Simple 3 day split workout

The 3 day split is a popular form of bodybuilding routine, commonly used by beginners who want to build muscle and put on mass in the quickest possible time frame. There are many different takes on the 3 day split routine floating around on the net, some good, some bad. So I have decided to bring you my own tried and tested version, proven to yield muscle gain when implemented correctly.

The basic concept of a 3 day split is to break down your body into it’s main muscle groups and slot them into a routine based over 3 different workout days per week. Each muscle group will only be directly worked once per week. Each workout day is followed by a days rest to help aid recovery of your body so you are fresh for your next workout session.

One of the main benefits of a 3 day split is that as you will be working different muscle groups on different days. This enables you to work at a much greater intensity due to each workout consisting of less exercises, as opposed to a full body routine where you would need to perform maybe two to three times more exercises per workout. Intensity is key to building muscle, there is no point in working out for long durations and pacing yourself, or even just being plain lazy. The greater effort you put in will force the need for your muscles to respond and grow.

The routine I have put together is based around the main compound lifts which are proven to be much more effective for adding initial mass rather than isolated exercises. I will publish an article on this subject soon where I will go into more detail.

OK, so lets kick things off. Here’s the routine:

Day One (Back and Biceps)

Deadlifts (3 x 8 reps)
Bent over barbell rows (3 x 8 reps)
Wide grip pull ups / lat pull down (3 x 8 reps)
Bicep curls (3 x 10 reps)

Rest day

Day Two (Chest and Triceps)

Flat bench press (3 x 8 reps)
Incline bench press (3 x 8 reps)
Dips (3 x 10 reps)
Close grip bench press / tricep push downs (3 x 10 reps)

Rest day

Day Three (Legs and Shoulders)

Squats (3 x 8 reps)
Straight legged deadlifts / leg curls (3 x 8 reps)
Calf raises (3 x 10 reps)
Shoulder press (3 x 8 reps)
Upright barbell rows (3 x 8 reps)

2 rest days, then back to day one

OK so that’s the routine sorted, now go and give it a try and let me know what you think. Remember to work at the highest intensity possible whilst still maintaining good form. If you want to get big, don’t worry what weight your lifting, worry how you lift it.

Make sure you accompany this routine with a decent bodybuilding diet plan.  If you want to grow from 12 to 16 stone, you’ve got to eat like you’re 16 stone! Combined with plenty of rest and consistency, you are sure to see increases in size and muscle mass.

16 Responses to “Simple 3 day split workout”

  1. Thanks for putting up this routine, looks really good. I haven’t been making much progress for a while with what I’m currently doing, so I’ll give this one a go.

  2. Man, I love the look of that back day. The art of keeping it simple but using some of the best compounds ever.

    Good work!

  3. No problem Rob, let me know how you get on with it. The routine is designed to help people get back to basics and make some real solid progress.

    Also, cheers for the response ‘Joshuaaa’. Glad you like it, I love training back. Theres nothing better than good old heavy duty deadlifts!

  4. Just finished 8 weeks using this routine, gradually adding little weight every week, and put on about 5 or 6 pounds of muscle, so I recommend!

    Thanks Chris,

  5. No problem Rob, it’s great to get positive feedback and I’m pleased the routine is working well for you.

  6. Thanks for publishing this routine. Have tried it and it really does work.

  7. Thank you for the training plan, I am going to try it the next time I will be in my gym.

  8. Hi, what sort rest period do you advise between sets? Thanks and looks like a great routine.

  9. what rest period do you recoment between reps / sets and rep timing>?

  10. Can I ask why do you suggest a low rep range being 8 and not 10-12? Thanks

  11. Hi Kasia, we suggest a medium rep range of 8 would be suitable to natural trainers looking for a basic hypertrophy routine. We would also strongly advocate our 5×5 workout too. A slightly higher rep range is fine but we feel there isn’t a real need as the main aim is to break down muscle tissue and stimulate growth. But basically do what ever works best for yourself.

  12. Hi Dave, I like to aim for no more than 1 minute rest periods when doing a routine like this to keep the workout relatively intense. But most importantly don’t rush yourself if you don’t feel able to complete the next set properly and counter this by dropping the weight as you go along.

  13. […] my shoulders on the same day as legs within a three say split as can be seen with the Gym Blog simple three day split routine. I would focus on controlled and deliberate compound movements using the heaviest weight possible […]

  14. Hi there I’m hoping to start your routine next session at the gym just wondering how long I do this routing for ???

  15. Hi Keyur, I’m not sure if you mean the duration of the workout session or how many weeks/months you should follow the routine for?

    But I’ll answer both questions for you:

    I would estimate that the workout shouldn’t need to last any more than 45 minutes, even less if you increase the intensity.

    I would follow this routine for a couple of months and see how you are progressing. If you are still making gains then continue, if progress has stalled you can mix things up and interchange the exercises for similar variations.

    Hope that helps.

  16. Hi there! This is the one routine I always go back too. Very enjoyable! Takes me about 40mins great pumps and intensity! Walk out of the gym feeling great! And of course assists recovery nicely.

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