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


So am I on the right track?

CT does NOT respond well to people who ask the same question more than once, or who bump a post. Pretty sure he saw your (second) post and decided not to reply. This third will only serve to piss him off. You did what he said, what else are you looking for?? Not trying to be a prick, just telling what I’ve seen many times.

Ill certainly take that on board as I didnt mean to piss anyone off.

I didnt feel this was the same question, my first was asking what kind of split to use, the second was, or at least I thought it was, asking if the split I came up with looked correct. I have searched the internet for examples of full, upper, lower splits and I really came up with nothing so this is my own interpretation. I do not consider myself to be an expert in such things and therefore was asking CT who is an expert.

I bumped it because I didnt know if he had seen it or not. Maybe I should take no answer as yes understanding CT’s time is precious and that if he needed to say anything he would have done. Therefore his silence is simply because I had got it correct.

I do see what you are saying and although I didnt think that way before, I can now see a different way of looking at the situation. Thank you and also thank you again to CT for your original response.

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I didn’t have a single minute of availability this week. Between 2 video sessions, 2 podcasts, clients, business meetings, taking care of the baby and travelling to France, things are a bit ectic. And I confess that I often look at something and think “I’ll get back to this later” but then forget.

No worries CT, I really dont know how you find the time to get so much done. Thanks for all of your great work. I really enjoy reading your articles, they are some of the best training info I have ever read.

All the best


Tellement déçu de ne pas venir a votre séminaire a Toulouse , j’habites a Cannes , et le trajet est difficile a cause des événements sociales en France (manifestations et blocages gilets jaunes).
Je vous souhaites bon séjour quand même :wink:

Tu parles! Mon vol Bruxelle/Toulouse a été annulé a cause d’une grève et j’ai du attendre 10 heures pour un autre vol. Ensuite il y a eu une manif directement devant mon hotel et tous les resto étaient fermés, donc le dimanche soir je n’ai même pas pu manger!

arf! pas cool . La France n’est plus un beau pays , on a besoin d’une refondation du système , mais les Français veulent tout et tout de suite , et rien ne se fait rapidement d’un point de vue société .
Sur le forum dont je suis modo , beaucoup voudraient partir de France .Beaucoup.

C’est ce que les extrèmes-gauchistes ne comprennent pas: L’élite qu’ils détestent tant est, dans plusieurs cas, l’élite pour une raison: meilleure éducation, réussite financière, patron d’entreprise. OK tu t’insurge contre le proprio de Airbus qui fait des millions, mais si Airbus décide de partir combien de Francais vont perdre leur boulot?

Si le socialisme extrème était viable l’URSS, Cuba et le Venezuela seraient des oasis de bonheur.

Demande a un extrème-gauchiste gnan-gnan d’aller passer 6 mois au Vénézuela et vois si il a les mêmes valeurs a son retour!

Le “problème” avec le “1%” est qu’ils sont mobiles. A cause de leur compétences ils peuvent aller travailler dans plein d’autres pays,et ils ont l’argent pour se déplacer. C’est beau le bonheur ouvrier, mais tu fais quoi si la moitié des entreprises, des médecins,des ingénieurs, quittent?

Le soucis , c’est quand tu as de l’argent , beaucoup d’argent , et bien tu en veux plus encore .

Mon ancien mentor , disait toujours : “On a jamais vu un coffre-fort , suivre un cercueil”
Et il avait bien raison .

Plus de 80% de la richesse mondiale va au 1% les plus riches !

Pas normal quand mĂŞme .

Ce n’est pas la place pour une discussion politque… en Francais :slight_smile:

Mon ancien prof de politique (j’étais étudiant en science politique avant science du sport): “Le capitalisme c’est l’homme qui exploite l’homme… le communisme c’est le contraire” :slight_smile:

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CT, you mention not really using 3x a week splits when aesthetic muscle mass is the goal. What would you consider average Joe’s? Martin Berkhan and most of his clients use 3x a week training would you say he is just really lean with some muscle?

You CAN gai muscle training 3x a week. In which case I recommend either a whole body approach or whole body/upper body/lower body so that each muscle group is hit 2-3 times a week.

I’m not passing judgement on Martin as I really respect what he is doing. Everybody has their own way of doing things.

Not referring to him or his guys, but when you are really lean and have some muscle you can look spectacular in photos even without a lot of size.

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