5 Day Workout Split: Best Free Programs for Size and Strength

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Dec 28,2023|20 min| 3896

Power Up: Free 5 Day Workout Routine for Size and Strength

You’ve been on the hunt for the perfect 5 day a week workout routine to build muscle mass and strength. In this article, we’ll help you choose the best 5 day workout split programs, including the muscle building, hypertrophy focused, workout plans, that suit your level and goals, as well as strength focused programs to help you hit some great one rep maxes. These programs, including the weight loss workout program, are not only free, but have been proven to be effective by thousands of lifters who’ve successfully run them and achieved significant progress in building muscle and strength.

Without further ado, let's break down the best 5-day gym workout splits. For each program, we'll cover what it is, why you should consider it, who it's for, the pros and cons, and how to follow it. 

The Best Free 5-Day Splits

nSuns 5/3/1

What is nSuns?

nSuns 5/3/1 is a popular intermediate-level powerlifting program with a cultish following on Reddit fitness communities. It was developed by the Reddit user nSuns and combines the main components of Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 training principles with additional volume and accessory work to maximize strength and hypertrophy gains. nSuns utilizes a linear progression system, increasing the weights lifted each week while using auto-regulation principles to ensure optimal progression. There are 4-day, 5-day, and 6-day per week variations of the nSuns program, with the 5-day per week being the most popular version.

Why do nSuns?

NSuns designed to build both strength and muscle mass, making it an excellent choice if these are your primary goals. It incorporates compound movements like squats, deadlifts, dumbbell bench presses, barbell bench presses, and overhead presses, which are essential for building a strong and balanced physique. The linear progression and auto-regulation aspects of the program help ensure that you're consistently making progress while reducing the risk of plateaus or overtraining.

Who is nSuns program for?

nSuns is best suited for novice and intermediate lifters who have already established a solid foundation of strength and technique. Beginners may find the volume and intensity of the program too challenging and should consider starting with a more beginner-friendly program like GZCLP or 5/3/1 for Beginners before transitioning to nSuns 5/3/1.

Pros and Cons of nSuns:

Pros:

  • Focuses on strength and hypertrophy, making it ideal for those looking to gain muscle and increase strength.

  • Linear progression with auto-regulation allows for consistent, measurable progress.

  • Customizable accessory exercises can be tailored to individual needs and goals.

Cons:

  • High volume and intensity may not be suitable for beginners or those with limited time.

  • Can be time-consuming, with workouts typically lasting 60-90 minutes.

  • Requires access to a well-equipped gym with a variety of free weights and machines.

How to follow nSuns

You can follow nSuns completely free on Boostcamp App, the only official app for the program made in partnership with the original creator nSuns.

nSuns 5/3/1 5-day variation is structured as a five-day workout split, with each day focusing on a primary compound lift (squat, bench press, deadlift, or overhead press) and a secondary lift (either a variation or another main lift). 

The program follows specific sets and rep schemes for these main lifts, with weights increasing each week based on your performance. Accessory exercises are included to target additional muscle groups and can be customized based on your individual needs and goals.

PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training)

What is PHAT?

PHAT is a powerbuilding training program developed by Dr. Layne Norton, a professional bodybuilder, powerlifter, and exercise scientist. It combines elements of both powerlifting and bodybuilding to create a balanced approach to strength and hypertrophy. The program is structured as a 5-day workout split to include two days of heavy, low-rep training for strength gains, followed by three days of higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused training to promote muscle growth.

Why do PHAT?

PHAT is designed for those who want to improve both their strength and muscle mass. By incorporating both powerlifting and bodybuilding techniques, the program ensures a well-rounded approach that targets multiple aspects of fitness. This balance makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to build a strong, muscular physique while also enhancing their performance in the gym.

Who is PHAT for?

PHAT is best suited for intermediate to advanced lifters who have a solid foundation in strength training. Beginners may find the intensity and volume of the program too challenging and should consider starting with a more beginner-friendly program before transitioning to PHAT.

Pros and Cons of PHAT:

Pros:

  • Combines powerlifting and bodybuilding principles for a well-rounded approach to strength and hypertrophy.

  • Allows for flexibility in exercise selection, accommodating personal preferences and limitations.

  • Provides a solid foundation for both strength and muscle development, making it an effective program for a wide range of fitness goals.

Cons:

  • Not as beginner-friendly: Due to the program's intensity and volume, it may not be suitable for those just starting their fitness journey.

  • Time-consuming: Similar to nSuns 5/3/1, PHAT workouts can last 60-90 minutes, which might be challenging for individuals with limited time.

  • Gym access: Like nSuns 5/3/1, PHAT requires access to a well-equipped gym with a variety of free weights and machines, which could be a constraint for some individuals.

How to follow PHAT

You can follow the PHAT 5 Day Workout Split for free on the Boostcamp App. You’ll be able to seamlessly onboard the program, track your progression, watch exercise demo videos, and gather all your training analytics.

PHAT consists of a five-day workout split, with two days dedicated to heavy, low-rep strength training using heavier weights and three days focused on higher-rep, muscle hypertrophy training. The strength training days typically include compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, while the hypertrophy days feature a combination of compound and isolation exercises to target specific body parts and muscle groups. The program can be customized to accommodate individual goals, preferences, and limitations, allowing for optimal results and enjoyment.

Push Pull Legs Upper Lower (PPLUL)

What is PPLUL?

Push Pull Legs Upper Lower (PPLUL) is a popular and versatile intermediate-level bodybuilding split made by Dr. Swole that has gained recognition in various online fitness communities. The program is structured as a five-day workout split, combining the Push Pull Legs (PPL) and Upper Lower (UL) training methodologies. PPLUL focuses on compound exercises and utilizes a balance of volume and intensity to optimize both strength and hypertrophy gains.

Why do PPLUL?

PPLUL is designed to build strength and muscle mass, making it an excellent choice for those with these primary goals. It incorporates compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses, which are essential for building a strong and balanced physique. By combining the PPL and UL training methodologies, the program offers an effective balance of training frequency, volume, and intensity, ensuring consistent progress while reducing the risk of plateaus or overtraining.

Who is the PPLUL program for?

PPLUL is best suited for novice and intermediate lifters who have already established a solid foundation of strength and technique. Beginners may find the volume and intensity of the program too challenging and should consider starting with a more beginner-friendly program, such as GZCLP or 5/3/1 for Beginners, before transitioning to PPLUL.

Pros and Cons of PPLUL:

Pros:

  • Focuses on strength and hypertrophy, making it ideal for those looking to gain muscle and increase strength.

  • Combines PPL and UL training methodologies, offering a balance of training frequency, volume, and intensity.

  • Customizable accessory exercises can be tailored to individual needs and goals.

Cons:

  • High volume and intensity may not be suitable for beginners or those with limited time.

  • Can be time-consuming, with workouts typically lasting 60-90 minutes.

  • Requires access to a well-equipped gym with a variety of free weights and machines.

How to follow PPLUL:

You can follow the PPLUL 5 Day Workout Split for free on the Boostcamp App. You’ll be able to seamlessly onboard the program, track your progression, watch exercise demo videos, and gather all your training analytics.

PPLUL is structured as a five-day workout split, with the first three days focusing on the Push, Pull, and Legs components, followed by two Upper Lower training days. Each day will include primary compound lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, or overhead press) and secondary lifts or variations targeting specific muscle groups in the upper body and lower body muscle groups, using heavy weights. This is the 5-day split we use in our Intermediate Hypertrophy Program. It’s an upper/lower/upper/lower/upper split, giving it somewhat of an upper-body emphasis. It’s perfect for gaining lean muscle mass, muscle size, and strength. It’s one of my favourite ways to train.

The program follows specific sets and rep schemes for these main lifts, with weights increasing based on your performance. Accessory exercises are included to target additional muscle groups and can be customized based on your individual needs and goals. You can follow the PPLUL program for free by searching for workout templates online or by creating your own routine based on the principles of the PPLUL training methodology. When You Reach The End of The Program, I recommend you test your 1RM in at least the squat, bench press, and deadlift to update the weights you’ll be using next time. You can also use our 1RM calculator to estimate your 1RM instead. It’s also available in the StrengthLog app for your convenience.

5-Day Split vs 3 or 4-day Split

First, let’s discuss why you may consider following a 5-day training split vs a 3 or 4-day split. When it comes to structuring a workout routine, the number of training days per week plays a significant role in determining the effectiveness of the program. As you embark on your training journey, you may be confronted with the dilemma of choosing between a 3-day, 4-day, or 5-day training split, such as a bro split. As with most things in fitness, there’s pros and cons to a higher frequency 5-day training split vs a lower frequency 3 or 4-day split. To see the best results from a 5-day training split, consistency and commitment are crucial. Ensure that you have enough time in your schedule to dedicate five days per week to your workouts, targeting one particular muscle group each day. If you struggle to maintain this frequency, a push pull legs workout split or a 4-day training split may be more appropriate, depending on your body fat percentage and starting body weight.

Pros of 5-day split vs 3 or 4-day split:

  1. Increased training frequency: A 5-day split allows for a higher overall training volume, targeting each major muscle group more frequently, leading to faster results over time.

  2. Greater focus on individual muscle groups: Dedicating entire training sessions to specific muscle groups or movements ensures a more effective stimulus for growth and development.

  3. Enhanced recovery: A well-structured 5-day split can promote better recovery by spreading out the workload more evenly throughout the week, reducing the risk of overtraining and injury.

  4. Flexibility for customization: With more training days, a 5-day split allows for greater customization to align with individual goals, preferences, and limitations.

  5. Shorter workout sessions: By using a 5-day split, you can likely decrease the time per workout, which can be more convenient for those with busy schedules without requiring long blocks of time.

Cons of 5-day split vs 3 or 4-day split:

  1. Time commitment: A 5-day split requires a larger time commitment, as you need to allocate time for five workout sessions per week.

  2. Unnecessary for beginners: In general, beginner lifters do not need to workout 5 days per week in order for optimal progress. 3 or 4 days per week is adequate.

  3. Risk of overtraining: If not properly structured, a 5-day split could lead to overtraining, especially for beginners and novices, which can actually lead to worse results.

  4. Greater recovery requirements: If you are following a 5-day split in order to accumulate more training volume in a week, you may require more calories and sleep to adequately recover.

FAQ: 5-Day Workout Splits

What is a 5-day workout split?

A 5-day workout split is a training program where you divide your workouts into five separate sessions per week, targeting different muscle groups or training focuses on each day. This allows you to train each muscle group with adequate intensity and volume while still providing enough recovery time.

Is a 5-day workout split suitable for beginners?

A 5-day workout split can be suitable for beginners, depending on the program chosen and the individual's fitness level. Programs like Push Pull Legs Upper Lower (PPLUL) can be adapted for beginners, while more advanced programs like nSuns 5/3/1 and PHAT may not be suitable.

How many exercises should I perform per day in a 5-day workout split?

The number of exercises per day will depend on the specific program and your goals. Generally, you should perform 4-6 exercises per day, focusing on a mix of compound and isolation movements.

Can I still gain muscle with a 5-day workout split?

Yes, a 5-day workout split can be effective for gaining muscle as long as you follow a well-structured program that incorporates progressive overload, proper nutrition, and sufficient recovery time.

How long should each workout session last in a 5-day workout split?

The duration of each workout session will depend on the specific program and your fitness level. Generally, workouts should last between 45-90 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down.

Can I incorporate cardio into my 5-day workout split?

Yes, you can incorporate cardio into your 5-day gym workout splits. You can either perform cardio on your rest days, after your strength training sessions, or combine it with your workouts in a circuit-style format, depending on your goals and preferences.

How much rest should I take between sets and exercises in a 5-day workout split?

Rest time between sets will depend on the specific program and your goals. For strength-focused exercises, rest periods of 2-5 minutes are typical, while hypertrophy-focused exercises usually require 1-2 minutes of rest. Adequate rest is essential to ensure proper recovery and performance.

Can I modify a 5-day workout split to fit my schedule?

Yes, you can modify a 5-day workout split to fit your schedule. The key is to maintain the balance of muscle group training and ensure ample time for recovery. You can rearrange the order of the days or combine muscle groups to create a 4-day or 6-day split, depending on your needs. This allows you to potentially do a higher amount of volume, or number of sets, per muscle group per week while still giving them a lot of time to recover before you train them again and get enough rest.

Do I need to use specific equipment for a 5-day workout split?

The equipment required will depend on the specific program and exercises chosen. Most 5-day workout splits will require access to a well-equipped gym with free weights, machines, and other standard strength training equipment.

How long should I follow a 5-day workout split before switching programs?

It's generally recommended to stick with a program for at least 8-12 weeks to see noticeable progress. However, individual results may vary, and you should consider factors like personal goals, progress, and motivation when deciding whether to switch programs.

Boostcamp: The Last Lifting App You’ll Ever Need

To help you find some awesome five day workout programs, consider using the Boostcamp App. The Boostcamp app is a top of the line workout app, that offers free science-based workout routines, advanced custom program builder, and a workout tracker to help you stay on top of your progress, and make sure that you are hitting your goals and getting where you need to go, so there is no reason to give up.

By using the Boostcamp App for your training routine, you'll have all the tools you need to develop a strong mind-muscle connection and break through plateaus, continuing to make progress. Download the Boostcamp App today and take your workouts to the next level!

Wrap Up

Overall, a five day workout split can be great for pushing yourself to the limits and hitting your goals and keeping you on track, while allowing you to recover. There are plenty of five day workout splits that you can choose from as well. Which one is your favorite?

Let us know your thoughts! And be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!