The Bro Split Workout Guide: What Is A Bro Split, + How To Execute It

The Bro Split program may sound like “bro science,” but it is one of the most common approaches to structuring strength training workouts.

This program breaks up your weightlifting routine into body part splits.

So, how do you do Bro Splits, and what is the best Bro Split training plan? Is this routine the best approach to structuring your strength program?

In this guide, we will discuss what Bro Splits are, how to structure this type of workout plan, and the pros and cons of this workout structure to help you decide if you want to try Bro Splits or some other format for your strength training program.

We will cover: 

  • What Is a Bro Split Routine?
  • How Do You Do a Bro Split Routine?
  • Do Bro Splits Work?
  • Pros and Cons of the Bro Split Routine

Let’s jump in!

Dumbbells and a person sitting on a gym floor.

What Is a Bro Split Routine?

The Bro Split routine is a term for a specific weightlifting training structure that involves divvying up your strength training workout using body parts splits.

Rather than doing full-body strength training workouts, upper body/lower body splits, or some other more generalized body part split routines, Bro Splits focus on each major muscle group once a week in a dedicated workout for just that muscle group.

However, there are downsides to Bro Splits, namely in terms of the lack of frequency of the training stimulus and the number of days per week you have to lift weights to hit all of the major muscle groups.

How Do You Do a Bro Split Routine?

There isn’t a single, defined way to do a Bro Split routine; you have some latitude in deciding which workouts you will do in terms of the target muscle group and the order in which you work each major muscle group during the training week.

Most people doing Bro Splits do a 5-day training week, meaning that you will do five strength training workouts per week, each focusing on just one (or possibly two synergistic) major muscle group/s.

A person chalking their hands ready to grab a kettlebell.

The most common approach to this 5-day routine is with the following workouts:

  • Chest Day
  • Back Day
  • Leg Day
  • Shoulder Day
  • Bis/Tris Day (Arm Day)

Abs exercises are usually added on the leg day, back day, or one of the other body part split days.

Alternatively, some advanced athletes using Bro Splits training train six days per week and add a separate workout or double up on the sixth day with abs and another muscle group that they are trying to prioritize (like a second chest day or back day).

The best Bro Split exercises will depend on your training goal and fitness level, but you should include compound and isolation exercises for each workout if your goal is hypertrophy and focus on compound exercises in strength Bro Split workouts.

Studies have found that compound exercises tend to be more effective at building muscle than isolation exercises.

However, isolation exercises have also been shown to contribute to muscle growth, and if your goal is bodybuilding, you can target specific portions of particular muscles with isolation exercises to finish off your Bro Splits workouts.

A kettlebell snatch.

Do Bro Splits Work?

Like most approaches to strength training programming, Bro Splits can be effective for some weightlifters but aren’t great for everyone.

This training structure can work for those with a decent amount of weightlifting experience and who can push themselves properly during each workout.

Since you’re only training each muscle group once a week, you must make the workouts count, choose the best exercises, and use enough intensity and volume to increase your strength and build muscle.

Properly employing the principle of progressive overload from week to week in this training program is also crucial for maximizing gains.

This all takes experience, discipline, focus, and energy invested into every exercise session each week so that you do not fall behind in the progress of one muscle group with an “off day” in the gym.

For these reasons, the Bro Split routine is generally not ideal for beginners.

There is usually an insufficient training stimulus in terms of frequency of working each major muscle group to work on exercise form and technique and capitalize on some of the significant neuromuscular adaptations novice lifters typically get to enjoy when they start consistent strength training with more frequent repetition of each exercise during the week.

That said, there isn’t a succinct or universal answer to the question: “Is the Bro Splits routine good?” It will depend on your experience level and fitness goals.

Dumbbell push ups.

Pros and Cons of the Bro Split Routine

Bro Splits has pros and cons, and deciding whether this training structure is right for you is a matter of considering the benefits relative to the drawbacks in the context of your own training needs, experience level, and preferences.

Let’s look at some of the top benefits:

#1: Allows for Adequate Recovery

With this workout plan, you are only hitting each major muscle group once a week, but the benefit of Bro Split routines is that you have a full week to recover between each workout for that muscle group.

This means that you can train heavy and hard during your workouts without dealing with accumulated fatigue from full-body workouts or body parts splits that target the muscle group numerous times per week.

Plus, you will have a full week to recover before hitting the same muscle group again.

A bicep curl.

#2: Can Be Tailored to Different Training Goals

One of the benefits of this strength program is that you can readily use this routine for any training goal.

Whether you are training to increase strength, power, hypertrophy/mass, or muscle endurance, you can use this structure in your training week.

You will modify the number of reps and sets along with the load for each exercise and potentially choose different exercises for your workouts based on your primary resistance training goal.

The Bro Splits is just a way to structure your weightlifting training week, not a specified strength training program.

This flexibility allows athletes with different training goals to do Bro Splits if they prefer focusing on just one muscle group per workout.

A cable machine pull.

#3: Great for Bodybuilding 

Even though Bro Splits can work for any training goal, this routine is ideal for bodybuilding and hypertrophy.

This is because you can do a lot of volume and include lots of isolation exercises to hit different muscle fibers in each muscle group and vary your training stimulus for maximal muscle growth and physique changes.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the benefits let’s check out the downsides:

#1: Time Intensive

A major downside or con of Bro Splits routines is that you have to be in the gym at least 4 to 5 days per week in order to train every major muscle group.

Therefore, if you only have two or three days per week to workout in the gym, or you like to consolidate strength training workouts so you can do cardio on alternate days, Bro Splits won’t work well for you.

Plus, Bro Splits sessions tend to be long in and of themselves, with each training day taking upwards of 45-60 minutes or more, depending on your level of experience, training goal, and the amount of rest between sets (which mainly depends on your training goal and the resultant relative loads you are lifting).

A sit up.

#2: May Increase the Risk of Injuries

Although the fact that you get a full week of recovery between training the same muscle groups with this plan helps provide plenty of recovery between workouts, each day places a lot of stress on the target muscle group.

This is because you are doing numerous exercises and sets and reps of each exercise, working the same muscle group over and over.

If you aren’t careful or do too much volume in a single Bro Split chest day, back day, etc., you may end up extremely sore or, worse, injuring yourself.

#3: May Limit Improvements In Strength and Size

As mentioned, the relative lack of training frequency for each Bro Split muscle group can compromise strength and muscle mass increases.

Research shows that certain muscle groups (upper body muscles in particular) respond better to more frequent training than once a week, even if the total number of weekly sets equals out.

For example, 8-12 sets per muscle group over 2-3 workouts per week versus 8-12 sets per muscle group over one Bro Split workout per week.

Plus, as mentioned, Bro Splits for beginners generally fail to provide the training frequency necessary to see massive gains in neuromuscular adaptations that would otherwise contribute to rapid increases in strength.

Biceps curls.

#4: Less Functional

Another argument against using this training program is that isolating a single muscle group for each workout is not very functional for everyday life as well as other sports and types of exercise.

Muscle groups work together, particularly for compound movements like pressing and pushing, so separating with Bro Split isolations can compromise your functional training outcomes.

If you think full-body workouts may work better for you and your training goals, click here for one of our total-body workouts.

A pull up.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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