Workout Schedule – The Best Weekly Weight Training Schedules & Splits

Choosing your overall weekly workout schedule is one of the key aspects of creating the weight training routine that is best for you.

What makes it a little tricky is the fact that there’s a lot of ways it can go. The amount of potential workout schedules, splits, and plans to choose from is enough to make your head explode.

However, you can greatly narrow them down to just the handful that are best for you by factoring in 3 key workout schedule requirements. They are:

  1. Your workout schedule must fit your ideal training frequency.
    The workout split you choose must allow you to reach the weight training frequency that is BEST for your specific goal and experience level. Meaning, do you need a split that allows you to train each muscle group once per week, twice per week, or 3 times per week?
  2. Your workout schedule must fit your personal weekly schedule.
    How many days can you actually manage to work out per week? 3 times? 4 times? More? Less? Are there specific days you can work out on and specific days you absolutely can’t? Do you need to take the weekends off, or are the weekends the days you need to train on?
  3. Your workout schedule must fit your training preferences and needs.
    Fitting your ideal frequency and personal schedule is what’s most important, but at the same time you should also actually enjoy what you’re doing and make sure the smaller details suit you and your goal.

Once those 3 factors are taken into account (and the crappier choices have been eliminated), we’re only left with a few to choose from.

So, I figure the best thing to do now is go through those few and list what I (and many others) consider to be the best weekly weight training schedules and splits for various goals and experience levels.

You can then pick the one that seems best for you. Sound good? Here we go…

The 3 Day Full Body Split

  1. Monday: Full Body Workout
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Full Body Workout
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Full Body Workout
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Weekly Schedule: It’s 3 total weight training workouts per week (all of which are full body) done in an every-other-day format with 2 consecutive days off at the end.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained to some degree once every 2nd or 3rd day, making this a high frequency split.

Best Suited For: Beginner’s with any goal, and intermediate or advanced trainees with the primary goal of increasing strength or improving performance.

Additional Details: I discuss this split in detail right here: 3 Day Full Body Split

The 2 Day Full Body Split

  1. Monday: Full Body Workout
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Full Body Workout
  5. Friday: off
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Weekly Schedule: It’s 2 total weight training workouts per week (both of which are full body) ideally done with 2-4 days off in between each workout.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained to some degree once every 3rd to 5th day depending on your specific set up, which makes this a moderate frequency split.

Best Suited For: Anyone who can only manage to fit in 2 weight training workouts per week.

Additional Details: I discuss this split in detail right here: 2 Day Full Body Split

The 4 Day Upper/Lower Split

  1. Monday: Upper Body Workout
  2. Tuesday: Lower Body Workout
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Upper Body Workout
  5. Friday: Lower Body Workout
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Weekly Schedule: It’s 4 total weight training workouts per week (2 upper body and 2 lower body) done with a 2 on/1 off/2 on/2 off format.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained to some degree once every 3rd or 4th day, making this a moderate frequency split.

Best Suited For: Most of the population, most of the time. Specifically, intermediate or advanced trainees with virtually any goal (building muscle, getting “toned,” increasing strength, improving performance, etc.).

Additional Details: I discuss this split in detail right here: 4 Day Upper and Lower Body Split

The 3 Day Upper/Lower Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Upper Body Workout
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Lower Body Workout
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Upper Body Workout
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Week 2

  1. Monday: Lower Body Workout
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Upper Body Workout
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Lower Body Workout
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Weekly Schedule: It’s 3 total weight training workouts per week done in an every-other-day format with 2 consecutive days off at the end. The workouts alternate between upper and lower body so that you do Upper, Lower, Upper one week, and then Lower, Upper, Lower the next.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained to some degree once every 4th or 5th day, making this a moderate frequency split.

Best Suited For: Most of the population, most of the time. Specifically, intermediate or advanced trainees with virtually any goal (building muscle, getting “toned,” increasing strength, improving performance, etc.).

This is just a slightly less frequent 3 day version of the 4 day upper/lower split mentioned earlier, so it’s still best suited for the same people. The only difference is that this version is more ideal for people who can only train 3 days per week (or would just prefer to) as well as people who prefer the slightly reduced frequency.

Additional Details: I discuss this split in detail right here: 3 Day Upper and Lower Body Split

The Rotating Push/Pull/Legs Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
  2. Tuesday: Back & Biceps
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Legs & Abs
  5. Friday: off
  6. Saturday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
  7. Sunday: Back & Biceps

Week 2

  1. Monday: off
  2. Tuesday: Legs & Abs
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
  5. Friday: Back & Biceps
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: Legs & Abs

Weekly Schedule: It’s either 4 or 5 total weight training workouts per week (it changes from week to week) done with a 2 on/1 off/1 on/1 off format that repeats every 6th day.

This means the days you work out on will change from week to week unlike the previous schedules shown where the workout days always remain fixed and constant. This could be a big problem for many people from a scheduling standpoint.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained once every 5th day, making this a moderate frequency split.

Best Suited For: Intermediate or advanced trainees whose primary goal is “looks” related (building muscle, getting “toned,” etc.) AND who also have a very flexible schedule.

Additional Details: I discuss this split in detail right here: Push/Pull/Legs Split

The Push/Pull Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps + Quads & Calves
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Back & Biceps + Hamstrings & Abs
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps + Quads & Calves
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Week 2

  1. Monday: Back & Biceps + Hamstrings & Abs
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps + Quads & Calves
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Back & Biceps + Hamstrings & Abs
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Weekly Schedule: It’s 3 total weight training workouts per week done in an every-other-day format with 2 consecutive days off at the end. The workouts alternate between “pushing” muscles and “pulling” muscles so that you do Push, Pull, Push one week, and then Pull, Push, Pull the next.

It’s basically a 3 day version of the previously mentioned Push/Pull/Legs split, only here the “legs” workout is eliminated. Instead, leg training is also divided up in terms of “push” (quads/calves) and “pull” (hamstrings and usually abs) and then included along with the upper body push and pull workouts.

The only potential issue with this schedule is the overlap between quad and hamstring exercises. Meaning, training hamstrings and then quads with just 1 day in between could potentially be problematic for some people from a recovery standpoint.

Weight Training Frequency: Each muscle group/body part is trained once every 4th or 5th day, making this a moderate frequency split.

Best Suited For: Intermediate or advanced trainees whose primary goal is “looks” related (building muscle, getting “toned,” etc.).

My Recommendations

In all honesty, all of the weight training schedules and splits shown above can work to some degree for virtually every goal and experience level assuming everything else is done properly.

However, the goal here isn’t to just choose one that works. It’s to choose the one that will work BEST for you and your exact schedule, preferences, needs, experience level and goal.

So, here are my personal recommendations for which workout schedule I feel would be best for you:

  • For beginners with any goal, the answer is extremely simple: the 3 day full body split. It is the most proven and recommended workout schedule for beginners, period.
  • For intermediate or advanced trainees whose primary goal is increasing strength or improving performance, the 4 day upper/lower split or the 3 day full body split are my top choices.
  • For intermediate or advanced trainees whose primary goal is “looks” related (building muscle, getting “toned,” etc.), the 3 or 4 day upper/lower split is probably my #1 choice most of the time, although the push/pull/legs split is an equally perfect choice if you have a schedule flexible enough to make it work.

Sure, there are various other workout schedules and splits out there that can work for you (some I like, most I hate), but more often than not, these are the ones that have been proven to work best.

What’s Next?

Once you’ve selected a weight training split and set up your overall weekly workout schedule, it’s time to actually plan out what you’re going to be doing during those workouts.

First up is figuring out what your ideal intensity level is and answering the old “how many reps per set” question. Let’s do that…

Weight Training Intensity – How many reps per set of an exercise?

(This article is part of a completely free and awesome guide to creating the absolute best workout routine possible for your exact goal. Check it out: The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine)

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