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3on/1off : YOUR RESULTS?


3on/1off has always been a very popular way to train.

It started back in the 70's with typical bodypart splits looking like:

Day1. Chest/Back
Day2. Tricep/Bicep
Day3. Quads/Hams
Day4. Off

More recently, many of the famous Mr.Olympia's and bodybuilders you know(or should know) such as Lee Haney & Kevin Levrone also popularized & used the method with their own spin on it. Even female Ms.Olympia's like Rachel Mclish!

Here are some examples (Lee Haney's 8X Mr.Olympia Split)

Day1. Chest/Arms
Day2. Quads/Hams
Day3. Back/Delts
Day4. Off

And another... (Kevrin Levrone's)

Day1. Chest/Delt/Tri
Day2. Quads/Hams
Day3. Back/Bi
Day4. Off

So here's my question to you all; have any of you tried any 3on/1off programs where you train your entire body in the 3 day span, rest a day, and start over?

How do you guys all feel about this kind of training versus a standard 5-6 day bodypart split such as:

Day1- Chest/Bicep
Day2- Off
Day3- Back/Tricep
Day4- Off
Day5- Shoulders
Day6- Arms
Day7- Legs

Honest answers,personal experience,and everything else would be appreciated; I'm honestly curious to see how people who weren't taking the needle did with 3on/1off as the frequency is obviously a bit higher.


Generally your better off working Lats and biceps on the same day and pressing muscles on separate days, triceps get a lot of stimulation from main pressing lifts but can do like shoulder and chest pressing day and finish with accessory triceps, then squat and dead variation for leg days. The type of routine someone on steroids would do is completely irrelevant to people that are natural.. Generally though 3 on 1 off could be pretty harsh for most if you especially if you go empty the tank everytime you work out, probably going to get burnt out quicker more muscle inflammation and CNS frying... Really as long as you have auto regulation down then you can follow whatever program you like so long as you listen and are in tune with your body.


Over the summer I ran a chest/back, legs/abs, delts/arms split 3 days on 1 day off. I feel that it is the absolute best way to train for the fastest gains because it allows you to train each muscle group 2x per week while keeping volume relatively high (compared to other high frequency programs like upper/lower splits). The only draw back for me was that because the frequency and volume are relatively high , I had to take a week off after 8 weeks as it took a toll on my joints. When I start back on that a couple months from now I'll probably keep it to 2 exercises for larger muscle groups and 1 exercises for smaller muscle groups.


How were your gains on the program? ^

Can you give any kind of figures.


How were the strength gains on that?


I am a natural trainee and I have done roughly 90% of my training this way. I actually consider the day off in the middle optional, I just take a day off when life prevents me from making it into the gym. Never is this more days off then 3 on one off, but sometimes I go six on one off. I read about this routine in Arnold'd encyclopedia and always went back to it. I would try other stuff, then would be dissapointed and go back to this. My favorite is chest and back supersets, then shoulders and arms, then legs on seperate days. I also used push,pull,legs since buying frank zane's book with good results. I prefer Arnolds because I am an endomorph and supersetting or even trisetting for shoulders, provides a circuit training style boost to metabolism without decreasing your ability to gain maximum muscle.


I used to train this way for the best part of 4 years or so (various permutations). To me, the main advantage is the margin for error when it comes to building mass & even, albeit to a lesser degree strength is more or less perfect. If you miss a work-out or have to tone down a WO every now & again.....no biggie! You'll be smashing it again in four days time or less, so, in the grand scheme of things, no problemo.

Of course, their are a handful of potential problems, like:

You likely won't have a dedicated arms days (unless this comes at the expense of say: chest, delts or back etc) OR your rest day/non-lifting day.

You also, (probably) won't have an conventional bb'ing back day, ie deadlift + pull-ups + rows etc.

Of course, having one WO day were you train twice (maybe) can be one method of cirumnavigating some these problems OR training with a lil over-lap, example:

Day 1) Lower body
Day 2) Delts, pecs, tri's
Day 3) Upper Back
Day 4) biceps + main conditioniong GPP....whatever day etc.

I'd also say, from a psychological/strictly rational POV, having a non day-specific routine is far better.


Will keep an eye on this thread, because the upper1/upper2/legs routines are soooooooooooooooo popular...I think if bodybuilder do this way, there must be a reason



GorillaMon, thank you for that input!

I have finally decided what I'm going to do, I'm literally going full on old-school; Arnold/Ferrigno status and doing their training for the next few months. This template is Lou Ferrigno's training except I cut down on the sets, will only be doing 2 sets of each exercise & it looks pretty much identical to Arnolds. It's similar to Lee Haney's as well.

Day1- Quads/Hams
Day2- Chest/Back
Day3- Tricep/Bicep
Day4- Off

Day1: Leg Day
4x Front Squat
4x Leg Press
4x Smith Squat(or Hack Squat)
4x Leg Extension
4x Stiff Deadlift
4x Hamstring Curls

Day2: The Oldschool Chest/Back Superset Day!
4x Flat Bench : Wide Chins
4x Incline Bench : TBAR Row
4x Incline DB Bench : BB Row
4x DB Flye : Close Chins
2x Pullover : Cable Flye

Day3: The Ferrigno Arm Routine!
4x Barbell Curl : Tri Pushdown
4x Incline Curl : Tri Extension
4x Preacher Curl: OH Extension
2x 21's or concentration


Day5: Repeat

*All sets are ramped to the last 1-2 sets being ~6 reps on big compounds, 8-10 on the rest.
I did a lot of calculations of weighs Ferrigno,Arnold,and Haney used in their sets and it all seems pretty consistent in looking like this:

Sets: 70%,80%,90% of max being used for top set. There might even be another warmup before that; but basically for example if their top weight was going to be 100x6-8 on the last set,they would do 70x10,80x8,90x8,100x6-8.So really the last set was the one that was the money maker,but the other ones werent necessarily very easy; they probably stopped 2-3 reps before failure.

This is the first time I will be bodybuilding except for a small period I did a long time ago; it's a drastic change from my powerlifting training. Excited to see what the results are like. Going to continue periodizing the Flat/Incline Bench/Squats/Rows the best I can along with everything else using this kind of training. I figure if I just add 1 rep until I get 6-8 at a weight each time, I should be fine.

If anybody has information about some corrections about how Lou Ferrigno or Arnold's workouts looked like more specifically please let me know.

I'm just trying to piece together the best I could find from articles/interviews/magazines with Lou & Arnold.


^What about shoulders?

Arnold recommended this for beginning bodybuilders in he`s encyclopedia.

Chest and back Day:
Benchpress: 5 x 10-8.
Inclinepress: 5 x 10-8.
BB rows: 5 x 10-8.
Chins: a total of 50 reps.
Pullovers: 5 x 8-10.
Deadlift: powertraining( 10,8,6,4,2,1,1 or something similar, cant remember exactly )

Leg day:
Squat: 5 x 8-10.
Lunges: 5 x 8-10.
Legcurls: 5 x 8-10.
Stiff-legged-deadlifts: powertraining( 10,8,6,4,2,1,1. or something similar )

Shoulders and arms day:
Clean and press: 5 x 8-10.
Upright row: 5 x 8-10.
BB curls: 5 x 8-10.
Triceps: 5 x 8-10.

All sets are ramped btw.

Abs and Calves are trained everyday according to Arnold.


I don't like what Arnold recommended for beginning bodybuilders. It is an absurd program to me. There is no way in god's name I could do that chest/back workout, then hit 5-6 sets of Deadlifts, and the NEXT day do Squats,and then Stiff Deadlifts.It's totally ridiculous and I would never do that.

I like Lee Haney and Lou Ferrigno and Arnold's "non-beginner" routines more; they make a lot more sense...

You're right , I totally missed out on shoulder day. I'm very confused though, because I have been looking around the net, and it says so many different things.

One says that Lou trained like this...

Day1. Chest/Back
Day2. Tricep/Bicep
Day3. Legs/Delts
Day4. Off

One says it looked like this actually:

Day1. Chest/Back
Day2. Quads/Hams
Day3. Delts/Traps
Day4. Triceps/Biceps
Day5. Off

Then I see some that look like:

Day1. Chest/Arms
Day2. Quads/Hams
Day3. Back/Shoulders
Day4. Off

Then I see

Day1. Chest/Back
Day2. Quads/Hams
Day3. Delts/Arms
Day4. Off

lol my mind is just blown right now.....

Perhaps I will just try this to make things simple and not overthink it...

Day1. Quads/Hams
Day2. Chest/Back
Day3. Tricep/Bicep + Side&Rear Delts
Day4. Off

Front Delts are getting trashed as it is on Chest Day


Maybe some more experienced 'bodybuilders' can help a poor old powerlifter with what seems sensible.

From what I understand, it seems the 3on/1off is better and 4on/1off was only used by Lou ferrigno when he was needing to seriously specialize on shoulders and move them away from arm day.

Also, Haney actually just stayed with 3on/1off his whole career,and even had periods where there was NO shoulder work even performed! I guess the high frequency chest/back work he did , he felt was more than enough at times?


What some people do is to do front and side delt on Chest day and then do traps and rear delts on back day.


@ Ethan.

I agree that Arnolds BB novice routine in the encyclopedia is a bit crazy and have no plan to try it out myself, but thought it was worth mentioning since you where interrested in old-school 3way splits, but
a split with back/chest, legs and Delts/arms looks rational and decent, but yhea total volume and excercise selection could be done different than Arnolds variation.

Anyway I wish you good luck with whatever you choose to do.


Problem is Chest is paired WITH back LOL, so I don't think that's a possibility for these plans.

These seem to be the 2 choices to keep it on the 3on/1off schedule


Day1- Quad/Ham
Day2- Chest/Back
Day3- Delt/Arm (no front delts)
Day4- Off


Day1- Chest/Arms
Day2- Quad/Ham
Day3- Back/Delt
Day4- Off


Good luck, please post your feedback.
Personally i still do well on upper/lower split but i will probably use a 3 way split eventually.
The problem might be that they have beginner, intermediate, advanced, builup, transition, cutting routines, not to mention juiced versus clean approach it turns out to be a guessing game.
If i was competing for big money i would not share my secret recipe.
They made money selling books, with magazines ...
Myself i appreciate those who share their experience without gains like you might do in sometime.
If you want to gain muscle less splits allows more compounds wich is recommanded by Lou and many others. Maybe a few weeks alterning between 2 options.
Hopefully you will find something that works for you now.
All the best!


This is my suggestion, on arm day, first do this
Seated DB OH pres
DB lateral raise
rear DB raise
Do 4 trisets ramping up in weight each set. Do the last one to failure.
That is twelve sets twice a week in 8-10 minutes each. It worked well for me and is easy to pull off in a crowded gym


I like..
Day1 - Chest/Front & Side Delts/Biceps
Day2 - Back/Traps & Rear Delts/Triceps
Day3 - Legs

There are dozens of options to do a 3 day split. You can even break up legs like in the Serge Nubret article. It's personal prefference and if you like to superset or not. I generally don't like to superset.


Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'm going to do the standard 1970's training routine; Arnold himself and Lou were actually using this despite what he wrote in his "Encyclopedia" which was not accurate. Also, I am positive this was his routine because I know somebody on bodybuilding.com that trained with him about 100 times over the span of a few years in the 70's, and he said it was always the same.

Day1- Chest/Back
Day2- Delts/Arms (only ~2 exercises were done for delts)
Day3- Quads/Hams
Day4- Chest/Back
Day5- Delts/Arms
Day6- Quads/Hams
Day7- Off

I will be making it 3on/1off like Lou did though, so there will be an off day after Quads&Hams.

Thnx all


I am so glad to see you make this call. You will probably make the best gains of your life.I say this because you have good bbing genetics based on your response to Serge's training. I own two books from arnold, one book from lou, have met them both and totally believe in this kind of training. It is totally responsible for my transformation from an obese loser to a guy who is called "biceps Ben" at work. Stick to this for at least six months and I think you will make huge progress.