3 Day Workout Routine and Diet for Beginners

Just starting out in the gym and need a solid workout routine with some dieting advice? Look no further! This 3 day weekly routine is perfect for beginners!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
9 weeks
45-75 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines, Other
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

The most common question we get asked is: “Is this workout good for beginners?”

So, we’ve decided to create the perfect workout for true beginners in the gym.

This program will focus on the most important lifts you should be doing to build a foundation.

And, we’ve provided some general dieting tips to help you maximize your results.

Once you’ve completed this program, you can move on to any number of workout routines in the M&S database with the necessary strength to execute them perfectly.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t necessarily be exciting because basics are necessary for true beginners, but if you put in the work, give consistent effort in both your training and nutrition, you’ll see great results from this beginner workout routine.

Editor's Note: Make sure you’re doing all the right things you need to be doing to build lean muscle mass. For those looking for a more in-depth resource to teach them how to build muscle, we’ve created a FREE 5 day Muscle Building Email Course.

The course will teach you how your body builds muscle, how to utilize workout plans on our website to maximize muscle growth, how to eat to build muscle, how to supplement to build muscle and how to track your progress.

Sign up below today to learn and ensure you get the most out of this workout program.

Need help building muscle? Take our FREE 5-part email Muscle Building Course!

3 Day Workout for Beginners

The program outlined below contains 3 full body workouts and is meant to be performed 3 times per week with at least 1 full day of rest/recovery in between each training session.

For the most part, it consists of compound exercises. These exercises will be the focus of the routine as they’ll do the most in helping you build muscle and burn calories. In addition to the compound lifts, there are a few isolation lifts that will help target key body parts that most who enter a gym will want to focus on (arms and abs).

The workout is meant to be performed for 9-12 weeks. It can be performed longer than this, however, this is a good duration to build quality muscle and strength to perform future workouts.

The reps listed have ranges and it is recommended to perform different rep schemes every 3-4 weeks. For example, on the main lift of each workout, start off by performing 3 sets of 5 for 3-4 weeks. Every 3-4 weeks, lower the reps by 1 and increase the weight used until you are performing 3 heavy reps on the final week.

For the accessory lifts or other lifts in the program, you may want to start on the lower end and increase the reps each week.

Whatever you decide to do will allow you to progress by utilizing heavier weight and/or more repetitions during the program and keep things from getting stale.

For rest periods, the first big main lift will require 3-5 mins of rest in between sets. On the remainder of your compound lifts, rest for 60-90 seconds. And on arm, calf, and core exercises, rest for 30-45 seconds.

Full Body Workout for Beginners

Exercise Sets Reps
Trap Bar Deadlift 3 3-5
Bent Over Row 3 5-8
Dumbbell Overhead Press 3 6-10
Lat Pull Down 3 6-10
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 2 10-12
Rope Pressdown 2 10-12
Plank 2 Failure*

*Time yourself and try to improve the duration of your plank. 

Full Body Workout for Beginners

Exercise Sets Reps
Front Squats 3 3-5
Romanian Deadlift 3 6-10
Farmer's Carry 3 45 Secs
Dumbbell Row 3 10-15
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Calf Raise 3 15-20
Dead Bugs 2 6-12 Each

Full Body Workout for Beginners

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 3-5
Leg Press 3 6-10
Leg Curl 3 8-12
Lateral Raise 3 10-15
Cable Row 3 8-12
EZ Bar Curl 2 10-12
Skullcrusher 2 10-12
Pallof Press 2 6-12 Each

Diet Advice for Beginners

There’s a lot of debate on whether beginners should focus on counting calories and macros, or if they should focus on increasing the quality of their food.

And, to be honest, it depends on your starting point and current lifestyle.

It’s a lot to ask of someone who eats highly processed foods and doesn’t currently count calories to all of a sudden eat nothing but healthy whole foods while maintaining a newly calculated calorie budget.

So, it really depends on you as an individual how you get started with a beginner diet.

Although, it seems that when an individual adopts healthier eating patterns and fills most of their calories from whole food sources, their caloric intake seems to self-regulate. For that reason, I generally like to recommend people begin by focusing on controlling the quality of food they put into their bodies.

Foods that are helpful for beginners to eat throughout the day include:

  • Lean and quality protein sources: lean chicken, lean beef, turkey, whey protein, low fat dairy, beans, fish, and eggs.
  • Quality carbohydrates: Whole wheat, oats, rice, beans, grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, nut butters, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Fruits: All fruits – the more variety the better.
  • Vegetables: All vegetables – the more variety the better.

Trying to add a serving of each of the food groups listed above into each of your meals daily is a good idea. But, start slow. Begin by adding one meal that contains those food groups into your diet each day consistently. Once you’ve done that for a week, add a second, then a third, and so on and so forth.

Once you’re in a habit of eating the right types of food for the majority of your meals and you want to take it a step further figure out your calorie needs by using a daily calorie calculator tool.

And once you know your calories, you can read the following resources to build a diet that really maximizes your potential of accomplishing your goals:

  1. How to Calculate The Perfect Macros
  2. How to Create a Bodybuilding Diet

Start small, be consistent, and reap the many benefits of eating a healthy, varied diet full of high quality food sources.

Final Words & Advice for Beginners

Getting started in the gym can be difficult.

But, with the plan laid out in this article, you’ll be able to notice gains (both in your health and in muscle size) pretty quickly.

Focus on being consistent with your workouts and try to establish better daily dietary routines slowly. Adding both of those habits into your life will pay off tremendously as you get stronger, healthier, leaner and more muscular.

If you have any questions about the program or nutrition, please leave a comment section below. We’d be more than happy to help you get started in the right ways.

13 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/23/2020 - 07:47

What to do next after this routine?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/23/2020 - 11:46

Hi Leo,

That depends on your goals and the number of days you'd like to workout. You could do something like this:


Or something like this:


No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:45

Hi, I am a beginner. It has been 2 weeks since I have started gyming. Currently, I am going 6 days and targeting new muscle daily which is not working for me I am feeling very tired always.
Age 24
Height 5'11
Weight 142 lbs
My goal is to reach 170 lbs with a good muscle look equally in full-body within 6 months period.

Your suggestion is highly appreciated.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/24/2020 - 11:24

Hi Leo,

Give full body workouts a try. They may work better for your beginner status.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/17/2020 - 18:39

can i do it 2 days in a row ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 01/20/2020 - 10:16

Hi Bruno,

I wouldn't recommend it. But, sure it could be done.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 01/07/2020 - 13:05
Patrick Boyle

Should I incorporate cardio on off days?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 01/08/2020 - 14:35

Hi Patrick,

Sure - you should be fine doing that.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 11/17/2019 - 09:41

What is the best way to find the correct weight to start out with

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/28/2019 - 05:39

I have some exercises that I should avoid due a back injury. Is it possible to replace deadlift, front squat and bent over row?


No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:22

Hi Ramos,

With the need to replace those movement patterns, and with your injury, I'd recommend working with a personal trainer in person. They'll be able to create a program based on your individual needs.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 08/15/2019 - 16:14

Just wondering about the 3 different full-body workouts posted above, do you do a different one each day? Or do you just stick with one for the entire 9 weeks? Thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:32

Hi Kville,

You perform them all throughout the course of a week (preferably on nonconsecutive days) for 9 weeks.