the best 6 day workout split

The Best 6 Day Workout Split, Arnold Style

by Jeremy Campbell - Last Updated June 12, 2019

If you’ve got time to spare and love hitting the gym as frequently as possible, then there’s no workout routine better suited for you than a 6-day split!

6-day workout splits have you in the gym nearly all week long. This high-frequency training allows you to hit every muscle, multiple times, throughout the week. As a result, you’re likely to see some of the best gains of your life!

It’s important when committing to such a high volume and frequency of training that you follow a well-designed routine. Winging it often results in muscle imbalances, burn out, and injuries.

If you are interested in putting in this level of work, who better to follow than the undisputed king of bodybuilding, Arnold himself?

Best 6 Day Workout Split: The Arnold Split

A muscular woman

In the world of bodybuilding, body part splits, or “bro” splits, are the norm. By breaking your body down into its individual parts and dedicating training sessions to them, you’re able to really hit each muscle hard.

Whole-body routines are great for saving time and building overall strength. But if you’re goals are hypertrophy and aesthetics, then you’re muscles will benefit from more focused attention. 6-day workout splits commonly come in 2 different flavors; Push-Pull-Legs, or the Arnold Split.

Today I’m going to highlight for you what I believe to be the best of the 2, if hypertrophy and aesthetics are your goals: the Arnold Split. While following an Arnold split routine, you hit each major body part twice per week. The days are organized as follows:

Day 1Chest and Back

Day 2Shoulders and Arms

Day 3Legs and Lower Back

After Day 3, you repeat from the beginning for 3 more days. After 6 days of this, you take a much-needed rest day.

With this setup, you get to work complimentary muscle groupings on any given day, while allowing the others time to rest and recover. It really is a genius setup!

To get you started, I’ve provided an example routine based on the Arnold Schwarzenegger variation featured in the book The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins. Also included are instructions on how to complete each prescribed movement.

Day 1 – Chest and Back

Chest

Exercise
Reps
Sets
Bench Press
3 to 410
Incline Bench Press
3 to 410
Decline Dumbbell Pullovers
3 to 410

How to Bench Press

  1. Lie down on a flat bench. Grab the bar at a medium width distance apart and then lift it from the rack, holding it straight above your head.
  2. Slowly lower the bar to about mid-chest, while keeping your elbows tucked into your sides.
  3. Pause for a second and then push the bar back up to the starting position. Lock your arms as they reach full extension.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
  5. When done, re-rack the bar on your rack.

It’s recommended that you use a spotter if you are new to this exercise. If no one is available, you shouldn’t try to lift too heavy, or you run the risk of hurting yourself.

How to Do Incline Bench Press

  1. Sit back on an incline bench. Grab the bar at a medium width distance apart and then lift it from the rack, holding it straight above your head.
  2. Slowly lower the bar to about mid-chest, while keeping your elbows tucked into your sides.
  3. Pause for a second and then push the bar back up to the starting position. Lock your arms as they reach full extension.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
  5. When done, re-rack the bar on your rack.

It’s recommended that you use a spotter if you are new to this exercise. If no one is available, you shouldn’t try to lift too heavy, or you run the risk of hurting yourself.

How to Do Decline Dumbbell Pullovers

  1. Place a dumbbell at the base of the declined portion of a declined bench.
  2. Lay down on a decline bench, ensuring your legs are secured.
  3. Reaching back behind your head with your palms facing out, grab hold of the dumbbell and slowly lift it up until it is perpendicular to the floor.
  4. With your arms extended, lower the weight back down towards the floor, stopping when your arms are parallel with the floor.
  5. Lift the weight back up until it is again perpendicular to the floor. That is 1 rep.
  6. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.
  7. Once complete, carefully lower the weight back down to the floor before letting go of it.

Back

Exercise
Reps
Sets
Chin Up
3 to 410
Bent-Over Barbell Rows
3 to 410
Deadlift
3 to 410

How to Do Chin-Ups

  1. Reach overhead and grab hold of a pull-up bar with a close grip, with your palms facing you.
  2. Using your lats, pull yourself up, bending your arms at the elbows as you rise up. Try to avoid swinging or “kipping” yourself up and stop once your chin has made it over the bar.
  3. Pause for a second or two at the top, and then slowly lower yourself back down in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

 

How to Do Bent-Over Barbell Rows

  1. Holding a barbell in your hands, lower your torso down by bending at the hips, with a slight bend in your knees. Be sure to keep your back straight.
  2. Pull the barbell up with your elbows, being sure to keep your arms up against of your body and your torso stationary.
  3. Slowly and under control, lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

 

How to Do Barbell Deadlifts

  1. Stand over a loaded barbell. Looking down, the bar should be at about midfoot, and your feet should be around hip-width distance apart.
  2. Bend down at the hips, with your back kept straight. Grab hold of the bar with your hands shoulder-width distance apart.
  3. Set your grip, pull the slack out of the bar, and then lower your hips down while bending your knees, until the bar is in contact with your shins.
  4. Keep your head looking forward, your chest up, and your back arched. Drive through your heels and pull the weight up.
  5. Once the bar has passed knee level, pull the bar back while pushing forward with your hips until you are standing tall.
  6. Keeping your back arched, bend with your hips first and lower the bar towards the floor. Once the bar has reached knee level you can bend your knees to bring it to the bottom.

 

Abs

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Crunches
525

Crunches

  1. Lay down on your back, with your feet planted flat on the ground.
  2. Raise your hands up to either side of your head, being sure to keep your elbows tucked.
  3. Keeping your lower back flat, use your abs to lift your shoulders up off the floor.
  4. Ensuring your lower back stays flat, continue lifting with your abs until your shoulders have come about four or so inches off the floor.
  5. Hold the top position for a second or two before slowly reversing the movement back to the bottom.
  6. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

 

Day 2 – Shoulders and Arms

Shoulders

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Barbell Clean and Press
3 to 410
Side Lateral Raise
3 to 410
Standing T-Bar Row
3 to 410
Military Press
3 to 410

Barbell Clean and Press

  1. Position a loaded barbell on the floor. Stand in front of it with your feet planted shoulder-width distance apart.
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend with the hips and knees while grabbing hold of the bar. Your grip should be slightly outside of your shoulders.
  3. Position your shoulders just over the bar, being sure your back is still flat.
  4. Extend with your knees in order to begin lifting the bar up off the floor. Push your hips forward and raise your shoulders at the same time, while keeping your back straight.
  5. Once the bar passes your knees, extend your knees, ankles, and hips as if you were jumping. Keep the bar moving up with your hands, close to your body throughout the movement.
  6. Pull yourself under the bar, and then begin descending into a squat position. Once the bar has reached your shoulders, rack it across your front delts. Flex with the hips and knees to take some of the force off of your shoulders.
  7. Stand up tall, before pressing the bar up overhead. Lower the bar back down to your shoulders, slowly and under control.

 

Side Lateral Raise

  1. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and hold them to your sides, while keeping your upper body straight. Your palms should be facing in.
  2. Keeping your upper body rigid, lift the dumbbells up and out to your sides, while keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Your hands should be tilted forward slightly. Continue moving the weights up until your arms are parallel with the floor.
  3. Slowly, and under control, lower the dumbbells back down to your sides
  4. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

 

How to Do Standing T-Bar Rows

  1. Place a barbell up against a corner, or into a landmine in order to secure it. Add the desired amount of weight.
  2. Standing over the bar, reach down and grab hold of the bar directly below the weights. While keeping your back straight rise up with your legs and hips until you are standing.
  3. Keep your back and chest held high and stand with a wide stance.
  4. Pull the weight with your elbows, back and into your upper abdomen, by retracting your shoulders.
  5. Pause for a second or two at the top, and then slowly lower the bar back down in a controlled manner.

 

How to Do A Military Press

  1. Position a barbell at about chest height on a squat rack. Add the desired amount of weight to the bar.
  2. Grab the bar with a grip a bit wider than shoulder-width distance apart.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and then rack the barbell onto your collar bone. Lift the bar up while keeping it on your chest. Take a step or two back and position your feet at about shoulders’ width distance apart.
  4. Lift the bar up over your head until your arms lock out.
  5. Lower the bar back down to your collarbone slowly.
  6. Lift the bar back up again.
  7. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
  8. When done, re-rack the bar on your rack.

Arms

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Standing Barbell Curl
3 to 410
Seated Dumbbell Curl
3 to 410
Close Grip Bench Press
3 to 410
Standing Barbell Tricep Extension
3 to 410

How To Do Standing Barbell Curls

  1. Stand up straight with a loaded barbell in your hands, gripping it with your hands at about shoulders’-width distance apart. Your palms should be facing out, and your elbows should be tucked into your sides.
  2. Keeping your upper arms still, lift the weight up while flexing your biceps.
  3. Once the bar has reached to about your shoulders, hold this top position for a second or two, as you continue to flex your biceps.
  4. Slowly, and under control, lower the bar back down to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

How to Do Seated Dumbbell Curls

  1. Sit down on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, resting down at your sides. Keep your palms facing up, with your elbows tucked into your sides.
  2. Keeping your upper arms still, lift the weight up while flexing your biceps.
  3. Once the weights have reached to about your shoulders, hold this top position for a second or two, as you continue to flex your biceps.
  4. Slowly, and under control, lower the weights back down to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

How to Do Close Grip Bench Press

  1. Lie down on a flat bench. Grab the bar at about shoulder’s width distance apart and then lift it from the rack, holding it straight above your head.
  2. Slowly lower the bar to about mid-chest, while keeping your elbows tucked into your sides.
  3. Pause for a second and then push the bar back up to the starting position, locking your arms as they reach full extension.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
  5. When done, re-rack the bar on your rack.

It’s recommended that you use a spotter if you are new to this exercise. If no one is available, you shouldn’t try to lift too heavy, or you run the risk of hurting yourself.

How to Do Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

  1. Sit on a bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms up above your head with your palms facing inwards.
  2. While keeping your arms up against your head, lower the weight back by bending at the elbows, towards your head, just until your forearms reach your biceps. Throughout the movement, be sure that your upper arms are stationary. Only your forearms should be moving during this exercise.
  3. Reverse the movement bringing the weights back up to the starting point above your head.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

Forearms

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Wrist Curls
3 to 410
Reverse Wrist Curls
3 to 410

How to Do Wrist Curls

  1. Sit down on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Rest your forearms on your thighs, with your palms facing up, and your wrists hanging off your thighs.
  2. Curl your wrist upwards.
  3. Hold the top position for a second or two before reversing the movement back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

How to Do Reverse Wrist Curls

  1. Place a loaded barbell on a flat bench and then kneel in front of it, facing the bench.
  2. Take hold of the barbell, with your palms facing down, and then rest your forearms on the bench so your wrists hang off the edge.
  3. Curl the barbell upwards as far as you can.
  4. Hold the top position for a second or two before reversing the movement back to the starting position
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

Abs

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Reverse Crunch
525

How to Do Reverse Crunches

  1. Lay down on the floor with your arms to your side, resting flat on the floor. Keep your arms down throughout this whole movement.
  2. Lift your legs up until your thighs are perpendicular with the floor. Keep your feet together and lift them till they are parallel with the floor. This is the starting position.
  3. Using your abs, lift your legs towards your torso while raising your hips off the floor. Keep going till your knees reach your chest.
  4. Hold this position for a second or two before reversing the movement back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

Day 3 – Legs and Lower Back

Legs

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Squat
3 to 410
Lunge
3 to 410
Leg Curl
3 to 410

How to Do A Squat

  1. Set the barbell at shoulder height while standing in front of a power rack.
  2. Position yourself under the bar and rack it across your shoulders. Make sure your shoulder blades are retracted, and that the bar is tightly and evenly resting on your back. Unrack the bar.
  3. Start the movement by bending down with the knees. Your hips should stay stationary, while your knees travel forward. Be sure to keep your upper body straight throughout the movement.
  4. One your hamstrings come into contact with your calves, you’ve reached the bottom of the movement.
  5. Driving through with your legs, hips, and glutes, reverse the movement back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

How to Do Dumbbell Lunges

  1. Grab hold of two dumbbells and stand upright.
  2. Step forward with one leg, about 2 feet out in front of you, while keeping the opposite leg stationary. Lower your upper body down, while keeping an upright posture.
  3. Pushing through the heel, lift yourself back up to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
  5. Perform the movement again, but with the opposite leg.

 

How to Do Leg Curls

  1. Sit down into a leg curl machine.
  2. Position your lower leg on the top of the pads, and then lock the lap pad down onto your thighs, right above your knees. Grab hold of the handles at your sides.
  3. Pull the machine lever back as far as you can using your thighs. Keep your upper body still throughout the movement.
  4. Hold the bottom position for a second or two before reversing the movement slowly, and under control.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

Lower Back

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Stiff Leg Deadlift
3 to 410
Good Mornings
3 to 410

How to Do Stiff Leg Deadlifts

  1. Deadlift a loaded barbell until you are standing tall. This is the starting position.
  2. Keeping your back arched, bend with your hips first, and lower the bar till it reaches down to about your knees.
  3. Using your hamstrings and glutes, reverse the movement until you are back at the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

How To Do Good Mornings

  1. Position a barbell on a rack at shoulder height. Load up the bar with the desired amount of weight.
  2. Position the bar across your upper back at your shoulders as you would when starting a back squat. Maintain a flexed upper back, and retract your shoulder blades back. Bend your knees slightly.
  3. Bend at the hips until your upper body is down to just above parallel.
  4. To reverse the motion, extend through your hips with your hamstrings and glutes until you’ve reached a standing position.
  5. Reverse the motion by extending through the hips with your glutes and hamstrings. Continue until you have returned to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

Calves

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Standing Calf Raise
3 to 410

How to Do Standing Calf Raises

  1. Adjust the pad of a calf raise machine to about your shoulders’ height.
  2. Position your shoulders under the pads. Keep a slight bend in your knees, and then push up until you are standing tall. This is the starting position.
  3. Lift the backs of your heels up as high as you can by flexing your calves.
  4. Hold the top position for a second or two before reversing the movement back down to the starting position, slowly and under control.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

 

Abs

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Crunches
525

Some Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. The classic Arnold split! No 6-day workout split will provide results like this time tested routine.

If you’ve got the time and dedication to commit yourself to a 6-day bodybuilding routine, look no further!

To make the most of this routine, make that you’re eating big and getting enough sleep to ensure adequate recovery. This level of frequency and volume is taxing.

If you don’t provide your body with the calories and sleep it needs in order to rebuild, you may end up spinning your wheels. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s recommended you run this routine while in a caloric surplus.

Stick to this routine consistently, and before long you’ll see some amazing results!

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