Full body workout for muscle gains
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The Best 3-Day Full-Body Workout Split Routine for Muscle Growth

Compared to bodybuilding splits that focus on just one body part at a time, the full-body workout targets all major muscle groups in the same workout. 

That means you will hit your chest, thighs, biceps, triceps, and back all in the same workout. 

You can use this routine to build lean muscle, gain strength, and improve conditioning. 

We’ll focus on a full-body routine designed to pack on muscle and strength in this article.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a total beginner to do full-body workouts. 

In fact, full-body training is perfect for beginners because it involves using big, compound exercises that also target major muscle groups at once, maximizing hypertrophy.

In this article, I’ll show you an example of a 3-day full-body workout split that you can begin immediately.

What Is a Full Body Workout Routine?

Full-body workout routine

Most people in the gym plan their lifting routine based on select parts of the body, like the back, arms, chest, and legs. 

But with full-body training, you train all major muscle groups in the same workout. 

Full-body training saves hours in the gym, and also improves your conditioning because you can train different movements back to back in supersets.

If you looking to get the most out of your training and save time, a full-body workout plan is perfect for you.

In any given workout, you will target these muscles:

  • Chest and shoulders (pectoralis and deltoids)
  • Biceps and triceps
  • Forearms
  • Back (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae muscles)
  • Abs and obliques
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

In contrast to a bodybuilding split, in a full-body workout, you could pair a pulling movement like a bent-over row, with a pushing movement like the bench press. 

In a bodybuilding split, you focus more on targeting specific muscles, rather than focusing on movements. 

This results in many exercises performed on the same muscle, which often leads to doing unnecessary amounts of volume. 

Full-body workouts focus less on bringing a pump to any individual muscle, although you can do that too. 

They focus primarily on big, compound exercises that are not only more functional but also target many muscle groups at once. 

Because compound movements target so many muscle groups, they require greater input from the central nervous system, which is one reason why they drive greater muscle growth than isolation exercises. 

For example, a bench press is usually included in a chest day. 

But it also trains the triceps and the anterior deltoids (front of your shoulder) well too.

That being said, if you want to maximize muscle hypertrophy, use isolation exercises along with big compound exercises. 

Although you may not blast each muscle as hard each workout with a full-body workout, you will over the course of the week train each muscle more efficiently. 

What Are The Benefits Of Full Body Workouts?

Full-body workout plan

There are many benefits to full body training, but these are the most important ones:

1. Save Time

Many people who want to build muscle mass and strength say they don’t have any time. 

Well, you can’t make this excuse with the total body workout. 

Full-body workouts will cut down your training time in half at the very minimum. 

By pairing different compound movements together in a superset, you will obtain a killer workout in less time. 

I’ll show you how shortly.

2. Conditioning. 

One of the coolest benefits of full-body training is that instead of resting and doing nothing in between sets, you can do another exercise that targets a completely different area. 

For example, you could do a set of deadlifts followed by a set of landmine presses. 

This type of routine places much greater demands on the cardiovascular system. 

You may find yourself sweating, and feeling winded depending on your fitness level very quickly. 

By improving your cardio, your workout routine will get more efficient.

3. Higher Training Frequency. 

Numerous studies show that training the same muscle group more than once a week is more effective than hitting that same muscle really hard just one day a week (1,2). 

Training three times a week was shown to offer the greatest gains in lean muscle mass and strength. 

Each workout is less tiring to the specific muscle group, but you’ll make greater gains because you’ll be fresher each workout and can hit that exercise even harder.

4. Balancing Muscle Groups. 

In a full-body workout, you won’t run the risk of overtraining one specific muscle group. 

By shifting your focus away from isolating muscles to functional movements, you will ensure greater mobility. 

Your posture may also feel better because you’re training both pulling muscles and pushing muscles, balancing your body out.

The Full Body Split

Now it’s time to plan your workout. 

I recommend using a 3-day split to target all the muscle groups in your upper body and lower body in any given week. 

You can modify this to your liking and do a 2-day split or even a 5-day split. 

As mentioned previously, say you want to focus on the chest a bit more one of these days. 

You can add extra triceps exercises on this day since doing bench press followed by tricep extensions has been shown to stimulate the most muscle growth (3). 

So if that’s your goal, you can hit the desired muscle groups hard but still be able to train a different compound exercise later in the week really hard too for the same muscle group.

Most of the exercises below come in supersets. 

With this method, you should focus on having 3-5 minute rest periods after the last set of the super set, and no more than 2 minutes rest between exercises. 

Don’t forget to warm up before your workout too. 

The 3-Day Full-Body Workout Split

  • Monday: Full Body
  • Tuesday: off
  • Wednesday: Full Body
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: Full Body
  • Saturday: off
  • Sunday: off

Mondays

The following workout involves three supersets. 

Each exercise can be performed with three sets of ten reps, or adjusted to your liking and fitness level. 

Perform one exercise after the other in each superset and rest for a few minutes after the second exercise. 

Repeat two more times to hit three sets.

  • 1a. Bench press
  • 1b. Hanging leg raise
  • 2a. Deadlift
  • 2b. Tricep extensions
  • 3a. Barbell bent-over row
  • 3b. Delt raises

This workout will add slabs of muscle to your back because it combines deadlifts and barbell bent-over rows, and to your lower body, chest, triceps, and shoulders. 

One core workout—the hanging leg raises—is also included to target the abs. With a stronger core, you will have greater stability for pushing and pulling exercises. 

Wednesday

On Wednesdays, you will focus more on the anterior chain (quads) as well as the calves. 

For bigger movements like squats and deadlifts, taking a full rest is ideal if you are focusing on strength. 

Back Squat

  • 2a. Quadricep extensions
  • 2b. Hip thrust
  • 3a. Pull-ups
  • 3b. Step-ups
  • 4a. Dips
  • 4b. Bicep curls

This workout focuses on the quads with the barbell squat, quadricep extensions, and step-ups. 

By including an isolation exercise, the quad extension, after the squat, you maximize strength in the anterior chain. 

On Monday you performed rows but missed pullups. 

That’s why on Wednesday, you not only do pullups but also work on your biceps.

To make sure we don’t forget the shoulders and triceps, we add dips, which target the anterior deltoids and pectoralis muscles. 

They’re a killer!

Friday

On Friday, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard so you’re prepared for Monday. 

This workout is designed to target the whole body without unnecessarily fatiguing the primary movers.

  • 1a. Hyperextensions
  • 1b. Overhead press
  • 2a. Dumbbell flyes
  • 2b. Farmer’s walk
  • 3a. Kettlebell swings
  • 3b. Plank

On Friday you’ll focus a little more on core and conditioning so that you make the most strength gains you can for next week. 

It’s not wise to strength train really hard too many days in a week because full recovery takes up to 14 days. 

So to maximize lean muscle gain, make sure you’re fully rested for each lift. 

Planks, kettlebell swings, and farmer’s walks will improve your conditioning and endurance, without making you needlessly tired for Monday’s deadlift session. 

Take those rest days seriously!

Who Is A Full Body Workout Best For?

Full-body workouts work for anyone, at any age group. 

They simply move exercises around that you would do anyway, to make your workout more efficient, balanced, and strategically posed for maximal gains. 

But for some people, it’s especially advantageous. Let’s explore who full-body workouts are ideal for:

Beginners

The average trainee in the gym will benefit the most from full-body workouts because it removes the need to use cardio machines and is highly efficient. 

It also fulfills the need to improve cardio without machines. 

If you’re new to the gym and are healthy, full-body training will ramp up your fitness and strength very quickly.

Busy people 

Full-body workouts are great for busy people who only have one hour maximal to train in the gym per workout. 

A smart full-body split will get the job done in just 45 minutes or less!

People who prefer full-body training

One of the most important elements in improving fitness, strength, and adding muscle, is consistency. 

If full-body workouts are fun for you, you’re more likely to show up with a smile and complete your workout in good spirits. 

A workout routine is only as good as what you can actually stick to.

For those who want variety

With the full-body workout split, you can substitute exercises to your liking to change things up. 

Variety also helps to stimulate muscle growth and strength. 

If you’re looking to try something new, full-body workouts are fun and challenging. 

Tips for Each Exercise:

Deadlift

Deadlifts are one of the most important exercises you can do to improve back strength and leg strength.

As a pulling exercise, it’s paired well with upper body pushing exercises, as shown in your 3-day split workout plan.

Barbell deadlifts need to be performed with perfect form, because otherwise, you risk injury, especially if the amount of weight is high.

Follow these instructions:

  1. Bring your feet under the bar so that the barbell is above the middle of your feet
  2. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart
  3. Grip the bar with one hand prone, meaning face down, and the other hand gripping the bar from underneath (supine)
  4. Bring your hips down and make sure your elbows are straight
  5. Generate some tension in the hips and find that sweet spot where you feel strongest
  6. Keeping your back straight, pull the bar up, keeping it close to your legs and body as you do so.
  7. Carefully lower the weight in the same motion keeping the bar close to your body, thighs and shins.

As you get used to the exercise you’ll find that sweet spot where you’re bending forward at the hips, and also have the most tension being generated from your posterior chain.

Make sure you don’t let the bar come forward from your body at all.

This increase the risk of lower back injury, especially with a great amount of weight.

I recommend a set of ten, then eight, then six reps.

Deadlifts target the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, middle back, and upper back, as well as the wrists and forearms.

If you’re not yet deadlifting, you’re missing a huge opportunity to develop a huge back!

Bench Press

The bench press is a staple strength and muscle-building exercise for anyone who wants to build a bigger chest.

The bench press is a compound exercise that targets the pectoralis muscles, the anterior deltoid, and the triceps primarily.

Dips also target these muscles, so I recommend that you do weighted dips and bench press on separate days to get the best results.

You can perform a bench press with dumbbells as well as a barbell.

Although the barbell bench press is the classic strength training exercise, the dumbbell bench press can offer a greater range of motion, helping you hit your chest even harder.

Here is how you perform a bench press:

  1. Place your hands on the bar an equal distance from the center
  2. Make sure your feet are firmly on the floor
  3. Keep your back straight and puff your chest out
  4. Lift the bar off the rack and bring it above the center of your chest so your arms are perpendicular to the ground
  5. Bring the weight down, as if you are pulling your shoulder blades back together
  6. Lift it back up

When performed right, the bench press becomes more than just a chest exercise. It also engages the glutes and core.

Bent-Over Row

The bent-over row is a great way to improve core strength while training the back. 

It’s easier to perform rows with a machine, but the bent-over row requires your core to tighten in order to stabilize the rowing movement coming from your arms and back, while your feet are on the floor. 

  1. To perform the row, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, and that your back is nice and straight. 
  2. Bend your hips to a 30 to 45-degree angle, and make sure you’re stable. 
  3. From there, bring your elbow back until the bar comes close to your chest. 
  4. Carefully lower it back down and perform ten reps.

This exercise is found in Monday’s workout because it adds another pulling exercise on top of the deadlift, to target the back. 

To see the best results in strength gains, perform two complementary exercises that hit the same muscle group each workout. 

Squat

The most important tip for the king of leg exercises, the squat, is to use a full range of motion.

When you squat using a full range of motion, you hit the quads, glutes, and hamstrings much harder. 

One study found that participants who used the full range of motion saw two times as much muscle growth compared to a half-squat (4). 

Each rep you perform will be more efficient and get you closer to your goal.

It’s better to perform fewer reps with good form than perform more reps with a poor form with the squat. 

If you’re trying to isolate muscles, for example, there is a place for using a partial range of motion exercises. 

In general though, for compound exercises, a full range of motion stimulates the most strength and muscle gains.

Follow these tips:

  1. Get under the bar in the rack so that it’s below your T1 vertebrae (the one that sticks out in the back of your neck)
  2. Unrack the bar with the bar on your upper back and step back
  3. Make sure your feet are a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  4. Look straight ahead and squat down and up with your feet staying firmly on the ground as your hips travel below your knees and back up

When you go below-parallel, you train your abs harder too. 

Great core strength is required in this exercise, and that’s why top-performing lifters use belts. 

The belt helps them not be limited by core strength so they can push harder.

Overhead Press

This classic bodybuilding exercise is like the bench press but for the shoulders.

When you get strong at the overhead press, you equally earn bragging rights.

To pack on mass onto your shoulders and triceps, follow these instructions.

  1. Grab two dumbbells and a bench to sit down on
  2. Bring the dumbbells to the top of your shoulders, palms facing away from your body
  3. With your back straight, and your gaze ahead, lift the dumbbell perfectly up

Try to lift the weight up and not forward too much, depending on the angle of your bench. 

It’s best to perform this exercise with a back rest. 

To target the core a bit more, do it without a back rest. 

Pull-Ups

The pull-up is one of the most important back exercises because it hits the lats, as well as the biceps and forearms. 

You can do bicep curls after a set of rows or pullups to maximize bicep hypertrophy. 

To hit the lower part of your lats even harder, perform weighted chin-ups as they hit the lower lats more effectively. 

To do a pull-up follow these instructions:

  1. Place your hands on the bar wider than shoulder-width apart
  2. Lift your body up and back a little as you bring your chest into the air
  3. Get your chin above the bar before going back down

To increase arm volume, go down more slowly than you come up. 

The eccentric muscle contraction (the part where you are going down) is what builds the most muscle. 

Hanging Leg Raise

The hanging leg raise is more than just an ab exercise that turns heads.

It’s challenging for your hip flexors, and your lats somewhat. 

This exercise is one of the best ways to target the lower abs too, an area that’s hard to get defined. 

Here’s how to perform it:

  1. Start by hanging on the bar as if you would do a pullup
  2. Lift your feet all the way up until they touch the bar
  3. Try to keep your legs straight as you lift them up

The trick with this exercise is to engage the lats at the beginning of the movement. 

You’ll have to pull your body up a little bit first with your arms before you can swing your legs up. 

Do as many reps as you can in each set, until failure.

Tricep Pushdown

The tricep extension is an isolation exercise that targets the triceps. 

It’s ideal to include in your full-body split whenever you’ve also included other compound exercises that target the triceps, such as dips and the presses (overhead and bench). 

Here’s how to perform it:

  1. Grab the appropriate cable attachment and attach it to the cable on the machine
  2. Make sure the cable is adjusted so that when you grab the attachment, your hands are at your chest
  3. Bend forward a little at the hips to stabilize your torso
  4. Push the attachment down while keeping your elbows stable

When you do this exercise right, you should feel it in your triceps. 

If you’re feeling it anywhere else, stabilize your body better, and keep your elbows in, tucked into your body more.

Delt Raise

The simple delt raise is a great exercise to add mass to the front and lateral part of your deltoids. 

It complements the bench press performed on Monday and is included at the end of the workout so you hit the bench harder.

You can use bands, cables, or dumbbells to perform this workout. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grab two dumbbells, and have one in each hand
  2. Standing with your arms at your sides and your palms facing behind you lift one dumbbell up at a time

To hit the front of your shoulders harder, keep your palms facing you.

Hip Thrusts

The hip thrust is now one of the most popular exercises to target the glutes and hamstrings. 

But it also strengthens the lower back and can help you increase your deadlift numbers, so you don’t just have to be an athlete or want to make your booty bigger to benefit from this exercise.

To perform it, follow these tips:

  1. Sit down on the ground with a bench or a box positioned to the middle of your upper back
  2. Make sure your feet are on the floor or on another low box
  3. Place a dumbbell on your hip
  4. Lift your hips up, keeping your feet firmly on the floor

Step-Ups

Step-ups are an underrated leg exercise, but they’re an additional tool in your leg-building workout plan that will add mass to your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. 

The benefit of step-ups is that you can adjust so many variables. 

You can choose what height to perform the step up on, whether you want to use dumbbells or a barbell, and whether or not you want to hit your quads more or your glutes. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Grab two dumbells and a 24’’ box
  2. Step up on the box
  3. Lean forward and bring your whole body up

As you become an expert at this exercise, you can adjust how you want to step up to feel it more in your quads or glutes. 

Perform three sets of ten with this one!

Farmer’s Walks

This exercise is more of a conditioning exercise but will add mass to your traps, and your back.

Here’s how to perform it.

  1. Grab two dumbbells or plates
  2. Walk around the gym for 60 seconds
  3. Do three sets and gradually increase the weight or the time you’re walking.

Hyperextensions

This exercise is one of the best and safest ways to train the lower back, but it also hits the hamstrings, unlike any other exercise. 

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Adjust the hyperextension machine so that the pads are a little bit below your hips (especially if you’re a guy)
  2. Keeping your back straight, and arms hugging your chest, move your torso down and up

To make it harder, use light weights. Perform three sets of eight reps.

Dumbbell Flyes

This exercise can target the chest in a way that the bench press can’t, which is the way it’s an excellent addition to your chest routine.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grab two dumbbells and find a bench
  2. Lay down on the bench and lift the weights straight up. This is the starting position
  3. Keeping your elbows relatively straight, bring the dumbbells away from each other

This exercise also targets the biceps but does not hit the triceps. Use an incline or decline to target different areas of your pecs. 

Kettlebell Swings

This exercise also is great for conditioning and therefore helps with recovery from heavy squats and deadlifts.

Here’s how to perform it:

  1. Grab a kettlebell
  2. Being your feet to wider than shoulder-width apart
  3. Swing the kettlebell down and back behind your legs
  4. Now swing it upwards and thrust your hips forward

Adjust your knee bend to hit the quads more. Generally, this is better for training your glutes and hamstrings.

Plank

The plank is a great exercise to train your abs.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a mat and get on your hands and knees
  2. Now straighten out your legs and balance your body on your forearms
  3. Hold this position without wavering for forty-five seconds

As you get better, add a weight to balance on your back or increase the time you hold the plank.

Conclusion

The full-body workout is a trending way to build muscle mass and strength that you have to try. 

Compound movements paired with isolation movements maximize muscle gain. 

You don’t have to train an entire muscle group in one day. You can train multiple muscle groups multiple times a week for maximal muscle and strength gain.

Make sure you take adequate rest days and hit those lifts hard!

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References

  1. Krieger JW; Schoenfeld BJ; Ogborn D. “Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27102172/.
  2. Fonseca RM; Roschel H; Tricoli V; de Souza EO; Wilson JM; Laurentino GC; Aihara AY; de Souza Leão AR; Ugrinowitsch C; “Changes in Exercises Are More Effective than in Loading Schemes to Improve Muscle Strength.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24832974/.
  3. Brandão L; de Salles Painelli V; Lasevicius T;Silva-Batista C; Brendon H; Schoenfeld BJ; Aihara AY; Cardoso FN; de Almeida Peres B; Teixeira EL. “Varying the Order of Combinations of Single and Multi-Joint Exercises Differentially Affects Resistance Training Adaptations.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32149887/.

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