Build A Great Body In Only 3 Days: Part 2 - The Routine.

Build a strong, muscular and impressive physique by weight training only 3 days a week!

Note: This is part two, click here for part one.


My Old High School Routine

This routine consisted of only 4 different exercises but each and every set was done with extremely high intensity and heavy resistance with relatively low repetitions. Routinely we would perform 1RM's (max out) on the Bench Press and Squat given that we had one or two people spotting us for safety and to help with a forced repetition (an assisted last rep). This workout would be performed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Calculate your 1RM here.

The uniqueness of this routine was that it was not performed in straight sets, as you'll find most common weight lifting programs are (especially "bodybuilding" programs). This program was done in a circuit-type fashion that served to allow the worked muscles a longer rest after a set, kept the length of the workout shorter, and limited the prioritization of certain muscles over another.

For instance, after warming up with light calisthenics we would jump right into it by performing a set of the bench press, take a long enough breather to regain composure then do a set of squats, then after another short rest we moved on to the lat pulldown, and lastly once again after catching a short breather go straight to the leg curl machine. This entire circuit would be performed 3 to 4 times.

As you may have noticed it was most likely no mistake that the exercise order went from upper body to lower to upper and then to lower body again, which allows for even more rest of the upper and lower body muscles between sets. With the exception of the hamstrings curl, this program consisted of some of the best compound exercises around, period.

You may also notice that between only those three compound exercises all of the large muscle groups of the body are engaged. I never asked the football coach why he included the leg curl in the program, but knowing what I know now I assume it was to prevent any possibility of muscular imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles groups.

It should be noted that 2-3 times a week on rest days I would also perform standing calf raises until fatigue (using only my own bodyweight or 2.5 Lb. ankle weights) to improve my jumping ability for basketball.

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The Program:
Day 1,3,5

Barbell Bench Press

      - 1-6 reps


Barbell Back Squat

      - 2-6 reps


Cable Lat Pulldown

      - 4-8 reps


Lying Hamstrings Curl

      - 6-10 reps

Click here for a printable log of the above exercises.

At the end of the workout - optional):

Abdominal Crunch Machine - 10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets
Dumbbell Concentration Curl - 10 reps/ 1-2 sets

Click here for a printable log with the optional exercises.


The New & Improved Complete Routine

This program varies slightly from the old high school routine I used to use. Exercises specifically for the shoulders have been included and the lying hamstrings curl has been excluded. Day 2's exercises are different from those of Day 1 and 3, but you'll notice that they still work the same muscle groups only in a different manner.

There are only 4 set in stone exercises per day so this will keep you concentrated, prevent you from pacing yourself throughout your workout, and should keep you from overtraining. This also allows for the addition of a couple of extra sets of an additional exercise if desired.

For this program to be optimal, a high intensity level needs to be used on every single set, as though it was your first and only set, since you are only performing 3-4 working sets of every exercise (12-16 total sets). Because the intensity is so high and you are taking each set to muscular failure, it is key that the volume needs to remain relatively low.

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So, no additional exercises other than the ones I listed should be added to this program. If you've performed the workout as intended, you should be too tired to do anything else anyway. The exercises should be performed in a circuit type format, but you don't have to take the very short rest periods that are typical of circuit training - take as much rest as necessary between the different exercises.

On a training day, if you experience soreness in a particular muscle or muscle group from your last workout, I would advise not performing any heavy exercises that involve that area of your body. Instead take this opportunity to add an exercise that works a different muscle of importance to you that day or you can simply scrap that part of the workout altogether and hit it hard the next workout.

If your goal is to absolutely gain as much strength and mass as possible, you should limit your cardio and overall physical activity as much as possible.

If your goal is for overall conditioning (strength/muscle gain as well as cardiovascular conditioning/fat loss) than you can do one of two things.

You can either kill two birds with one stone by keeping the rests in between the exercises very short or nonexistent, or you can perform cardiovascular exercise on Day 2, 4, and 6 if necessary.


What Are Your Goals?
>Lose Fat
>Build Muscle
>Improve Energy
>Other

In the event that your gym doesn't have a certain machine or you don't have a spotter or self-spotting machine, I've listed other exercises that can be substituted. The substitutions are placed left to right in order from best to worst substitutions. If you do have to substitute make sure that your Day 2 exercises are still different from those of Day 1 and 3.

Remember to warm up lightly for about 5 minutes before beginning the workout. A cool-down period after the workout would also be beneficial.


Weeks 1 & 2


Day 1
(Ex. Monday)

Barbell Bench Press

      (1-4 reps)


Substitutions: Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press, Machine Bench Press, Cable Press

Barbell Back Squat (2-6 reps) - All movements performed deep
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Lying Leg Press, Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Barbell Shoulder Press (1-4 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press (w/ a seat that has a back support), Machine Shoulder Press

Cable Lat Pulldown (4-6 reps)
Substitutions: Pull-ups (weighted if necessary)

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up

Dumbbell Preacher Curl (10 reps/ 1-2 sets)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Concentration Curl


Day 3
(Ex. Wednesday)

Barbell Incline Bench Press

      (1-4 reps)


Substitutions: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press (w/ an incline bench), Dumbbell Bench Press

Lying Leg Press (w/ feet high on platform) (2-6 reps)
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Machine Shoulder Press (1-4 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press (w/ a seat that has a back support)

Seated Low Cable Row (4-6 reps)
Substitutions: Bent-over Barbell Row, T-Bar Row

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up


Day 5
(Ex. Friday)

Barbell Bench Press

      (1-4 reps)


Substitutions: Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press, Machine Bench Press, Cable Press

Barbell Back Squat (2-6 reps) - all movements performed deep
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Lying Leg Press, Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Barbell Shoulder Press (1-4 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press (w/ a seat that has a back support), Machine Shoulder Press

Cable Lat Pulldown (4-6 reps)
Substitutions: Pull-ups (weighted if necessary)

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up

Dumbbell Preacher Curl (10 reps/ 1-2 sets)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Concentration Curl


Weeks 3 & 4


Day 1
(Ex. Monday)

Barbell Bench Press

      (8-12 reps)


Substitutions: Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press, Machine Bench Press, Cable Press

Barbell Back Squat (10-15 reps) - All movements performed deep
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Lying Leg Press, Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Barbell Shoulder Press (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press, Machine Shoulder Press

Cable Lat Pulldown (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Pull-ups (weighted if necessary)

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up

Dumbbell Preacher Curl (10 reps/ 1-2 sets)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Concentration Curl


Day 3
(Ex. Wednesday)

Barbell Incline Bench Press

      (8-12 reps)


Substitutions: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press (w/ an incline bench), Dumbbell Bench Press

Lying Leg Press (w/ feet high on platform) (10-15 reps)
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Machine Shoulder Press (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press

Seated Low Cable Row (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Bent-over Barbell Row, T-Bar Row

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up


Day 5
(Ex. Friday)

Barbell Bench Press

      (8-12 reps)


Substitutions: Dumbbell Bench Press, Smith Machine Bench Press, Machine Bench Press, Cable Press

Barbell Back Squat (10-15 reps) - All movements performed deep
Substitutions: Barbell Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Smith Machine Squat (w/ feet far out in front of body), Lying Leg Press, Seated Leg Press, Front Lunges (performed with a long deep step forward)

Barbell Shoulder Press (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Shoulder Press, Machine Shoulder Press

Cable Lat Pulldown (8-12 reps)
Substitutions: Pull-ups (weighted if necessary)

Optional Exercises:
(performed at end of workout)

Abdominal Crunch Machine (10-20 reps/ 2-3 sets)
Substitutions: Traditional Sit-up

Dumbbell Preacher Curl (10 reps/ 1-2 sets)
Substitutions: Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Repeat Program For Weeks 5-8

After performing this program for 8 weeks you may feel that you need to add an exercise for the hamstrings muscle group. Good choices may include simply adding a set or two of a less intense isolation exercise such as the hamstrings curl machine or adding a tougher exercise such as the straight-leg deadlift.

View other hamstring exercises...


Conclusion

As you become more advanced and have a better understanding of how many calories you need to at least sustain your current bodyweight as well as becoming more aware of how your body responds to training, you can then include additional exercises as desired and/or increase the frequency of resistance training workouts to 4 or 5 days a week.

View Training Frequency Articles...

Note: This is part two, click here for part one.