The bro split is a classic bodybuilding routine that, until recently, was seen as the ultimate way to build muscle mass and to build that classic bodybuilding shape!
The bro split has fallen a little by the wayside, however, as bodybuilders have found new and improved methods of building muscle mass more effectively, but for anyone just getting started or getting back into the lifting game, bro splits are a great place to start (or restart).
What are bro splits? We'll get into more detail shortly, and we'll look at why they might not be optimal for advanced bodybuilders, but simply put, bro splits are a bodybuilding split workout that targets one muscle group per day. You workout hard at least 5, if not 6 days a week, and you can build muscle and shred fat fast.
This intense weekly routine works great with weights or at the gym, but for beginners, it's perfect for resistance band workouts too. You can use pull up assistance bands, bodyweight exercises, or hip circle band routines to build muscle mass, without ever having to leave your home!
Keep reading to find out more about bro split workouts!
What is a bro split?
The bro split is one of the most famous bodybuilding routines in the gym-world. It's a form of split training that aims to cover the major body parts in one week. Each training day (usually 5, but sometimes 6 days a week) is devoted to one major muscle grouping, such as the legs, back, or chest.
Over the course of a week, you'll work out the main muscle groupings you're aiming to focus on building, which works well for anyone looking to bulk up in general, rather than focusing on one area in particular. Because of its full body reach, it became a favored workout among bodybuilders.
To give you a quick idea of what a bro workout would look like, here's a standard 5-day training split:
You get 2 rest days (or you can swap one for some active recovery with extra cardio or core workouts), and then you start again on the same schedule the following week. It's a simple enough routine that's easy to plan but also easy to vary. You can change around exercises, move chest day to shoulder day, and have enough time off to stay motivated, without losing too many of your hard-earned gains.
Do bro splits work?
Like we said at the start of this article, bro splits really were all the rage at one point in time. They were used by all the bodybuilding stars and were seen as one of the most effective split workouts you could use to build muscle across your entire body.
There's no doubt that they are an effective way to build muscle, no one doubts that but times have changed, and advanced bodybuilders are more likely to focus on more niche, or targeted workouts, rather than bro splits.
We aren't saying bro splits don't work; we're saying that at some point in your training, you're going to outgrow bro splits (literally). The reason for this is the fact that bro splits are a one-body-part-per-day workout routine. Yes, we realize that's the idea behind bro splits, but it's also the reason why you'll eventually stop doing them.
It turns out that actually, one day a week isn't quite enough of a workout to see the best gains in each muscle group. In fact, for many muscles, being worked out just once a week isn't good enough for sustained, long term gains. You need to be working out your legs and your arm muscles at least twice a week.
The limitation is that, essentially, you're not using time effectively or efficiently enough with bro splits. If you're just getting started, though, or if you're getting back into bodybuilding or weightlifting after a long break, bro splits are a great way to workout. If you try other splits, such as push-pull-legs (there's always a good debate between bro split vs PPL in the gym) or 6-day splits and need a break, then the bro split is a much simpler routine to get into for a few weeks.
The bro split really does work to build muscle, but if you've reached the stage where you're an advanced weightlifter or bodybuilder, then you do need more targeted workout schedules!
Resistance-band bro split workout
Okay, so enough talk of the pros and cons of the bro split; let's take a look at a real-world weekly schedule, including a breakdown of daily exercises.
There is plenty of excellent gym-based or free weight-based workouts available, so we decided to focus instead on resistance-band bro split conditioning. Resistance bands are a great place to begin training as you can slowly increase the resistance you work out against while perfecting movements. Even if you're a seasoned pro, a week of resistance band exercises will help to improve your flexibility and improve your ability to lift heavier weights without getting injured.
Let's go back to our sample schedule and fill in each day with resistance band focused exercises. Here's the program for a 5-day bro split:
You can move this schedule around to fit your week, but make sure you have a week off between each specific workout day for each muscle group where possible. Remember to stretch out before and after each workout session. We also recommend 30 minutes of light cardio at the start or end of each session.
This is supposed to be intense exercise, but it's not HIIT training. Try to complete each exercise session within one hour. For each of the workouts below, try to perform 3 circuits of each exercise within the time period. You can rest between each exercise and each movement, but try to keep going at a steady pace.
- Band pull apart x 15
- Seated banded rows x 60 seconds
- Lat pulldowns x 12
- Standing banded rows x 60 seconds
- Banded pullovers x 12
- Bent over row x 12
- Face pulls x 12
- Pull-ups to failure (band-assisted if you can't complete a pull-up without support)
- Overhead resistance band stretches x 12
- Bicep curls x 12
- Banded lateral raises x 12
- Band reverse curl x 12
- Seated resistance band row x 60 seconds
- Bicep curls x 12
- Overhead tricep extensions x 12
- Banded push-ups to failure
- Standing leg extension x 12
- Lateral band steps x 60 seconds
- Banded leg curls x 12
- Standing calf raise x 12
- Standing glute kickbacks x 12
- Glute bridges x 12
- Glute kickbacks x 12
- Banded squats to failure
- Band pull apart x 12
- Banded shoulder press x 12
- Overhead pull apart x 12
- Banded lat raises x 12
- Reverse fly x 12
- Banded front raise x 12
- Banded squat press to failure
- Banded chest pull apart x 12
- Banded chest press x 12
- Banded decline chest press x 12
- Banded incline chest press x 12
- Banded chest flies x 12
- Band assisted pull-ups x 12
- Banded push-ups to failure
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Rest day
On your rest days, you should try to avoid doing any strength training to give your muscles time to recuperate and to repair themselves. You can try other forms of exercise, however, if you aren't good at sitting around doing nothing at all!
On rest days, we'd recommend some light cardio, such as running or enjoying the outdoors with hiking or cycling. This can help to keep your metabolism going over the weekend and allow you to burn more fat while toning the muscles you've been building through the week.
Remember, though, that a good workout (especially muscle splits), is all about balance. Take that rest day if you want, and skip leg day if you're feeling tired (although, don't skip leg day every week!). Keep a balanced and healthy diet, and give your body the sustenance and the time it needs to repair to grow back those muscles stronger than ever before!
The final word on bro split training routines
That's it for our article on bro split training routines, but that doesn't mean that your training is over. Building muscle and burning fat takes time, and it takes perseverance, but for beginners, the bro split can help you to hit training goals faster than other types of weight lifting.
The best thing is, you don't need heavy gym equipment or free weights to start working out building body mass; you can build your own bro split routine at home, using resistance bands and bodyweight workouts. Why not start practicing bro split workouts, and see how much muscle you can build?