Weight 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
- 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
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
- 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
- Barbell curls: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Concentration curls: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Triceps push-downs: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Lying triceps extensions: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Oblique crunch: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- The plank: 3 sets held for 1-2 minutes
Session 3: Legs, Abs and Lower Back
- 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
- Seated calf raise: 1 set of 12-15 reps
- Standing calf raise: 2 sets of 12-15 reps
- 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
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.
22 Comments on “Full Body Weight Training Workout Split Over 3 Sessions”
i can never seem to biuld my trap muscles. i am defined in other muscles but as much as i train traps they dont biuld. can you help me out
Hmmm, do you always perform the same exercises with the same resistance? Have you tried any different techniques, such as pyramiding, negatives? Are doing lots of shoulder shrugs too?
I do shrugs about 2 times a week but have never tried different techniques. Normally it is with the same resistance tho
Try something different then. Maybe increase volume for a couple of weeks then go heavy for a session or two to promote different muscle fibers to grow.
so do you mean doing medium weight and about 10 reps a set and then go heavy every now and then to build them?
Yes. What have you been doing up until now? Oh you said. Twice a week, same weight. Increase volume for a while. Also do other exercising, like pull ups and dips to build up the shoulders and back.
alright I will try doing it. I do chin ups 2 times a week and dips 2 times a week but I shall try doing shrugs twice a week and increase the volume.
And remember, get your proteins and get your sleep too.
Heya, how long should i do cardio after im done with weight training to get full effect of lowering my body fat percentage ? i usually work out 2 hours each time.
Hi Chris, if you are working out 2 hours then I would not do cardio afterwards. Get your post-workout nutrition in (protein and carbs) and then do your cardio the next day.
When you perform the Bench press or DB press, it says 3 sets of 8-12, how is it supposed to be?
3 sets with the same weight and when reaching 12/12/12 with that weight, then +5% and repeating the process?
It would be something like this:
12/12/12 -> +5% weight, then:
10/8/7 reps, 11/9/7, 11/10/8 (for example),… until 12/12/12, then +5% again.
Or 1-2 sets of warmup (50% and 70% desired weight for example) and then a final set till failure? When reaching 12 in the final set in strict form, then +5% and repeat.
And another thing:
When you can’t +5% weight, for example, the dumbell press, how would you do it if your gym only had: 10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26 kilograms…(1 kg = 2,2 lbs)
I am at the moment on 16 kg (35,2 lbs) and it is very hard to move to 18 (39,6 lbs), its a 12,5% more weight when moving to next dumbells.
Maybe doing the 50% + 70% + 8-12 reps method but changing it to 8-15 reps? When doing 15 reps and adding 12,5% more weight, it would go back to 7-8 reps easier than if changing when 12 reps.
Thanks in advance
Hi Juan, yes, increase the weight as you get stronger, i.e. when you are completing the 3 sets with 12 reps at the current weight. This is intended as 3 work sets (with a warm-up beforehand).
If you cannot add 5% then try performing more reps and varying the curls with hammer curls and concentration curls also. Some weight training systems do use the same weight for many weeks and just increase the reps each week. If you cannot lift more weight just do extra reps to work the muscles harder.
Your workout is okay but you have no shoulder shrugs and i really like four days and taking three off it really works for me.I work out really hard and doing two sets just wont feel good to me ireally need to hit it hard i do okay to be 51 like i said this is what i do i love it so give me something one body part a day i will take care of my legs i workout 45mins to an hour.
i want to gain weight is this routine effective for me too?
Yes, assuming by “gain weight” you mean gain muscle mass.
yes i mean gain muscle mass and I want to know i use to do workout 6 days in a week. Here is my routine Monday – Lats, Tuesday-shoulders, Wednesday- Chest,Thursday- Bicep,Friday-Triceps and on Saturday-squats is this good routine or should i change my routine.Can you guide me how should i do routine.I want to gain muscle mass. How many days i should do exercises and how many days i should take rest in a week. Please help me i don’t have any gym trainer.
Hi Benni, why not try the routine in the article above? Looks like you need to do more, your Friday bicep session must be a killer!
Ok I will try the routine in the article.One thing i want to know about this routine should i increase number of exercises after some time or how many exercises should I do per muscle group?
Use a weight that allows you to perform the number of reps and sets as stated. As you progress (get stronger) increase the weight you are lifting.
Can i break down the above routine to two times per week?
Hi David, you could do, or you could do a push / pull split instead.
Hi, I’m Mike. I started lifting again recently after maybe 25 years. I lifted pretty regular starting when I was 37 years old, wanted to be in the best shape I could before I turned 40. I lifted for about 7 years. I gave it up life just got in the way. Back in the day I bought a home gym that allowed me to do everything I needed to do to get a complete body workout. I am now 69 and started lifting again and I’m loving it. I lift 6 days a week at the moment, back and bicep’s day one, chest and triceps’s day 2 and shoulders and legs day 3. I typically do 4 exercises with 3 sets per body part 6 to 8 reps per set when I reach 24 reps total for 3 sets I increase the weight. I rest 30 seconds between sets and 5 minutes between exercises. I follows this for 6 days and then I take a day off. I’m seeing steady progress. Am I lifting to much, please advise.