Split Programs Part 1: The Three Day Split

Today is part one of a multi part series on different ways to split your workout through the week. I want to start this post, and indeed the very beginning of this entire series, by saying that there is no “best” way. There may be your favorite way, today we will be talking about mine, but not a “best way.” The reason so many people plateau in the gym is that they try something that works and then stick with it for months, even years. The body is an incredibly efficient machine, however, and it will learn what you are

If you aren’t doing it right, why are you doing it?

doing and make it easier for you. This is a very good trait for the body to have if you do repetitive physical labor. However, it is the worst thing possible when you are trying to work your muscles to absolute failure in order to cause hypertrophic growth in strength and size.

The best thing to do is to switch up your lifting method to keep your body in a constant state of confusion. One of the ways to switch up your lifting method involves switching up your weekly splits. Weekly splits are just what you do and when. Today

You aren’t “overtraining.” You’re just a pussy.

we will be talking about the three-day split. I consistently have recommended working out with weights six days a week with an active rest on the seventh and I stick to it. The way a three-day split would work is that in three days you would work all of your muscle groups and then on the fourth day start the split over. After doing your three day split twice you would have your active rest day.

While this is my favorite mode of weightlifting, it is not the one I am currently doing. I am doing a four-day stagger split which will be the topic of the second part of this series. My next phase is a three-day split phase and I am looking forward to it.

For those of you who are going to be pushing the weight six days a week and are serious about your goals, I suggest changing lifting methods every two weeks. For instance. I am currently doing a six month, twelve phase program. I go between full body for two weeks, four day stagger splits for two weeks and then 3 day splits for two weeks before going back to the start. This will keep the body in constant confusion. People always talk about beginners gains. The gains that come really fast when someone starts lifting. What we are doing here is moving the lines frequently enough that as far as the body knows you are always a beginner and can realize those beginners’ gains constantly.

Having said that, let’s move to the three day split that is the topic of today’s post. The way I like to do my three day split is as follows

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

Day 2: Back and Biceps (some hamstring)

Day 3: Legs


Day 7: Active Rest

So I am going to take you through this split one day at a time and then give you a sample workout.

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps. This is one of my favorite days. The triceps are a key support component for the chest and the shoulder muscles. Imagine lifting weight directly over your chest the way you would lock out a bench press at the top of the position. Better yet, don’t imagine, toss a little weight on a bar and actually do it. Hold that weight at the top position until you need to re-rack it. One thing you will notice is that your triceps are totally activated. This is because they have fired up in order to help your pecs bear the burden. This is a great thing about the human body, as I mentioned before, if you are in a situation where you really need to move some weight in a hurry. The problem is, we are moving weight in a slow and controlled way in order to break down the muscle tissue in our pectorals and any help we get from the triceps is only going to hinder that process.

The same goes with shoulders. Those triceps, always the helper muscle, are jumping in behind shoulders like an over aggressive

You most likely will never achieve this. No one will. But keep your eye on it as a goal. Get as close as you possibly can.

spotter and bearing some of the brunt. You can see this one yourself as well. Sit on a bench and do a dumbbell overhead press and hold the dumbbells at the top of the range for as long as you can. It isn’t just your shoulder that will be sore, but your tris too.

So how do we get this muscle to stop being so damn helpful? Simple, we work it out until it is totally incapable of any further work. And so we are going to group Chest, Shoulders and Triceps into a single day.

Day 2: Back and Biceps

Just as the Chest, shoulder, triceps combination leads to more isolation on the muscles you are aiming at, doing Back and Biceps together will disallow the biceps to assist the back. Want some proof of this? Hold out the top position of a barbell row or even a chin up to failure and see how your biceps feel. They feel that way because they are working to assist the back. So, as in day one, we are going to blow up the sympathetic muscle so we can better target the major muscle group.

Day 3: Legs. Legs gets its own day as we are really going to be attacking everything from the glutes to the core to the hams and the quads and the calves. This is a lot of work.

Arnold has argued for cardio and abs every day and I have no reason to disagree with him so there will be cardio and abs on every single workout. Below is a sample workout. It is one week. Give it a shot. I tell you now, follow this program for one week and many of you will wonder just what the hell you have been doing in the gym before it. This is real work.

Note: As reps decrease weight should increase so that RPE is always between 9-10


Day 1: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

Seated DB Tricep extension: 5×20

Superset 1 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Barbell Bench Press


One Arm Dumbbell Kick Backs

Superset 2 rep range 12,10,8,6

Seated DB Shoulder Press


Seated DB Tricep Extension

Superset 3 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Incline DB Bench Press


Skull Crushers

Side Lat Raise 5x 20

Super set 3 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Flat Bench DB Flyes


DB Shrugs

Cable Crunches 5×20

Stairclimber 45 minutes

Day 2 Back, Biceps

Dead Lift 12, 10, 8, 6

Standing Alternating DB Curl (supinated) 5×20

Superset 1 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Barbell Back Row


Concentration Curls

Superset 2 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Barbell Curls


DB Front Raises

Push ups 4 sets to failure

Superset 3 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Rear Delt Machine


Preacher Curls with EZ Bar

Pull ups 4 sets to failure

Plank 4x 1 minute

45 Minutes Stairclimber

Day 3 Legs

Squats 12, 10, 8, 6

Superset 1 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Laying Leg Curls


Leg Press

Superset 2 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Leg Extension


Romanian Dead Lifts

Buttblaster Machine 4×20 (each side)

Back Hyperextensions 4×20

Superset 3 rep range 12, 10, 8, 6

Dumbbell Step Up


Seated Calf Raise

T-Bar Row 4×20

Hanging leg raises 4×20

45 minutes elliptical

Day 4

Repeat Day 1

Day 5

Repeat Day 2

Day 6

Repeat Day 3

Day 7

Active Rest


So there you have it, a sample 3 day split week. Give it a shot. In the meantime, you might have noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot in terms of posting this week. I am sorry about that. Despite this post being pretty full, I do want to throw in the WB Fitness Friday Challenge.

If you don’t have this form down, ask before running to the gym.

This weekend’s challenge is one of my favorites and I just know you are all going to LOVE it. Like the deadlift challenge, this one is pretty simple. It is a shoulder workout. Shoulders are a great thing to build muscle on. People notice your shoulders immediately whether you are in a business meeting, a bar or just walking down the street. So let’s wake those fuckers up and make them grow!

This weekend’s challenge is seated Dumbbell Shoulder Presses. To be more accurate, it is alternating seated dumbbell shoulder presses and to be exact it is 100 seated alternating dumbbell press. And just because they are alternating doesn’t mean you can wuss out and call 50 per side 100. No, 100 on each side.

Get the dumbbells in position and start and go until failure. Once you fail, give yourself, at most, 30 seconds break and then get ‘em back up and go to failure again. One hundred per side and you are done. Enjoy and let me know how it went for you below.