Last Updated 11th August 2016: This is Ghost Fitness’s specifically designed 5 day gym split workout routine for beginners and intermediate lifters, at the bottom of this article is the option to download the fully integrated excel schedule, or you can create your own schedule manually. This workout programme is designed for individuals looking to train 5 days a week.
Most people when they decide to start going to the gym or weight training go one of two ways. The first is going way to hard in the gym, going 7 days a week, training arms and chest and simply going too hard and burning out after a couple of weeks. Another common mistake is going to the gym without any program or process in mind. You may go 4-5 times a week but you simply don’t really know what your doing, chances are you don’t have the experience or knowledge of what exercises to actually perform and you end up training in an inefficient way, or you may have followed one of the many “fitness gurus” on the internet.
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Some people might say a 5 day workout routine for beginners is to high, you should only train 3 times a week if you are newbie in the gym. But my counter argument is – If you already have a baseline level of fitness and would like to learn the correct techniques and build muscle and strength, a 5 day split is the most effective. Many people also start weight training because they are actually too thin and would like to build muscle! Others might be going due to their sport and are looking for a workout routine to improve in their overall performance in a sport, either way I recommend our exercise and routine.
A common misconception when you start training in the gym is that you have to do loads of sets, lots of reps and tons of exercises. This just simply isn’t the case, multiple scientific tests and papers have been done on this subject and show muscle hypertrophy and strength gains decrease once the individual reaches a certain level of fatigue, not only this but performing a high number of sets (25+) makes your workout extremely long, which might de-motivate you as being in the gym for 2 hours a day can reduce your willingness to train. A better way is to keep your routines simple and follow the key principle of building muscle, which is: progressive overload and performing heavy compound movements.
There are 3 elements to any workout routine:
- The exercises that you will perform.
- The frequency they will be performed.
- The intensity with which they will be performed.
The exercises we have selected are all explained below as well as links to tutorials on how to perform each lift if you are unsure. Frequency is simply how many times per week you will perform said exercises, this varies from person to person but as this is a 5 day workout routine you will be looking at 1-2 times per week (full details can be found at the end of the article.) Finally you’ll need to outline the intensity at which you will perform. This is a little more difficult as everyone is at a different level, but the number of sets and reps you perform for each exercise will stay roughly the same per person, the only difference will be the weight used on each set.
Below are all the exercises we recommend in the workout program, if you’re unsure how to perform an exercise, simply click on the links associated to the exercise, these will go straight to a guide or tutorial video explaining exactly how to perform the movement with good form.
The Squat – Barbell back squat. High or low bar variation, the decision is totally up to you. The most important element is your form, you should be looking to build muscle in your legs and gain strength during this lift, but also you should aim to have as close to perfect form as possible. Squats are considered “the king” of all exercises which is why your form is of the utmost importance. Another good squat form guide is linked here. When looking for squat form guides, try to stay away from articles or videos with the generic advice. The 2 sources linked above are more than enough for the intermediate lifter.
The Deadlift – Conventional or sumo variation. My personal favourite lift! Although also one of the most difficult and poorly performed exercise by 90% of people you see in commercial gyms. There are a number of different ways to perform a deadlift but I’d highly recommend starting with a conventional stance. Deadlifts are one of the best movements to build overall strength. Another great guide to conventional deadlifts is here, in this guide Stephen talks about the hinging at the hips which is the number 1 most important part to a deadlift, if you get this right everything else usually falls into place. Again only take advice from weight lifting professionals when it comes to this exercise, and remember to start very light to generate the correct motor patterns and good form.
Pull Ups – The pull up is a back dominant exercise with a number of variations, the guide linked is one of the largest and most in-depth I’ve ever seen and if you have any concerns about variations or form simply check that out and it will likely already be covered. The more you utilise pull up variations, the more beneficial this will be for your overall strength gains and muscle building goals.
Bicep Exercises – Everyone’s favourite superficial muscle builder, but done correctly can add strength and size to important muscles. Sidenote: Don’t overdo bicep exercises, if you perform your back exercises correctly you will engage your biceps too. There are a number of bicep exercises you can utilise in the programme, we recommend either hammer curls, alternating bicep curls or a standing barbell curl (shirts are clearly optional when performing this exercise…)
The Bench Press – Medium grip, flat barbell bench press is the number 1 chest exercise for building both strength and size, the best guide of overall bench press form can be found here. The bench press is the most effective upper body compound movement, building strength and size in the pectorals, triceps as well as working multiple stabiliser muscles such as the forearm and deltoids.
Standing Overhead Press – A shoulder dominant movement, sometimes also referred to as the military press. An upper body compound movement, that is seen to be the number 1 deltoid exercise and we totally agree. A basic guide can be found here, when performing the movement ensure your core is engaged and you push from in-front of your body backwards (not behind the head pressing.) Variations also include sitting military press, although this reduces the engagement of the core.
Tricep Exercises – There are a huge number of great tricep exercises. Personally I use higher rep, lower weight tricep movements as triceps are engaged in both the overhead press and the bench press. 3 exercises I would recommend (all linked to the guides) are tricep cable push-downs, skull crushers and tricep-dips.
Abs – Unlike the common misconception that should do 1,000 sit ups and you’ll have a six pack…. You should train your abs like any other muscle, working them with heavy exercises of between 5-20 reps. Our 3 recommended ab exercises are; hanging leg raises (or the easier variation knee raises), weighted sit ups and a barbell or wheel rollout exercise. Doing 3 exercises for between 3-5 sets per exercise is enough per week for your abdominals, as if done correctly, the other compound exercises will also train your abs. You should feel your core engaged when performing deadlifts, squats, bench and military presses!
Cardio – All cardio is optional in our program as the workouts themselves will involve higher rep ranges to improve muscular endurance. If you’re primary goal is to only build muscle or strength then you don’t need cardio, but for general beginner fitness or if your goal is to lose weight then we would recommend 20-30 minutes cardio at the end of your workout 2-3 times per week, or light cardio/recovery on rest days.
Front Squats – A variation of the squat, the front squat is a more quadricep dominated movement. Placing the bar on your upper chest similar to the mid point in an Olympic clean and jerk lift, you perform a squat. I’ve found this movement to also work your core. Recommended form video here.
Straight Legged Deadlift – This is more hamstring dominant deadlift variation. Other similar variations are stiff legged or Romanian deadlift. Any hamstring dominant deadlift variation is recommended on our programme, the choice of which specific movement is up to the individual. Our recommended form video is here. Personally I would advise starting with a straight or stiff legged deadlift and working eventually into the Romanian deadlift as this also teaches hinging at the hips which as I’ve previously mentioned is extremely important for deadlifts. These deadlift variations also help your “lockout” portion of your deadlift, strengthening your glues, hamstrings and lower back.
Leg Accessory Exercises – These exercises should be performed at the end of your training session and should be performed with lighter weights for a slightly higher rep range (10-20). The recommended accessory movements are walking lunges, glute bridges and hamstring curls.
Shoulder Accessory Movements – These exercises are to work the side deltoid and rear deltoid of your shoulder, generally neglected the side and rear delts are important for overall shoulder mobility and health. Our 2 recommended exercises are lateral raises and rear delt cable crosses, both exercises should be kept very light, the emphasis should be on good form rather than trying to lift the most weight or perform a high number of reps.
Frequency & Intensity
Below is the frequency 5 day split we recommend to beginner and intermediate lifters. If this split seems to intense you can reduce this by removing the accessory movements and the final exercise on each day, although we would recommend simply using lighter weights and ensuring you perform all exercises. Remember if you want the full pre integrated excel doc you can get that at the end of the article.
- Monday – Light squats, heavy deadlifts, Pull ups, biceps.
- Tuesday – Bench, overhead press, triceps.
- Wednesday – Abs, biceps and optional cardio.
- Thursday – Rest day.
- Friday – Heavy squats, front squats, straight legged deadlifts, leg accessory movements.
- Saturday – Overhead press, bench, shoulder accessories, triceps.
- Sunday – Rest day.
The intensity of a movement is based on 3 elements: The weight which is used, the number of reps you perform on that weight and finally the number of sets you perform for that exercise. We cannot estimate the weight at which you should use for each movement as everyone has a different strength level, but what you should do is work up to what’s called a “working” weight and make a note on how many reps you achieved and how the weight felt, remembering to increase slightly each week or every 2 weeks. Its better to start slow and increase the weight each week / month than to go too heavy too early and get injured or disheartened when you cannot complete a rep.
Done for You Workout Schedule
Thanks for reading, let us know what you think of the program in the comments below! Remember to share and subscribe too.