If "3 day split workout" conjures up an image of you doing the splits, you’re not alone. An actual split workout may not be that (like, at all), but it does have the flexibility your fitness routine so desperately needs.
“A workout split generally refers to how many days you can (or want to) work out per week or what body part you plan to hit,” explains Robin Young, CEO of Fitness Savvy. This comes in handy for those who have a tendency to wander the gym, unsure of what to do next.
Curious to learn more about split workouts? We turned to the fitness experts to learn all about this nifty way of leveling up your workouts. Your perfect routine awaits.
First Things First: What is a 2 day workout split?
“A 2 day workout split typically refers to a program that works opposing muscle groups over the course of two days a week,” says Bianca Grover, an exercise physiologist, personal trainer and owner of Bianca Grover Fitness.
For example: focusing on your upper body on Monday and then switching the focus to legs on Wednesday. Kuudose founding celeb trainer, Joey Thurman, CES CPT FNS, says that you could even complete full-body workouts on your scheduled days instead of focusing on one particular muscle group. That’s the power of the split — how you shape it is entirely up to you.
What are the benefits of workout splits?
As long as your workout splits are accompanied with proper form, hydration and stretching, you can reap some serious rewards.
For starters, you’re working a variety of muscle groups and at a higher intensity (look out, Arnold!). “Using split workouts also allows you to work muscle groups at a higher intensity, compared to consistent full-body workouts,” Grover explains to Lively.
If you’ve heard the phrase, “don’t skip leg day,” this is what split workouts are all about.
Another major perk is the muscle recovery. “By working select muscles on specific days, you allow them to fully recover on rest days,” says Grover. “This maximizes the muscles’ ability to become stronger.”
When you hit the gym next, you’re ready to unleash beast mode: “This is a good way to allow your body to recover from the previous workout, potentially get more volume in depending on your goals, and focus on weak areas,” adds Thurman.
There are many more benefits when you factor in what kind of split workout you’re doing. For example, Sergio Pedemonte, CEO & Certified Personal Trainer at Your House Fitness, says that a 2 day split helps you target different muscle groups.
This could look like:
- Day 1: Push/Legs (chest, triceps, front shoulders, anterior part of the legs)
- Day 2: Pull/Legs (back, biceps, back shoulders, the posterior part of legs).
If your goal is body re-composition, Young suggests a split of upper/lower body four times per week. Want to hulk up? Give a push/pull/leg split or full-body workout five times per week a try. To sum it up: “different types of splits can be used to achieve different goals.”
What is the best 3 day workout split?
There are many different variations of a 3 day workout split, but the most popular method is the push/pull/leg split.
“This means you will target pushing exercises on one day (things like bench press, shoulder press, triceps push downs), pulling exercises on the next workout day such as rows, deadlifts, biceps curls and legs on the final workout day,” says Young.
Pedemonte, who trains celebrity clients Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and O.T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale), likes to combine cardio and core elements on in-between days. This includes a mixture of high-intensity (boxing) and low intensity (walking and jogging) workouts.
Is 3 day split workout enough to reach goals?
This all depends on your goals, says Grover. For instance, if your goal is to shed some weight, you can’t go it with fitness alone — you’ll need to pair it with proper nutrition. Remember: You can’t out train a bad diet.
You will, however, find results if you’re looking to build muscle. Young says that she plans a full-body workout for three sessions per week for her beginner clients. “This would normally last 8-12 weeks before we add in an extra day and most likely change to an upper/lower split and hit each body part twice per week.”
Results can vary per person. If you’re looking for results, stat, the calculation goes like this: The higher the split, the quicker you reach your goals. In this case, turbo speed would be doing six workouts a week, according to Pedemonte. “It's recommended that you hit every muscle group at least two times a week to reach your goals.”
But with busy schedules getting in the way, it’s not always possible. This is where tailoring the split comes in. Even if you can only manage a 2 day split, this still deserves a pat on the back.
Besides, there are perks to 2 day splits. Melissa Welsh, a certified personal trainer and Owner of Limitless Health and Fitness LLC, says that they’re perfect for beginners and those who are pressed for time. Only have time for an arm workout? No sweat. Just call it arm day.
What's a good 3 day split workout for beginners?
While push/pull/legs is a great split, Young cautions that it can be too advanced for beginners. This makes the following split an ideal one for beginners:
- Chest and arms
Keep in mind, though, that what works for you, may not work for someone else.
If you’re wondering about the core, Grover says that it gets engaged in almost every movement. Really wanting that six-pack? She says to sprinkle core exercises throughout all three days. You can also add in similar muscle exercises to each day. For instance, Welsh recommends adding triceps and core to the chest day and then biceps and shoulders to back day.
Just like with the push-pull-back method, Welsh recommends adding at least three days of cardio activity, lasting 30 minutes or more per session.
“This can be whatever fits your needs and lifestyle — from running on a treadmill, swimming laps, riding your bike around your neighborhood, hiking, etc.” It’s your workout, so make it fun!