If you’re wondering whether or not your 3 day split is enough to build serious slabs of lean muscle you need to read this article.
You’re wanting a ticket for the gain train and building good quality muscle is the aim of the game.
But you’re not sure how to nail a good workout schedule.
Maybe your buddy Chad say it’s “all about the splits brah”. Or you read in some sh*tty glossy lifestyle magazine that training once a week will get you super-soldier swole.
It’s confusing for sure.
With only 3 days available to get in the gym trenches you’re wondering which approach suits you the most.
But don’t worry bro, we got your back. As serious lifters we know exactly what works and why.
In this guide we break down everything you need to know about getting jacked in just a few days.
Are 3 days splits enough to build muscle?
Let’s take a look…
Building muscle mass the easy way
One of the fundamental aspects of a good weightlifting program is achieving optimal weekly volume. It’s all bout training each muscle enough to force it to grow.
Most people can manage to get to the gym 3 days per week. Some have the luxury of more time, but for you you’re looking at a max of 3.
And that’s cool.
Because you can make some massive gains on a 3 days splits.
It all comes down to ticking off the basics of muscle growth. Pop the key in the lock to these golden nuggets of mass and you’ll be on that Olympia stage in no time bro.
The basics of muscle mass – how to unlock brutal muscle mass
Bodybuilding is as much an art as it is a science. This makes it difficult to give absolute answers to questions that are relative.
But there are certain guidelines you can follow to make sure you keep on track…
Progressive overload is the basis of good mass training
If you don’t work hard you wont grow bro. That’s like muscle growth 101 right there.
Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and giving your muscles a stimulus that is greater than your present ability is a fundamental of progressive training. Whether that’s adding more load, reps or sets.
What puts the bro’s apart from the pussies on the gym floor is that they’re not afraid to give that bit extra and really push to fatigue, set after set.
Fighting to get an extra rep in here and there or taking the weight up slightly from the week previous will soon get you jacked.
Weekly volume is important for huge growth
The so called secret to building muscle mass is weekly volume.
Take a look at the (currently pretty popular) research on muscle growth and there’s compelling evidence of a ‘dose-response’ relationship between high volume and greater gains in muscle size.
Broken down to the absolute basics, this means that if you lift more weight at a given rep range you’ll stimulate more growth.
More sets equal more mass.
Performing 3 sets is superior to 1 set. 5 is superior to 3. And so on
It’s that simple.
And granted, there’ll come a point where volume eventually becomes negative – because of overtraining and fatigue, but blasting out more sets in general is a good approach.
Using 3 day splits to build muscle
Deciding to ditch single muscle bro splits and opting instead to follow a 3 day muscle split program is a good move for the serious lifter.
Working out 3 days per week lets you hit all of your major muscles in every workout. This allows you you to target a high-frequency, high-volume approach.
If you’re natty and can’t use the power of those anabolics to help you annihilate just one muscle per workout, 3 day split programming allows you to progressively overload your muscle fibers but still recover fully for the next workout.
Here’s how 3 days splits programs help with muscle building…
More frequent workouts means higher volume but less fatigue
If you break the science down into creatine tablet size bites you’ll find that more frequent workouts means you don’t have to put as much volume in each individual session to achieve the same gains.
Lets say for example that you follow a 3 day full-body approach and complete a total of 4 sets of chest each workout – 12 sets in total per week.
Or you follow a single muscle split and complete all 12 sets in one workout. And then don’t train that muscle again until a week later.
When weekly volume is equated, muscle building results are pretty similar between the two methods,
But where the 3 days splits becomes superior is that it:
- Optimizes muscle building hormones with more frequent stimuli
- Superior for strength and neuromuscular development
- Improves lean mass
The bottom line is that 3 days splits workouts do build muscle.
They allow progressive overload and a high weekly volume, but still optimize hormonal, neural and recovery response too.
Also, 3 days splits don’t take up too many days (we love the gym but honestly f*ck going everyday if you can get the same gains in less time).
Training with a lower frequency can boot recovery
Grinding in the gym on a daily basis can soon take it’s toll.
Without recovery and regeneration you’ll quickly begin to slide down the slippery slope of overreaching; and eventually overtraining if you refuse to ease off the gas.
Training with 3 days splits allows four days to fully recover each week. That’s plenty of time to throw in some active recovery activities, sports, mobility work or cardio if you need to.
Remember, it’s when you’re out of the gym that you’re growing.
Use the 100-120 rep rule to maximize 3 day split muscle building
A common benchmark used by coaches and lifters is to hit a threshold of 100 reps per muscle, per week. That way you give your fibers just enough volume to push progressive overload.
It’s only a guide and to be honest you might even be able to go above this pretty comfortably.
But as a guideline it works.
On smaller muscle groups you might be able to tolerate a little less, but still somewhere around the 80-100 sets is cool.
And whether you choose to hit your total weekly volume in one workout, five times per week, or a 3 days splits doesn’t really matter.
Sample 3 days splits workout
There are loads of ways you can hit your weekly volume and build muscle using a 3 day only program.
Here’s one that we’ve used in the past to pack on some serious slabs of strong muscle mass.
- DB Bench press
- Romanian deadlift
- Lat pulldown
- DB lunges
- BB Bicep curl
- Lying DB skullcrusher
- BB Back squat
- Seated row
- BB Bench press
- Lying leg curl
- DB Lateral riase
- Leg extension
- DB Seated curl
- Leg Press
- DB Shoulder press
- Single arm row
- DB Chest flyes
- BB Hip thrusts
- Close grip pulldown
- DB Narrow press
Summary – Are 3 days splits really enough to build muscle mass?
The primary drivers of muscle growth aren’t based around how many times you check in your membership at the gym, but how much weekly volume you achieve under progressive overload conditions.
If you program your 3 days splits workouts effectively, you’ll soon find that you create enough of a stimulus to grow some badass mass that’ll be the envy of your gym bros.
Now get to it.