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Double split training lost popularity around the time disco faded. Workouts reached peaked volume in the ’70s when Arnold Schwarzenegger hit most body parts with a 15-25 set barrage thrice weekly and abs and calves daily. But Arnold didn’t just do half his workload one day and the other half the next, because, if he had, the resulting sessions would’ve lasted over four hours. He went a step further and split each day’s workload, doing half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon or evening. This is known as double splitting training. By double-splitting, he moderated the volume of his 12 weekly workouts. We’re not recommending you follow Arnold’s high-frequency split long-term.

However, there are three ways you can benefit from a routine daily double. Let’s take a look at the best practical ways to do double split training.


Double-splitting is not just some relic of the ’70s, like Fonzie and mood rings. It’s still done by some top bodybuilders today. But unlike Arnold, modern musclemen and musclewomen don’t usually hit body parts thrice weekly (once weekly is the norm), and they rarely double split in the offseason. They typically two-time only pre-contest. The resulting shorter workouts allow them to apply maximum intensity and focus to each session from start to finish, even when their lower carb intake reduces their energy.

double split training
Biceps are a good candidate for a second daily workout.

Even if you don’t plan to flex on a stage, you can benefit from short-term double splitting. Our sample routine divides the body into four on-days (eight workouts) which can be done over five-to-eight days, with off-days the other days, depending on your schedule and recuperation needs. This routine focuses on a larger part (such as back) in the first workout and smaller parts (such as biceps and calves) in the second workout. A short-term double split works best when done for no longer than six weeks followed by at least six weeks of one workout per training daily.


Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
A.M. QuadricepsA.M. BackA.M. ChestA.M. Deltoids
P.M. Hamstrings, AbsP.M. Biceps, CalvesP.M. Triceps, AbsP.M. Traps, Calves


The most popular way of double splitting today is to do your cardio separate from your lifting. This is typically fasted cardio, meaning it’s performed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, long after the previous day’s last meal, which may facilitate the burning of body fat instead of carbs for energy. You can then do your weight-training workout later in the day with sufficient carbs for fuel. This division allows you to physically and mentally compartmentalize your fat-burning and muscle-making. Some competitive bodybuilders will triple-split pre-contest, doing cardio in the morning, lifting in the afternoon, and still more cardio and/or lifting in the evening.


One big downside of a daily double routine is incorporating two trips to and from the gym into your schedule. Even if you have time and even if it’s an easy commute, seeing the same old gym twice in the same day can grow tedious. The solution is to do one regular workout in a commercial gym and one lighter workout in a home gym. Some of you may already have well-equipped home gyms, but most of you probably don’t. That doesn’t matter. In The Barbell’s sample routine, you won’t be doing squats or pulldowns at home.

double split workout
Bicycle crunches are an excellent ab exercise that can be performed anywhere.

In our major/minor double split, major muscle groups are trained in a commercial gym. The home workout focuses on areas you can stress without weights, such as abs (with bicycle crunches and leg raises) or calves (with one-leg, bodyweight calf raises), or with minimal equipment: forearms can be hit with a barbell or dumbbell, neck can be stressed with a barbell plate against your head. (In our sample routine, calves are also trained once in the gym with weighted resistance.) You’ll notice the routine includes space for a “weakness.” This is a body part you want to give extra focus with high-rep, low-set work. For example, for arms, do two supersets of curls (50 reps) and overhead triceps extensions (50 reps) with a light barbell or resistance band.


Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5
A.M. LegsA.M. BackA.M. Chest, CalvesA.M. ShouldersA.M. Arms
P.M. Abs, CalvesP.M. Abs, WeaknessP.M. Abs, NeckP.M. Abs, CalvesP.M. Abs


🔸 Doing two lifting workouts daily is effective for short periods of six weeks or less, followed by at least six weeks of once-daily workouts.

🔸 To compartmentalize fat-burning and muscle-making, do your cardio shortly after waking and your weight-training in the afternoon or evening.

🔸 Another way to double split is to do a heavier, daily workout in a commercial gym and a second, lighter workout with the equipment you have at home.

🔸 You may want to double split only once or twice in your training split. For example, on leg day, do quadriceps in the A.M. and hamstrings and calves in the P.M., but on all other workout days hit the gym only once.

🔸 For maximum effectiveness, space at least six hours and two meals between your first and second workouts. If possible, nap during this between-workout period.

🔸 Double splitting can be an effective long-range system for those with unique schedules. For example, if you can only get to the gym two days per week, you could still divide your body into four weekly workouts: two on one day and two on the other.

See also: How Often Should You Workout?