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Bro Split – Basics to Know & Workout Routine for Beginners

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a man is working put with dumbbells, muscle groups highlighted in different colors_bro split
Kris Gethin post Reviewer Kris Gethin post Reviewer
Verified by Kris Gethin
Professional Natural Bodybuilder, Transformation Trainer, IRONMAN triathlete, Co-founder of the Kris Gethin Gyms franchise

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Bro splits have been well-known for years among fitness enthusiasts thanks to their ease of application. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about bro splits, how they compare to other training designs, and how you can create your own exercise routine using this popular workout split.

What is a Bro Split?

First, you may wonder: why is it called “bro split”? 

The meaning behind this name comes from the fact that this workout split is used by many bodybuilding and fitness fanatics very devoted to their training routine, also known as “gym bros.” 

Simply put, bro split is a way of planning weekly workout routines organized by muscle groups, with each workout targeting 1 to 2 muscle groups, usually using hypertrophic rep ranges. For example:

  • Mon: Chest
  • Tue: Back
  • Wed: Arms
  • Thu: Legs
  • Fri: Shoulders
  • Sat & Sun: Rest

The goal of the bro split is to ensure every muscle group, e.g., chest, back, legs, etc., is trained once weekly, and the number of sessions per week varies based on one’s preference. 

Although used by many bodybuilders, this workout split is beginner friendly as its simple design makes it easy to grasp. 

Is Bro Split Science-Backed?

There is an ongoing debate on whether bro splits are an efficient way of developing muscle mass.

Some research claims that at equal training volume (the amount of weight lifted multiplied by the total repetitions performed per muscle group), working on a muscle group only once weekly may be less efficient at providing a stimulus for muscle growth compared to two weekly sessions. [1]

However, other studies contradict these findings. Research has demonstrated that appropriate volume and intensity are more important for muscle development than training frequency, as targeting the same muscle multiple times per week or only once weekly can generate the same results in terms of muscle gains if both volume and intensity are matched. [2]

Bro splits can therefore lead to great results as long as a sufficient training volume and intensity are met through appropriate rep ranges and an effective choice of exercises. 

The Pros of Bro Splits

All in all, bro splits are very popular thanks to their range of benefits, especially among people approaching bodybuilding for the first time. Below are some of the main pros of this workout split. 

  • Flexibility around the duration and amount of training sessions per week, both highly reliant on the number of muscle groups trained in each workout.
  • Simple to program, as the main focus is to execute exercises that target the muscle groups of choice for that workout.
  • Allows for full recovery between sessions, as each muscle group is targeted only once per week.
  • Allows you to focus on one or two muscle groups per workout, which helps to attain effective training volume and intensity.

The Cons of Bro Splits

Despite their many advantages, bro splits may not be ideal for everyone as they also come with some disadvantages, like the ones discussed below.

  • You need to work out a minimum of 4 days a week to cover every muscle group, which may not be ideal for those who don’t have much availability in their schedules to dedicate to training.
  • Working on only 1 to 2 muscle groups per session may result in poor form as the workout goes on due to fatigue onset in these muscle groups.
  • If you are a beginner, targeting 1 to 2 muscle groups per workout may lead to intense DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) following a session. However, this will mitigate week by week as your body gets used to the training.

Bro Split vs. PPL, Full-body & Upper/Lower Split

There are several ways to organize and plan your workouts other than bro splits. As long as the right training volume and intensity are met, studies haven’t yet established the superiority of one training method over the others. [3]

Below you can find how bro splits compare to some other popular training designs and how they differentiate from one another. 

Bro Split vs. PPL

PPL, or push-pull-legs, is a popular training split based on body biomechanics. In the bro split vs. PPl comparison, a PPL can include more than two muscle groups per workout. In fact, “push” focuses on the chest and shoulders, “pull” targets the back, triceps, and biceps, and “legs” trains the glutes and all leg muscles. 

Relevant article: 3 Dumbbell Push Workouts for Mass & Strength

To increase training frequency and volume across the week, you can train push, pull, or legs twice weekly, as opposed to bro splits, where each muscle group is targeted once weekly.

This training frequency would mean 6 workouts per week – 2 push, 2 pull, and 2 legs. While this may work for some, not everyone can handle this type of training schedule. 

Bro Split vs. Full Body

The full body split makes you train every muscle group in each training session, meaning that you hit both the upper and the lower body in every workout

As with PPL, the advantage of this training style is the ability to hit the same muscle groups more than once each week as opposed to bro splits. The downside is full body splits can impair recovery between sessions as both upper and lower body muscles are trained multiple times across the week, so they have fewer rest days before being worked again. 

Bro Split vs. Upper/Lower Split

Whilst bro splits dedicate each session to a maximum of two muscle groups, Upper/Lower splits are used to target either all upper or all lower body muscles. 

Upper/Lower splits are usually spread across four days, with two training sessions dedicated to each split, which usually allows enough recovery between workouts. 

Because of the higher ratio of muscle groups in the upper body, choosing an Upper/Lower split may result in decreased training volumes for the muscle groups present in that area compared to bro splits. 

5-Day Bro Split Workout

Below, you can find an example of a weekly training routine based on a typical bro split design spread across 5 days and focused on increasing muscle mass. 

Alternatively, you can create your own and plan your bro splits using a workout app

WeekdayMuscles TrainedDuration (Minutes)ExerciseRepsSetsRest (seconds)
MondayChest55-70Barbell Bench Press10-123-460-90
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press10-123-460-90
Standing Cable Flys10-123-460-90
Dumbbell Pull Over 10-123-460-90
Chest Press Machine10-123-460-90
Dumbbell Standing Scoop Raise12-153-460-90
Barbell Bent Over Rows10-123-460-90
Single Arm Dumbbell Row10-123-460-90
T-Bar Rows10-123-460-90
Seated Cable Rows10-123-460-90
Lat Pulldowns10-123-460-90
Chest Supported Rows12-153-460-90
Reverse Flys 12-153-460-90
WednesdayShoulders65-80Seated Military Press10-123-460-90
Barbell Upright Row 10-123-460-90
Arnold Press10-123-460-90
Lateral Raises12-153-460-90
Front Raises12-153-460-90
Shoulder Press Machine10-123-460-90
ThursdayLegs and Abs85-105Back Squats (Barbell)10-124-560-90
Deadlift (Barbell) 10-124-560-90
Back Lunges10-123-460-90
Walking Lunges10-123-460-90
Leg Press10-124-560-90
Superset: Leg CurlDumbbell + Romanian Deadlift 10-123-460-90
Leg Extension10-123-460-90
Hanging Leg Raises10-123-460-90
Decline Sit Ups10-123-460-90
Cable Crunches10-123-460-90
FridayBiceps and Triceps75-95Dips – Triceps Variation10-123-460-90
Chin-Ups 8-123-460-90
EZ-Bar Bicep Curls10-123-460-90
Dumbbell Hammer Curls10-123-460-90
Zottman Curls 10-123-460-90
EZ-Bar Skull Crushers10-123-460-90
Cable Triceps Pushdowns10-123-460-90
Underhand Seated Row10-123-460-90
Single-arm Triceps Kick Backs on Cables12-153-460-90

Wrapping Up

Bro splits are a popular way to organize and design workouts. Below you can find key points to remember about this split:

  • It is a beginner-friendly split and can be effective in developing muscle mass as long as the correct intensity and training volume are achieved.
  • It targets 1 to 2 muscle groups per session, which makes it easy to design and allows you to attain high training volumes, but the form may be affected as fatigue kicks in.
  • Each muscle group is trained once per week, which favors recovery between sessions.
  • Thanks to their ease of design, flexibility, and ability to meet high training volumes and intensity, bro splits are a great alternative compared to other splits and workout designs for those who want to increase muscle mass.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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