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The Three Day Split Workout

Whether you’re an experienced lifter or new to the gym, you’ve probably heard of the 3-day split. It’s a fairly simple concept: three separate days of programming spread out over a week, during which the lifter will be able to exercise each muscle group. The three-day split is excellent for multiple reasons:

  • The programming is usually straightforward
  • The lifter spends relatively little time in the gym
  • Three days of activity allows for plenty of time for muscle recovery, which is particularly useful for novice lifters

Unless otherwise noted, most three day splits typically allow for one to two days of rest in between workout days. For example, a given program might look like this.

Typical Three-Day Split

3 day split workout schedule

Monday: Day 1

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: Day 2

Thursday: rest

Friday: Day 3

Saturday: rest

Sunday: rest

Taking It Home

Adult Woman Training Legs Doing Inverted Lunges Exercise

Like almost every other style of programming, many three day splits are designed with a fully equipped gym in mind. However, with simple modifications to the types of movements and the implements of resistance, these programs can be brought into your home very quickly. As we review the different kinds of splits below, we will also go over different ways to incorporate whatever you have available to you in your living space, ranging from a set of dumbbells all the way down to just your body weight and two soup cans.

Things to Remember

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One of the important things to note is that the number of reps you perform in a given movement will vary widely depending on what you have at hand. For example, performing a lateral raise with a 20lb dumbbell will fatigue your lateral deltoid more quickly than performing the same movement with the aforementioned soup can. Regardless of your equipment, in each set, you should be shooting for muscular fatigue. This means that the last 2-3 reps of every set should be difficult. It does not mean you need to go to true failure in each set. For this reason, I won’t be assigning rep ranges for the exercises detailed below.

IMG_7431The final thing to cover before getting into the workouts themselves is this: track your progress. Each time you perform a set, write down how many reps you got and at what weight/resistance level. Each subsequent day you go through that part of the three-day split, shoot for increasing either the reps, the weight, or both.

 

 

 

 

Varieties of 3 Day Splits

The types of three day split we’ll be covering here are:

  • Bodybuilder Split or Push/Pull/Legs
  • Upper Body/Lower Body
  • Full Body

As we go through the different kinds of splits, I’ll outline what each day will look like, and what benefits of the split are.

Bodybuilder 3 Day Split Routine

You may have also heard this referred to as the “Bro” split. It’s the classic chest/triceps, back/biceps, and legs/core split. Each day of this workout focuses on an entirely separate grouping of muscles that synergize with each other and assist each other in movements. This can also be classified as a Push/Pull/Legs split, as the chest and triceps (and some of the shoulders) are all involved in pushing movements, the back and biceps (and the rest of the shoulders) are involved in pulling movements, and the legs…well they’re involved in leg movements.

Here’s an example of what one of these routines would look like at home. Again, note that the mode of resistance can be changed depending on what you have available to you. All the movements for this workout, as will be for the rest of the splits, will be programmed using only things you may already have lying around your home.

Day 1 – Chest/Triceps (Push)

  • Pushups x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Overhead Press x 3 sets
  • Weighted Tricep Dips w/Rice Bag x 3 sets
  • Single Arm Pushups on the Wall x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Lateral Raise x 3 sets
  • Soup Can Overhead Tricep Extension x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Floor Chest Fly x 3 sets

Day 2 – Back/Biceps (Pull)

  • Bodyweight Inverted Row on Table x 3 sets
  • Book Boxed Set Lat Pullover x 3 sets
  • Rice Bag Single Arm Rear Delt Fly x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Curls x 3 sets
  • Soup Can Supermans x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Single Arm Row x 3 sets
  • Hammer Curls w/Hammer x 3 sets

Day 3 – Legs/Abs (Legs)

  • Goblet Squats x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Deadlifts x 3 sets
  • Towel Reverse Lunges x 3 sets
  • Hamstring Walkouts x 3 sets
  • Single-Leg Suitcase Calf Raises x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Weighted Sit-Ups x 3 sets
  • Baking Tray Woodchoppers x 3 sets

The upside here is that because you’re only hitting a given muscle group once per week, you have ample time for recovery and can move on to the next part of the program without any soreness in the muscle groups you’ll be working out next.

Upper Body/Lower Body 3 Day Split Routine

Unlike most other three day splits, this one operates along with a structure similar to the following over two weeks:

Week 1

Monday: Upper Body

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday: Lower Body

Thursday: rest day

Friday: Upper Body

Saturday: rest day

Sunday: rest day

 

Week 2

Monday: Lower Body

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday: Upper Body

Thursday: rest day

Friday: Lower Body

Saturday: rest day

Sunday: rest day

As you may have gathered from the name of the split, each day, you will either be working your upper body or your lower body. The days in this split would look something like this:

Upper Body

  • Feet Elevated Pushups x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Bent Over Row x 3 sets
  • Backpack Lat Pullover x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Curl to Overhead Press x 3 sets
  • Tricep Dips w/Feet Elevated x 3 sets
  • Soup Can Lateral Raise x 3 sets
  • Bodyweight Tricep Extension x 3 sets

Lower Body

  • Goblet Squats x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Deadlifts x 3 sets
  • Weighted Backpack Glute Bridge x 3 sets
  • Hamstring Walkout x 3 sets
  • Single-Leg Calf Raise x 3 sets

One of the attractive features of this style of programming is that it’s very simple. You will also be able to get through each day more quickly than in other three day splits, so you’ll be able to progress in your reps and resistance choices more quickly.

Full Body 3 Day Split Routine

This third three-day split is arguably the most robust in what it covers. As the lifter is exercising their entire body each day, less time is spent on a given body part each day. A home routine following this protocol might look like the following:

Day 1
  • Goblet Squat x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Row x 3 sets
  • Pushups x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Lateral Raise x 3 sets
  • Backpack Curls x 3 sets
  • Tricep Dips x 3 sets
  • Sit-Ups x 3 sets
Day 2
  • Duffel Bag Deadlifts x 3 sets
  • Milk Jug Floor Chest Fly x 3 sets
  • Backpack Lat Pullover x 3 sets
  • Overhead Press x 3 sets
  • Encyclopedia Concentration Curls x 3 sets
  • Soup Can Overhead Tricep Extensions x 3 sets
  • Baking Tray Woodchoppers x 3 sets
Day 3
  • Soup Pot Overhead Squats x 3 sets
  • Single Arm Pushups on a Wall x 3 sets
  • Plank Row x 3 sets
  • Duffel Bag Reverse Curls x 3 sets
  • Bodyweight Tricep Extensions x 3 sets
  • Leg Raises x 3 sets

 

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Possibly the best part of a routine such as this is the fact that some research has pointed to the fact that training a given body part more frequently leads to increased muscle and strength gains. Additionally, because the lifter is fatiguing each body part less each day of activity, the lifter will experience less soreness overall.

 

The Final Word

Regardless of what your goals are, the biggest factor in getting closer to them is consistency. The three-day split is a fantastic way to give yourself a simple routine that doesn’t take too much time out of your week and doesn’t require you to spend hours working out. Once you’ve incorporated regular exercise into your life, you can then increase the volume and frequency. Which of these, if any, are right for you? Talk with your 90Fit coach about your goals and your available equipment to come up with a plan of action!

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Dan Steinberg - 90Fit Health Coach
Certification: NASM-CPT: Certified Personal Coach
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