3-Day Split Workout: Guide to Benefits, Types, and a Sample Workout

3 day split workout: woman lifting a barbell
3 day split workout: woman lifting a barbell

Increasing muscle mass and toning your body are key to #bodygoals and also a healthy, well-supported body.

One of the best ways to target muscle growth is by using a workout program that specifically focuses on weight training. To do that, you can stick to a 3-day split workout. 

But what is a 3-day split workout? Here, we will discuss a 3-day split workout, how it’s different from a regular full-body workout, and the three types of 3-day split workout. Grab your blender bottle, and let’s get started!

What Is a 3-Day Split Workout Routine?

3 day split workout: woman stretching her back

As the name suggests, the 3-day split workout divides your routine into 3 days. While 3-day splits are the most common type of split, you can also do a 4-day split or 5-day split workout. 

The primary goal of a split workout is to allow you to work out separate major muscle groups by focusing on them on different days. By doing so, you can really work out a particular set of muscles while the other muscle groups get to take some rest. 

Targeting each muscle group is an effective way to go after muscle gains, whether you're in the gym or at home.

A 3-Day Split Workout vs. a Full-Body Workout

A full-body workout exercises all (or virtually all) of your muscles in one workout session. Some of the common examples of full-body workouts include bodyweight workouts (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, dips, etc.), weightlifting workouts such as deadlifts and bench presses, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

While 3-day split workouts are great at shredding fat and toning muscle, they take time. On the other side, you can complete full-body workouts in a shorter period of time, making them the preferable option for busy people. 

Both workouts have advantages and disadvantages.You can choose based on your preference and the amount of time you can spend.

How to Create a 3-Day Split Workout

Now that you know what a 3-day split workout is, let’s talk about how to create your 3-day split workout. A 3-day split workout is divided into three steps:

  1. Cardio
  2. Dividing workouts
  3. Applying the 3-day split workouts

1. Do Cardio First

3 day split workout: woman doing skipping ropes

A 3-day split workout mainly focuses on building your muscle strength. Some people who focus on building their muscles think cardio is unnecessary or even harmful to their gains. While too much cardio might take away from your muscle gains, a steady amount can help with things like weight loss. 

Cardio is a staple part of any workout because it helps strengthen your heart, a critical part of being both fit and healthy.

Aside from that, cardio has a variety of benefits. For one, cardio can burn fat. By incorporating cardio into your 3-day split workout, you speed up the rate your body burns fat.

Aside from helping you burn fat, studies have shown cardio can help improve mental health (better mood, improved cognitive performance), increase sleep quality (you need proper rest to allow your muscles to recover), and increase lung capacity.

The bottom line is, don’t skip cardio. As a general rule, do at least 15 minutes of cardio as a warm-up exercise before getting into your 3-day split workouts.

2. Divide Your Workouts

This is essentially what a 3-day split workout is all about – dividing your workouts so you focus on certain muscle groups each workout.

You can divide your workout however you want it to, but if you are just starting, here is a routine that you can follow:

  • Day 1: Work out your shoulders, chest, and triceps
  • Day 2: Leg and lower body workout
  • Day 3: Back and biceps workout

Note: You can work out your core on any given day. Some prefer to do this on their leg day, while others prefer to work out their abs on their back and biceps day.

3 Types of 3-Day Split Workout

Woman doing dumbbell arm rows at the gym

There are three main ways to split your workouts:

  • Push/pull/legs workout
  • 3-Day body-building splits
  • The upper/lower split

Each of these splits has its pros and cons. Follow what would best serve your goal and situation.

1. Push/Pull/Legs Workout

The push/pull/legs workout (or PPL) is essentially an upper/lower split. However, it focuses on the pushing and pulling muscles and allows you to stack opposing muscles. One example of a push/pull workout is the lat pull-down. When doing a lat pull-down, you are training both back and biceps by using your lats and your biceps.  

Push workouts target our chest, triceps, and shoulders. Pull workouts focus on your biceps, back, and rear delts. Finally, leg workouts train the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads.

In push/pull workouts, it’s important not to forget about abs. Again, as with other types of 3-day split workouts, you can incorporate abs or core training on any day. 

2. 3-Day Body Builder Splits

A 3-day bodybuilder split is typically the schedule of bodybuilding workouts. The example we gave above is a type of bodybuilder split. Let’s lay it out again here:

  • Day 1: Workout for your shoulders, chest, and triceps
  • Day 2: Leg and lower body workout
  • Day 3: Back and biceps workout

Once again, you can incorporate abs training to any day in this workout schedule.

3. The Upper/Lower Full Body Split

The upper/lower split splits your activities into the upper and lower body. For this reason, you might only take two days per week for this workout, although you can dedicate another day to abs or even cardio.

Here’s how a typical upper/lower split would look like:

Upper Body

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders

Lower Body

  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Calves
  • Glutes

Push/Pull/Legs Sample Workout Plan

Woman doing a shoulder press with dumbbells

This sample 3-day split workout plan is divided into push exercises, pull exercises, and leg exercises:

Day 1 (Chest, Triceps, Shoulders) 

  • Bench press (3 x 10)
  • Dumbbell shoulder press (3 x 10)
  • Lateral raises (3 x 10)
  • Tricep dips (3 x 10)
  • Tricep pushdown (3 x 10)
  • Incline dumbbell chest press (3 x 10)

Day 2 (Rest)

Day 3 (Back, Biceps) 

  • Bench press (3 x 10)
  • Barbell Curls (3 x 10) 
  • Dumbbell shoulder press (3 x 10)
  • Triceps dips (3 x 10)
  • Tricep pushdown (3 x 10)
  • Hammer curls (3 x 10)

Day 4 (Rest)

​Day 5 (Legs, Abs) 

  • Hamstring curls (3 x 10)
  • Leg curl (3 x 10)
  • Leg press (3 x 10)
  • Leg extensions (3 x 10)
  • Standing calf raises (3 x 10)
  • 15-second plank (3 x 10)
  • Russian Twist (3 x 10)

Day 6 (Rest) 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions, we’re here for you. Here are the answers to the most common questions about using a 3 day split workout regime:

1. If My Goal Is Building Muscle, How Much Rest Do I Need?

When scheduling rest days, it's important to know your body. Some of us need more rest than others, but the bottom line is that everyone benefits from rest and everyone needs it. When it comes to a 3-day split workout, the schedule typically gives a rest day between each session. 

When you work out, your muscle fibers tear, and they need repair and regrow. Rest days not only give your muscles time to rest, but they also help prevent injury

2. How Should You Stretch Before a 3-Day Split Workout?

Stretching before a 3-day split workout is pretty similar to what you would do for most strength workouts. Make sure that you give yourself enough time before your training split workout to fully stretch your body. While each day looks different and targets different muscles, you use your entire body for these workouts. 

We suggest doing warm-up sets for 10-15 minutes or until your body feels loose. You can start on the floor by doing some floor stretches and then slowly move into standing stretches. Stretching will relax and prepare your body before moving into the compound movements with this workout plan.

3. Can I Do Cardio on a 3-Day Split Regime?

3-day split workouts do not include cardio. Instead, they focus on strength training. If you enjoy cardio or want to increase your caloric burn, adding it to your training program can boost your fat loss. You can do cardio on rest days or use it as a warm-up. 

4. Can I Do Other Forms of Movement on My Rest Days?

Yes! While we suggest using rest days to let your muscles relax, you can still do other types of movement on rest days. We love walking, yoga, or even light jogging to keep our bodies going on these off days.

Build Muscle With a Killer 3-Day Workout Split

Woman doing rope exercise

Ready to give a 3-day workout split a try? 

If you decide to do it, try pairing it with Flare, our #1 fat burner. This can be a great way to shed extra body fat. Flare works by helping you increase fat loss, drop water weight, boost energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood. That way, you can work out to your full potential.

These workouts can be intense, so make sure to fuel post-workout. We love having a protein shake post-workout to help our bodies recover and build muscle. Give our Cookies and Cream Bright Whey or Cinnamon Swirl Bright Whey to help increase gains while drinking a shake that tastes like dessert.

It's time to hit the gym. See you there, babe!