6 day training split
Workouts

How to Build Muscle on a 6 Day Training Split

Are you looking for an intense program that will help you pack on muscle and strength? If yes, the 6 day training split is for you. With proper structure and planning, the 6 day training split will target all your major muscle groups. This program will help you build an aesthetic, powerful physique. 

How To Build Muscle

Muscle mass is developed by resistance training and diet. Muscle hypertrophy is used to describe increases in muscle mass. Principles of hypertrophy state hypertrophy occurs when the muscle fibers are damaged through resistance training. Muscle damage triggers an immune response to help repair the damaged muscle. During repair, hormones such as testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), and insulin growth factor (IGF-1) are released. These hormones stimulate and support muscle repair as well as growth. Without resistance training, this process is not stimulated. Thus we don’t trigger muscle building.

We must also consider the role of nutrition in muscle building. Muscles are made of protein. To build muscle, we must consume enough protein via our diet to support muscle growth. Without enough protein in our diets, we won’t have enough to build and repair our muscles. Evidence suggests you should consume 1.6-2.2g/kg of protein per day to support muscle growth (Wall et al., 2015). High protein foods include chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, tofu, and fish. 

What Is a 6 Day Training Split?

The 6 day training split involves working out 6 days per week. Yep, that’s right, 6 days per week! During this split, you’ll follow a push, pull, legs template. Push, pull, legs is a popular training style used in weightlifting. It aims to train major muscle groups separately so they have enough time to rest and recover. 

Muscles work in pairs. The contracting muscle is known as the agonist, while the relaxing muscle is known as the antagonist. So, when your knee is extending, your quadriceps are contracting while your hamstrings are relaxing. The push, pull, legs template takes advantage of muscles working in pairs. Certain muscle groups can rest whilst others train. This allows you to train 6 days a week while resting certain body parts during training sessions. 

The Ultimate 6-Day Workout Plan

*Disclaimer: This program is designed to inform you on the topic of 6 day split training. This program should not be used as a substitute or alternative to professional medical advice. 

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Each session will start with a heavy compound lift. Compound lifts target multiple joints and helps prepare your body for training. Lifting heavier weights at the start of your session also fires up your central nervous system (CNS). So, the body can handle heavy weights during the session. After your compound lift, we’ll move onto isolation exercises. Isolation exercises focus on one specific muscle to elicit maximal muscle gain. Isolation exercises will use lighter weights than compound exercises as fewer muscle groups are recruited. If you’re not comfortable performing an exercise, substitute it for something similar. For example, switch a bicep curl for a hammer curl. 

We haven’t included exact weights in this program. This is because everyone’s start point is different. Choose a weight that allows you to perform the allocated number of reps with relative difficulty. For example, if the workout suggests 10-12 reps, you should be reaching failure within 11-12 reps. If you can only perform 5 reps, you’ll need to drop the weight. If you’re performing 14 reps, you need to increase the weight. As your levels of performance increase, you can adjust the weights to match your gains. We also haven’t included cardio exercise. We’ve tailored this program to strength training and muscle building. We don’t recommend following any other training modalities while performing this program. Due to it’s intense workouts, running another program alongside this one could increase your risk of injury.  

Day 1: Push 1

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Flat Bench Press5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Dumbbell Shoulder Press310-1260 secs
Dumbbell Chest Flyes310-1260 secs
Cable Tricep Pushdowns310-1260 secs
Cable Machine Egyptian Raises310-1260 secs

Day 2: Pull 1

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Sumo Deadlift5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Weighted Pull Ups310-1260 secs
Barbell Rows310-1260 secs
Barbell Upright Row310-1260 secs
Dumbbell Bicep Curls310-1260 secs

Day 3: Legs

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Back Squat 5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Barbell Straight Leg Deadlifts310-1260 secs
Dumbbell Walking Lunges310-1260 secs
Prone Back Extensions 310-1260 secs
Standing Calf Raises310-1260 secs

Day 4: Rest 

On your rest day, take a day off the weights. Give your body time to rest so you can go hard in the gym again tomorrow. After a couple of intense days, you’ll need the rest. Spend some time stretching, do some mobility, or go for a walk – just don’t lift weights. 

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Day 5: Push 2

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Military Presses5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press3                        10-1260 secs
Incline Cable Flyes 310-1260 secs
Bodyweight Triceps Extension310-1260 secs
Dumbbell Front Raises 310-1260 secs

Day 6: Pull 2

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Deadlift5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Dumbbell Bent Over Rows310-1260 secs
Weighted Chin Ups310-1260 secs
Barbell Preacher Curls 310-1260 secs
Dumbbell Bent Over Flyes  310-1260 secs

Day 7: Legs 2 

Exercise SetsRepsRest Between Sets
Barbell Front Squat 5 + 3 Warm Up Sets 590 secs
Leg Extensions 310-1260 secs
Leg Curls 310-1260 secs
Leg Presses310-1260 secs
Hanging Leg Raises 310-1260 secs

Promoting Recovery

Training 6 days a week is intense. Although we’ll be rotating muscle groups to maximize recovery, frequent exercise takes its toll on the body. It’s important to take care of your body outside the gym as well as inside. Sufficient recovery also helps you push harder during your training sessions. Therefore, helping you maximize your progress. If you’re constantly running on empty you won’t be able to push during your workout. Thus, impacting your rate of progress. Here’s how you can promote recovery:

Sleep

“Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and built in bed”. Exercise and nutrition are key to muscle growth. But, our muscles recover during sleep. You must prioritize sufficient quantity and quality of sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. Create a relaxing environment before hitting the hay to promote good quality sleep. Switch off any electronics an hour before bed, and calm your mind by taking a bath or reading a book. Invest in some blackout blinds and earplugs if you have trouble sleeping. 

Diet

Ensure you’re eating enough quality food to support your training goals. Eat a balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and micronutrients with each meal. If you have trouble consuming enough food, try out supplements. 

Warm Up / Cool Down

A good warm up and cool down is key to any workout. Warming up will help promote blood flow to your muscles and loosen up your joints. Start with 5 minutes of gentle cardio to increase your heart rate before performing some dynamic stretching. Before your compound lifts, perform 3 warm up sets before your main set. Each set should progress in weight to work up to your working set weight. Effective cool downs bring your body back to a state of homeostasis and promote recovery. Perform 5 minutes of gentle cardio to bring your heart rate down before performing static stretches. 

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Stress

Stress is linked with an increased level of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol negatively affects our health and recovery. Thus, we must keep our stress levels low. Practice journaling, mindfulness, or self-care regularly to keep your stress levels low. Additionally, prioritize making life as simple as possible. Prep your meals in advance, and plan your days effectively. Not only will this make for an easier life, but also maximal gains. 

Hydration

Water helps your body perform optimally. Aim to drink half your body weight in oz per day. For example, if you weigh 154 lbs aim to drink 77 oz per day. 

Conclusion

The 6 day training split is tough. But, if you’re willing to put in the work it can provide significant training gains. With good nutrition and proper recovery, you’ll notice changes in your physique as well as your strength. Adopting a push, pull, legs style training program allows you to work out frequently while promoting recovery. To further promote recovery, pay close attention to your sleep, nutrition, and stress. Your fitness journey should be fun, effective, and safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Avoid Overtraining?

Overtraining causes a decrease in performance. Rest is the key to preventing overtraining. Ensure you take one full rest day per week to help your body recover from the training. On your rest days perform light cardio such as walking. Also, spend some time stretching and mobilizing. On training days, you should also prioritize recovery. If you’re training for 1 hour a day you can spend the other 23 hours recovering. Focus on your sleep, nutrition, and stress. 

Is a 6 Day Split Too Much?

For athletes with training experience, the 6 day split is an effective approach to building muscle. Previous training experience provides the body with a good training base to undergo the 6 day split. I would only recommend the 6 day training split for advanced lifters. It’s also important to take your recovery seriously. If you’re not recovering properly your performance in the gym will drop and your progress will be stunted. Intense exercise like the 6 day split is unsuitable for untrained individuals,. If you’re new to training, start with a 2-3 day split. Build up your tolerance to your exercise before increasing your frequency. If you’re brand new to exercise I would also recommend starting with bodyweight exercises only. For successful training, it’s important to find which training volume suits you. 

What Is a Good 6 Day Workout Routine?

Push, pull, legs is a really good style of training as it lets different muscle groups rest while other trains. Even though you’re training 6 days a week, your major muscle groups are only training twice. This style can help maximize recovery and thus muscle gains. If push, pull, legs isn’t your style you can switch it for chest and triceps, back and biceps, legs, shoulders, lower body, and upper body. This split allows your to gain more variability in training. Alternatively, adopt different body training splits such as upper-lower training splits.

References

Wall, B. T., Morton, J. P., & van Loon, L. J. (2015). Strategies to maintain skeletal muscle mass in the injured athlete: nutritional considerations and exercise mimetics. European journal of sport science, 15(1), 53–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2014.936326

Michaela Summers

Michaela Summers is a health and fitness content creator. She holds a BSc in Exercise and Sport Sciences and a Master of Research in Health and Wellbeing from the University of Exeter. She is on a mission to help people live a fulfilling, impactful life through fitness and lifestyle. When she's not writing, she can be found in the gym, playing tennis, or exploring the great outdoors.

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