Build a strong, muscular and impressive physique by weight training only 3 days a week!
You don't have to follow a professional bodybuilders 5-days a week workout routine to build a solid, strong and muscular physique. In fact, if you are a novice, beginner, or just weight training for general fitness, you'd most likely benefit best by training only 3 days per week.
Not convinced that training less may actually lead to more results? Here are a few of the major reasons why I am a firm believer in the 3 days per week (every other day) whole-body weight training program for the general population, individuals who can't make it to the gym more often, as well as beginner and most novice bodybuilders.
1. You may be familiar with the idiom "keep it simple stupid"
Well, this phrase is definitely applicable to bodybuilding and strength training.
All too often individuals make the mistake of performing all types of exotic funky looking exercises that they may have seen in some fitness magazine or seen performed by someone else in the gym. In doing so, you're getting away from what it is that creates the most amount of strength, muscle and loss of body fat.
Training instead with exercises that work multiple muscle groups is what is going to produce the largest amount of overload on the muscular system and hence help you achieve the greatest gains in strength and muscle mass in less time.
Also, since you are using multiple large muscles, you will also be expending more calories and hence burning more fat in a shorter period of time than you would if you developed a program around isolation exercises.
There is also evidence that compound exercises that incorporate large muscle groups such as the squat can invoke a positive growth hormone response.
Another problem with not keeping it simple is that some individuals place way too much emphasis on biceps and triceps training, which are relatively small muscle groups that get trained with back, shoulder and chest workouts anyway.
In doing so, one of two things usually happen. Either these arm muscles don't receive enough rest to grow and become stronger, or they become too large proportionately to the rest of the body (which looks especially bad when you don't have a strong foundation to begin with).
It only makes sense that you need to lay a solid foundation before you start to build the roof on the house. Using a 3-day training split forces you to keep it simple and choose only the best exercises that work multiple muscle groups and create the greatest amount of overload, thus producing the best results.
The program I have laid out for you will help you build a solid foundation, but will also give you the flexibility to include a couple of sets specifically for arms at the end of the workout if you wish.
2. Training only 3 days per week with a day of rest in between each training session allows you to have more energy when you do train.
This concentrated energy will allow you to have better workouts and lift heavier weights. More energy = more weight lifted (progressive overload) = stronger and bigger muscles.
For those who are not experienced or knowledgeable enough in weight training and nutrition or don't practice health lifestyle habits, training more often can actually have a negative impact on results in muscle and strength gain.
3. Training 3 days per week in an on-off fashion allows at least a day of rest for recovery.
This is especially important to individuals who are trying to gain mass, because less calories are expended by training only 3 days per week as compared to more often. Therefore, it is easier for you to stay in a positive caloric balance, which will prevent the breakdown of the lean tissue that you do have as well as spare your glycogen stores (muscles energy).
Once you become more familiar with how many calories your body needs and you take the time necessary to prepare meals in advance in order to meet those needs, then you can increase how many times a week you workout.
4. In some cases training a muscle or muscle group only once every 7 days is not sufficient stimulus to keep gains coming even if you are using very high volume such as with a "bodybuilding" program.
Recuperation times vary for different weight trainers and you should listen to your body rather than a magazine.
It may be that training only once per week is merely maintaining the muscle and strength you have rather than produce progressive overload on the muscles and causing them to become stronger and bigger.
With that said, younger weight trainers can especially train a muscle or muscle group more frequently than once a week due to higher hormonal levels and faster recovery times.
Even older individuals can benefit from keeping the training volume on a muscle or muscle group relatively low, and training it more often during the week.
5. These types of workouts have been successful for my clients.
I find that this type of program is ideal for younger individuals that may not know a whole lot about training and nutrition but want to gain muscle mass and strength.
Especially "hardgainers" because their problem usually lies in the fact that they are too active and simply aren't eating enough to support their metabolic rate. By lessening the activity level to only 3 days per week, hardgainers can more easily meet the caloric needs that their body requires in order to support muscle growth.
Some of my busy business professional clients also enjoy a 3-day per week program because they may not be able to make it to the gym more often, but still want to get in great shape. This allows for a highly-efficient workout where they can work all of the major muscle groups of the body as well as burn the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time.
6. It worked for me.
For the first 2-3 years of weight training, I more or less followed a program that was designed for the football players at my high school. This program consisted of training all of the major muscle groups with only 4 or so different exercises.
Although I was not a football player, using this format allowed me to build an impressively solid, strong base of strength and muscle.
The program that I lay out for you will deviate slightly from the one given to me when I was a teenager in order to add a little more variation and produce better overall results, but will still share the same basic fundamentals.
Once I learned how to pay better attention to how my body responded to training, learned about proper sports nutrition, basic human physiology and anatomy, and how to design optimal training splits, then I was ready to take my physique to the next level by training 4-5 days a week like a bodybuilder