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
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • 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 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 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 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:

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

do i add any cardio to this workout?

M&S Team Badge
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?

M&S Team Badge
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.

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.

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

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

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

M&S Team Badge
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.

Pablo Prado
Posted on: Mon, 06/29/2020 - 16:28

Can I swich the order of the excercices in orden to get 3 full body days?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/19/2020 - 12:15

Hey Pablo

If you're wanting a full-body routine I suggest this one

Posted on: Sun, 02/23/2020 - 06:59

this is so frustrating. seems like no one understands the rep goal process. i certainly don't. yet, no one seems to answer the question in a way that makes sense. like, can someone just give an example with actual numbers? maybe the answer is somewhere in the thread and i can't find it but, still, think i'll pass on this one.

Abhishek R
Posted on: Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:12

It's simple. You are given an overarching rep goal, say 25, and a total number of sets, say 5. The number of reps in each set isn't fixed, but you are advised to stop 2 to 3 reps before failure. Say you do 7 reps the first set, 6 reps the second set, 5 reps the third set, 4 reps the fourth set, and 3 reps the final set. You have successfully completed 25 reps within the given number of sets. That means the next workout you can add weight to the particular exercise, say 5 pounds. Repeat the exercise with the same weight every workout until you can once again reach 25 reps for 5 sets. Then add weight again.

Eduardo Rodriguez
Posted on: Sat, 11/09/2019 - 14:36

So on the total reps, is that per set or devided into each set?

Posted on: Thu, 10/31/2019 - 20:22

Barbell Row 5 25 30/30/45/45

Can you explain what the 25( rep goal total) means
Do you mean 5 sets of 25 reps of 5 sets of 5 reps

Posted on: Wed, 10/02/2019 - 02:58

Hello Steve,
I don't understand what does rest-paused singles mean for the deadlift ?
Does it mean , just do one single rep and rest in between the reps?
Thanks in advance, looking forward to starting the plan

Posted on: Sat, 01/26/2019 - 06:37

Hi Steve,

Im 40 years old. What if do this program all the time by using wight liftin that i can manage , will be any problems ? I mean is not that i have a big goal i just want to have my self in good shape by doing runing also. Can you give an answer ? Thnx

Posted on: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 01:53

Hi Steve Sir,
i have been following you workout routine. i dont know whether i am doing it correct. just few questions sir..
1- i have been doing this 3 days split in 6 days and one day off.
2- i am getting a very big change in my body fat percentage as well as my muscles.
3- i am doing each set like 5 sets as i do like bench press each set in to 30 reps. total bench press is 150 reps.
4- i am enjoying your workouts sir. i dont know is it ok the way i do.
5- i do my 3 days split everyday after finishing my 3 days i start again. and one day i take off..
Thank you for the being the best trainer..

Posted on: Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:07

Hey Steve, always like your workouts, I did the super 8 for the better part of last year and it was great.
I know you recommended not substituting anything for squats, but i wondered if that included switching to front squats? I just prefer front squats and I'm wondering if the results would be more or less the same.

Posted on: Thu, 07/10/2014 - 17:04

Hey steve. Can I train chest with biceips , back/legs, tris/shoulders instead of what is listed above? If not how come? Thanks,

Posted on: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:00

Leg day is killing me. There are more exercises here than on the 4-day bulldozer workout. What is the rationale for that? If I go hard, I am sore for almost a week. I substitute lunges and physioball glute raise hamstring curls for extensions and curls but its literally a pain in my arse. I'm thinking of dropping a second hamstring exercise and maybe doing less lunges or no lunges. what do you think?

Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 23:33

I was looking at your 4 day split and saw that it's recommended for both genders but this one only says male. Would the 3 day be as effective as the 4 day for a female? Or is it not recommended for sound reason?

Posted on: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 04:20

Hi, tried posting before & it didnt go through, so this may be a repeat.

I have a question on reps. If I lift a weight that I can lift 10-12 reps with, I can complete the mini-sets in 2.5 sets, not 5. At the other end of the scale, if it takes me >5 sets to complete my rep goal (and I assume i must meet my rep goal), then I am always adding weight for the next time, making it even harder?

I understand I need to reach my rep-goal but does this have to be using all 5 sets, less than 5 sets. Am I always to hit the rep-goal ? Do I have to achieve a specific rep count for the 1st set?

Any more details on this will be useful.


stuart foley
Posted on: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 08:53

Hi Steve,

Just so I understand this correctly, the rep goal doesn't mean 5 sets of 30 reps, it means a grand total of 30 reps over the 5 sets?

Posted on: Sun, 07/28/2013 - 16:12

Im a complete newbie in this kind of training, So what will I do if I fall short of reps in the recommended mini set? will I continue using the weight or what? thank you, this program really rocks!

Posted on: Thu, 07/25/2013 - 10:04

Hi steve,

I've been feeling lost figuring out a routine to stick with but I'm excited to try this one out

Posted on: Thu, 07/25/2013 - 09:58

Tired of feeling lost and I'm excited to try this out. I'm ready for a change

Posted on: Sat, 06/29/2013 - 01:40

Hi Steve,
Will this work for a hardgainer like me? Ive been working out for a year already, currently at 5'9 165 lbs.

Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2013 - 13:16

Can this routine be change into a 3 day consecutive push/pull/legs routine? I'm 21 and have been lifting since I started football when I was 13. I'm looking for a good routine to run three days on the weekend because of work. I normal run an upper/lower split 4 days a week.

Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2013 - 12:37

Can i add some isolation work for pecs? If yes, how much sets/reps? Thank you

Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2013 - 23:08

Hi Steve,
First off I like reading your articles and following your workouts. This is going to be my new workout!!!! If I'm understanding this correctly, the number of reps per mini set doesn't matter. You go until you loose form or think you are going to fail, rest and go again. When your total reps reach your rep goal you add weight next time. For example Barbell Row 5 mini sets 25 rep goal. (Any given weight)
Mini set #1 -10 reps
set #2-7reps
set #3-4 reps
set#4-3 reps
set#5-1 rep

Grand total of 25 which is the rep goal so next time I add 5 lbs. If I can't reach the rep goal in the number of mini sets as per the exercise I use the same weight the next time until I reach the rep goal. Am I understanding this correctly? Thanks

Travis Williams
Posted on: Sun, 05/12/2019 - 08:45

Is this how the structure works? This is exactly what I’m trying to figure out.

Posted on: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 14:52

My question is the same as ali which he said "I dont completely understand the rep system.
So i set a goal of 35 for example, and then rep it out before I fail. Once I I am able to rep out 35 on any set, I sould up the weight?" That's what I've done but I'm not sure if that was right or not.

many thanks ^^

Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2013 - 22:20

Been working out for 6 years off and on. Back at it for last 6 months and getting tired of the same old, this looks like it could be real intense. I'm gonna give it a few weeks and see how it goes. Hoping for some new results. Only possible negative thing I can see is after all that heavy deadlifting, going right into bent over rows, wont it be difficult to keep decent form and maximize weight since your lower back should be hurting.

Posted on: Mon, 04/22/2013 - 19:48

Hey Steve,
I was wondering if doing a 10 minute rest pause set with the squats would work like with the deadlifts? I have always had problems doing higher reps for squats with good form so the rest pause singles seem ideal.

Posted on: Sat, 03/30/2013 - 13:31

Hey steve,
is this workout good for you if you are planning to get bulky?

David Haller
Posted on: Fri, 03/22/2013 - 09:49

This literally blew me and my body away...been lifting a while now and this is a great change of pace

Mike C.
Posted on: Thu, 03/14/2013 - 17:05


I love the idea of this program but not sure I understand how sets work. So, if it says 5 sets, 30 total reps does that mean shoot for 6 reps per set or do you aim to do as many reps per set as you can up to 30 total?

So, do I do find a weight I think I can do 6 reps for 5 sets or lets say I put 165 on the bar for BP a and I can do 12 reps on the first set but only maybe 8,4,4,2 on the remaining sets is that OK?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 13:01

Use a weight that you think you MIGHT be able to complete 30 reps of. The rep scheme you outlined would be fine and it will vary, but once you're able to actually complete all 30 reps in 5 sets you would add weight the next time you did BP.

Fransisco Rueda
Posted on: Fri, 03/08/2013 - 00:02

Hey Steve i was just wondering if you could recommend a 3 day split to get some size but at the same time stay fit. I am a 15 year old boy and weigh 170 but in very good shape. thanks (:

Joe Spaz
Posted on: Sun, 02/24/2013 - 10:47

Steve, I have been on the 4 day Bulldozer since September. I put on 26 pounds, as my goal was to bulk. now I want to cut. Is this a good 3 day workout for a cut, with low intensity cardio and abs on 3 of the off days? (Tues, Thurs, Sat)

Posted on: Fri, 02/22/2013 - 20:46

Hi Steve
Got a question on replacing squats with leg presses. I noticed you mentioned useing a rest-pause leg presses.
Would this mean do the same as a 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 leg press.
Then follow it up with the Leg Press for sets 5, rep goal 50, rest 30/30/30/30.
Note, I can't do squat because of shoulder issues and being able to hold bar.

Posted on: Sun, 02/17/2013 - 17:39

the program has ab exercises at the end of workouts 1 & 3. is it ok to switch it to 1 & 2 instead?

Posted on: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 07:21

Is it ok to change grip with each set? For example, say your doing BB Rows, first set is normal grip and each set after you move your hands an inch or 2 so by the 5th set your doing a wide grip row.

Posted on: Sat, 01/19/2013 - 04:17

Do u add wiegth every set on da bulldozer rest pause system

Posted on: Sat, 01/19/2013 - 03:55

I jus hav a question
Hw does da rep goal on da bulldozer rest pause system work.
E.g 5sets and total rep goal is 25, is da al da reps added together which make up da 5 sets?

Posted on: Mon, 01/07/2013 - 17:17

I know working like this would be great for gaining muscle? but is it also a valid way to increase strength? or is there a better alternative for strength workouts on a 3 day time table? I would like to stay on the three days if at all possible. thanks

Posted on: Sat, 01/05/2013 - 10:19

...have been using the bulldozer 3 day for the past few months with steady gaines in all lifts, except incline bench (substituted for hammer strength) and overhead press. Is that a weak shoulder issue or other? Suggestions for improvement?

Posted on: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 09:38

Why should one not train to failure?

Posted on: Sun, 12/30/2012 - 16:22

When you say rep goal total for example on wide grip
Pull ups 35 I assume you mean 7 reps per set
I know this sounds stupid just wanted to be sure because
On some of the other exercises I could do them in one set