Good morning everyone, happy Thursday, and welcome to part III of how to organize and schedule your workouts to maximize your progress.
So two weeks ago we covered the muscular super compensation model and how it dictates how often you need to schedule your workouts. And last week I outlined the ways to organize and schedule your workouts if you are only able to workout once or twice a week.
Today we are going to kick it up a notch and delve into how to organize and schedule your workouts if you will be able to workout three times a week.
Realistic Expectations From a 3 Days a Week Exercise Schedule
Once you’ve reached a point where you can commit to three workouts a week, you’ve reached a point where you can start to make some relatively significant muscular and strength gains.
Candidly, you won’t be able to compete in a body building or powerlifting competition. But if you organize your workouts correctly, get them in consistently and have a well organized and executed dietary plan, you can absolutely develop a body that is at the very least in the 85th percentile in terms of looks and strength for your age group.
If you are able to exercise three days a week, there are two primary ways to organize your workouts:
The first is to organize your workouts so that each workout is done on non-consecutive days with at least one day, but no more than two days, of rest between them.
An example of this type of workout schedule would be to workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A second example would be to workout on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Now, if you are going to choose this type of exercise schedule the best way to set-up your workouts is to do a total body workout each day you workout. Don’t split your workouts into upper body and lower body days, or even worse, into body part splits.
Because in order to maximize your muscular and strength development you need to work your muscles every 48-96 hours with the sweet spot coming about every 72 hours.
By setting up three total body workouts you ensure you work each muscle group you want to work at least every 48 hours and no more than every 72 hours. Right in the exercise frequency sweet spot.
If you split your workouts up into upper body days and lower body days, or split your workouts up even further you ensure you won’t exercise your muscles every 48-96 hours. And you won’t maximize your muscular and strength development.
The second way you can schedule and organize your workouts if you will be exercising three days a week is to schedule your workouts so that you do your first workout of the week, wait 72 hours, and then do your next two workouts on consecutive days.
An example of this would be to workout on Monday, rest Tuesday and Wednesday, and then workout on Thursday and Friday.
Now, if you are going to set your schedule up this way you need to organize your workouts as follows. Do a total body workout on the non consecutive day, in this case Monday, then either a lower body workout or an upper body workout on the first consecutive day, in this case Thursday, and then do either an upper body day or lower body day (Whichever you didn’t do on Thursday) on the next consecutive day, in this case Friday.
So overall your week would look like this…
Monday: Total body workout.
Thursday: Lower body workout
Friday: Upper body workout
Why do an upper body / lower body split for the second two workouts?
Because if you tried to do two total body workouts on consecutive days you wouldn’t give your muscles enough time to recover and super compensate, and thus you would undermine their growth and development.
But, by splitting your second two workouts into an upper body / lower body split you ensure your muscles get at least 72 hours of rest in between the workouts in which they are used.
Which schedule should you use?
Personally, when my clients are only able to exercise 3 times a week I try to schedule their workouts so they have at least a day in between each of them and organize them into three total body workouts.
This is especially true if they are relatively new to exercise.
Because most weightlifting and exercise novices can’t handle back to back workouts and need at least a day to rest. Even if they are split into upper body / lower body days.
Because exercise doesn’t just work the muscular system, but the neurological system as well and often time beginners don’t have the neurological stamina to handle back to back workouts.
Furthermore the studies I am familiar with have shown that trainees simply see better results from three total body workouts per week than a schedule that incorporates two workouts split into upper body and lower body days.
However, for my more advanced clients who are only able to exercise three days a week, sometimes I will use the total body, upper body, lower body schedule.
Because for many of the main exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and pull ups (to name just a few) more advanced lifters have to lift more weight for less reps in order to continue to progress.
And in this case having dedicated upper body and lower body days enable more advanced lifters to lift heavier weights more efficiently. (In this case we are using the upper body and lower body days as their primary work days / progress days and using the total body day as a maintenance day.)
With that said however, when I work with more advanced weight lifting clients, I advise them quite strongly that in the long run three days a week of exercise will not be enough, no matter how we organize their workouts and schedule. I make it quite clear that in the long run they will need to add at minimum one more day of weight lifting into their weekly schedule.
Okay everyone, that does it for my advice on how to schedule and organize your workouts if you will be exercising three days a week.
I’ll see you all back here next week for my thoughts on how to organize and schedule your workouts if you will be able to exercise four days a week.
And as always,
To our health!