull Crushers: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)

Day 2: Back +  (Light) Biceps

  • Bent over barbell rows: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Pull ups: 4 sets (8-20 reps)
  • Close Grip Barbell curl (EZ-bar): 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Deadlift: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Wide Grip Barbell Curl: 3 sets (8-10 reps) 

Day 3: Rest (Core Workout- optional)

  • 20-25 min core workout in the morning

Day 4: Shoulders +  (Heavy) Triceps

  • Military Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Incline Barbell Triceps Extension: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Side Lateral Raise (with plates): 3 sets (8-12 reps
  • Front Lateral Raise (with plates): 3 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Close-Grip EZ-Bar Press: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Shrugs: 3 sets (8-10 reps) 
  • Bench Dips: 3 sets (8-10 reps)

Day 5: Legs + (Heavy) Biceps

  • Squats: 5 sets (6-8 reps)
  • Wide-Grip Standing Barbell Curl (ez-curl bar): 4 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Lunges (with plates): 3 sets (10-15 reps)
  • Spider Curl: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Box Squat: 4 sets (6-8 reps)
  • Close-Grip EZ Bar Curl: 4 sets (8-12 reps)

Day 6: Rest (Light Core Workout)

  • Rest day (optimal light core workout in the morning)

Mike S.

Mike is the main contributor for Olympic Muscle. He is a full time college student majoring in computer science and biochemistry. When when not in school, Mike spends his time practicing his true passion in life— pushing heavy a** weight.
Mike S.

3 thoughts on “5 Day Workout Routine to Get Ripped | Complete Guide”

  1. Hello,

    You mentioned on day 3:
    On the third day and complete a 15-25 min core workout. I will publish an article soon on this topic. Please subscribe to our newsletter for an update!

    But I havent seen the core workout yet… could you provide us some examples of core workout to do?

    Thanks!

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