3 Days Per Week Full Body Workout Routine

Man performs rope pushdown, one of the exercises in the full body workout
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Gym Geek‘s full body workout routine consists of 3 training sessions per week that see you work all your major muscle groups in each session. Full body workouts are an effective way to build and strengthen your chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs and core.

This style of strength training is not only a great way to build muscle but, combined with cardio exercises, can improve your overall fitness and health.

Full body workouts are beneficial if you have a busy schedule and a limited amount of time to workout. You can use this routine to maximize your results from just a few hours in the gym each week.

A full body workout typically lasts between 45 to 60 minutes. This duration includes warm-up, the actual workout, and cool-down stages.

For beginners

If you are a beginner looking to lose fat, maintain a healthy weight or to build muscle, full body workouts are a useful way to approach your strength training routine. Because most beginners start training 2-3 days a week, it allows you to work all your muscle groups multiple times per week, without the risk of overtraining.

This frequency allows for adequate recovery periods between workouts, which is crucial for muscle repair and growth. The major limitation here is the amount of rest time you need to allow between workouts. Muscle repair is what causes your muscles to grow stronger and bigger, and this process takes up to 48 hours after working out.

Starting a strength training program is a good way to burn more calories. Engaging in regular exercise increases your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Training all your muscle groups in a single session naturally consumes a lot of energy, leading to an overall increase in your calorie burn.

While full body workouts are a good choice for beginners, advanced lifters may benefit from training 4 or more times per week. As your strength and endurance improves, you will find it difficult to sustain a full-body workout because of the rest and recovery time needed.

Split workout routines are more suitable for advanced lifters, since they focus on different muscle groups on each day of the routine. This allows you to hit each muscle group with a high frequency, while still ensuring 48 hours of rest between hitting the same muscle group again.

Goals of the full body workout

Improving general health

Working out 3 times per week can improve your overall cardiovascular health, as well as improve your body's physique. This workout frequency is manageable for beginners, but still provides comprehensive and balanced development of your muscles.

The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that healthy adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week.

Strength training builds muscle mass, increases metabolic rate and increases bone density. Cardio complements this by promoting heart health, helping with weight loss and weight management and improves you overall fitness level.

So regular strength training, when combined with cardio exercises like running or biking, can help improve your cardiovascular health.

Muscle growth and strength gains

By working all your major muscle groups in each workout session, full body workouts are an efficient way to build muscle and increase your strength.

Improved strength can help in other exercises, everyday activities and will create a solid foundation for if and when you are ready to transition to a more intense split workout routine.

Efficient training

If you can only spend 3 days in the gym per week, a full body routine makes the most efficient use of this time because it targets multiple muscle groups of each day. A well-designed full body workout routine saves you time, while ensuring balanced muscle growth.

Structure of the full body workout

You can perform full body workouts between 1 and 4 times per week, although we recommend using a split routine if you train 4 or more times per week.

Each day in the workout is designed to target all your major muscle groups, including your chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs and core. We don't recommend doing the same exercises on each day. Instead, choose a variety of exercises that hit your muscles in different ways. This will lead to balanced muscle growth and development.

Sets and reps

You'll perform each exercise in our full body workout with 3-4 sets. Between each set, allow at least 60 seconds of rest. This rest period gives your muscles enough time to recover.

Gym Geek's 3 day full body workout routine

Day 1 - Monday

Day 2 — Wednesday

Day 3 — Friday


Tips

Add cardio

The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that healthy adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. You can achieve this with activities such as brisk walking, running or swimming.

Adding cardio into your full body workout routine can be achieved by using the days in between your strength training sessions. For instance, if you perform strength training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you could include cardio workouts on Tuesday and Thursday. This allows you to hit the weekly cardio goals, without overworking your muscles.

To avoid overworking, it's important to listen to your body and adjust the intensity of your workout as necessary.

Warming up

Warming up is crucially important to prepare your body for exercise, and will help you avoid acute exercise-induced injuries or DOMS.

A warm up routine increases the blood flow to your muscles and raises your body temperature.

Start your first two sets at a lighter weight. For example, you might start the first set using 60% of the weight, and your second set with 80%.

Lift heavy

Once you are acclimatized with your full body workout routine, don't shy away from lifting heavier weights. Heavy weights challenge your body and stimulates further muscle growth. This progressive approach is key to building strength sustainably over time.

Rest between sets

Rest between sets is a crucial part of the full body workout. For major lifts like squats and the deadlift, take an extended rest time of 2 minutes. This allows your muscles to recover and prepare for the next set, ensuring that you can maintain good form and perform optimally.

For less intense exercises, a rest period of about 60 seconds should be sufficient.

References

MacDougall, J. D., Gibala, M. J., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, J. R., Interisano, S. A., & Yarasheski, K. E. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian Journal of applied physiology, 20(4), 480-486.

Mifflin, M. D., St Jeor, S. T., Hill, L. A., Scott, B. J., Daugherty, S. A., & Koh, Y. O. (1990). A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 51(2), 241-247.

Pratley, R., Nicklas, B., Rubin, M., Miller, J., Smith, A., Smith, M., … & Goldberg, A. (1994). Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50-to 65-yr-old men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 76(1), 133-137.

Almstedt, H. C., Canepa, J. A., Ramirez, D. A., & Shoepe, T. C. (2011). Changes in bone mineral density in response to 24 weeks of resistance training in college-age men and women. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(4), 1098-1103.