Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Three Day Per Week Workout Program

I came across this awesome workout routine on and have been following it religiously for the  past few weeks with great results.

The workout is designed for building mass and includes detailed instructions on how to perform the workout and additional notes on nutrition plus basic theory behind why this particular workout is effective.

Prior to this routine, I used to work on specific muscles groups each day. For example, I would work on Biceps+Chest on Day 1, Legs on Day 2, Shoulders on Day 3, Back+Triceps on Day 4, and Abs on Day 5. Then take a day or 2 off and repeat.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with working on specific muscle groups each day. Almost all body-builders work on specific muscle groups and I will also go back to working specific muscle groups after a month or so. But the "Three Day Workout Program" is a refreshing change.

Here are some of the key elements of this workout:

1. You work on the whole body each time: The 13-exercises in this workout work the full range of muscles in the body. Nothing is left out. Legs, Chest, Biceps, Triceps, Abs, Shoulders. You work them all.

2. You only do 1 set of each exercise:  The normal body-building routine is to do 3 sets of each exercise but in the "Three Day Workout Program", you do it just once. Of course, you need to do one warm-up set of 4 to 6 reps (with 50% weight) before doing the main set, but that's it. You hit the weight once for 10-12 reps and then move on to the next exercise. The only exercise I am currently falling short is the pull-ups. When I first started, I could do just 6 but I have slowly progressed to 9. My target is to do 12-15 pull-ups without stopping.

3. It gets over fast: You hit the gym, do 5 minutes warm-up and then complete your routines in less than 40 minutes and you are done. Well, 40 minutes may not exactly fall under the "fast" category, but since you are doing so many variety of exercises, It seems like the workout finished very fast.

4. A training partner is essential: All the exercises need to be done to absolute failure. i.e. If I am doing 12 squats, the 12th squat should be the absolute maximum I should be able to do. However hard I try, I should not be able to do a 13th squat. Obviously, that can be quite tricky when doing bench press because if you fail on the 12th rep, and there is no spotter to assist you, you are in big trouble. Since I currently don't have a training partner, I make sure the gym trainers are around while doing these type of workouts.

5. Increase the weights each time and keep a log: Since the premise of these exercises is "absolute failure", it is only natural that once your body rebuilds your failed muscles, you should be able to lift more than what you did the last time. So increasing the weight each week is essential. To ensure you are capable of increasing the weight, keep a log of each days workout. The log will help you to analyze your progress. I use a simple EXCEL spreadsheet to log details of each exercise. I will update my blog with the log data after a month of so.

6. It's effective: As long as you follow a sensible nutrition plan and include some extra protein in your meals (either though lean meats or protein supplements), you should see your muscles bulking up in 4-6 weeks.



  1. Hi Cajie, I read the article looks pretty tough. I noticed that it said you have to cut down cardio to no more than 3 20 mins sessions a week. How often do you run a week?

    I've been having a problem lately where my muscles are shirking because of the all the cardio I do. I usually do one hour of running a day followed by one hour of swimming. Both burn around 2000 to 2500 calories total. I guess my problem is that I fell in love with both running and swimming at the same time. I decided to stop the swimming for sometime since my goal is to train for long distance running.

    I need o build muscle mass but at the same time, I need to drop the weight down in order to help with my running. Currently i'm in the mid 80's. I need to drop to 75-80kg I'm just having a tough time with that. My shoulder injury isn't helping either.

    What is your workout routine when it comes to running.

  2. Bader,
    I do cardio 3 times per week - just as the program specifies. However, it is a bit more than 20 minutes. Usually around 30-40 minutes. I figure that the extra 10-20 minutes will not make that much of a difference in the overall objective and I will drop some extra fat. Also the running is Interval running, which is supposed to focus more on fat - without losing any muscle mass.

    You burn more than 2000 calories a day and have difficulty in dropping your weight? That would indicate that your daily diet is more than 3000 calories, which I find hard to believe. When I was focusing on weight loss, I had found that the extra calorie burn was not having that much effect on weight loss. The more effective results for me were through cutting calories and sticking to around 1500 calories a day. That way, I was losing 0.5KG per week.

    I am now 72KG (I had reached 70KG before I started with weight training). My objective is to keep the weight range <75KG, while building mass at the expense of losing fat.

  3. I’m sort of at a paradox with the two parts of my body. My goal is to excel in endurance sports such as marathons and long distance swimming. What I Think should be done, and I’m still experimenting here, is this; I need to run for about 1 hour a day for about 5 or 6 days a week to build up more muscle endurance in my legs. The current speed that I can sustain for a long time without losing my breath is 12-13k an hour and I can sprint at 17-18km around for a minute or two. I plan to increase that to as high as I can with the help of interval training and long tempo runs in between to help recover and control lactic acid build up in my muscles.

    Now I know running alone is not enough, that's why I will include three workouts a week that focus on lower body strength. I have already started with squat/lungs program and do some other workouts at home.

    At the other part of my body, I need to build strength, basically muscle. The reason for that is my shoulder injury. I recently sprained my AC joint. While performing an MRI the doctors found out that I have a birth defect. Basically, the top of my arm bone is not fully connected to my shoulder blade, that and my recent injury causes shoulder instability. According to the Doctors, the only way to resolve this is by two means, one going under the knife and making the cup that is formed by the shoulder blade and the collar bone smaller so that the arm can stay still. The other method is to build muscle around the arm, which is the side of the shoulder to make it a tight. As a result of the level of cardio I do, the muscle that I have been building with my upper body using weights is shirking. I think mainly because of swimming.

    So basically I need to build endurance and some strength in my lower body to help me increase speed and I need to build and sustain muscle in my upper body to help with this injury. That and I need to drop my weight down to around 75kg which will help with my speed.

    So this is what I plan to, run six days a week from Saturday to Thursday for around one hour a day give or take. On Sunday, Tuesdays and Thursday, I will do squats/lunges (following this nice programs and do some shoulder workouts using weights and pushups/pull-ups. I will keep the reps down for my shoulder workout.

  4. Now for the weight loss, my weight stays around 85-86 mainly because I am losing fat according to my body fat scale. It’s around 15% now. Also because I used to too much cardio in one day. What I've come to know through reading is that there are two zones, a fat buring zones which is low-moderate intensity cardio ( at around 65% of max HR) and a higher intensity zone which is helps build up stamina and works on your lungs and heart (at around 85% of max HR) When you are in the first zone, most of the calories you burn are from fat. This can be seen while using a heart rate monitor such as the polar that you and I have. The second gets its calories from carbs which are the muscle energy source. My theory is this, Yesterday I burned around 1000 calories on a 1 hour run. Around 40% was from fat. The rest, and I could be mistaken came from carbs. If for some reason, I didn't have enough carbs in my body, I believe that I would be using up my muscle as the energy source. Like a burning parts of a ship to fuel its engine. I think this is my main problem. I do not get enough carbs in my diet. I am losing some fat because I eat good food but I do not get enough carbs in my diet.

    Protein is important and I think I do get enough of that. Im not sure but I think that the more cardio you, the more carbs you need. So what I plan to do for the next coming weeks is to stop swimming and focus on running as my main cardio workout. At the same time, have 4-5 servings of a moderate serving of carbs per week. I usually get my carbs from veggies and I'll have a serving or two of whole wheat pasta. No sauce, just pasta and chicken and veggies. I plan on having two servings a week of the pasta and two or three servings of brown rice with tuna or chicken. That and my normal food that I usually have (salads, eggs, chicken breast) I think that should sort everything out.

    Sorry for writing so much. Would love to hear your input.

  5. Bader,
    It kinda sucks that you were short-changed with the birth defect but we need to work with what we have - and that's exactly what you are doing.
    I was also short-changed by being born with asthma. I am told that I gravitated between life and death on couple of occasions in my childhood. The sad part is that one can never cure asthma. It's with you for life. All one can do is manage it - and that's what I am doing by getting control of my physical activity.

    As for losing muscle, my understanding (and experience so far) has been that protein loss will only happen in extreme conditions of starvation or really long endurance runs like Marathons. A 1 hour run should not burn proteins.

    I found this interesting article which says basically the same thing.

    My recommendation would be to have a quick absorbing carb before you start the run (think chocolate milk) and another similar drink after the run. Sip on a Gatorade during the run to replenish the salts and provide body with some more quick carbs.

    Usually when I run half marathons on Saturdays, I drink 1 chocolate milk before running, 600ml of Gatorade during the run (a sip every 10 minutes) and a protein drink mixed with chocolate milk and lots of ice after the run.

  6. Thanks for your input Cajie. I've changed somethings in my workout and I will see what happens. As you said, we work with what we have.

    Don't let the asthma bring you down, the current marathon record holder, Haile Gebrelassie, suffers from the same thing.