Workout Plans to Get Ripped

Build the foundation for your fitness journey

Establishing a solid workout plan is one of the most essential aspects of getting in shape.  

If your goal is to develop this foundation, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will show you the 4 most effect workout plans to get ripped. After that, I will discuss nutrition, recovery and supplementation. No stone will be left unturned.

It’s never too late to start

Where you are now if more important than where you think you should be. If you are willing to put in the work, you will achieve your fitness goals in no time. You’ve already tackled the most important part! You had a specific issue you couldn’t solve, sought out a solution, and found it. All that’s left is to start.

And believe me, that’s the hardest part. Once you begin to see results, you will become more and more motivated each day. Working out will become a habit that you can’t go a day without. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Workout routines designed to get you ripped

The workout plans presented are arranged in order of increasing time requirement. Pick one that best suits your lifestyle, but the more days you can squeeze a workout in, the better. The optimal amount of days to hit the gym is 4 (and that’s not to say that working out twice a week is ineffective). Personally, I choose to follow a 5 day workout split. 

All 4 workout plans are geared towards getting ripped (as opposed to bulking up). As such, exercise repetitions will be high, rest time will be short, and lots of calisthenic workouts will be incorporated. This will ensure that your heart rate stays in the fat-burning zone. 

How to calculate heart rate range for fat loss
Lower end = (220 – your age) * .55
Upper end = (220 – your age) * .75  

For a 40 year old, the range is 99-135 BPM (Beats Per Minute).

To monitor your heart rate while working out, consider using a fitness monitor such as the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband. Fitbit wristbands are a staple amongst weight lifters and runners. They allow you to maximize your workouts by monitoring your heart rate and the exercises you’ve completed. They also track important fitness related figures (calories burned, reps and sets completed, steps taken, hours slept, etc) and provide daily fitness scores.


Part 1: Pick a Split

Four splits are provided for you to pick from. As you go down the list, the splits become more advanced and time consuming, but yield greater results. Pick one that best suits your lifestyle. This decision is not set in stone and could always be modified as you progress in your journey.

2 Day (Upper/Lower) Workout Plan to Get Ripped

Who is it for?

The 2 day split is great for those who are extremely limited on time- full time workers/college students, busy moms, stay at home dads, etc- as all it requires is a 60-75 min workout twice a week.

The 2-day split is also great for beginners as it allows for enough recovery time. Beginners, as well advanced lifters who have taken long breaks, often discover that they need many days to recover from a workout (up to 7 days) and experience painful DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

This ordeal peaks at around 30 days and subsides with progressive increases in workout intensity. Beginners also lack the “mind-body” connection required for advanced splits, and benefit more from compound movements (which are the focus of 2-day workout routines).

The basics.

A 2 day split involves hitting the gym twice a week. Half of your muscles are trained on one day, and the other half on another. That means we must divide the muscles of the body into two groups based on how interconnected they are.

By interconnected muscles, I really mean muscle that tend to activate together. For instance, a push up- contrary to popular belief- is not a pectoral (chest) dominant movement. If you place our finger on your anterior deltoid muscle (the front ⅓ of the shoulder muscle) and movement your arm as if doing a pushup, you may notice just how much the shoulder muscles are active. Similarier, the triceps and traps are activated to similar extents. Therefore the chest, should, tricep, and trap muscles tend to activate in unison.

The best way to split the body into two groups (based on muscle activation) is by drawing a horizontal line across your belly button— one group being the upper body, and the other being the lower body.

By doing so we allow one group to recover optimally, while training the other. For example, if you completely destroy your chest muscle during today’s workout, you will be able to perform any leg workout the following day just fine. But what about doing shoulder workout the following day?

The chest and shoulder muscles are two of the most interconnected muscles in the body. As your mind-body connection and overall knowledge of fitness improves, you will eventually be able to isolate your chest muscles so finely that a shoulder workout is possible the following day.

Is the basis for advanced workout routines such as the 5 day split. But keep in mind that your body is a well structured machine and every single muscle works together during a lift. So by isolating the chest, I really mean isolating it enough so that surrounding muscles are broken down to a minimal extent.

For now, lets focus on isolating your muscles in the most general way possible.

The split.

Now let’s look at the best 2 day workout routine to get ripped. For optimal recovery, each workout day should be spread as far apart as possible. To do so, take a two day break after one the first workout then a three day break after the other. Each workout should last anywhere from 45 mins to an hour and a half.

Because the ultimate goal is to get ripped, you should try to finish as quickly as possible. Doing so will ensure that your heart rate is high enough to burn fat. T

his split only incorporates compound movements so that all muscles are targeted within the time frame. Isolated movements will be used in the more advanced splits. Rest as much as you need in between exercises, but the optimal range for fat burning is 30-45 seconds.

Try as best as you can to remain active throughout the week. On rest days, it is a good idea to do some light cardio, calisthenics or even yoga if that’s your thing.  

The 2 day workout split

  • Day 1: Upper Body
    • Bench Press: 4 sets (9-12 reps each)
    • Seated Cable Rows or Bent-Over Barbell rows: 4 sets (9-12 reps each)
    • Military Press or Seated Dumbbell Press: 3 sets (8-11 reps each)
    • Pull-ups (weighted if you need more resistance): 3 sets (8-15 reps each)
    • Bench Dips: 3 sets (10-20 reps each)
  • Day 2-3: Rest
  • Day 4: Lower Body
    • Squats: 4 sets (10-12 reps)
    • Leg Press: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Smith Machine Calf Raise: 4 sets (8-15 reps)
    • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Leg Extensions: 3 sets (8-12 reps) NOTE: please skip if you have knee complications.
  • Day 5-7: Rest

3 Day (Puch/Pull/Legs) Workout Plan to Get Ripped

Who is it for?

The three day split is great for intermediate lifters, beginners who want something a little more challenging than the two day split, and busy people who can spare an hour a day, three times a week. Overall, the three day split will yield greater results than a two day split. This is because 3 days splits introduce basic split training (a split is a routine that targets a few specific muscle groups per day) concepts which allow you to focus more on individual muscle groups.  

The basics.

The difference between an upper/lower body split and a push/pull/legs split (aka PPL split) is that the upper body is divided into two days.

As we have seen with the 2 day split, the most basic way to divide the muscles of the body is into two groups— upper body and lower body. The next level of specificity involves separating the the upper body muscles into two groups— those used in pulling movements and those used in pushing movements.

The three muscles common to all pushing movements are the chest, triceps, and shoulders muscles. And the four muscles common to all pulling movements are the traps, rhomboids, lats, and biceps. Muscles that are activated in pushing movements are more interconnected to muscles activated in pulling than muscles in lower body movements. Therefore a three day split is best done in the following order: Pull, Rest, Lower body, Rest, Push, Rest, Rest.

Certain push movements activate some muscles used used in pull movements and vice versa. Unless you an intermediate lifter, it is best to avoid these exercise. One such exercise is the side lateral raise- a predominantly medial shoulder activating workout (shoulder = push day) that can active the back muscles (back = pull day) quite a bit if you are inexperienced and perform the lift incorrectly.   

The split.

The 3 day workout split
  • Day 1: Pull
    • Seated Cable Rows: 2 sets (10-12 reps)
    • Front Lat Pulldown: 2 sets (10-12 reps)
    • Bent over barbell rows: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Deadlift: 2 sets (6-12 reps)
    • Barbell curl (EZ-bar): 3 sets 10-15 (reps)
    • Hammer curls: 3 sets (10-15 reps)
    • Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 sets (8-15 reps)
    • Concentration Curls: 3 sets (8-15 reps)
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Legs
    • Squats: 4 sets (10-12 reps)
    • Leg Press: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Smith Machine Calf Raise: 4 sets (8-15 reps)
    • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Leg Extensions: 3 sets (8-12 reps) NOTE: please skip if you have knee complications.
  • Day 4:  Rest Day
  • Day 5: Push
    • Bench Press: 4 sets (9-12 reps each)
    • Military Press or Seated Dumbbell Press: 3 sets (8-11 reps each)
    • Bench Dips: 3 sets (10-20 reps each)
    • Low Cable Crossover: 3 sets (8-15 reps)
    • Skull-crushers: 3 sets (10-12 reps)
    • Pushups: 4 sets to failure 
  • Day 6-7: Rest

4 Day Split Workout Routine for Lean Muscle

Who is it for?

The 4 day workout split is for those who want to pack on serious muscle. In my opinion, it’s the most efficient workout routine that will allow you to build the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time. However, it requires a big time investment and some bodybuilding knowledge.

Working out more than 4 days a week will not yield greater gains for most people. The exception is for those who can recover particularly well- bodybuilders who utilize drugs (anabolic hormones, insulin, etc) that amp up their bodies ability to recover, or basically anyone who has their nutrition dialed down. I

f you are not a bodybuilder, however, working out more than 4 days a week is still beneficial as it helps you achieve a more symmetrical look. Growing your muscles in ideal proportions to one another requires dedication to each muscle group which is difficult to do via a 4,3, or 2 day split.

The basics.

As with the 3 day workout split, lower body (legs) and back (pull movements) are targeted individually on two seperate days. But the muscles used in pushing movements (chest and shoulders) and split into two days. That leaves triceps and biceps. Most people train triceps with chest and biceps with back. I find it best to incorporate a “light” and “heavy” triceps and biceps day. Check out this guide for a complete rundown on why I choose to do so.

The split.

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.

The 4 day workout split
  • 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: Rest
  • 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)
  • Day 7: Rest

5 Day Workout Plan to Get Ripped

Who is it for?

This one is my personal favorite. The 5 day workout routine is for those who are serious about building muscle. Unless you have a solid nutrition and recovery plan, it might be overkill and actually hamper your growth. Otherwise, this split is one of the most effective workout plans and I highly suggest you give it a try. 

The basics.

The primary difference between the 4 and 5 day split is that triceps and biceps are bundled together as “arms” and trained on a dedicated day. 

The split.

The 5 day workout split
  • Day 1: Chest
    • Flat Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-12 reps)
    • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 Sets (8-12 reps)
    • Low Cable Crossover: 3 sets (8-15 reps)
    • Decline Bench Press: 4 Sets (8-10 reps each)
    • Incline dumbell flys: 3 sets (8-15 reps)
    • push ups: 4 sets to failure
  • Day 2: Back
    • Seated Cable Rows: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Front Lat Pulldown: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Bent over barbell rows: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Deadlift: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 sets (8-12 reps)
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Arms 
    • Triceps Pushdown – V-Bar Attachment: 3 Sets (10-15 reps)
    • Barbell curl (EZ-bar): 3 sets (10-15 reps)
    • Skull Crushers: 3 Sets (9-12 reps)
    • Spider Curl: 3 sets (10-15 reps)
    • Triceps Pushdown – Rope Attachment: 3 sets (10-15 reps)
    • Machine Bicep Curl: 3 sets (10-15 reps)
    • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 3 sets (10-15 reps)
  • Day 5: Shoulders
    • Seated Dumbbell Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
    • Military Press: 4 sets (8-10 reps)
    • Side Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps
    • Front Lateral Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Reverse Flyes: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Shrugs: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
  • Day 6: Legs
    • Squats: 4 sets (6-8 reps)
    • Leg Press: 3 sets (8-10 reps)
    • Smith Machine Calf Raise: 4 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets (8-12 reps)
    • Leg Extensions: 3 sets (8-12 reps) NOTE: please skip if you have knee complications.
  • Day 7: Rest

(Note: The following sections are being revised and will up updated in a few days. Sorry for any inconvenience) 

Part 2: Nutrition

Part 3: Recovery

Part 4: Supplementation

Part 5: Some Recommendations

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.

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