Build Strength and Muscle Before Work with this 3 Day Workout

 


3 day workoutLife today is quite busy. When you’re younger, you think you’ll always have all the time in the world to train. However, as you grow up, finish school, get a job, have a family, and simply just start living in the “real world”, you find this isn’t the case. In fact, a reality for many is that they can only train before work. Luckily, a 3 day workout done early in the morning can still build strength and muscle. Below two options for a 3 day workout you can use based on your training experience.

Should You Do a Body Part Split?

The main problem with gearing your weekly training around a 3 day workout is the obvious one – you only have 3 days to work out. As such, this means you’re going to have to make some compromises. These compromises dictate what sort of workout routine you do.

For instance, if you do a body part split, you can train each muscle thoroughly, but you’re going to be limited to only hitting it once per week. On the flip side, if you want to train a muscle group multiple times per week, you’re going to have to reduce the number of exercises you do in order to be able to finish your workouts in a decent time frame.

If you’re a more advanced trainee, you can set up your 3 day workout as a strength-based body part split and it’ll work well. However, if you’re a more novice trainee, you’re better off taking a lower body / upper body / full body approach based almost exclusively on compound movements.

Option A – The Body Part Split

Below is what a sample routine would look like if you wanted to do a body part split to improve strength and build muscle.

Workout #1 – Chest, Triceps, and Biceps

  • Incline barbell bench presses – 4-5 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Dumbbell bench presses – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Dips – 3 sets x max reps (if can do all 3 sets for 20+ reps, add 10% of your body weight as external resistance)
  • Pushdowns – 3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Barbell curls – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Dumbbell curls – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps

Workout #2 – Legs

  • Squats – 4-5 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Bulgarian split squats – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps each direction
  • Leg extensions – 2-3 sets x 12-15 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Romanian deadlifts – 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Leg curls – 2-3 sets x 12-15 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Calf raises (alternate seated and standing) – 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps (take last set to failure)

Workout #3 – Shoulders and Back

  • Seated, supported dumbbell presses – 4-5 sets x 6-8 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Pullups – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Lateral raises + bent laterals – 3-4 supersets of 10-12 reps of each exercise
  • Rows (pick any variation) – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Shrugs – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Parallel grip pull downs – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (take last set to failure)

Option B – The Lower Body / Upper Body / Full Body Split

This 3 day workout is better suited toward more inexperienced trainees as it has a greater emphasis on compound movements which are better for strength and muscle mass. Though not all muscle groups are worked as thoroughly in a single session as in a body part split, they are hit (either directly or indirectly) twice per week.

Notice the specific variations used on some exercises so as to maximize indirect stimulation of involved body parts. For instance, bench press is done with a medium to narrow grip so as to more involve the triceps. Back exercises are done with a curl grip so as to more involve the biceps. And so on.

Workout #1 – Lower Body

  • Squats – 4-5 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Rack pulls (pull from just above the knee) – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Leg presses – 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Romanian deadlifts – 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Leg curls – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps (take last set to failure)

Workout #2 – Upper Body

  • Medium to narrow grip bench presses – 4-5 sets x 4-6 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Reverse grip pulldowns or chin ups – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps (take last set to failure)
  • Seated, supported dumbbell press – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Reverse grip rows (pick any apparatus) – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Curls (pick any variation) + pushdowns – 3 supersets x 12-15 reps of each exercise

Workout #3 – Full Body

  • Deadlifts (use a trap bar if you have access to one) – 4-5 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Single arm dumbbell clean and press – 4 sets x 6-8 reps each side
  • Pullups x 50 total reps in as few sets as possible (do suspended rows if pullups are too difficult)
  • Dips – 2 x max reps
  • Walking lunge – 4 x 8-10 reps each leg

A Word on Cardio

You might have noticed that the above didn’t include cardio. This is because a 3 day workout for strength and size can already be cramped as it is – especially if it’s done early in the morning before you have to head into work. This means you’ll have to do your cardio at other times and in other sessions during the week.

There really isn’t a “wrong” way to do this. Try to get 1.5-2 hours total cumulative aerobic work weekly, and you should be fine. This could be a 30-minute walk every evening after you get home, an hour of getting on the field to help your kids practice whatever sport they participate in, using your treadmill at home, or even just getting out and about on the weekend.

How much you do at one time, when you do it, or even what you do doesn’t really matter as long as you get the work in. Just be sure it doesn’t interfere with your gym workouts and you’ll be fine. Just be sure not to neglect the cardio as it can help keep your body fat in check, improve heart health, and facilitate recovery.

A 3 day workout might not sound like a lot of gym time, but you can still get quite a bit accomplished. A body part split can work well for the more advanced trainee, but more inexperienced lifters will want to focus on more truncated, strength-based workouts. Add in a little cardio on the side, and your gains should still be pretty awesome.