If you have a busy daily routine and not enough time for full-body workouts, a three-day split strength-training routine is a fast, efficient way to target specific muscle groups. An effective three-day routine for gaining strength and enhancing muscle definition can include exercises for legs, butt and back on day one, chest and shoulders on day two, and arms and abs on day three. For fat-burning benefits, you can also do supersets and add in cardiovascular exercises on any day.
Day One: Lower Body and Back
Day one of a three-day split-training routine can focus on recruiting leg, butt and back muscles. Fitness coach and former Miss Bikini USA Jennifer Nicole Lee recommends choosing three exercises for each body part. To take your lower body to new heights, squats, lunges and deadlifts are effective exercises for targeting quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. To look even better in backless outfits, do bent-over rows, standing rows and dumbbell pullovers. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.
Day Two: Chest and Shoulders
On day two, you can either train your chest first and then your shoulders, or you can superset by alternating between exercises with little rest in between for cardiovascular, fat-burning benefits. Figure champions Nicole Wilkins and Jaime Baird recommend free-weight and machine exercises best for the chest including the dumbbell incline chest press, cable chest flyes and machine chest press. Exercises you should do for showing off your shoulders include lateral raises, military presses and rear deltoid flyes. Aim for completing three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.
Day Three: Arms and Abs
On day three, you can do a series of exercises for biceps first, followed by exercises for triceps, or you can also do supersets. For example, armed with a pair of dumbbells, do one set of biceps curls and then one set of triceps extensions, followed by one set of concentration curls and one set of triceps dips, and finish with one set of hammer curls and one set of triceps kickbacks. A superset cycle will be complete after performing three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.
After training your arms, choose abs exercises that change up movement angles to target upper and lower abs and obliques. A comprehensive abs routine can include floor exercises combined with sets on abs machines. "Oxygen" fitness magazine recommends crunches, scissor kicks, crossover crunches, side planks, kneeling cable crunches, hanging leg raises and stability ball abs exercises with or without resistance. To determine sets and repetitions, consider your current fitness level and whether you're using weights.
Split Training Tips
It’s possible to train at home, but most gyms have the best variety of free weights and machines, enabling you to change up your routines to avoid hitting plateaus. You may also consider hiring a personal trainer to help you learn how to do various exercises. To keep progressing, choose weight increments that challenge you to complete final sets and take at least one day off between training days for muscle recovery. Eat healthy meals to fuel strength-training workouts and use resistance or incline features on cardio machines to help build muscle while burning body fat. You should also always consider health concerns before starting a new diet or exercise plan.
- Bodybuilding.com: The Fitness Model Exercise Program
- FitnessRX: Train Like a Pro; Nicole Wilkins and Jaime Baird
- OxygenMag.com: Five-Minute Abs for Any Level!
- OxygenMag.com: Advance Your Abdominals
Bari Auerbach writes a fitness column and has won trophies in fitness shows. Since graduating from Florida International University in 1984 with a degree in communications, she has written for national clients; interviewed dignitaries and celebrities for magazines; and has covered topics including business, politics, fashion and food.