3 Day Split Workout Plan

Keaton Ellis flexing his back in the 3 day split workout article.

With all the conflicting information available on the web, it can be overwhelming to choose the right workout program for you. We know it can be a pain in the ass and very time consuming looking or creating one. But look no further, we have taken the time to write a comprehensive 3 day split workout for you.

If you’re looking to:

  1. Save time 
  2. Build muscle 
  3. Workout effectively 
  4. Recover properly 


Then we have the plan for you...


Today, it can be easier to build a lean dense and muscular physique through training 2-3 body parts per workout rather than a full body or upper lower split. But the caveat here is that there are a plethora of underlying principles that need implementation along with this workout split to get the best results. Some of which we can go over briefly in this blog post. 



WHY DO A 3 DAY SPLIT?


Rather than focusing on tons of training and limiting recovery, this style focuses on recovery and limits over training. Most people believe that you will get superior results by working out 6-7 days per week, but in reality our body desperately needs time to adequately recover. The 3 day split workout has become more popular in recent times because it allows for less time in the gym with comparable (or better) results to programs that have you working out 6-7x per week. This split lets you effectively target on average 2-3 muscle groups per session. This will allow you to effectively overload the targeted muscle for each training day. 


When referring to a workout program, the key factor to succeeding in said program is consistency. How consistent can the trainee get to the gym and follow the game plan?

Well, if you can find 3-4 hours throughout your 7 day week, you should have no issues being consistent. Thus, this workout plan would be absolutely perfect for anyone short on time, business owners, dads, moms, cousins, aunts, uncles, practically anyone looking to add some strength and build a bit of muscle. 


WHAT MUSCLES DO WE TARGET AND ON WHAT DAYS?


In terms of structuring the workout plan, personally I find it the most effective to use a “push-pull-legs” structure. Why? 


Because you are able to target muscles that work in unison on the same training days and avoid over training. 


For example, on our push days we target the chest, shoulders and triceps. When we bench press, we use the chest as a primary mover and our triceps and frontal deltoids as a secondary mover. 


On our pull days, we target the back and biceps, when we do a pull-up, our back is the primary mover but the biceps are secondary… Making sense? 


Lastly on our third day we target the legs, which is self explanatory, most quadricep dominant exercises use hamstrings or glutes as a secondary mover and vice versa. 




SHOW ME THE 3 DAY SPLIT WORKOUT


I like to follow a “pyramid structure” when it comes to repetitions and sets. This means starting with a lighter weight on some key lifts for higher rep counts (around 12) then slowly increasing the weight and decreasing the rep count. 


As muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs optimally in rep ranges between 6-12… Also, I like to throw 5-10 minutes of core work at the end of each workout.


THE PLAN...


Monday: Push Day + Core


  • Cable external rotations: 10, 10 (each arm)
  • Bench press: 12, 10, 8, 6 
  • Incline DB press: 10, 8, 6
  • Cable chest flys: 12, 12, 12 
  • DB shoulder press: 12, 8, 6 
  • DB lateral raise: 10, 10, 10 
  • DB rear delt flys: 10, 10, 10 
  • Skull crushers: 12, 10, 8 
  • Tricep rope pulldowns: 12, 12, 12
  • Lying leg raises: 20, 20, 20 
  • Reverse crunches: 12, 12, 12 


Wednesday: Pull Day + Core 


  • Pull-ups (normal or assisted): 10, 10, 10
  • Deadlifts: 12, 8, 6, 6 
  • Lat pull-downs: 12, 10, 8, 6 
  • Cable rows: 12, 10, 8, 6 
  • Smith machine shrugs: 12, 12, 12 
  • DB hammer curl: 10, 10, 10 
  • Straight bar cable curl: 12, 12, 12 
  • Knee raises: 12, 12, 12 
  • Bicycle crunch: 20, 20, 20 
  • Supermans: 16, 16, 16 


Friday: Legs + Core 


  • Body-weight squats: 16, 16, 16
  • Back squat: 12, 10, 8, 6 
  • Leg extension: 12, 12, 12 
  • Leg curl: 12, 12, 12 
  • Leg press: 12, 10, 8, 6 
  • Stationary DB lunge: 10, 10, 10 
  • Straight legged DB deadlift: 10, 10, 10 
  • Plank: 60 sec, 60 sec, 60 sec
  • Cable rope crunch: 12, 12, 12 

TO NOTE

Do any of the stretching or mobility work you’d like to include post workout, or even on your rest days. 


Add in cardio where applicable to the plan, I like to think of cardio as a booster of overall cardiovascular health as well as a tool to assist in weight loss or maintenance. 


Warmup sets should be performed before any of the workouts, starting with lighter weights to get your muscles geared up and ready for the heavier weights. 


For example, on our push days, before adding lots of weight to the bench press, rep out 12 with just the bar then begin adding your lighter weight and slowly build from there. 


IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES TO FOLLOW 


We must be able to apply these principles alongside a proper workout structure to get the most out of all of our hard work. 


Principle #1. Progressive overload

Muscle growth is stimulated primarily through this principle. Our muscle fibers must grow to adapt to the increase in load/weight. For example, someone who can bench press 300 pounds will have significantly larger muscle fibers than someone who can bench 125 pounds. To apply this principle, try your best to add 2.5-5 pounds on each key lift week after week. Key lifts in our workout example would be multi-joint movements such as the bench press, squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, DB press, leg press, lat pull downs, cable rows etc. 

Principle #2. Eccentric & concentric contractions 

Have you ever heard someone say “control the weight on the way down”? Well this is most definitely a correct statement. Our muscle fibers are under the most stress on the downward movement of a specific exercise. For example, in the bench press as the bar lowers towards our chest the muscle fibers are stretched, and this is where most strength and muscle gain is made. A good rule of thumb to follow is 2 second count on the way down (eccentric) and a 1 second count on the way up (concentric).


Principle #3. Nutrition, nutrition & nutrition

Without solid, healthy meals that fuel you for workouts and boost the recovery progress, you will struggle indefinitely. Ensure you’re getting enough calories to match your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) if you’re trying to maintain weight/do a body re-composition. If you’re trying to lose body fat ensure you’re slightly under your TDEE calculation. The opposite is true for those trying to gain mass, put yourself in a slight calorie surplus over your TDEE (300-400 calorie surplus).

If you’ve never calculated this number before, use TDEE Calculator to find yours. Once you have this number, track your daily calories using the app MyFitnessPal. Keeping a record of your daily food intake (the app is free) should MAYBE take 5 minutes out of your day. A good baseline macronutrient percentage is somewhere around 30% Protein, 30% Fat and 40% Carbohydrates. Everyone is different though and you can feel it out for yourself and make adjustments as needed.

Overall, the 3 day workout split has a ton of potential for those looking for an effective and time efficient workout program , that targets every muscle group efficiently.

Keaton Ellis

Keaton is the Co-Founder of Everfit and came on board in 2020. Keaton holds a BSc degree in Kinesiology and is passionate about helping people better themselves.