Have you ever considered that maybe a 3 days a week workout plan could be what you need to achieve your fitness goals? Whether you are looking to have a flatter tummy, leaner thighs, a more shapely butt or just fit into that pair of jeans that fit a year ago, you do not have to work out seven or five days a week to achieve said goals. Sometimes less is more.
According to a 2018 study, training volume matters more than training frequency. In the study, participants performed exercises such as bench presses, squats, and deadlifts, focusing on their one rep max. Researchers divided the participants into two groups; one group worked out three days a week, while the other exercised six days a week.
They all trained in the same volume and frequencies. At the end of the study, researchers found that while working out more (6 times a week) increased strength and fat free mass in the participants, it did not lead to increased strength. Those who worked out 3 times a week had the same strength and hypertrophy levels as those who worked out more days (2).
Which Is The Best 3 Days A Week Workout Plan?
If you are wondering ‘how should you do a 3 days a week workout?’, the best thing to do is to look for or make an exercise routine that suits your needs and experience levels (beginner, intermediate, expert), exercises your whole body, and gives you ample time to rest, recover and build your muscles.
What Are The Benefits Of A 3 Days A Week Full Body Workout?
Here is why a full body workout 3 days a week is a good idea:
1. Less Time Spent At The Gym
By choosing to workout 3 days a week, you have already cut the time you spend at the gym in a week. Doing full body workouts helps cut this time even further, letting you allocate the extra time to other duties and obligations.
2. Increased Rest Times
For muscle to grow, you need to give it enough time to recover. When you do full body workouts three times a week, you get to give your muscles enough time to relax and rebuild themselves which gives you that muscle definition that you have been working towards.
3. Weight Loss
For someone looking to lose fat, full body workouts work better than isolation exercises. Stop exercising is a myth and a 3 days a week full body workout plan will burn more calories.
4. Better Health
Working out, especially using cardio exercises has been linked to the reduced risk of chronic illnesses, improved mental health, better sleep patterns, and more.
5. It Is Flexible
While you can choose the specific days of the week when you want to workout, a 3 days a week workout plan gives you ample time to recover from any missed workouts.
6. Full Body Workouts Are Easier To Manipulate
The problem with isolation workouts is that they are more or less set. E.g., bicep curls are bicep curls whether you use a weight or not. However, full body workouts are many and varied. If you do not wish to run then kettlebell swings can do it for you, if you, planks will work too, or maybe swimming, or burpees. You will never get bored working out your whole body.
7. Work Best For Home Workouts
Unlike isolation workouts that require gym weights or machines, full body workouts do not. They can be done easily using just your body weight and improvised weights for the extra challenge
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How To Work Out 2 Times A Day 3 Days A Week?
While most people prefer to workout just once in a day and be done with it, some people like to challenge themselves and their bodies by exercising twice a day. If you are in the later group and are unsure how to incorporate 2 exercise sessions in a 3 days a week workout plan, here are some tips to help you out:
1. Do Your More Challenging Workouts In The Morning
Can you imagine thinking about doing CrossFit or a HIIT class after a busy and gruelling day at work? Chances are you you will altogether skip your workout and go home or may not give your all to the session. To avoid this, schedule your most intense exercises for the morning hours that way your later session is easier to do.
2. Schedule The Sessions Several Hours Apart
If you are going to be exercising twice a day then you need to give yourself enough time in-between the workouts. This time allows you to eat thus refueling your muscles and to rest up, giving your body and muscles some time to recover and re-energize. Do not be tempted to do two workout sessions back to back.
3. Drink Your Water
Set a reminder for this if you have to. Hydration is important whether you are exercising or not. However, if you are going to have a 2 times a day 3 times a week workout routine, then hydration – before, during, and after a session – is especially important to you.
Water helps in regulating your body temperature and lubricates your joints – non lubricated joints could lead to injury. It helps transport nutrients throughout the body to keep you healthy and energized. This same energy from nutrients is what you will need for your body to be strong enough to keep up with your routine.
4. Try Skipping A Day In Between Your Workout Days
While it is tempting to schedule your workouts back to back so you can get them out of the way, this is not a good idea, especially if you are working out twice a day. Instead of this, we suggest that you skip at least one day before you have to be at the gym again.
Remember that it takes at least 24 hours for your muscles to recover after a relatively light workout and up to three days for a more intense session. Even if you are doing a 3 days a week workout for mass, muscle only grows after it has been given time to repair the tears that occurred while exercising – this too does not happen overnight can take anywhere from one to several days for them to grow bigger and stronger than before.
5. Watch Out For Any Signs Of Overtraining
While working out twice a day, 3 days a week certainly has its benefits, not everyone can handle it. If you notice that your performance at the gym has decreased, your muscles are no longer growing, you have lost your appetite and can no longer sleep well, or that you are getting ill more often, then you could be overdoing it and it is time to reduce how much you workout. It is better to prevent this than to look for ways to recover from overtraining.
How Many Sets For A 3 Days A Week Full Body Workout?
The debate concerning how many sets one has to do for maximum gains is an ongoing one in the fitness community. Some believe that the more sets you do, the more your chances of working all the muscle fibers in a given muscle group and thus the more the gains. On the other hand, some believe that fewer sets will still help you achieve your desired results.
So who is right and who is wrong? Well, both sides are correct to a point – it all depends on what your goals are. For example a person doing a 3 days a week workout for mass and not strength will benefit from doing more reps.
This was proven in a 2018 study where 34 men were divided into 3 groups. Each group worked out 3 times a week for 8 weeks. The first group only did one set per exercise per training session, the second did 3 sets, while the last group did 5 sets per training session. At the end of the 8-week study, the 3rd group – the one that did the most reps in a training session had the biggest gains in terms of muscle mass (1).
So What Is The Consensus? How Many Sets For A 3-Days A Week Full-Body Workout?
If you are not concerned much about mass, strength, endurance, etc., MensHealth suggests that doing 3 sets or less of 8 to 12 reps per muscle group is safe and enough to see results. If you want to do more sets them do up to six sets but keep your reps to three or less.
3 Days A Week Workout
If you have specific goals and would like to know how many sets and sets will work best for you to see results then you should try the following:
- For increased muscle mass. Do 3 or 6 sets with six to 12 reps per set.
- For endurance. Do 3 or 4 sets with 15 reps or more per set.
- For muscle strength. Two or three sets with up to 6 reps per set are enough.
- For general fitness. One or two sets with 8 to 15 reps will help you get more fit.
Rest periods and intensity of each workout also matters but for the most part, this is what your reps and sets should look like.
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How To Design A 3 Days A Week Dumbbell Workout?
If you do not want to go to the gym and the only weights you have at hand are dumbbells, here is a simple 3 days a week dumbbell workout plan that you can follow to ensure that you exercise your whole body:
Day 1 – Upper Body Pull Workouts
- Warm up – Do a few quick stretches and 10 to 15 minutes of cardio
- Dumbbell pullovers – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Back extensions (dumbbell) – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Bicep curls – 3 sets of up to 12 reps per bicep/arm
- Seated rows with dumbbells – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Pull ups – 3 sets of 10 reps
Day 2 – Rest Day
Day 3 – Lower Body
- Walking dumbbell lunges – 3 sets of 10 to 12 strides
- Dumbbell squats – 3 sets of 12 reps
- Deadlifts (dumbbell) – 3 sets of 10 to 12 sets
- Step ups (dumbbell) – 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
- Calf raises with dumbbells – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Stretches and cool down
Day 4 – Rest Day
Day 5 – Upper Body Push Workouts
- Overhead press with dumbbells – 3 sets of 12 reps
- Standard dumbbell pushups – 10 to 20 pushups
- Bench dumbbell dips – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell tricep extensions – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Lateral dumbbell raises – 3 sets of 12 reps
Remember to do your warm-up and cool down before and after your workout.
How Should You Do A 3 Days A Week Workout?
There is no set way on how to make a 3 days a week workout plan. Any workout plan that you choose to do should be one that fits within your lifestyle and meets your goals. With that being said, here are the things that you should consider when determining what could work best for you:
1. On What Days Do You Like To Exercise?
Do you prefer to workout on three consecutive days or skip a day in between? Are weekends okay for you or would you prefer to keep your weekends open for something else? Three simple 3 days a week workout routines to choose from include:
Example 1 – Workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Example 2 – Exercise Monday to Wednesday
Example 3 – Workout on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
2. Home Workouts Or Go To The Gym?
Some routines are curated for people who often workout at the gym while others work best for home workouts as they do not require any equipment or machines.
3. What Are Your Goals?
Are you looking to gain more muscle aka bulk up, look more shredded, or do you just want to shed some extra pounds. Look for a routine that aligns with your goals. If you are a beginner looking to shed some extra weight, there is no point in you trying to match your workout plan to a bodybuilder.
The Bottom Line
When done right, a 3 days a week workout plan is great for any fitness goals ranging from weight loss, strength, to increased mass and more. While you can choose to split your workouts and exercise different muscle groups a day, you could also do full body workouts and achieve fantastic results. Remember to consult a doctor before starting a new workout routine.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Training Volume, Not Frequency, Indicative of Maximal Strength Adaptations to Resistance Training (2018, journals.lww.com)