Building a workout routine is no easy feat. In addition to planning out your sets, reps, and exercises, you also have to figure out how often you’re going to exercise each week.
While conventional wisdom tells us that we need to work out nearly every day to see real gains, many of us actually perform our best when we limit our workouts to a few days a week.
In fact, the 3 day workout split schedule is one of the best options for new and experienced weight lifters alike. But, is it right for your needs?
Up next, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the 3 day split workout. We’ll do a deep dive into the training plan’s pros and cons and even offer up some top tips for developing your own 3 day workout routine. Let’s get started!
What Is A 3 Day Split Workout?
A 3 day split workout is any training plan that involves working out 3 days a week.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, while the 3 day split workout is certainly a straightforward concept, you can actually make it as simple or complex as you’d like. Depending on what lifts and workouts you set for yourself, the 3 day split training program can be customized to suit any fitness goal.
For example, you could arrange your workout program so that you dedicate each day to training a specific muscle group. Or, you could focus day 1 on cardio, day 2 on muscle strength, and day 3 on muscular endurance.
Therefore, the 3 day split workout is more of a training concept rather than a specific, detailed fitness plan.
Pros & Cons Of The 3 Day Bodybuilding Split
Like any workout routine, the 3 day bodybuilding split training program has its pros and cons. Here are some of the many advantages and disadvantages of following this workout schedule.
Advantages of the 3 Day Split Workout
- Easily Adaptable – One of the primary benefits of the 3 day split is how easily it can be adapted to suit your specific training needs. Since the 3 day split dictates that you train 3 days a week, you can decide what muscle groups you train each day.
- Plenty Of Rest Days – While we often think that muscle-building happens while we’re at the gym, our muscles actually get stronger when they have time to repair themselves. This repair process only happens when we take rest days, which are easy to come by with the 3 day split workout. When using this training program, you automatically get 4 rest days a week, which is perfect if you’re looking to avoid burn out in your training program.
- Flexible Scheduling – Training with the 3 day bodybuilding split plan makes it easy for working professionals to arrange their workout days around their busy schedules. Since you only need to train 3 days a week, it’s easier to find time to hit the gym when using this program.
Disadvantages of The 3 Day Split Workout
In general, the 3 day split workout is an effective way to stay fit and active without running the risk of overtraining. However, it does have its disadvantages, particularly when it comes to training intensity.
Since the 3 day split routine limits you to just 3 days of training each week, you generally can’t dedicate as much time to each muscle group as you might if you lifted 4, 5, or even 6 times a week. Of course, working out this much greatly increases your risk of overtraining and injury, but it also gives you more time for training individual muscle groups.
Sample 3 Day Workout Split Routine
One of the greatest benefits of the 3 day workout split routine is its flexibility. Unlike many other fitness plans, the only thing that the 3 day split workout dictates is that you exercise 3 times a week (generally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Other than that, you’re free to choose the lifts and exercises that best align with your fitness goals.
If all this freedom and flexibility has you wondering how you can design a 3 day workout split routine that meets your needs, worry not. Coming right up, we’ll walk you through a commonly-used split workout routine that you can use as a starting point as you craft your own 3 day split training plan.
The concept behind this sample 3 day split workout is simple: Each day, you’ll focus on training a specific section of the body.
In particular, each day will focus on either the “pull” muscles (back and biceps), the “push” muscles (chest and triceps), or the lower body. Additionally, you’ll do a bit of core training during each workout.
Here’s a sample 3 day split workout plan based on this training concept:
Day 1: Back, Biceps & Abs
On day 1 of your 3 day split, you’ll focus on the “pull” muscles, which include the back and biceps. Depending on your fitness and bodybuilding goals, you may also want to expand your target muscles to include the forearms.
In addition to your usual core training routine, potential exercises that you can do on day 1 include:
- Biceps curls
- Bent over rows
- Lat pull-downs
- Reverse dumbbell flies
Basically, any exercise that targets your back and biceps is fair game. This includes the vast majority of lifts that involve “pulling,” such as rows and pull-downs.
Day 2: Chest, Triceps & Abs
Since day 1 focused on the “pulling” muscles, day 2 is designed to give those muscles a break by focusing on the “pushing” muscles. Your push muscles include your chest and triceps, as well as your deltoids (a.k.a. your shoulders).
Just like on day 1, day 2 of your 3 day split will also involve a bit of core training. Additionally, you can pick and choose from a wide range of different exercises, such as:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Chest press
- Triceps extensions
- French press
As you can see, most ‘press’-type exercises target your chest, triceps, and other pushing muscles, so feel free to mix up your workout routine with these exercises as you see fit.
Day 3: Legs & Abs
The final day of the 3 day split workout routine is all about the lower body. Of course, you’ll still want to build in a bit of core training, but the primary focus of day 3 is building up your leg strength.
Thankfully, there are a whole host of different exercises that target the lower body, such as:
- Squats (front and back)
- Split squats
- Leg press
- Calf raises
- Leg curls
- Wall sits
Depending on your fitness goals, you may also want to consider building in some more explosive lower body movements, like squat jumps, plyometrics, or Olympic lifts.
The Verdict: Should You Follow A 3 Day Split?
The 3 day split workout is a solid choice for anyone looking to strike a balance between training hard and getting enough rest in between sessions. While there’s no single workout plan that will work for all training goals, the flexibility and versatility of the 3 day split make it a great option for most fitness enthusiasts.