Skip to Content

Bro Splits: The Ultimate Guide!

There are many training splits that you can use to build muscle.

Some of the best training splits include full body splits, upper / lower splits, push / pull / leg splits and Poliquin-style splits. However, the bro split is easily the most popular bodybuilding training split in the world.

If you want to get jacked like a bodybuilder then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Traditional Bodybuilding Bro Split
  • Part 2: The Mountain Dog Training Bro Split
  • Part 3: The Doggcrapp Training Bro Split
  • Part 4: The Dorian Yates Bro Split
  • Part 5: The Milos Sarcev Bro Split

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about how to use bodybuilding bro splits to build muscle mass as fast as possible.

A bro split is a bodybuilding training split where you train your chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs on their own separate training day.

Bro splits are very popular with bodybuilders because they allow you to specialize on your upper body and perform a large number of exercises for each muscle group.

Here is one of the most popular bodybuilding bro splits:

  • Day #1: Chest
  • Day #2: Back
  • Day #3: Shoulders
  • Day #4: Arms
  • Day #5: Legs
  • Day #6: Off
  • Day #7: Off

As you can see each muscle group is trained once per week. Many advanced bodybuilders find that nothing works better than the traditional bro split for building muscle.

In fact the bro split is used by more professional bodybuilders than any other training split.

I agree with most fitness experts that the bro split isn’t the best choice for most beginner or intermediate level bodybuilders.

However, if you have a few years under your belt, have a decent foundation of strength and respond well to high-volume workouts then the bro split can be a great choice.

In this comprehensive guide I’m going to teach you five of the most effective bro splits in the world. These bro splits are used by many of the world’s top bodybuilders and coaches including Milos Sarcev, Dorian Yates and John Meadows.

Note: if you have trouble reading the training routines in this article then check out this guide on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: The Traditional Bodybuilding Bro Split

One of the most common variations of the bro split has a separate training day for your chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. For example:

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Back
  • Day 3: Shoulders
  • Day 4: Arms
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Day 6: Off
  • Day 7: Off

Some bodybuilders will change the order of the workouts but the overall idea remains the same. Why is this training split so popular with professional bodybuilders?

In reality there are 2 big reasons why most pros use this split:

  • Reason #1: It allows you to perform very high volume workouts
  • Reason #2: It allows you to specialize on your upper body

Most professional bodybuilders grow like weeds on higher volume training programs.

That doesn’t mean that high volume workouts are best for everyone. However, if you have the genetics to be a pro in the first place then you will probably get better results with higher volume workouts.

The traditional bro split makes it very easy to perform these high volume workouts because you are only training 1 or 2 muscle groups per workout. The bro split also makes it easy to specialize on your upper body.

Competitive bodybuilders are judged more on the size of their upper body than they are their lower body so it makes sense that they would gravitate towards a training split that has 4 upper body training days and 1 lower body training day.

Even some professional powerlifters like Larry Wheels use the traditional bro split when they are in their offseason. Here is a bro split back workout that Larry recently performed. Check it out:

Larry Wheels Back Day #1

  • A1: Barbell row (bounce on floor), 3 sets of 5 reps
  • B1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • C1: Pull ups (narrow / neutral grip), 3 sets of AMRAP**
  • D1: Hammer strength low row, 3 sets of 10-15 reps

**Perform as many reps as you can with just your bodyweight

Here is the training video for this workout:

One of Larry’s favorite ways to design a bro split bodybuilding workout is to go heavy on one exercise early in the workout and then to perform a bunch of high-rep volume work to stimulate hypertrophy. This workout follows that strategy perfectly.

Larry Wheels starts his workout by performing barbell rows with 570 pounds for reps. After the heavy rows Larry performs several bodybuilding style exercises for high reps to create as much muscle damage as possible.

Another one of Larry’s favorite ways to design a bro split workout is to pick several exercises and perform all of them in the 10-15 rep range. Here is a shoulder workout where Larry follows this strategy. Check it out:

Larry Wheels Shoulder Day #1

  • A1: 45 degree chest supported rear DB fly, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • B1: Reverse cable fly, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • C1: Front barbell raise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • D1: Hammer strength overhead press, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • E1: Standing DB lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

As you can see bro split workouts don’t have to be super complicated. Many of the world’s top bodybuilders in the world just pick 4-6 exercises and perform a few sets each in the 10-15 rep range.

This strategy works great for genetically gifted bodybuilders like Phil Heath.

But what if you are just a “regular” advanced bodybuilder? In that case you probably need to put more thought into how you design your bro split and your workouts. That is what the rest of this article is about!

Part 2: The Mountain Dog Training Bro Split

John Meadows is one of the world’s top bodybuilding coaches and the founder of Granite Supplements.

For many years John trained with the following 4 days per week bro split:

  • Day 1: Legs
  • Day 2: Chest / Shoulders
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Back
  • Day 5: Arms
  • Day 6: Off
  • Day 7: Off

The big difference with John’s training split is he combined the chest and shoulder training days into one single training day.

John’s argument is the shoulders are already hit pretty hard with exercises like incline bench presses so it makes sense to combine these workouts. That way you get a full extra day of rest during the week which helps with growth.

Nowadays John prefers somewhat higher frequency training splits for himself and his clients but this version of the bro split also works quite well.

When John designs bro split workouts he is really careful with how he sequences the exercises. He wants you to be able to train hard and really feel the target muscle working without risking injury.

One of John’s favorite chest training strategies is to perform a joint-friendly exercise like a dumbbell press or a hammer strength machine press first in his workouts before heavier barbell exercises like the incline bench press.

Here is a very normal looking Mountain Dog style chest / shoulder workout. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Chest / Shoulder Workout

  • A1: Hammer strength flat press, 3-4 sets of 8 reps, 2 minutes rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline bench press, 3-4 sets of 6 reps, 2 minutes rest
  • C1: Lying DB pullover, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, 2 minutes rest
  • D1: Vince Gironda dips, 3-4 sets to failure, 2 minutes rest
  • E1: Standing DB lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, no rest
  • E2: Smith machine overhead press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, 2 minutes rest
  • F1: Banded face pull, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, 2 minutes rest

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about an intense workout! You’re going to need your intra-workout drink from Granite Supplements to recover from this one!

As you can see John starts his chest workout with a joint-friendly machine exercise before moving onto the incline bench press.

This is John’s way of making sure that his body is really warmed up for his main movement of the day and to make his chest work as hard as possible throughout the workout.

John uses a similar pre-exhaust strategy for his shoulders. He performs the dumbbell lateral raise for his side delts before moving onto a compound overhead pressing exercise.

If you get good results using a bro split but have a hard time feeling your muscles work during your workouts then this is a great strategy to try.

John uses a similar strategy for his other workouts including his back day, leg day and arm day.

When John trains his back he really likes to perform deadlifting exercises towards the end of his workout after his lats, traps and rhomboids have been pre-fatigued.

John says that this makes deadlifts and rack deads safer to perform AND it forces your upper back muscles to work harder. Talk about a win-win move!

Here is a typical Mountain Dog back workout that you may want to try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Advanced Back Workout

  • A1: Machine pulldown (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 15, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated cable row (v-handle), 4 x 8, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Bilateral bent-over kettle bell row, 4 x 8, 1/0/1/1, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Rack deadlift (just below knees), 3 x 5, 1/1/X/1, 120 seconds rest
  • E1: Reverse hyperextension, 2 x 15, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

Here is the training video for this workout:

Make sure you take your post-workout drink from Granite Supplements or you’ll risk some of the worst muscle soreness of your life!

As you can see John performs three compound upper back exercises before moving onto rack deads. This is what John’s workouts are all about: using unique training strategies to build muscle while keeping you safe.

If you want to use a bodybuilding bro split but don’t know how to organize your workouts then John’s training program is an awesome place to start.

Part 3: The Doggcrapp Training Bro Split

push pull legs benefits

Most people don’t know this but Dante Trudel sometimes uses a bodybuilding bro split with his DC Training clients. However, Dante’s bro split looks unlike anything you have seen before.

Here is the DC Training version of the bodybuilding bro split: 

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Biceps
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Off
  • Day 5: Shoulders / Triceps
  • Day 6: Back
  • Day 7: Off

There are a few main differences between Dante’s split and the traditional bodybuilding bro split: shoulders and triceps are trained on the same day, biceps are trained on their own separate day and you have a day off after every 2-3 workouts.

In my opinion this is an improved version of the traditional bro split. One of the things that I really like about this split is it reduces some of the overlap between different body parts.

For example you always have 2-3 days of rest in between your chest workouts and your shoulder / tricep workouts. This means that you are less likely to overtrain your chest, shoulders or triceps.

The same is true for your back and leg workouts: you always have 2-3 days rest in between them so your lower back gets more time to recover.

In Dante’s experience this split works best for 2 types of trainees:

  • Type #1: Extremely advanced bodybuilders
  • Type #2: Anyone towards the end of a dieting phase

Advanced bodybuilders and DC Trainees like this split because they can perform lots of volume for each body part, particularly their upper body.

People who are dieting like this split because the workouts are super short, especially if you only perform 1-2 exercises per body part. This is important if you’ve been dieting for 3-4 months straight and you don’t have a lot of energy in the gym.

It also makes it easy to squeeze in cardio sessions right after your workouts.

Dusty Hanshaw sometimes uses this bro split in his training. Here is a DC-style chest workout that Dusty performed recently. Check it out:

Dusty Hanshaw’s Chest Day

  • A1: 45 degree incline smith machine press, 1 x 11-20 RP
  • B1: Flat machine press, 1 x 11-20 RP
  • C1: Flat DB fly, 1 x 20-30 SS

Here is the training video for this workout:

The term “RP” stands for rest-pause. A rest-pause set is really three mini-sets performed to failure with 20-30 seconds rest in between each mini-sets.

Dusty’s goal for his first 2 exercises is to get 11-20 reps total on his three mini-sets. For example he could get 10 reps on his first mini-set, 5 reps on his second mini-set and 3 reps on his 3rd mini-set for 18 reps total.

The term “SS” stands for straight set. For these sets Dusty just performs 1 regular set to failure.

This type of bro split workout works awesome for building size while also helping you get stronger over time. Now let’s look at a typical Dusty Hanshaw back workout. Check it out:

Dusty Hanshaw’s Back Day

  • A1: T-bar row, 2 x 12-15 SS
  • B1: Rack chins, 1 x 11-20 RP
  • C1: Dante rows, 1 x 20-30 RP
  • D1: Hanging lat stretch, 1 set to failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Dusty performs 1 heavy exercise for his back thickness and 3 heavy exercises for his back width. Dusty’s upper back is easily his best body part so don’t think you need to perform more than 4 hard back exercises in a workout to grow!

This DC Training bro split is an awesome choice for any advanced bodybuilder. It works great whether you train with a high-volume or low-volume / high-intensity training style.

If you love training heavy with progressive overload but still want to use a bro split with higher volume workouts then I highly recommend you copy Dusty Hanshaw’s training program. It works like magic for many advanced bodybuilders.

Part 4: The Dorian Yates Bro Split

Dorian Yates is one of the most popular bodybuilders of all time. He won the Mr. Olympia contest 6 times in a row from 1992 – 1997 and was famous for his high-intensity training style.

Most people don’t know this but Dorian trained using a bro split with several exercises per body part. His back workout alone had 8 different exercises!

Here is the exact training split that Dorian used:

The Dorian Yates Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Biceps
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Shoulders / Triceps
  • Day 5: Back / Rear Delts
  • Day 6: Off
  • Day 7: Repeat!

This split is actually very similar to the DC Training bro split. The main difference is Dorian trains his chest and biceps on the same day and he eliminates one of the rest days.

This small change lets Dorian train each muscle group once every 6 days rather than once every 7 days like most bodybuilders.

In my experience this is an AWESOME training split to use if you want to build muscle mass as fast as possible. The extra training frequency really helps with building size and strength. You can use any training style with Dorian’s bro split but Dorian’s high-intensity training style is a great choice.

Dorian’s training program is all about performing 1 working set to failure on each exercise. On many exercises Dorian performed an extra 1-3 forced reps after reaching failure with the help of his training partner.

Even though Dorian used a high-intensity training style he still used plenty of exercises and training volume in his workouts.

Here is the exact back workout that Dorian used during his prime. Check it out:

Dorian Yates’ Back And Rear Delts Routine!

  • A1: Pullover machine, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • B1: Hammer strength pulldown (supinated grip), 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • C1: Standing barbell row to knees, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure
  • D1: Seated 1-arm machine row, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt machine, 1 working set of 10-12 reps to failure
  • F1: Bent over rear-delt DB flyes, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure
  • G1: 90 degree back extension, BB on back, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure
  • H1: Conventional deadlift from floor, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a brutal workout! Dorian actually uses the pre-exhaust technique in this workout in a very similar way to John Meadows.

Dorian uses the Nautilus pullover machine first in his workout to isolate his lats. Then he moves onto some normal looking compound upper back exercises. Finally Dorian finishes his workout with deadlifts.

Of course Dorian doesn’t pre-exhaust his muscles in every workout. For some body parts he starts his routine with a compound exercise and then performs a bunch of isolation work to finish things off.

Just take a look at Dorian’s shoulder / triceps workout:

Dorian Yates’ High-Intensity Shoulders And Triceps Routine

  • A1: Seated smith overhead press, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure
  • B1: Seated DB lateral raise, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure**
  • C1: Standing cable lateral raise, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • D1: Standing DB shrugs, 1 working set of 12-15 reps to failure
  • E1: Triceps cable pushdown, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • F1: Ez-bar skull crusher, bar to forehead, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure
  • G1: One-arm cable push down, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**

**Perform 1-3 extra forced reps with the help of your training partner after reaching muscular failure.

Here is the training video for this workout:

The only compound exercise Dorian performs in this entire routine is the smith machine overhead press. After this exercise Dorian performs another 6 isolation exercises for his shoulders, traps and triceps.

If you want to use a bro split but hate the idea of training each muscle group once per week then the Dorian Yates training split is for you. It is like the best of both worlds: you get to train with a slightly higher training frequency but you can still use a ton of volume per exercise.

I highly recommend it if you don’t mind training on different days of the week each week.

Part 5: The Milos Sarcev Bro Split

Milos Sarcev is easily one of the world’s top bodybuilding coaches. He has trained so many professional bodybuilders in his career it’s just ridiculous! Milos Sarcev loves to use giant sets in his training programs.

A giant set is a series of 4 exercises performed back-to-back for a muscle group with only 10 seconds rest in between exercises. For example:

  • Step #1: Perform exercise #1, rest 10 seconds
  • Step #2: Perform exercise #2, rest 10 seconds
  • Step #3: Perform exercise #3, rest 10 seconds
  • Step #4: Perform exercise #4, rest 2-4 minutes, repeat!

Milos Sarcev often uses 10+ exercises in a single giant set to stimulate muscle growth. This is especially true with his professional bodybuilding clients.

Milos likes to use the bodybuilding bro split with his clients because it is almost impossible to perform giant sets for multiple body parts in a single workout. The workout would take too long to complete.

Milos Sarcev likes to use a modified version of the bro split where he trains his quadriceps and hamstrings on a separate training day. For example:

The Milos Sarcev Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Quadriceps
  • Day 3: Shoulders
  • Day 4: Back
  • Day 5: Arms
  • Day 6: Hamstrings
  • Day 7: Off

This type of bro split is very difficult to recover from but Milos Sarcev believes it is the best way to train with his giant sets training style.

Here are his exact thoughts on this topic:

“I used to think I could train legs all at once, but my hams were always lagging because I was exhausted from quad training.

So these days, I train quads and hams separately, giving each its own day once a week to ensure complete development.”

If you want to use a bro split to build muscle mass then you have to give Milos Sarcev style giant sets a try. They are an awesome way to train.

Here is a Milos Sarcev style quadriceps giant set workout. Check it out:

Milos Sarcev Quadriceps Giant Set Workout

  • A1: Standing alternating lunge (barbell on back), 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A2: Seated machine leg extension, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A3: Front squat**, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A4: Pendulum squat****, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A5: Parallel box squat, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A6: Machine hack squat, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest
  • A7: Walking alternating DB lunge, 1 set of 10 reps, no rest

**Performed with the same weight you used for exercise A1

****Alternate reps using a 1/0/X/0 tempo and a 5/0/5/0 tempo. Rep #1 = 1/0/X/0 tempo, rep #2 = 5/0/5/0 tempo, rep #3 = 1/0/X/0 tempo, etc.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a tough quadriceps workout! Giant sets routines like this one are so effective because they dramatically increase the time under tension on your muscles.

Your quads have to perform 7 exercises in a row which creates an unbelievable amount of lactic acid in your muscles. By the end of this giant set routine you will barely be able to walk!

Now let’s look at a hamstrings giant set routine. Check it out:

Milos Sarcev Hamstrings Giant Set Workout

  • A1: 45 degree back extension (bodyweight only)**, 1 x 10, 1/0/1/0, no rest
  • A2: Lying leg curl (feet dorsiflexed / pointing out), 1 x 10***, 1/0/X/0, no rest
  • A3: Machine hack squat****, 1 x 10, 1/0/X/1, no rest
  • A4: Stiff-legged deadlift, 1 x 10, 1/0/1/0, no rest
  • A5: Seated leg curl (feet dorsiflexed / pointing straight), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/1*****, no rest
  • A6: Stationary alternating lunge (barbell on back), 1 x 10, 1/0/1/1, no rest
  • A7: 45 degree leg press (sumo stance), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/2, no rest
  • A8: Cybex leg press (sumo stance), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/1, no rest

**Your training partner adds manual resistance in the stretched position of every rep

***Performed as a double drop set. Perform 10 reps, drop the weight, perform 10 reps, drop the weight, perform 10 reps, done!

****The eccentric range is performed as normal. The concentric range is performed with your butt OFF the padding – your goal is to perform a hip thrusting motion to engage the glutes more. Watch the video for more details.

*****Perform a 10-second isometric hold in the contracted position on the first rep, a 9-second isometric hold on the 2nd rep, an 8-second isometric hold on the 3rd rep and so on. On your 10th rep you perform a 1-second isometric hold.

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Milos has his client perform 8 different hamstrings exercises in a row such as leg curls, sumo leg presses and stiff legged deadlifts.

Milos also has his client perform a number of high-intensity training techniques such as drop sets and isometric holds.

If your hamstrings are lagging behind your quads then I highly recommend you try the Milos Sarcev bro split where you train your hamstrings and quads on separate days.

If you are feeling really adventurous then you can even try this hamstrings giant set routine on your separate hamstrings day.

The Milos Sarcev bro split won’t work for everyone. You really need to have superior recovery ability to train this way.

However, if you are an advanced bodybuilder who recovers fast and needs to bring up his legs then this is a great choice.

Conclusion

Bro splits sometimes get a bad reputation in the fitness industry. All of the “science guys” say that the bro split is an inferior way to train and that a high-frequency training split is the way to go.

If that is the case why do almost all of the world’s top bodybuilders use some type of bro split?

Here’s the truth: bro splits are a great choice for advanced bodybuilders who already have a good strength foundation and respond well to higher volume workouts.

If this describes you then ignore the “science guys” and give the bro split a shot.

In this guide I gave you 5 great options:

  • Option #1: The Traditional Bodybuilding Bro Split
  • Option #2: The Mountain Dog Training Bro Split
  • Option #3: The Doggcrapp Training Bro Split
  • Option #4: The Dorian Yates Bro Split
  • Option #5: The Milos Sarcev Bro Split

In my experience the Mountain Dog bro split, the DC Training bro split and the Dorian Yates bro split are your best options. They do a better job of managing your recovery so you can focus on training hard each and every workout.

Here is one of my favorite quotes by the legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger to pump you up even more:

“There’s really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!