Beginners in the bodybuilding game can have it rough. There is so much information out there which includes many different opinions on how to train. While many of these are well-meaning, they usually have some pretty significant pitfalls for the bodybuilder just starting out. Here is a 3 day workout split newbies can use that will fit the bill on many different fronts.
Focus on Compound Lifts
First and foremost, new bodybuilders need a 3 day workout split that will put muscle on their frame. Some may need to also target body recomposition (i.e. – building muscle while lowering body fat), but all need to target hypertrophy and getting stronger. This means they need to focus on big, compound exercises while lifting progressively heavier weights.
Find a Compromise
The problem you see with many 3 day workout split recommendations to most beginners is that they fall too far on one end of the spectrum or the other. Because beginners need to focus on hypertrophy, their programs are often comprised of nothing but big, compound movements. This builds muscle and strength, but doesn’t address the direct aesthetics newbies usually desire. This can eventually lead to lowered motivation, and may cause the trainee to back off on their workout intensity.
On the flip side, a 3 day workout split that also addresses aesthetics could get too complicated. It may involve entirely too many exercises, have someone doing extra isolation movements they’re not ready for yet, or even lead to overtraining. A better solution is one compromises between the two.
The Recommended 3 Day Workout Split for Beginners
The best 3 day workout split beginners could do would be comprised of an upper body day, a lower body day, and a full body day. Think something like this:
- Mon – upper body
- Tue – lower body
- Wed – off
- Thu – off
- Fri – full body
- Sat – off
- Sun – off
The reason why this layout is preferable is because your upper and lower body days each give you some extra room in your program to add in a few isolation, aesthetics-based exercises. But when you couple those two days with a full body workout at the end of the week, all your bigger bodyparts are being hit with compound movements twice every week. This leads to a good balance between strength-based hypertrophy and aesthetics.
Sample Beginner Program
The following is a sample program utilizing the above template:
Monday – Upper Body:
- Overhead press – 3-4 sets x 5-6 reps
- Pullups/pulldowns – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
- Dumbbell bench press – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
- Lateral raises – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Barbell curls – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Tricep Pushdowns – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
Tuesday – Lower Body:
- Squat – 3-4 sets x 5-6 reps
- Leg press – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
- Romanian deadlifts – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Leg extensions – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Calves Raises – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
Friday – Full Body:
- Incline press – 3-4 sets x 5-6 reps
- Low pulley rows – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
- Deadlifts – 3-4 sets x 5-6 reps
- Shrugs – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Rear delts – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
- Hammer curls – 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
Adding in 30-45mins of aerobic cardio 2-3x/week to improve heart health, promote recovery, and help burn a few extra calories would be a good idea. You can either do the cardio after one of your gym workouts or on a non-workout day, but try to give yourself at least two full days off (no lifting or cardio) per week.
If you’re a beginner to bodybuilding, give this 3 day workout split a try. It’ll give you an almost perfect balance between strength-based hypertrophy work and specific aesthetics training. This is a program that could be used by pretty much anyone starting out, and could be continued for at least the first 6-12 months.