Training On A Time Budget: 5 Days Per Week

The Perfect Training Program: 5 Days Per Week


In the last article, I took you through possibly my favourite go-to routine when I just can’t decide what to do or have minimal time available to me – the upper-lower split.

It’s also my first port of call when a client comes to me with no real preference over program design, and is at the intermediate level. If you want to check that out, take a look here

4 Day Per Week Routine

In this mini article series, we’ve also gone through a solid AF routine for only 3 days per week too.

Check the 3 Day Per Week Routine here.

Today, it’s time to ramp things up a gear.

This routine is the one for those who have a little more time on their hands, are looking tot take things a bit more seriously & make even more strength & hypertrophy (muscle building) related progress.

You can get results with 3 or 4 days of training per week, but when you want to step up to the next level, you can’t go wrong with a 5-day per week routine.


The Benefits

That fifth day here allows you to either split up your upper body days a little more, or add an extra leg workout.

That added session equates to an increase in total volume per body part, which equals more muscle growth.

You’ll find your workouts will be slightly shorter, allowing you to keep better mental focus.

It also doesn’t matter quite so much if you have one workout that’s a bit off, as you’ll still hit that muscle at least once more that week, if not twice.


The Downsides

You’re almost spoiled for choice now!

Do you do 3 upper body and 2 lower body days, or 2 upper body and 3 lower?

There’s also the risk that whatever you do hit 3 times can become a little over-trained, and recovery will suffer. Train smart though, and that shouldn’t happen.


The Premise

As always, blending strength and hypertrophy work is key, so there’ll be a mixture of low-rep, heavy weight work to get your strength up, as well as some slightly lighter stuff for higher reps to create tension, fatigue and hypertrophy.

As it takes a little longer to recover from leg workouts, we’ll do two lower sessions, and 3 upper body sessions.

For the legs, you have a strength day and a hypertrophy day, while with your upper body, it’ll be a strength day that works everything, then hypertrophy days for the chest and back, and another for your shoulders and arms.


The Routine 

Workout A – Lower Strength:

  • Squat or deadlift variation – 3-5 sets of 2-6 reps at 80-90% 1RM, followed by an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set using the same weight.
  • Squat or deadlift variation for 3 sets of 6-8 reps at RPE 8.
    (Make this different to your first exercise – if you did a squat first, do a deadlift variation here, and vice versa.)
  • Barbell lunges or reverse lunges – 3 sets of 8-10 reps per leg at RPE 9.
  • Lying leg curls – 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Calf raises – 4 sets of 6-8 reps.


Workout B – Upper Strength:

  • Bench press variation – 3-5 sets of 2-6 reps at 80-90% 1RM, followed by an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set using the same weight.
  • Close grip bench press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps at RPE 9.
  • Standing military press – 3 sets of 5-6 reps at RPE 8.
  • Pendlay Rows – 4 sets of 6-8 at RPE 8.
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups – 4 sets of 6-8 at RPE 9.
  • Barbell curls – 3 sets of 6-8 at RPE 9.
  • Dips – 3 sets of 6-8 reps at RPE 9.


Workout C – Chest & Back Hypertrophy:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Wide Grip Pulldowns – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Decline or wide grip bench press – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Close grip cable row or underhand barbell row – 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Dumbbell flyes or cable crossovers – 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
  • Face pulls superset with band pull-aparts – 3 sets each of 15-20 reps on the face pulls and 30-50 reps on the pull-aparts.


Workout D – Lower Hypertrophy:

  • Front Squat – 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Single-leg leg extensions – 3 sets of 15-20 reps per side.
  • Leg press – 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Seated or standing leg curls – 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Dumbbell stiff-leg deadlift or glute ham raise – 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Standing calf raises – 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Seated calf raises – 3 sets of 15-20 reps.


Workout E – Shoulders & Arms Hypertrophy:

  • Seated dumbbell presses – 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Lateral raises – 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Rear delt raises superset with dumbbell shrugs – 2 sets each of 15-20 reps on the raises and 10-12 on the shrugs.
  • EZ bar curls – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • Rope pushdowns – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • Hammer curls superset with 2-handed dumbbell extensions – 3 sets of 12-15 reps each.
  • Preacher curls – 2 sets of 15-20 reps plus 1drop set.
  • Dips – 2 sets of bodyweight to failure.



For the squat, bench press and deadlift variations, you can pick whatever variations you like – conventional, paused, banded, with chains, different ranges of motion, etc. However, the premise is that every time you do a certain variation, you lift more than before.

For instance, if in week 1 you do 3 sets of 4 reps with 100kg (220 lbs) on box squats, the next time you box squatted in, say, 3-5 weeks, you’d aim to add reps, add a set or use more weight.

You don’t have tempos here, but be smart.

In the strength days you definitely want to lift explosively, and lower with control, but not too slowly, else you risk injury.

For the hypertrophy days, you can go a little slower to create some time under tension, but your focus still needs to be on strength and moving the weight fast.

Unless otherwise stated, go to an RPE 8-9 on most sets, meaning you have 1 to 2 reps left in the tank.



We’ve already gone through how to progress your main lift variations, but for everything else, just aim for a bit more weight or extra reps every session, while maintaining good form.


The Wrap Up

Now things are getting serious.

5 days per week of training works great, but you have to start thinking more carefully about your nutrition. (If you weren’t already!) Look into getting good pre- and post-workout meals, tracking your calories, and getting enough protein, carbs and fats.

Next time … prepare yourself for an awesome 6-day split.

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