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Hevy – #1 Workout Tracker & Planner Gym Log App

Free Workout Plans for Every Fitness Level

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What to Consider When Choosing a Workout Plan? 

Workout plans have become incredibly popular these days. Everywhere you look, there is yet another seemingly superior plan that offers more strength and exceptional muscle growth in less time. But what exactly is a workout plan, and can we possibly change the variables for drastically better results?

A workout plan is precisely what it sounds like: a detailed decision about structuring your training over a predetermined number of weeks. Having a workout plan is quite beneficial because it:

  • Provides clarity
  • Allows you to predict future progress more easily
  • Gives you something actionable and specific for each time you train
  • Keeps you motivated to show up

Of course, you don’t need just any workout plan. The one you choose should depend on your fitness goals and other factors. For instance, a workout plan might be fantastic for muscle growth, but if your primary goal right now is to shed some fat, it won’t do you much good. When choosing a training plan, you need to consider your short and long-term goals and ask yourself, “Can training like this help me reach my objectives?”

Picking the right workout plan also depends on other factors. It never hurts to ask the following questions:

  • What is my fitness level?
  • How long can I be in the gym for each session?
  • How often can I train?
  • Do I love routines, or do I quickly get bored from strict schedules?

Though workout plans might seem overwhelming right now, they aren’t. We’ll break everything down in the following paragraphs. Plus, working on your fitness is one of the best investments you can make. It improves your health, fills you with energy, makes you more ambitious, and boosts productivity (1, 2).

How Often Should I Rest Between Workouts? 

It depends on how much work you’re doing inside each workout and if you’re recovering well. You could train on consecutive days, have a day of recovery between sessions, or even need two days to go back to normal. When planning your training schedule, keep your recoverability in mind and ask yourself, “Am I recovering well between sessions, or do I feel beat up all the time?” Try Hevy to track your workouts and to help ensure you have enough rest days to recover between each workout.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own workout plan with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

What is the Best Plan for Muscle-Building? 

There isn’t a single best plan. So long as you cover the essentials (adequate volume, a good training frequency, a rich exercise selection, good recovery, proper nutrition, and plenty of sleep), you can build muscle with many plans (4, 5, 6, 7). It mostly comes down to your schedule and preferences.

Different Types Of Workout Plans 

5×5 Workout Plan

Description:
The 5×5 workout plan is a simple strength program designed to take advantage of linear progression. You only get to perform five core barbell lifts, but the goal is to lift more weight steadily. 

You have two workouts – A and B. With three weekly sessions, you alternate between workouts A and B in two-week cycles. For example, on week 1, you get two A workouts. In week 2, you get two B workouts. The 5×5 program is excellent because of the frequent and controlled exposure to the core lifts, which builds skill and improves your neuromuscular efficiency (3).

Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Best for what goals: 
Strength gain
Muscle growth

Example of Workout plan:

Workout A
Squat – 5 sets of 5 reps
Bench Press – 5 sets of 5 reps
Bent-Over Row – 5 sets of 5 reps

Workout B 
Squat – 5 sets of 5 reps
Overhead Press – 5 sets of 5 reps
Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps

Push-Pull Legs Workout Plan

Description:
As its name suggests, the push/pull/legs (PPL) plan has you do three unique workouts:

  • Push – training your shoulders, chest, and triceps
  • Pull – training your back, biceps, and rear deltoids (shoulders)
  • Legs – training your lower body

The PPL split is good because it allows you to train anywhere three to six days per week.

Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Best for what goals: 
Muscle growth
Strength gain
Health

Example of Workout plan: 

Workout 1: Push 
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench press – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Dumbbell Skullcrusher – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Workout 2: Pull
Pull-Ups – 3 sets of 5 to 15 reps
Bent-Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Seated Cable Row – 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Reverse Dumbbell Fly – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Workout 3: Legs 
Barbell Back Squat – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Horizontal Leg Press – 2-3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Lying Leg Curl (Machine) – 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Seated Calf Raises – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Upper Lower Split Plan

Description:
You get to do two unique workouts on the upper/lower split

  • Upper – training all muscles in your upper body
  • Lower – training every muscle from the waist down

As far as programming, goals, and flexibility go, the upper/lower split is fantastic. You can program it based on your fitness level, train as often as your schedule allows, and design it to support different goals. For example, you can mostly do barbell lifts and train more frequently for strength gain. Alternatively, add more accessory exercises for muscle gain.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Best for what goals:
Fat loss
Muscle gain
Health

Example of Workout plan:

Workout A – Upper
Overhead Barbell Press – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Chest Supported Incline Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Seated Cable Row – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Tricep Rope Pushdown – 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Barbell Bicep Curl – 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps

Workout B – Lower
Barbell Deadlift – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Dumbbell Split Squat – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Seated Leg Curl (Machine) – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Leg Extension (Machine) – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Bro Split Workout Plan 

Description:
The bro split is among the oldest routines and has been the gold standard for organizing our weekly training for decades. Typically, the goal is to train no more than one to two muscle groups per workout. We also get to train each muscle group once per week.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Best for what goals: 
Muscle growth
Health

Example of Workout plan: 

Workout 1 – Chest and shoulders
Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Machine Chest Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Upright Barbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Chest Fly – 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 reps
Lateral Dumbbell Raise – 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Workout 2 – Back
Bent-Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Cable Lat Pulldown – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Dumbbell Shrug – 2-3 sets of 8 to 15 reps
Face Pull – 2-3 sets of 15 to 25 reps

Workout 3 – Legs and abs
Dumbbell Squat – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Reverse Dumbbell Lunge – 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps (per leg)
Calf Extensions (Machine) – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps
Sit-Ups – 2-3 sets of 10 to 25 reps

Workout 4 – Biceps and triceps
Dumbbell Bicep Curl – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Tricep Dip – 3 sets of 6 to 15 reps
EZ Bar Bicep Curl – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Tricep Pushdown – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

3 Day Split Workout Plan 

Description:
As its name suggests, a 3-day split has you do three weekly workouts. Unlike the routines we’ve looked at so far, the 3-day program is different because it can be a traditional bro split, an upper/lower split, or a push/pull/legs split. You can even make it a full-body split where you train all muscles in your body three times per week.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Best for what goals: 
Fat Loss
Muscle Growth
Health

Example of Workout plan:

Workout 1
Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Seated Hamstring Curl – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Dumbbell Row – 2-3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Cable Bicep Curl – 2 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Workout 2
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Bent-Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Barbell Shrug – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Lateral Dumbbell Raise – 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 reps
Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension – 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Workout 3
Barbell Deadlift – 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Chest-Supported Incline Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Reverse Dumbbell Lunge – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (per leg)
Face Pulls – 2-3 sets of 15 to 25 reps

4 Day split Workout Plan 

Description:
The 4-day split is essentially an upper/lower split, but it can also take the shape of a push/pull/legs, bro split, or a full-body routine. The upper/lower split works best for this frequency simply because scheduling is more manageable. You get to train all muscle groups twice per week, and you get to accumulate plenty of muscle-building training volume (4).

Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Best for what goals: 
Muscle Gain
Strength
Health

Example of Workout plan: 
Unlike the previous splits we’ve looked at, this one will be slightly different. Specifically, we’ll be doing fewer exercises and reps in favor of more weight. Doing so will help us build strength more effectively.

Workout 1 (Upper A)
Bent-Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
Standing Barbell Overhead Press – 2-3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Workout 2 (Lower A) 
Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps
Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Single-Leg Hip Thrust – 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps (per leg)

Workout 3 (Upper B)
Standing Overhead Barbell Press – 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Pull-Ups – 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps

Workout 4 (Lower B)
Barbell Deadlift – 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
Barbell Box Squat – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

5 Day Split Workout Plan

Description:
As with the 3- and 4-day splits, the 5-day split can also take many shapes – bro split, upper/lower, and more. What matters most is that we find the best split for this frequency. The classic bro split will do great for most people, but you can also pull off a full-body routine with that frequency.

Level: Advanced

Best for what goals: 
Muscle Growth
Strength

Example of Workout plan: 

Workout 1 – Back
Pull-Ups – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Inverted Row – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Lat Pulldown – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps

Workout 2 – Chest
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Push-Ups – 3 sets of 6 to 25 reps
Decline Dumbbell Chest Fly – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Workout 3 – Legs
Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Horizontal Leg Press – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Seated Hamstring Curl – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Standing Calf Raise (Machine) – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Workout 4 – Shoulders and Traps
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Upright Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Barbell Shrug – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Lateral Dumbbell Raise – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Face Pulls – 2-3 sets of 15 to 25 reps

Workout 5 – Biceps and Triceps
Chin-Ups – 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps
Bench Press – Close-Grip (Barbell) – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
EZ Bar Bicep Curls – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Triceps Rope Pushdown – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl – 2-3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Tricep Kickback – 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 reps (per arm)

Conclusion 

You can choose from many frequencies and routines, regardless of what your schedule and fitness level are. You can even set up a split for two weekly workouts:

You can also train two, three, four, five, six, or even 7 days per week. For example, the push/pull/legs and upper/lower splits work great for these frequencies. Try the Hevy workout tracker to plan, organize and track your personalized workout plan.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own workout plan with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

If you’re more interested in building strength, you can set up a hybrid upper/lower or full-body split that allows you to practice the different lifts more frequently. For instance, you can train full-body three times per week and emphasize the core barbell lifts. If the full-body split isn’t your cup of tea, or if you want to train a bit more frequently, a modified upper/lower routine can work great for strength. Before we wrap up this guide, I’d like to say something about workout plans:

There are many options to pick from, which is good, but it can also be bad. For example, keep something in mind if you feel overwhelmed and unsure which routine to choose. Training splits are nothing more than a tool for organizing your weekly training. There is nothing inherently special with any of the plans we outlined above. Each has its benefits, and you should go with the one that fits your schedule, fulfills you, and brings steady improvements.

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