3 Day Split Workout Routines

Tamsen Butler
Training on the treadmill

While full-body workouts are great to increase fitness levels, a 3-day split workout allows you to target your entire body over the span of a week. The ample rest/recovery days help prepare your body to work hard and may decrease the possibility of injuries.

3-Day Split Workouts Explained

A 3-day split workout involves splitting your workouts into a week's span and may look something like this:

  • Monday: workout
  • Tuesday: recovery day
  • Wednesday: workout
  • Thursday: recovery day
  • Friday: workout
  • Saturday: recovery
  • Sunday: recovery

Defining Recovery Days

Recovery days don't have to be sedentary. In fact, if your 3-day split is to strengthen your body, your recovery days should involve some light cardio like walking, or even some balance work like yoga. If you need a day of full recovery in which you don't do any exercise whatsoever, take one recovery day as a complete rest day but do some light stretching.

Good for Beginners

3-day split workouts are good for beginners as it gives them ample time to focus on each body part. Instead of feeling rushed to get a full-body workout in each time they hit the gym, they can instead break it down into more manageable chunks. These workouts can also be great for people trying to build muscle and significantly increase strength, as the split format allows for supersets.

Sample 3-Day Split Workouts

Feel free to modify these workouts to accommodate prior injuries or lack of equipment. For example, if you don't have weights for a chest press, instead do a push-up, which targets the same muscles but uses only body weight. Beginners should go slowly and listen to their body; if you feel so fatigued that your form gets sloppy, cut the workout short. When you see results largely depends on your nutritional habits and your effort - expect to notice changes within 3- 4 weeks. For any of these workouts, start with a warm up and end with a cool down and stretching.

Building Muscle

You need calories in order to build muscle, so don't do this routine for weeks at a caloric deficit and expect to see results.

Fat Loss

A combination of cardio, strength training, and a caloric deficit is the key to fat loss. Instead of relying on the scale to track progress, take measurements and track the lost inches.

Cardiovascular Health

While strength training yields myriad benefits - both in body stabilization and heightened metabolism - cardio workouts help protect your heart. Cardio workouts don't require the same amount of recovery and rest as strength workouts do, but if you only have three days a week to workout, you can still derive benefits and can even reach your recommended 150 minutes of weekly activity in the three days span.

  • Monday: Do 45-60 minutes of intense cardio, like an indoor cycling class or boxing.
  • Tuesday: Recovery day - do light resistance work like 30 minutes of yoga or Pilates.
  • Wednesday: Do 45-60 minutes of steady-state cardio like jogging, swimming, or a cardio machine.
  • Thursday: Recovery day.
  • Friday: Do 45-60 minutes of varied cardio, like dance fitness or a step aerobics class.
  • Saturday: Recovery day.
  • Sunday: Rest day or 30 minutes of very light cardio like walking at a leisurely pace.

Great for Busy People

3-day split workouts work well for people who don't have the time to work out every day. They also work well for people who need a set schedule in order to stick to a workout program and are particularly good for people who need recovery days in between workouts (such as older exercisers or those who are aggressively trying to build muscle). People who also tend to forgo recovery days will benefit from this type of schedule too as they have recovery built right into the week. Recovery is built into a 3-day split workout because it's an important factor in overall health and fitness.

Was this page useful?
3 Day Split Workout Routines