Can a 3-Day Split Workout Help You Build Muscle?

As when following other workout regimens, the big question is: does it work? Studies show that split exercising can provide several benefits in terms of boosting muscle mass and strength. However, it’s based on the particular approach you take. This includes different factors.

Working out

Have you tried a split workout? This approach to weightlifting requires you to focus on one or two muscle groups each day. There are different versions available including the 3-day split workout. This version should allow you to exercise each major muscle group 1+ times. Experts recommend a split workout routine if you have experience doing weightlifting yet want to build lean muscle mass and boost strength. The general approach is to do 8-12 reps and three sets. Rest periods between sets should be 30-60 seconds. You should also do several exercises for each of the muscle groups you’re focusing on for that day so you hit the muscles at different angles.

As when following other workout regimens, the big question is: does it work? Studies show that split exercising can provide several benefits in terms of boosting muscle mass and strength. However, it’s based on the particular approach you take. This includes different factors. What exercises will you pick? How many sets/reps will you do? How long are the rest periods? These are all key issues that help to determine how effective your split workouts are. This could include pushing, pulling, and leg muscles, or other approaches. There are other variations you can pick.

What’s a 3-Day Split Workout?

Let’s start with what this type of workout is all about. The “split” workout itself divides your workouts into days that focus on one or two muscle groups.

Here’s an example. Day One could include “pushing muscles” that include the shoulders, chest, and triceps. This might include exercises like bench presses, chest presses, and pushups.

Then Day Two could be “leg day.” This workout would focus on hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes. You can take different approaches like focusing on the large muscles then the calf muscles. Some good options include lunges, squats, and deadlifts. Then finish the workout with standing/seated calf raises.

Then there’s Day Three. This could include your pulling muscles including the back, biceps, and abs. This can include options like:

  1. Standing Barbell Rows
  2. Seated Rows
  3. Lateral Pulldowns
  4. Single-arm Dumbbell Rows

You have several options for biceps exercises. They include hammer curls, bicep curls, and cable barbell curls. Different types of curls will hit the biceps at different angles. Standard dumbbell curls are best for general biceps while hammer curls work the bicep peak.

Then there are ab workouts. Some good options include incline crunches, planks, leg raises, and bicycle crunches. You could do the leg raises on a Roman Chair or on a mat if one isn’t available. 

Another issue is when you do your workouts. A good schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then you could do cardio on Tuesday and Thursdays. This gives your body a good chance to recover from high-intensity workouts.

You should also consider tweaking the training splits every 4-6 weeks or so. This will help to maximize growth and keep shocking the muscles.

It will also add variety to your workouts so you don’t get bored doing the same workouts over, and over–and over, again. Yes, variety is indeed the spice of life.

Top Tips for Split Workouts

Compound Exercises

These are the key to split workouts. This allows you to engage tons of muscle fibers at one time. This makes your workouts more efficient so you’ll get better results in less time.

In fact, you should do these exercises in alternating sets. That’s because they’re quite tough due to the amount of energy required.

You’ll do 1 set of the first exercise in the group. Then rest for 30-60 seconds. Then do one set of the next exercise. Repeat this cycle until you’ve completed all sets. 

Then it’s time for the next group of exercises. One key benefit of this approach is you can lift heavy weights during each set.

Vary Volume

One of the main benefits of this type of workout is you get a full-body workout multiple times every weak. For example, you could do moderate-intensity on Day 1, moderate/high intensity on Day 2, and super-high intensity on Day 3.

This approach will help you to maximize results from your workouts. The ultra-high intensity of the third day is the last one of the week. You’ll then give your body two days for a full recovery.

You might feel guilty about taking two days off from workouts. This is a bad idea. The program is designed for a one-week cycle. If you’re doing it right then you’ll be exhausted by Friday.

Keep in mind that it’s not the 1-hour workouts that really cause muscle growth. During the other 23 hours make sure you’re eating healthily, sleeping enough, and lowering stress levels.

Optimum Weights

Pick weights that allow you to complete all the reps while using good form. Then lift to failure during the last set. During the last set if you can do a couple more reps then move up the weight during the following week.

Benefits of Split Workouts

“Leg Day”

Fun Fact: There are 13+million #legday posts on Instagram. One of the main benefits of split workouts is you’ll be forced to add leg workouts to your weekly regimen. That’s because this approach requires you to work for every major muscle group at least once. That includes quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

How important is leg day? If you want to build lean muscle, burn fat, and boost overall fitness then you’ll need to do upper-body and lower-body workouts. A 3-day split forces you to reserve one day for leg muscles that you might normally neglect in other types of workout programs.

More Variety

This is another key benefit of split workouts. There’s lots of variety in terms of exercises, sets, reps, and so on. This is still true even though you’re doing lots of compound exercises vs. isolation exercises.

You can even switch up which muscle groups you work each day. For example, you can rotate the pushing, pulling, or leg days to Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. This not only will keep your muscles “guessing” but will also add more variety to your workouts.

Rest Days

One popular regimen is to do weight-resistance workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There might be some overlap when focusing on pushing/pulling muscles, for example. However, you’ll still get rest days between weightlifting every-other-day.

It’s always critical to rest enough between workouts. The old saying “no pain, no gain” only applies to a certain extent. That said, when you have sore muscles after a tough workout those are ultra-small tears in the muscle fibers.

How much rest is enough? Studies show that muscles need 72+ hours after a high-intensity workout so they recover/repair fully. If you over-work the muscles they won’t repair and you won’t see muscle gains compared to a 3-day split workout.

A split-workout focuses on one or two muscle groups each day. You can experience many benefits and might have wondered if a 3 day split workout can build lean muscle mass. It’s possible but it’s also important to do the “right” exercises, sets and reps during gym workouts.

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