Full Body Weight Training Workout Split Over 3 Sessions

3 sessions weight trainingWeight training should be very demanding on the muscles and therefore you need to give yourself time to recover well between working different muscles. This is why we split weight training workouts. The basic split is a push / pull split which is designed to allow you to do 2 weight training sessions per week.

An alternative split is the 3 session split that works different muscles in each session – this is what we shall look at today.

The more intense that your training is, the more you need to rest your muscles, both in between exercises and in terms of days between workouts.

With the follow workout you should not do any single session more than once per week, ideally workout 3 times a week, say Monday, Wednesday and Friday and have the weekend off.

These workouts are quite high volume too. You will need to rest for 60 seconds between each set and a couple of minutes between each exercise.


For each exercise you will be performing 3 sets of 8-12 or 12-15 reps. Ideally the final reps in each set should be almost impossible to complete without breaking good form. If you finish too easy add more weight next week, if too hard then use slightly lighter weights.

In each of these sessions the abdominals are worked each session, the back is split into upper and lower back exercises.

You should warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of cardio before the weight training, preferably on an elliptical or rower to work upper and lower body. This workout assumes that you have access to resistance machines and cable machines in a gym. Remember that weight training is one of the best ways to burn fat and lose weight.

Session 1: Chest, Upper Back and Abs

Chest Exercises

  • Barbell bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline dumbbell press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable cross-over: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Upper Back Exercises

  • One-arm dumbbell rows: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral pull downs to front: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated cable rows: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Stomach Exercises

These exercises are best performed as a super set, so you do the 2nd exercises immediately after the first then take a rest before repeating the first again.

  • Reverse crunch: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Crunch: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Session 2: Arms, Shoulders and Abs

Shoulder exercises

  • Dumbbell press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Bent-over lateral raise: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Bicep Exercises

  • Barbell curls: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Concentration curls: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Tricep Exercises

Stomach Exercises

  • Oblique crunch: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • The plank: 3 sets held for 1-2 minutes

Session 3: Legs, Abs and Lower Back

Leg Exercises

  • Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg extensions: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated leg curls: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Calf Exercises

  • Seated calf raise: 1 set of 12-15 reps
  • Standing calf raise: 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Stomach Exercises

  • Side bridges: hold the position for 5 seconds on one side then change sides. Keep repeating until you have done 5 sets in total
  • Bicycle crunches: 3 sets of 15-20

Training Tips

Always ensure that you are well hydrated and nourished before training. If you attempt to workout on an empty stomach you will soon tire and will not be able to work hard enough to get maximum gains. Have a protein rich meal after your workout. Always warm up thoroughly before the exercise and do some stretches afterwards too.

Perform this workout each week until you feel ready to progress to new exercises. It is helpful to keep a training diary. By keeping a diary you can make a note of how much weight you are lifting and use this information to plan your next session. As there are several exercises and many sets in each session it will become difficult to remember how much you lifted previously.

Make notes against the exercises to if you fail on the 2rd set before completing all the reps you know to adjust the weight downwards for the next workout. If you almost complete the 3rd or final set then keep the weights the same as you may gain enough strength by the next session to complete all sets. If you completes all sets too easily then you will have to increase the weight.

If you start on a low weight and complete the first set too easily you should increase the weight. Remember that your energy levels and the recovery status of you muscles will determine how much you can lift, so you may be able to lift much more from one session to the next even when your muscles have not grown a lot in that time.

This is more than a free sample weight workout program, you can use this and adapt it and keep growing for months or even years if you follow this routine. Keep progressing, always strive to lift more weight, but stay within the recommended rep ranges for each exercise.

More like this in the Strength Training section

  21 comments for “Full Body Weight Training Workout Split Over 3 Sessions

  1. MotleyHealth
    June 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Hi David, you could do, or you could do a push / pull split instead.

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