Best Workout Plans for Men

There are a lot of workout options for men out there. So much so, in fact, that it can get pretty confusing trying to decide what sort of training split you should follow. In order to make the process as user-friendly as possible, this article provides you with a rundown of the most common workout plans for men. I’ll provide pros and cons for each to help you decide which is best for you.

A full-body workout involves working your entire body each time you train. Depending on how many times you want to work your muscles each week, you will do either two or three workouts per week. While each workout will be a little longer than a split routine, you will not have to train as many times per week.

Full-body workouts are a good starting point for beginners. They will benefit from just one, or at most two, exercises per week. That means that beginners can perform a full body workout of 12-14 exercises with 3 sets of 10-12 reps. You should be able to complete this in about 75 minutes.

As you move from beginner to intermediate level, you will add more exercises. This can make a full-body workout too long. If it stretches beyond 90 minutes, serious training fatigue will begin to set in.

Full-body workouts also provide you with plenty of recovery time between training sessions. Back-to-back split routine workouts can be very taxing, even though you are training different muscles each day.

  • More time efficient.
  • Suited for beginners.
  • Less chance of training fatigue.
  • Fewer workout days per week.
  • Workouts can get too long when you start to add exercises.
  • After 90 minutes, training fatigue can set in.

An upper body / lower body split divides the body in half. On Day One you train the muscles of the upper body. This involves the following body parts:

  • Pectorals
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Trapezius
  • Erector Spinae
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Abdominals

We can see immediately that there is a sizable difference in body parts between the upper and lower body. That means that your Day One workout is going to be quite a lot longer than Day Two. To balance the times out, you may choose to add an upper-body muscle to your lower-body workout. The most commonly chosen are the deltoids, biceps or triceps.

This type of split is a natural progression from a full-body workout after you’ve been training for about six months. However, you will once again run into the problem of having to do too many exercises to work out the whole body as you progress in your training.

To work every muscle in the upper body, you will have to limit yourself to one or two exercises per body part. Choosing compound moves that move more than one joint and work several muscle groups together is an effective strategy for this type of workout.

On an upper body / lower body split, you will train four days per week, working each muscle group twice. The most common weekly schedule is the following:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Upper Lower Rest Upper Lower Rest Rest
  • Allows you to focus on one half of the body at a time.
  • Ideal for training each body part twice per week and still having 3 days rest per week.
  • Can only do one or two exercises per body part.
  • Upper body workouts will be longer unless you add an upper body muscle to the lower body workout

Body part splits involve dividing the body into three or four divisions and training just two or three body parts per day. Here is what a typical three-day body part split looks like:

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Day One:

  • Chest
  • Triceps

Day Two:

  • Back
  • Biceps

Day Three:

  • Legs
  • Deltoids

This type of training split allows you to get more specialized on each body part. Rather than just one or two exercises, you can now do three or four exercises per body part. Because you’re only working a couple of body parts, your workouts can be completed inside of 60 minutes.

Training just two body parts per workout also allows you to train each muscle more intensely. When you are hitting three or more exercises in a workout, your fatigue levels will be quite high by the time you get to exercise three and beyond. As a result, you will not be able to train as intensely as you do on the first and second exercises.

You typically work each muscle group twice per week on a body part split. Here’s what a typical split looks like:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Chest/Triceps Back/Biceps Legs/Deltoids Rest Chest/Triceps Back/Biceps Legs/Deltoids

As you can see, this workout split only allows you a single day off per week. That’s quite a commitment to the gym and may not be practical for busy people.

  • Only train two body parts per session.
  • Allows for greater intensity on each body part.
  • Can do several exercises per body part.
  • Only allows for one day off per week.

Here’s a workout plan you should check:

Push/Pull/Legs is a three-day split. On one day you work your legs. The other two days divide your upper body between pushing and pulling exercises. The upper body pushing muscles are the following:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids

The upper body pulling muscles are:

  • Back
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps

Here is what a Push/Pull/Legs split looks like:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Push Pull Legs Rest Push Pull Legs

Push/Pull/Legs workouts are popular with powerlifters because it allows them to focus on one of the big three lifts each workout day:

  • Bench press on press day
  • Deadlift on pull day.
  • Squat on leg day.

Push/Pull/Legs workouts are usually built around compound exercises with a few auxiliary exercises thrown in. To be able to achieve the ideal training frequency of working each muscle group twice per week, you will have to train six days per week. That will give you just a single day out of the gym each week.

An advantage of push-pull training is that there is no accidental training of a body part. Because you are working only your pushing muscles on push day, there is no possibility of using a pull muscle as a secondary mover. Same thing on your pull day. As a result, your muscles are able to recover more fully between designated workout days.

  • No accidental training of a body part on its rest day.
  • Allows you to build your workouts around the bench press, deadlift, or squat.
  • Only gives you one rest day per week.

You’ve now got a handy overview of the most common workout plans for men. Analyze the pros and cons in line with your training objectives and circumstances to decide which will work best for you.

I also recommend trialing several different plans to find out which is the best fit. Give each plan a six-week trial and keep a training journal to know how you feel after the workouts, the results you achieve, and how it fits into your schedule.

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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.
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