If you’ve spent a lot of time at the gym in recent years, you’ve likely heard the term “gym bros.” You might even consider yourself one. This tongue-in-cheek term has led to referencing a specific training style as a bro split.
So what is a bro split? How do you do it? And most importantly, does it work? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this training style and whether you should try a bro split workout routine.
- What is a Bro Split?
- Bro Split vs. Science
- Are Bro Splits Good? The Pros
- Are Bro Splits Bad? The Cons
- Bro Split Workout FAQs
- Final Thoughts
What is a Bro Split?
The bro split is a slang term for a full-body split workout routine, in which you target different major muscle groups on different days. This full-body split is generally designed for five training days per week with two rest days.
The typical bro split looks like this:
- Day 1: Chest Day
- Day 2: Back Day
- Day 3: Shoulder Day
- Day 4: Leg Day and Abs
- Day 5: Biceps and Triceps
If training five times per week isn’t feasible, you can also group complementary muscle groups into one training session. For example, you might do back and chest day together or pair shoulders with biceps and triceps.
Bro Split vs. Science
If you’ve heard the term “bro science,” you’re right to question the validity of a training program with a similar title. So, how does this style of training stand up to science? Quite well!
Focusing on different major muscle groups on different days allows adequate recovery time from one training session to the next. As building muscle mass relies on the continuous tearing and rebuilding of your muscle fibers, having this recovery time is scientifically valid.
Of course, there are several variables that impact the success of this training program, progressive overload being key. If you go into the gym and do the same weights and workouts every week, your bro split won’t be effective. You must continuously circumvent your natural adaptations to resistance training by increasing the weight or training volume (more reps or sets) for progressive overload for muscle growth.
Proper form, recovery, nutrition, and consistency also impact whether the traditional bro split will work for you.
Are Bro Splits Good? The Pros
The traditional bro split offers several benefits as you strive toward your fitness goals. Here are some of the pros of bro split workouts.
As mentioned above, the biggest benefit of targeting 1-2 muscle groups each day is the time allowance for recovery between workouts. This is a benefit you won’t get with full-body workouts, as your muscle groups may take more time to recover between training sessions. When your next chest day isn’t until next week, you’ve got plenty of time for active recovery.
Allows for Shorter Training Sessions
Another significant benefit of this approach to training is that you can complete your entire session in 45-60 minutes. If you’re someone who sneaks out to train on your lunch break or you just don’t want to spend two hours at the gym, this may be the style of training for you.
Easy to Follow and Adapt
Gym bros get the unfortunate perception of being muscle dummies, which is perhaps why it’s so easy to follow this training program. All jokes aside, it’s simple to track what you should be doing next and get back on track if you miss a few days. You can also adapt to your needs by adjusting how many times per week you train, trying a bodyweight bro split if your gym is locked down, or adjusting when you take your days of rest.
Are Bro Splits Bad? The Cons
As with anything, there are downsides to the bro split routine. Here are some important things to understand about this workout style.
Training Frequency and Scheduling
The biggest challenge of completing the five day split is that some people can only hit the gym a couple of times per week. If you can’t achieve the desired training frequency, even with the benefit of a shorter workout, you may need to adjust your muscle group targeting and split. At this point, it probably makes more sense to switch to a hybrid split (incorporating one day of full-body training) or PPL.
Limited Muscular Strength Gain
The traditional bro split is great for building muscle mass, but not for building maximal strength. Higher reps and lower weights are ideal for building muscle size, but you need lower reps and higher weights for strength and power. As this training style targets single muscle groups on different days, you won’t build that full-body strength for hitting huge platform PRs.
Diminishing Performance Curve
When you target an individual muscle group with this style of training, the goal is to exhaust your muscles. That means there’s a diminishing performance curve: your form and effectiveness at the end of the workout will be subpar. It’s at this time that you’re more likely to get injured or doing more work for minimal returns.
Bro Split Workout FAQs
Still have questions? We have answers. Here are some of the commonly asked questions about bro split workouts.
Why do bodybuilders do the bro split?
Bodybuilders do the bro split for its effectiveness in building muscle size. This split allows bodybuilders to target a single muscle group to reach their fitness goal of muscle gain and definition.
Is the bro split good for bodybuilding?
The bro split is considered one of the best bodybuilding workouts. Increased training frequency also contributes to better progressive overload, even though the workouts tend to be shorter.
What’s better, PPL or bro split?
When it comes to the bro split vs ppl, neither is inherently better; it’s about what’s better for you. There’s no use trying a five-day body-part split if you can only get to the gym three days per week. Engaging only in bodybuilding workouts doesn’t help if you have powerlifting goals. PPL is a functional split thats’ better for building strength and power through compound exercises, while the body-part split tends to be better for a bodybuilding-focused fitness goal.
Why is it called bro split?
It’s called a bro split because you tend to see a lot of “gym bros” following this training style, standing in front of the mirror doing bicep curls.
Who uses bro split?
Bodybuilders typically use this split as it’s great for muscle mass, but not ideal for muscle strength, which makes it less appealing to powerlifters, etc.
Are bro splits good for fat loss?
Fat loss is about proper nutrition and thermodynamics. Generally, this training style alone will not have the same calorie-burning effect as full-body workouts, which is why many bodybuilders add in some light cardio work as well.
Which workout split is best for beginners?
The key to success as a beginner is building a habit. Starting at the gym five times per week isn’t usually a sustainable goal. It’s better to start with a three-day split and work your way up to the five-day approach.
Don’t let the name fool you; the bro split routine can be an effective way to build mass and get shredded if that’s your goal. However, it’s important to remember that training frequency and volume play a significant role in your success.
Don’t cheat your reps, don’t skip leg day, and be a conscientious gym bro.