You don't have to hit the gym day after day for hours at a time to make great fitness gains. A well planned, three-day per week workout is all you need, regardless of your fitness goals. The key is to train all your major muscle groups with compound exercises that use multiple joints at each of the sessions. This stimulates a greater release of growth hormone and, thus, muscle gain.
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Why It Works
Three days of total-body training means every muscle gets maximum attention during your week of training. A split routine, in which you train four or five days per week but only focus on specific muscle groups at each session, means you only hit each muscle group once or twice each week. With total-body training, you visit the gym less often, which gives you time to attend to other elements important to muscle gain, including proper diet and sleep. Your risk of overtraining is also lower with a three-day-per-week plan because you can give your body at least 48 hours rest between training sessions.
Putting Together a Plan
Each of your training sessions will include one or two lower body exercises such as deadlifts, squats or lunges. Include at least one compound exercise that targets the back, choosing from moves such as pullups, lat pulldowns or bent-over barbell rows, and one that targets the front side of the body, such as pushups, chest presses or dips. Beginners can stick to one set of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise while more experienced exercisers looking to make gains in muscle mass may do between three and six sets with a weight that feels heavy by the eighth or tenth repetition in each set.