Please do not go into this bro split for natural bodybuilding until you have spent at least 3-4 months doing the other routines like the full body 3 days/week.
You will only over-train and burn out. This is a very advanced routine that must be built up to. Having said that, here is my favourite intense and awesome results producing natural bodybuilding bro split workout!
First, let’s answer the big question. Can you build muscle on a bro split? YES. Of course you can or hundreds of thousands of bodybuilders would not be still doing it. Experience says yes.
What is a bro split?
A bro split is a newer term used for what used to be called just a normal workout split. Bro splits are being called less effective for natural bodybuilders in favour of the full body workout.
The rational for training a full body workout three days a week is that training a body part more frequently might improve muscle protein synthesis.
While that may be the science, there are always reasons why one thing will work over another. I feel that in the beginning, the full body, three day a week workout is great for practicing movements and getting in the frequency while so many adaptations are happening.
With increased poundages, there are reasons for a “Bro Split.”
Why I Do A Natural Bodybuilding Split Routine
Big weights! Wicked pump! I always get caught between two minds whenever I hit my workout at the gym. One side of me says to lift heavy to get big and the other says that form should matter more than my weight poundage. This is an issue that caused me to get quite twisted every time I prepped a workout training cycle.
I know each technique has its merits. I swayed back and forth never staying with either method long enough to see the results. With the low weights I get to move some decent poundage’s and my ego gets gratified but alas, there is no killer pump.
When I stick to the perfect form method with lighter weights I get great pumps but I never feel like I am really working hard enough to get anywhere because my weights are so light.
So in my search for the perfect weight workout, I decided to combine the two methods and get the best of both worlds.
Seems obvious when some one else says it doesn’t it? I love the pump from drop sets and isolation exercises and I love the feeling of grunting under large loads, so why not do both in a workout?
Now I do two exercises of 5×5 with 1 minute to 2 minutes rest between sets. Then I move on to one or two more exercises for 3 or 4 sets a piece with the odd drop set or super set in order to finish the workout with a great pump.
I stay with the same weight on the 5×5’s until I get all 5 sets of 5, usually hitting 4 or 3 reps on the last two sets in the beginning. When I finally complete the full 5×5 I up the weight by 5 to 10 pounds and start over.
Once I have trained the muscles with between 85-100% of my one rep max, I’ve stimulated strength gains through enhanced neural drive and hit my type IIB fibers hard. Now onto the second group of exercises.
I squeeze and pump the muscle, trying to fill it with blood while keeping in my mind that weight is a secondary concern. Here is where I hit the type IIA fibers with a slightly higher time under tension developed from the intensity techniques.
The weights for this type of training are usually within 70-80% of your one rep max. Whenever I reach the point that the lighter weights no longer fatigue the muscle at around 10-12 reps, I bump it up a notch. Chasing the pump I rest no longer than 30-45 seconds causing me to hit a totally different set of fibers and making sure that all life has been thrashed out of the muscle.
The best of both worlds in one workout!
The 5×5 method is also a lazy mans periodization. The intensity varies from week to week. When I am trying a new heavier weight versus still trying to get my “5’s” at an already accustomed to weight. The high intensity at the end allows me to get nutrients and blood into the muscle. It also gives me time under tension and stretches the fascia while the body part is still stuffed full of the goods.
So in effect this routine develops the type IIB fibers through high tension multiple sets making me stronger by increasing relative strength though enhanced neural drive. Then moves on to hit the type IIA fibers through a slightly higher time under tension given to me by the extended sets. This makes me larger by increased hypertrophy, stimulating increased muscle glycogen, ATP and Krebs cycle activity. The only variable to fill in after this is your nutrition habits, but that’s a topic for later discussion.
My Bro Split For Natural Bodybuilding
Here is an example of this type of weight workout. None of the set totals include your warm ups:
DB Bench press 5×5
Incline flyes super set with incline smith presses for 3x failure on both. Anything past twelve reps and you should bump up the weight.
Barbell curls 5×5
Incline dumbbell curls 10/8/6
Rope pulley hammer curls drop set – 4 sets
Front squats pyramid up 12,10,8,6
Leg extensions 3-drop sets, each drop being 10 reps (10-10-10)
DB or barbell, stiff leg deadlifts 5×5
Lying Frankenstein curls (toes down on way up and toes out on way down) 4- drop sets, each drop being 8 reps (8-8-8)
Standing calf raises 3-drop sets of 10-10-10 per set.
Seated calf raises for 4 sets of 40-50 seconds each
Wednesday Shoulders + Triceps
Standing presses 5×5
High pulls from the hips 5×5
Face down incline laterals supersetted with reverse cable crossovers for rear delts – 4 sets to failure
Close grip bench 5×5
Low pulley behind head extensions off bench (Vince Gironda style)
4×8 Superset of kick backs and close grip pushups with elbows wide 3x 10
Weighted chins 5×5
Drop set low cable rows with under grip for 4 sets
4 sets of crunches supersetted with hanging leg raises
Take the next two days off and then restart the cycle.
There are several ways to manipulate this schedule depending on your recovery ability and other stress factors in your life. Some of my clients respond best if they drop the second exercise of 5’s or alternate it with a 10/8/6 rep scheme.
For maximum recovery I like to take a day off after every workout, especially if you’re hitting the cardio hard. If this is something you may like to try than you can get away with another exercise per muscle group as you won’t be hitting it again for a while, just watch for signs of over training.
The other popular way to split this workout, fits nicely into the workweek. Split your workout to fall on Mon-Tues-Thurs-Fri. Take the weekends off to recharge.
Don’t worry about wilting away between workouts because as a natural bodybuilder the more rest the better. If you are going the assisted route, then you can add in a set or two extra here and there. It’s far more productive to be slightly under trained than over trained. However if you give every workout your all on this routine, you will look forward to the rest!
How do you stop a plateau in bodybuilding?
Now the bad news – if you train correctly you will ‘level off’ or plateau. The training methods covered here produce faster and better results than any other researched training methods.
In the future I’m sure someone will discover benefits from others methods of training. A normal gain is from .5 up to 1 pound of FAT FREE muscle per week when everything is done correctly. This is in untrained beginners.
Weight gain is obviously unlimited as the amount of fat you put on only depends on the amount you overfeed yourself.
How Much Muscle Can You Build As A Natural Bodybuilder On A Bro Split?
Here’s what to expect as a natural bodybuilder on a bro split – if your train correctly for maximum growth.
You will make very fast gains for the first 3 to 6 months. At this point you will gradually start to taper off – after two years of training you can expect the gains to come very slowly – at some point, to be totally honest, further ‘overall’ gains will be very slow unless you take anabolic steroids or other types of anabolic drugs. (Which I do not recommend).
This does not mean that you can’t continue to improve your appearance or your strength. Now is the time to start paying more attention to your weak areas, your diet, etc. You can always improve – and hope to learn more about increasing muscle size through natural methods, without the use of steroids.
Good nutrition is an integral part of an effective workout program for any body builder. If your body is going to grow and adapt to training, you have to be putting the right foods in there or it won’t happen. That’s why I wrote this article called How Much Should I Eat To Build Muscle
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