Limited on time? This 3 day training split combines rest-pause sets with progressive resistance to help you build solid muscle in a short amount of time. Get ready to intensify your lifts!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Split
  • Training Level
    Intermediate
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    3
  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
  • Target Gender Male
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

For more information on the Bulldozer style of training, please read:

Several years ago I began to play around with rest-pause training. I would load up the bar, knock out a set, and rest for only a very short period of time before performing another set. It didn't take long for me to realize one thing...rest-pause style training was both brutal and effective.

I was spending less time in the gym training but waking up with an incredible amount of DOMS (muscle soreness). Limiting rest between sets was also making my workouts far more engaging. I had no time to stop and think. Every workout felt like warfare. I would crush it, rest for a short period of time (never fully recovering), and get after it again.

Bulldozer Training Basics

Bulldozer training is structured around the following principles:

  • Limited Rest Between Sets. Rest between sets is typically 15 to 30 seconds, but can run as high as 60 seconds for certain compound exercises, or for extended set schemes.
  • Shorter, But More Intense Workouts. Because of the restricted rest between sets you will spend less time in the gym on any given day, but your workouts will have a greater "per rep" intensity*.
  • Fewer Exercises Per Bodypart. You won't need 4 to 5 (or more) exercises to hit a bodypart hard. Bulldozer training uses a higher number of sets per exercise than most workouts, so you will generally use no more than 2-3 exercises for a given muscle group.
  • Weight Progression Using Rep Goal Totals. You will add up the total reps performed for a given exercise, and if it reaches a predetermined goal, weight will be added the next time you perform this lift.
  • Mini-Sets and Macro-Sets. Groups of sets for a given exercise are called mini-sets. They are distinguished with a different nomenclature because they are not performed like most sets, when fully recovered. Macro-Sets are groupings of mini-set clusters.
  • No Failure. Do not train sets to failure. Stop every mini-set when you feel like you may fail on the next rep. If you are not sure, stop the set and rack the weight.
  • Same Weight. Use the same working weight for each mini-set of a given exercise.

*Intensity in this context does not relate to absolute strength, but rather the burden placed upon a muscle as it relates to muscle fiber unit recruitment.

Bulldozer Set Example and Explanation

Bulldozer sets use the following style of annotation:

  • Bench Press x 7 with 30/30/45/45/60/60

For this example, you will perform 7 total sets using the following rest periods between sets:

  • Perform set 1, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 2, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 3, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 4, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 5, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 6, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 7. Rest, then move on to the next exercise.

Rep Goal System

Bulldozer training utilizes the rep goal system. The rep goal system is a progression approach I developed that tells you when it's time to add weight to a particular exercise.

The rep goal system works like this...you simply count the total reps performed for a given Bulldozer exercise, and when this total reaches the predetermined "rep goal", you add weight to that exercise the next time in the gym.

  • When to Add Weight - Add weight (the next time you perform this exercise) when you reach the rep goal total for a given exercise.

I do not recommend adding more than 5 pounds to a lift at any given time. There is no need to rush. Remember that muscle building is a marathon, not a sprint. Adding 5 pounds per week might not seem like much, but it could theoretically move your bench press from 135 pounds to well over 300 pounds in a given year. Obviously, this is not likely to happen, but the point remains...trust the process and add only 5 pounds per lift.

Finding a Starting Weight

When trying to find a starting weight for each exercise, pick something you could easily perform 10-12 reps with.

Workout Notes

Bulldozer training is deceptively simple. Try a moderately light day to get the feel of the system before going full speed ahead. Resist the urge to add volume or exercises. Trust the process and train with common sense. The combination of rest-pause training and progressive resistance will yield some fairly impressive muscle.

Bulldozer Training 3 Day Workout Split

Note: This can also be run on a 6 day rotation by dropping day 7.

Day 1
Back, Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Deadlift (See below)      
Barbell Row 5 25 30/30/45/45
Wide Grip Pull Up 5 35 30/30/30/30
Standing Dumbbell Curl 4 25 30/30/30
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 4 25 30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 4 35 30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      
Day 3
Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Bench Press 5 30 30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 5 30 30/30/30/30
Seated Overhead Press 5 35 30/30/45/45
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 30 30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Fly 4 30 30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press 4 25 30/30/30
Seated Dumbbell Extension 4 30 30/30/30
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Squat (See below)      
Leg Press 5 50 30/30/30/30
Leg Extension 5 40 30/30/30/30
Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 30 30/30/45/45
Leg Curl 5 35 30/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise 5 35 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      

A Note on Deadlifts

For deadlifts you will be working with rest-paused singles instead of multiple rep sets. It is best to start with a weight that you could easily perform a 10 rep set with. Perform as many singles as you (safely) can within a 10 minutes period. Perform a rep, stand up, recover your bearings and breath, then perform another rep.

  • Deadlift rest-pause - Keeping good form, perform as many rest-pause singles as you can in 10 minutes. When you can perform 15 reps, add weight the next time you deadlift.

There is no right or wrong rest period for these singles. The key thing is to keep solid form. When you can perform 15 total reps within a 10 minute time frame, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you deadlift.

A Note on Squats

For squats you will be performing 4 total sets. The first 3 sets will utilize the same weight. You will perform as many reps as you safely can with this weight, and when the total number of reps performed for these 3 sets adds up to 20, you will add weight the next time you squat.

After completing these 3 sets, you will drop the weight and perform a 20 rep set of squats. You will most likely need to start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

  • 3 Sets of Squats - Using the same weight, perform as many reps as you can. Stop a set when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel you can fail on the next rep. When you can perform 20 combined reps for these 3 sets, add weight the next time you squat.
  • 20 Rep Set of Squats - Start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

Working the Abs

Understand that training the abs doesn't "reveal" the abs. You don't carve out a six pack by doing an endless number of crunches. For this program do whatever abs exercise(s) you prefer. I recommend using at least one weighted exercise such as weighted sit ups or cable crunches. Exercises like this allow you to and resistance over time.

Substitution Exercises

The following is a list of possible substitution exercises. These "swaps" are fairly equal, meaning compound for compound, machine for machine, etc., and will serve you well if prefer to avoid any of the listed exercises:

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What can I replace squats with? Squats are considered one of the top muscle building exercises. They are certainly a proven leg builder. While I do not advocate removing them from this program, if you ignore this advice and do so anyway, use rest-pause leg presses.

What can I replace deadlifts with? Deadlifts are another potent muscle building exercise. Like squats, I do not advocate removing them from this program. If you ignore this advice and do so anyway, I recommend the following type of structure for your back workouts:

  • Barbell or dumbbell rows - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Pull ups or lat pull downs - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Seated cable rows or machine rows - 5 rest-pause sets.

Can I add more volume? No, please don't. Trust the program and the process. Push for progression of weight, and give the program some time to work as designed.

How long should I run this program? As long as you'd like. There is no urgent need to switch workouts.

How long should I rest between exercises? Rest until you are fully recovered and feel ready to go again.

When can I add cardio? You can perform cardio on off days, after lifting weights, or at least several hours removed from your weight training session. If muscle building is a priority, you do not want to perform cardio prior to lifting. Save your energy for the iron.

Can I add extra abs exercises? You can, but it won't help you create a six pack. Abs are created by losing fat. Train them the same way you train every other muscle group.

I want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Is this a good workout for me? Fat loss is mostly about diet, not exercise. If you want to lose fat, you need to cut back on what you eat. Keep in mind that it's hard to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Some may be able to do this to a small degree, but it is not optimal for packing on muscle mass.

How do I eat to build muscle? Great question. Here are some articles that can help you:

181 Comments
Katherine Evans
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 16:25

Can I make any workout into a bulldozer workout? I love this program but have been doing it for almost a year now. It's perfect for my schedule. Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:26

Hi Katherine, glad you love it. I don't know about any workout, but you can certainly get creative and find ways to implement it into other programs or create your own. Good luck!

Mark
Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 11:37

For starters, I'm really enjoying this program. However, I have another question. On the squats, is there a time domain to complete them within? Like the deadlifts, is this more of a 10 min range for all four sets, maybe 2-3 mins between each or should these be done more quickly?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2024 - 06:09

Hey Mark, the 10 minutes for deadlifts is as many reps as you can do in that time.

"Perform as many singles as you (safely) can within a 10 minutes period. Perform a rep, stand up, recover your bearings and breath, then perform another rep."

The squats have no time limit except to do the drop set in the minimal time possible.

Hope this helps.

Mark
Posted on: Fri, 03/29/2024 - 13:37

Question: Can the deadlift rest-pause be explained in more detail? Maybe an example. My 1 rep DL max is 505#, can I be provided with what the deadlift session might look like?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 03/29/2024 - 20:20

Hi Mark, perhaps this will help.

If your 1RM is 505, I would suggest starting out by doing 455 for the rest-pause set. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start doing reps. You may only get two starting out, but that is ok. Rest as long as it takes for you to be ready to do more reps. However, the clock is still ticking. You don't stop it.

Let's say you get another two when you feel ready to go again. Now you're at four total. Continue to rest and lift until the ten minutes is up. Add up the total reps you did, and that is your workload. Make it a goal to do more next time. Once you can do 15 reps total within the ten minutes, add weight the next time you do it.

I hope this helps!

Omer
Posted on: Thu, 03/07/2024 - 09:07

Hello, first of all, thank you very much for sharing this program with us. I've been following this program for about a year now, and I've really benefited a lot from it. Keeping the rest periods short allows me to finish the workout in a shorter time, and I can achieve good results without spending too much time. Is there another program you can recommend after this one? I think it's time for me to change my routine after a whole year with the same program.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 03/12/2024 - 18:48

I appreciate the consistency, Omer. You can find your next program at this link. Congrats on the progress you made, and thank you for reading M&S!

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

scott
Posted on: Sat, 03/02/2024 - 13:29

i was wondering if i can add a drop set to the workouts on like week 4 and then on week 8? also is there a dload workout i can add to the mix as well?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 03/12/2024 - 18:47

I see no problem with the drop sets on Weeks 4 and 8, Scott. Go for it.

No planned deload week, but you can do this with 50% volume if you want to do your own deload after Week 8.

Katherine E
Posted on: Wed, 02/28/2024 - 20:06

I am loving this workout and am seeing results. I have been doing it for 8 months now. Could I just continue to do it indefinitely and still see results if I continue to go up in weight?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 03/09/2024 - 20:17

Hi Katherine, variety is the spice of life, but consistency is also important with training. So, if doing this has been helping you, ride it out as long as you can. Just keep in mind that when you're ready for a switch, we got you covered here on M&S!

manav
Posted on: Thu, 02/15/2024 - 04:11

If I run every day for 7 kilometers and then workout 3 days a week with your workout, is that fine?
and also, please explain the rep goal and mini sets in detail; I didnt understand properly.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 02/21/2024 - 09:00

I would suggest one day off a week, but other than that, go for it.

Rep goal: As detailed as I can with what limited time I have, your goal is to achieve the rep goal in the number of sets provided, which is different than many programs you see here on M&S. For this one, if the rep goal is 25, then you start on set 1 and pick up where you left off for set 2. For example...barbell row - 5 sets of 25 total reps.

Set 1 - 1,2,3,4,5
Set 2 - 6,7,8,9,10

And so on. So, instead of starting the count over. You pick up where you left off. As long as you get to 25 by the end of the fifth set, you've done the job. If you need more than five sets, go lighter. If you can do it in four or less, go heavier. Hope this helps.

Maze
Posted on: Sun, 01/14/2024 - 10:58

Hi Steve,
Can I do this workout three days in a row without rest between due my busy schedule.
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2024 - 10:47

Hi Maze, training all three days in a row is not recommended because the toll of the first two workouts may negatively affect the success of the third. Ultimately, you can try it for yourself, but if you notice any issues with recovery or extra soreness, this will be why.

Mark
Posted on: Tue, 12/12/2023 - 16:01

Hi, I am using the splits from this program and doing a 3-day training per week.
But after one month I feel stronger and wanted to do a 4-day training per week,
so my question is this, can I do like this:

Week 1.
Day 1 = Back, Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
Day 2 = Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Rest day
Day 3 = Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Day 4 = Back, Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
Rest day
Rest day
Week 2.
Day 1 = Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Day 2 = Back, Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
Rest day
Day 3 = Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Day 4 = Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Rest day
Rest day
Again week 1.
Again week 2.

I am not following the recommended sets/reps,
just the workout program, because I like the program and it suits me.
So I would further tweak it to suit my needs,
but not sure if it is recommended repeating the program from Monday on Friday again?

Sorry for a long question, and thank you for your thoughts and this amazing program and all the help!!!
BR, Mark

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 20:56

Hard to predict how that would work, but I see no problem with it. If you're finding it working for you so far, keep going with it.

Sarah
Posted on: Mon, 11/13/2023 - 09:34

Hello Steve,
Can i start my week by doing the exercice for legs as day one?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/26/2023 - 20:26

Hi, Sarah, yes you can do that. Let us know how this routine goes for you if you use it. Thanks for reading M&S!

Wael
Posted on: Fri, 08/25/2023 - 07:50

Rep goal total, is it the addition of all reps for all sets? Or is it the reps to be done each set?
Example: shoulder press 5 sets 30 reps
Do i do 5 set and each set 6 reps to get a total of 30?
Or do i do 5 sets each set 30 reps?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2023 - 12:51

5 sets of 6 each to get 30, Wael. It can be 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 or 8,8,8,4,2. As long as you get to 30 total within five sets, you're good.

Amit
Posted on: Sun, 08/20/2023 - 10:19

I like this site and their workout plans.

It's helping lots in achieving goal.

Only detailed diet plan and online discussion is missing

Katherine Evans
Posted on: Sat, 08/12/2023 - 08:37

I don't see hip thrust on here. Will I still get booty gains?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 08/20/2023 - 20:57

Yes, but you can add them after leg extensions if you like. Just follow a similar rep and set scheme.

John R
Posted on: Wed, 08/02/2023 - 01:39

Hello! If I were to add a Power Hang Clean to this program where would the best place for that be? Was thinking somewhere in Day 1, either as the first lift before deadlifts, or as a replacement for the Barbell Rows or the Barbell Shrugs. But I’m open to any opinions on what’s ideal spot. Thank you in advance for any info!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/17/2023 - 22:16

I would do it either after deadlifts or replace the shrugs. I would replace the shrugs myself.

Eric
Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2023 - 08:24

This article talks a lot about rest-pause sets and I have done research but I’m still confused about what a rest-pause set is. If someone can explain what a rest-pause set is it and how to do it it would be very helpful. Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 08/15/2023 - 09:51

A rest-pause set is a way to do more reps with a weight than you normally would by adding brief rest periods. Using the barbell curl as an example, I can normally do 10 reps with 100 pounds. I might do something like this.

100 pounds for 10 reps
15 seconds rest
100 pounds for 3 reps'
15 seconds rest
100 pounds for 2 reps

Instead of my normal 10 reps, I did 15. Make sense?

Lambros
Posted on: Thu, 05/04/2023 - 15:12

Hallo.i would like to ask if I need to do some warm ups sets before the mini sets.
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/08/2023 - 07:04

Maybe a warmup set or two for the first couple of exercises if you feel you need them. Outside of that, you should be plenty warm to finish without them.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/15/2023 - 15:46

I did that myself with a different program and found it paid off, so I'm in favor of it. If you do it, please keep us posted how it works for you as well.

Lambros
Posted on: Thu, 05/11/2023 - 14:21

That's what I am doing.2 warm ups set to the first exercises. I want to ask you something else too.i want to emphasize my shoulders. Can I start with the shoulders exercises to the Push Day?

Lambros
Posted on: Tue, 05/02/2023 - 16:57

Hallo.i would like to ask if I need to do warm up sets before the mini sets.

Mike Walker
Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2023 - 14:27

For the squats is there a rest period between each set to get to 20 reps as with most of the other exercises or just wait until you feel ready to go again?

So, would it be something like 30/30 or just until you feel ready for the next set?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/22/2023 - 16:39

Just until you're ready, Mike. Whether it's 30 seconds or two minutes, once you recover, get back to work. Repeat until you reach 20 reps.

T.C.
Posted on: Wed, 02/22/2023 - 23:26

For the lower body workout day I substitute dumbbell lunges for the Leg Press as I don't have a Leg Press machine at home. I keep the rep target (50) the same, but trying to get 50 reps per leg over 5 sets with only 30 seconds rest is EXHAUSTING. It takes me about 1 minute to complete the set, then I rest for 30 seconds. Is the 50 rep target PER LEG, or TOTAL REPS (i.e. 25 per leg). 50 per leg seems high, but 25 per leg seems low. What would you recommend? Thanks.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2023 - 08:17

Hi, T.C. The dumbbell lunge is a much more intense movement than the leg press. Because of this, I'm going to suggest you go to 25 per leg. Also, kick up that rest to 60 seconds if needed. Hope this helps!

T.C.
Posted on: Wed, 03/01/2023 - 13:07

Thank you!

Lee
Posted on: Tue, 02/07/2023 - 03:59

I've been looking for a 3 day split to compliment 4-6hr of BJJ training per week. 4-5 day splits have been hard to recover from so I want to try this out. I'm wondering if you recommend tweaking anything considering the extra training or if there's another program you think is more appropriate?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 02/21/2023 - 20:56

No tweaks, go for it and let us know how it helps you, Lee.

Kelly Smith
Posted on: Sat, 01/21/2023 - 19:21

do i add any cardio to this workout?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/25/2023 - 08:46

Per the article...

"When can I add cardio? You can perform cardio on off days, after lifting weights, or at least several hours removed from your weight training session. If muscle building is a priority, you do not want to perform cardio prior to lifting. Save your energy for the iron."

Junaid swati
Posted on: Fri, 11/11/2022 - 07:16

If I repeat these this program twice a week with a day of rest in between will it be good or bad?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:48

Your recovery would be compromised, and you'd be less likely to fulfill your potential. Following this program as designed is recommended.

AK
Posted on: Mon, 09/12/2022 - 02:16

I prefer training muscle 3x per week. Only 1 exercise per muscle group. 8-10 reps. 3-5 sets. 10 sec rest between sets and exercises. Not to failure.

Ryan Thordsen
Posted on: Tue, 08/23/2022 - 18:55

Thanks Steve! My schedule is currently slammed for the next few months so this will greatly help me build some muscle while I’m more restricted on time.

Francois
Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2022 - 22:52

I have got the most soreness on this workout than I have ever had. Highly recommend!

Jon
Posted on: Fri, 02/05/2021 - 16:40

I apologize if this was already answered, but what is the standard rest period between sets during the squat? Rest periods are designated for all other excercises and are short. Should the same format be used for the squat or should I utilize a more typical 1-2 minute rest period since the initial 3 sets will fall around the 6-8 rep range? This will greatly affect the weight utilized. Thanks

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2021 - 13:54

Hey Jon - since the rest isn't noted, I wouldn't do the same rest format as the other exercises. I would rest 1-2 minutes between sets.