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3 Day Split Workout – The Ultimate Routine For Beginners?

The 3 Day Split Workout

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There’s hundreds of different styles of workout regimes in existence, it comes to me as no surprise that the majority of newcomers give up before they even do their first workout – with magazines, websites, books and trainers all preaching and recommending completely different workout styles for the same end goal.

To build muscle mass.

The 3 day split is one workout style among the hundreds out there, however unlike many the 3 day split workout regime is ideal for beginners – having started with a 3 day split regime myself I can honestly say it’s the best starting point for a newcomer to the gym.

3 Reasons Why The 3 Day Split Workout Is Ideal For Beginners

You’re probably thinking “SJ, the 3 day split isn’t anything fancy – there’s a heap of more advanced and involved workout regimes out there.” 

I don’t disagree.

The 3 day split is basic.

That’s just one of many reasons that make it so perfect for the beginner.

1 – It’s Manageable

The 3 day split workout is extremely manageable, the 4, 5 and 6 day split workout regimes often complicate things, require too much in terms of time commitment and just generally overwhelm newcomers.

A 6 day split may seem exciting & enjoyable for the first day or week, but it won’t take long until you’re beat down, de-motivated and ready to throw in the towel – not the attitude we want to cultivate in our first few weeks with the iron.

The 3 day split only requires 3 workouts per week on non consecutive days totalling around 1 hour per workout.

Regardless of whether you’re a parent, student, full time employee or entrepreneur anyone can find or make that time.

The occasional missed workout can easily be re-scheduled as there’s plenty of time in the week to make a day change here or there (any good routine should be flexible enough to accommodate your life).

2 – It Allows Sufficient Recovery

More workouts, more sets and more exercises are not necessarily beneficial for the beginner…

It’s quite the opposite actually.

Newcomers take longer to recover between workouts, their bodies haven’t quite adapted yet – the seasoned gym-goer can train five or six days a week and hit the same muscle group 48 hours after initially training it, the newcomer cannot.

This is the #1 reason why a 5 day split workout isn’t best suited for beginners.

It’s a great workout style, I’m personally following one right now – but if I had less than a year of time spent in the gym under my belt I would steer clear of that volume.

The typical 3 day split looks something like this:

  • Monday – Chest & Triceps
  • Wednesday – Back & Biceps
  • Friday – Shoulders & Legs

With at least 1 rest day between workouts, muscle groups strategically combined together (pairing large and small muscle groups together) and a solid break between your chest and shoulder workout (as your shoulders will be reasonably fatigued from your chest workout) the beginner has no concern of injury or burn-out due to over-training.

3 – It Provides Fantastic Progression

Eat well, train hard (apply progressive overload each workout) and the 3 day split will serve you well for many years.

As I mentioned, one of the biggest gym misconceptions is volume and frequency of training – you can absolutely build a physique that resembles a Greek god with 3 intense workout days per week, there’s not a shroud of doubt in my mind.

The 3 day split workout regime you follow should be based around the major compound movement for the particular body part you’re training, continue to add weight and reps each and every workout and size and strength will never be a concern of yours again.

3 Mistakes Most Guys Make With Their 3 Day Split Workout

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1 – Focusing On High Volume Instead Of High Intensity

If you’re able to hit 50 sets per body part per workout you’re not lifting heavy enough and you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.

Each workout should consist of roughly 20 sets, with the majority of your lifts being performed in the single digit rep range.

4 – 6 reps.

3 – 4 sets.

3 – 4 exercises per body part.

The 3 day split should not be a high volume ‘pump up’ style workout regime.

If you want size and strength focus on your compound movements and focus on applying progressive overload with heavy weight.

Each workout should start with the corresponding mass mover exercise for that body part:

  • Chest – Barbell Bench Press
  • Back – Weighted Pull-Ups
  • Shoulders – Military Press
  • Arms – Barbell Curls/Triceps Dips
  • Legs – Barbell Squats

2 – Poor Scheduling Of Workouts

The typical training schedule of my 3 day split workout regime looks something like this:

  • Chest/Triceps
  • Back/Biceps
  • Shoulders/Legs

This isn’t because chest is my favourite muscle group and legs is my least favourite (actually far from it!) this schedule is optimized to ensure the muscle group we’re training on any given day has the most recovery time possible. Many guys overthink their workout regime and re-arrange days for no particular reason, resulting in poor recovery between workouts.

A prime example of this is training arms the day before your chest workout – when your triceps are still extremely fatigued from the arm workout you performed the previous day your chest workout isn’t going to be particularly great, as triceps are the secondary muscle group when we’re performing our heavy chest pressing movements.

Performing a shoulder workout the day after training chest is the second most common scheduling mistake I see being made, with excessive stress and tension being placed on the shoulders two days in a row (you’ll find that chest dips and incline dumbbell/barbell presses stress the shoulders) this can result in rotator cuff inpingement and niggling injuries over time following this schedule.

3 – Inconsistency & Shiny Object Syndrome

As discussed above I highly recommend customizing your rest days and workout days to suit your schedule to ensure you’re consistent.

If you train hard but you’re inconsistent you won’t see the progress you’re after.

If you train inconsistently you won’t see anything.

Set your 3 day split workout and follow it for at least 12 weeks before making any adjustments.

Follow the regime, gauge your results and make the necessary pivots, if you’re chopping and changing exercises, scheduling and workouts all the time you’re not going to be able to gauge what is actually working and what isn’t.

Don’t fall victim to shiny object syndrome.

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Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights

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Adjustable in 2.5lb increments all the way up to 52.5lbs per dumbbell, ideal for the beginner or intermediate gym-goer

You can invest in a pair of these dumbbells that’ll last you forever here.

3 Day Split Workout Examples

Below are four 3 day split workout routines that WILL have you stacking on both size and strength regardless of whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned gym-goer.

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3 Day Split Workout Example 1

Train on three non consecutive days with two days rest before restarting the cycle.

Chest/Triceps

  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Chest Dips – 3 x failure
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 3 x 6 reps
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 3 x 6 reps

Back/Biceps

  • Deadlifts – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pull-Ups – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pendlay Row – 3 x 6 reps
  • Barbell Curl – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3 x 6 reps

Shoulders/Legs

  • Barbell Military Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Laterals – 3 x 6 reps
  • Barbell Squats – 3 x 6 reps
  • Leg Press – 3 x 6 reps

3 Day Split Workout Example 2

Train on three non consecutive days with two days rest before restarting the cycle.

Chest/Legs

  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Chest Dips – 3 x failure
  • Barbell Squats – 3 x 6 reps
  • Leg Press – 3 x 6 reps

Arms

  • Barbell Curl – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 3 x 6 reps
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 3 x 6 reps

Back/Shoulders

  • Deadlifts – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pull-Ups – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pendlay Row – 3 x 6 reps
  • Barbell Military Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Laterals – 3 x 6 reps

3 Day Split Workout Example 3

Train on three non consecutive days with two days rest before restarting the cycle.

Push

  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Barbell Military Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Laterals – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 3 x 6 reps
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 3 x 6 reps

Pull

  • Deadlifts – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pull-Ups – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pendlay Row – 3 x 6 reps
  • Barbell Curl – 3 x 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3 x 6 reps

Legs

  • Barbell Squats – 3 x 6 reps
  • Leg Press – 3 x 6 reps
  • Walking Lunges – 3 x 10 reps

3 Day Split Workout Example 4

Train on three non consecutive days with two days rest before restarting the cycle.

Squat Focus

  • Barbell Squats – 5 x 5 reps
  • Leg Press – 3 x 8 reps
  • Walking Lunges – 3 x 8 reps

Bench Focus

  • Barbell Bench Press – 5 x 5 reps
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 8 reps
  • Bodyweight Dips – 3 x failure

Deadlift Focus

  • Deadlifts – 5 x 5 reps
  • Pendlay Row – 3 x 6 reps
  • Pull-Ups – 3 x failure

What’s Your Take On The 3 Day Split Workout?

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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