3 Day Split Workout For Mass – Complete Guide

What Is A 3 Day Split Workout

As with many things in life there are a few different approaches to the 3 day split workout. Some programs are designed to have you lifting only 3 days a week where you alternate between active and rest days. Some programs follow what is known as a “bro split” where you only focus on one body part per day. While these programs are good for beginners they are not the most effective at building the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time.

This program is designed to have you lifting 3 days in a row followed by a rest day. You then repeat this cycle and the schedule is revolving to active days will change weekly. This means that you will be hitting every body part twice a week. When trying to build as much muscle as possible, in as little time as possible, frequency is definitely a major key to success.

We will be following a push, pull, legs routine which will not only help you to build as much muscle as possible, but it will also help you achieve a well balanced physique.

What Is A Push, Pull, Legs Routine?

Each workout will be focused on either push movements, pull movements, or overall leg development. Below is a list outlining what body parts will be focused on during each day.

Push Day Pull Day Leg Day
Chest Back Quads
Shoulders / Traps Biceps Hamstrings
Triceps Forearms Glutes

3 Day Split Workout Program Goals

The goals of any good workout program should be clearly defined before getting started. It’s always a good idea to know what you should expect to see as you progress through the program. Below is a list of goals that we are trying to achieve with this 3 day split workout.

  • Build as much muscle as possible in as little time as possible
  • Develop a well rounded, balanced physique
  • Elicit a maximum hypertrophy response during each workout
  • Increase strength
  • Increase endurance
  • Increase fat loss

The 3 Day Split Workout Program

As mentioned earlier in this article, this program is designed to have you working out 3 days in a row followed by a rest day, and then repeated. Each day will have a specific focus on push movements, pull movements, or overall leg development. Leg days will alternate between a quad focused day and a hamstring focused day.

3 Day Split Workout Program Definitions

Rest Pause Sets

Rest pause sets are where you do a number of reps followed by a 15 second pause and then continue with the next set of reps. You will see the number of reps in the program below.

Tempo Sets

Tempo sets are when you control the weight at a certain speed during each part of the lift. You will see tempo set notation that looks something like this (1-3-1-3). Each number represents the amount of seconds for that part of the lift.

    • 1st Number: The first number represents the eccentric portion of a rep, such as the lowering portion of a Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press or Pull-Up.
    • 2nd Number: The 2nd number represents the time spent at the end of the eccentric phase, such at the bottom of a Squat, the full hang in a Pull-Up or when the barbell is in contact with the ground during a Deadlift
    • 3rd Number: The third number represents the concentric, or lift, phase, such as standing up from a Squat or Deadlift, pressing the bar off your chest during the Bench Press or pulling up during the Pull-Up
    • 4th Number: The 4th number represents the time spent at the end of the concentric phase. It is the full standing position in the Squat or Deadlift, when your arms are fully extended during the Bench Press or when your chin is over the bar during the Pull-Up.

So using our example above with a tempo of (1-3-1-3) and applied this to a bench press you would do the following:

  • Lower the weight for 1 second
  • Hold at the bottom for 3 seconds
  • Raise the weight for 1 second
  • Hold at the top for 3 seconds

Example 3 Day Split Workout Schedule

Day Workout
Monday Push
Tuesday Pull
Wednesday Legs (Quad Focused)
Thursday Rest
Friday Push
Saturday Pull
Sunday Legs (Hamstring Focused)
Monday Rest

Push Day

Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Chest / Shoulders Cable Fly + Dumbbell Front Raise Super Set 3 working sets 15 reps for flys 15 reps for front raises
Chest Incline Barbell Bench Press 3 working sets 1 set 10 reps 2 sets of 6 reps
Chest Incline Dumbbell Flys 4 working sets 2 sets of 12 2 sets of 6
Shoulders Seated Hammer Strength Shoulder Press OR Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 working sets 2 sets of 12 2 sets of 6
Shoulders / Traps Smith Machine Upright Row + Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Super Set 3 working sets 1 set 12 rows + 20 side lateral raise 1 set 8 rows + 20 side lateral raise 1 set 6 rows + 20 side lateral raise

Chest / Triceps Dips 3 working sets 10 reps
Triceps Single Arm Tricep Kickback 3 working sets 15 reps each arm

Pull Day

Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Back / Rear Delts Rear Delt Fly + Face Pull Superset 3 working sets 15 reps for flys 15 reps for face pulls
Back Dumbbell Bent Over Rows 4 working sets 1 set 15 reps 1 set 10 reps 2 sets 8 reps
Back / Lats Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 3 working sets 1 tempo set light 12 reps (2-3-2-3) 2 rest pause sets 

  • 12reps
  • 15 sec pause
  • 10reps
  • 15 sec pause
  • 8rreps
Back / Lower Rack pulls 4 working sets 1 set 10 reps 3 sets heavy 5 reps
Back Seated Cable Row With Lat Bar Overhand Underhand Super Set  3 working sets 10 reps overhand + 10 reps underhand
Biceps Drag Curls 3 working sets 15 reps
Biceps / Forearms Alternating Hammer Curls  3 working sets 2 sets 10 reps 1 set to failure
Biceps Crucifix Cable Curls 2 working sets 1 set 15 reps 1 rest pause set

  • 12 reps
  • 15 sec pause
  • 15 sec pause
  • 10 reps
  • Failure

Leg Day Quad Focused

Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Quads Leg Extensions 3 working sets 2 sets 12 reps 1 rest pause set

  • 12 reps
  • 15 sec pause
  • 10 reps
  • 15 sec pause
  • 8 reps
Quads / Hams / Glutes Back Squat With Pause at Bottom 4 working sets 1 set 10 reps 2 sets 6 reps 2 sets 3 reps
Quads Leg Press Single Leg 3 working sets 2 tempo sets 12 reps (2-3-2-3)
1 drop set (heavy 8 cut weight in half 10 reps, half weight again reps until fail)
Quads / Hams Bulgarian Split Squat 3 working sets 20 reps each leg
Quads Hack Squat 2 working sets 2 sets of 21s

  • 7 top ROM
  • 7 bottom ROM
  • 7 full ROM

Note: ROM = range of motion

Hams Hyperextension 3 working sets 25 reps
Calves Seated Calf Raises 3 working sets 25 reps

Leg Day Hamstring Focused

Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Hamstrings Lying Ham Curl 2 working sets 2 rest pause sets

  • 12 reps
  • 10 reps
  • 8 reps
Hamstrings High Foot Placement Leg Press 3 working sets 2 sets 12 heavy reps 1 drop set

  • 8-10 reps
  • cut the weight in half and goto failure
Hamstrings Barbell RDL 3 working sets 2 sets 12 1 tempo set 8 reps (2-3-2-3) +  8 more reps after at regular speed to burnout

Abductors + Adductors Abductor + Adductor Superset 3 working sets 3 tempo sets of 15  reps (1-3-1-3)
Hamstrings GHR or GHD 2 working sets 2 rest pause sets Note: Use weight or go slow enough to where this amount of reps is hard

  • 6 reps
  • 6 reps
  • 6 reps
Quads Leg extensions 3 working sets 25 reps

Stretching and Warm-Up Sets

Before starting your working sets it’s always a good idea to perform a few warm up sets as well as some stretching first. This will help you to warm up the muscles and prevent injury. The goal here is to warm up the muscles not exhaust them. So when picking a weight be sure to pick a weight that you can perform for 15 to 20 reps with relative ease.

Push Day Warm Up

  • Bent-arm Wall Stretch
    • Assume a split stance, Right leg in the front and left leg in the back, at the end of a wall or in a doorway.
    • Bring the left arm up to shoulder height and position the palm and inside of the arm on the wall surface or doorway. Your arm should look like a goal post.
    • Gently press the chest through the open space to feel the stretch.
    • Moving the arm higher or lower will allow you to stretch various sections of the chest.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  • Cable Flys (3 sets of 15 reps)

Pull Day Warmup

  • Wall Stretch
    • Stand facing a wall with your legs shoulder width apart. Place both of your hands on the wall above your head and about 6-12 inches apart. Arch your back and almost make it feel like you’re trying to pull down the wall. You should feel a pretty good stretch in your lats
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown OR Wide Grip Pullups (3 sets of 15 reps)

Leg Day Warmup

  • Standing Hamstring Stretch (Both Legs at Once)
    • While standing place your feet about 6 inches apart. Attempt to touch your toes while keeping your knees slightly bent. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds. You should feel a great stretch in your hamstrings. If you’re not feeling it then you might be bending your knees too much.
  • Standing Quad Stretch (One leg at a time)
    • Stand on your left leg, one knee touching the other. You can hold a chair or the wall to keep you steady if needed.
    • Grab your right foot, using your right hand, and pull it towards your butt. Be sure to push your chest up and hips forward. Try not to worry about pushing your foot too close to your backside; your focus should be on feeling the stretch in your quad muscle and pushing your hips forward to get a good hip flexor stretch.
    • Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.
  • Leg Extensions (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

Benefits Of A 3 Day Split Workout

A 3 day split workout is great for every level of fitness from beginner to advanced. I personally started doing a 3 day workout split about a year ago and have made some of the best progress I have ever made during that time. I have made huge improvements in my chest, back and legs. Shoulders and arms were always strong points so being able to bring up my other body parts has really helped me to balance out my physique.

Below is a list of benefits you can expect to achieve from following this 3 day split workout.

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Create a well rounded, balanced physique
  • Increased fat loss
  • Increased strength
  • Increased energy levels

How Often Should You Do Cardio?

So you thought you were going to get away with skipping cardio huh? While it may seem counterintuitive to do cardio during a mass building phase, doing cardio can have some real benefits to helping you build muscle and stay leaner during this phase.

How much cardio you will need to do will depend on your genetics and how lean you’d like to say while bulking up. A good starting point is to do low intensity, steady state cardio 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes each session. If you’re naturally lean and have a higher metabolism you can probably get away with doing less. However, if you are more susceptible to gaining fat then you might actually need to do more.

Regardless of your genetics there are several reasons why everyone should want to do cardio during a mass building phase.

1. Cardio Is Great For Heart Health

Cardio is great for your heart health. This should be a no brainer for people to want to keep their hearts in tip top shape. Especially today when you see more and more bodybuilders suffering from heart attacks. By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis you will keep it in shape and healthy.

2. Speeds Up Your Metabolism

Another reason to perform cardio is for its effects on the metabolism. Along with speeding up your heart rate, cardio exercise also increases the rate of various other processes in the body, also known as your metabolism. This will help to keep more of the fat off during a bulking phase. This will also help you to digest all of the food you’re consuming on a regular basis.

3. Cardio Makes You Feel Good

Doing cardio  also changes the hormonal profile in your body considerably. It releases “feel good” hormones that will help ease symptoms of depression and fatigue as well as releasing hormones that decrease the appetite.

Individuals who partake in regular cardio exercise often have a much more positive outlook on life simply because they are getting the stress-relief benefits from these hormones.

4. Cardio Helps You Recover Faster

How fast you recover from your workouts plays a key role in how fast you’ll make gains in the gym. If you have just finished an intense training session in the gym, hopping on the treadmill for a walk or light jog will help to remove some of the by-products that were created during the lifting session.

This will help to reduce your DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and help bring more oxygen rich blood to the muscle tissue improving in the repair and rebuilding process. This means that you’ll be able to recover faster which will lead to greater gains in less time.

5. Cardio Helps Prevent Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition where your body has a hard time regulating your blood sugar levels where insulin stays in your system for longer periods of time. The problem here is that when insulin is present in your bloodstream your body goes from fat burning mode to fat storing mode. Insulin resistance can also lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

By doing cardio more often you  will increase your muscle’s ability to utilize glucose (blood sugar).. Those who exercise regularly tend to have better control of their blood sugars and do not see as many blood sugar swings as those who don’t. For diabetes this is increasingly important as they are extremely sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?

If you are a beginner, or are new to the push, pull, legs weight lifting paradigm, you should begin to notice results considerably fast. I would say that within a few weeks you will begin to see your body change right before your eyes. With each workout you will build a little more muscle, burn a little more fat, and increase your strength and endurance.

It’s really important to note that with any program it should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. Building a muscular physique takes years and years of hard work and consistency not weeks or months. However, with each successful workout completed, you will get a little closer to your ultimate goals. Just remember to enjoy the process, stay motivated and have fun along the way. It’s well worth the time and effort when you start to notice the results and especially when you start to get compliments from other people.

Nutrition And Supplements

I really can’t stress  enough how important your nutrition is to achieving the results that you want. I will say it again. Nutrition is one of the single more important factors when it comes to getting the results that you want. It’s out of the scope of this article to get into the fine details of a solid nutrition program but you can use these general guidelines to help put together a solid nutrition program.

  1. Find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is by using an online calculator. While these calculators are not the end all be all they are generally a really good starting point to calculating your BMR.
  2. After you calculate your BMR add 250 – 500 calories a day. This will help you to start gaining weight gradually while minimizing fat gain.
  3. Determine your macros. Make sure at a minimum you’re getting 1g of protein per pound of body weight. This would mean that for a 200lb male or female you should be consuming at a minimum 200 grams of protein per day.
  4. Calculate your carbs and fats. You can use this calculator to help you calculate your daily macros.
  5. A common ratio that works for a lot of people is 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat. This will ultimately need to be tweaked to your body but again it’s a good starting point.
  6. Drink at least a gallon of water every day.

Recommended Support Supplements

1. Whey Protein Isolate

When protein isolate is a very fast digesting protein that is best taken after an intense workout. After you finish an intense training session your body is begging for protein to help begin the repair and rebuilding process. Whey protein is also very affordable and easy to drink which will help you be able to meet your daily protein requirements without breaking the bank.

2. Casein Protein

Casein protein is a very slow digesting protein. Casein is best taken at night before bed so your body will continue to receive a stream of nutrients while you sleep.

3. Fish Oil

There are many health benefits to taking a daily fish oil supplement. Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are very beneficial to your health. Fish oil is great for your heart and cardiovascular system. There are many other benefits to taking fish oil including its ability to help reduce inflammation, support eye health, help with weight loss among many others. It’s definitely worth looking into if you’re concerned about your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Creatine

Creatine is a natural supplement used to boost athletic performance. Creatine helps draw water into the muscle which will help increase cell volume leading to an increase in strength and performance. It’s one of the few supplements that has stood the test of time and has shown through many clinical studies to be beneficial.

5. Glutamine

Glutamine is an important amino acid that supports many functions in the body. It is a building block of protein and a critical part of the immune system. Glutamine also helps with overall gut health and your ability to digest food. Glutamine helps with the recovery process which means you’ll be able to recover faster. Glutamine is fairly inexpensive and should be considered adding to your supplement stack.

6. Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)

Essential Amino Acids are the building blocks to protein and have been scientifically proven to help aid in the recovery process.The best time to take  EAA’s are during your workout so that your muscles receive a contrast stream of nutrients while you train. EAAs have also been proven to help reduce the amount of cortisol that your body produces which is known as a stress hormone that has catabolic effects on your body. 

7. A Good MultiVitamin

Micro nutrients are a very important part of any nutrition program but  are often overlooked and overshadowed by macronutrients. Taking a well designed multivitamin can lead to increased energy levels, improved mood, reduced stress and anxiety, improved short term memory, and maintained muscle strength. Multivitamins should be strongly considered especially if you plan on training intensely more often.

SARMs (Controversial Anabolic Compounds)

The acronym SARM stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator. SARMs are a class of therapeutic compounds that have similar anabolic properties to anabolic steroids, but with way less androgenic properties. Androgenic properties are what give men masculine traits.

SARMs are selective which means that unlike steroids that bind to many androgen receptors throughout the body, they only bind to select tissues. This helps to prevent unwanted side effects that are caused by anabolic steroids like liver damage, and prostate enlargement.

When taking SARMs you get the anabolic effects such as accelerated growth of muscle, bone, and red blood cells, and enhanced neural conduction without the androgenic effects that lead to enhanced male characteristics such as deepening of the voice, accelerated hair growth, and others.

I personally recommend Proven Peptides for high quality SARMs. I have personally used their Ostarine (MK-2866), Cardarine (GW-501516), RAD140, and Andarine S4. They always gave me great results with little to no side effects. Check out their website for more information, HPLC quality reports, dosing, and reviews.

Wrapping Up

We have covered a lot in the article and I hope that it showed you how you can build a lean, muscular physique. A well designed  workout and nutrition program are vital to packing on the mass in the most efficient way. When it comes to making strides in the gym and your physique, you need to focus on training, nutrition, and recovery. If any of these 3 phases are neglected it can have detrimental effects on your results. The more consistent you are with your training, nutrition, and recovery, the better your results are going to be. Stay motivated. Stay strong. Enjoy the process!

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By | 2020-08-20T20:07:53+00:00 August 20th, 2020|Articles, Training, Training To Build Muscle|

About the Author:

Hi, my name is Patrick and I am the founder of Always On Nutrition. I am an avid fitness enthusiast and have over 10 years of experience with nutrition and training to maximize fat loss and build muscle. I really hope that you find this content useful. Best of luck on your fitness journey and if you ever want to discuss your fitness further feel free to contact me through my contact page. Cheers!

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Always On Nutrition

Always On Nutrition