T Nation

What Plan for 3 Days a Week Lifting?



If you were to only lift 3 days a week, what would you recommend?

Cardio can be done on other days or as a tag on to the 3 lifting days, but if you had to get the most bang for your buck on 3 days lifing what would you do?

Would you use an undulating periodization model or would you keep rep ranges constant throughout the week?

Would you look to do an A B A style of training or would you Use A B C or even A B C, D A B, and so on?

How would you structure the split? Full body, Push pull, upper lower etc?

Would you include accessory work or just big compounds?

I am really looking forward to your insights.

Best wishes



I’m not aware of 3 Day programs by Thibs. He will usually recommend a 4 day program but rotating based on your training days.
Monday - Workout 1
Wednesday - Workout 2
Friday - Workout 3
Monday - Workout 4
Wednesday - Workout 1

But having done that myself I much prefer training 3 days on a program that was built around 3 days. I’ve always had better results. For only 3 days per week my recommendation is one of the hundred 531 templates. Most of them have 3 Day variations. Based on your questions I also recommend the book if I’m allowed to do that on here. Sorry Chris


Take a look at Charles Staley’s stuff on t-nation. He advocates 3-day-a-week fully-body programs.


I do use 3 days a week programs with some athletes I work with. Rarely with people with more of an aesthetic/muscle mass goal in mind though.

When I use a 3 days a week lifting schedule with athletes I use a whole body approach and either one of these schemes:

  • Undulating peridization where the intensity and volume is waved up/down on all sessions
  • Contraction type periodization where one days emphasises the eccentric, one day the concentric and one day includes an isometric component.

For average Joes simply wanting to get bigger/stronger I would likely go with a whole body/Upper/Lower split.

Day 1 = Whole body for strength (something like the 3 powerlifts for low reps)
Day 2 = Upper body hypertrophy
Day 3 = Lower body hypertrophy


Thaks CT

What do you think of this?

Week 1: - Strength

  1. Back Squat 3x5
  2. Standing Press 3x5
  3. Deadlift 3x5

Week 1 – : Upper body

  1. Incline bench press 4 x 8-12
  2. Barbell row 4 x 8-12
  3. Arnold press 3 x 8-12
  4. Weighted chin up 3 x 8-12
  5. Overhead triceps extension (dumbbell) 3 x 8-12
  6. Barbell curl 3 x 8-12

Week 1 – : Lower body

  1. Front squat 4 x 8-12
  2. Dumbbell lunges 3 x 8-12
  3. 45-degree hyperextension 3 x 8-12
  4. Seated calf raises 3 x 8-12
  5. Hanging leg raises 3 x 8-12

Week 2 :- Strength

  1. Deadlift 3x5
  2. Bench Press 3x5
  3. Back Squat 3x5

Week 2 -: Upper body

  1. Barbell overhead press 4 x 8-12
  2. Weighted pull up 4 x 8-12
  3. Dumbbell bench press 3 x 8-12
  4. 1-arm dumbbell row 3 x 8-12 per arm
  5. Lying triceps extension (dumbbell) 3 x 8-12
  6. Hammer curl 3 x 8-10

Week 2 –: Lower body

  1. Conventional deadlift 4 x 8-12
  2. Dumbbell step up 3 x 8-12
  3. Glute ham raise (or leg curl) 3 x 8-12
  4. Standing calf raise 3 x 8-12
  5. Cable crunch 3 x 8-12

or is this overly fancy?

What do you think?

Best wishes