Shaun's 3 Day Muscle Building Split Workout

Shaun McEwan
Written By: Shaun McEwan
September 27th, 2009
Updated: April 1st, 2021
2.3M Reads
Shaun's 3 Day Muscle Building Split Workout
Shaun's 3 day split workout is a solid routine for those who are looking to pack on some pounds! It features a chest & biceps day as well as a legs & shoulders day.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

The goal of this workout is to build muscle. All rep timings are 2-1-2 unless stated in the notes and all rest times are 1 min between sets and 2 mins between exercises. As always, perform a warmup by doing 5-10 mins cardio followed by stretching and some warmup sets on the first exercise.

Work the Abs on a Monday and/or Friday if desired.

Workout Schedule:

  • Monday - Chest and Biceps
  • Tuesday - Rest
  • Wednesday - Legs and Shoulders
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday - Back and Triceps
  • Saturday - Rest
  • Sunday - Rest

3 Day Muscle Building Workout

Monday - Chest and Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Smith Machine Press 4 10
Flat Bench Barbell Press 4 10
Chest Dips 3 10
Pec Dec 3 12
EZ Bar Curls 3 8-10
Concentration Curls 3 10
Reverse Barbell Curls 3 12

Notes: Use 3-1-3 timing on Incline Smith Machine Press

Wednesday - Legs and Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 5 10
Leg Press 4 10-12
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 4 8-10
Seated Calf Raise 3 8-10
Standing Calf Raise 3 12-15
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 8-10
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10
Rear Delt Machine 3 10
Dumbbell Shrugs 4 10-12

Notes: Try some deep squats with 3-2 rep timing (use lighter weight) for some variation. Use a drop set on the leg press machine to give the quads a shock. If your gym doesn't have a Rear Delt Machine substitute Reverse Dumbbell Flyes. Use 3-1-3 rep timing on the seated lat raises

Friday - Back and Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Wide Grip Pullups 4 8-12
Lat Pull Downs 4 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 10
T-Bar Rows 4 10
Lying Tricep Extension 3 10
Rope Pulldowns 3 12
Reverse Single Arm Extension 3 12

Notes: 3-1-3 rep timing on Lat pulldown machine

Posted on: Sat, 02/10/2024 - 10:01

I have been doing this routine for two weeks and I was wondering what sort of cardio should I include. Will the 10 minutes on the treadmill before lifting be enough, or should I so something more on off days? Also, should I exercise abs after each routine or do a certain day?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/16/2024 - 11:28

Hey Grant, if you want to lose fat, then a couple of extra sessions of cardio such as elliptical, running, or aerobics class would be beneficial. As long as you take one complete day off a week, your recovery should be fine. Abs you can do after each of the workouts. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:37

This routines in 45 mins are impossible!

Posted on: Tue, 09/19/2023 - 08:47

I’ve been doing this workout for well over 8 weeks, and I really like it and have seen significant results, but I believe it’s time to move on. Do you have any other recommended 3-day splits I could try?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/27/2023 - 13:43
Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 01:42

Can I do this workout on Monday , Wednesday and Thursday?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 07/23/2023 - 09:38

Yes, you can, Nick.

Reginald Balentien
Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 11:01

What does 2-1-2 or 3-2-3 mean?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 11:10

That is the tempo of each rep. Using 2-1-2 as an example, take 2 seconds to lower the weight, 1 second to pause, and 2 seconds to lift it back up. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Wed, 03/29/2023 - 21:15

Love this workout. Enough sets and intensity to build solid muscle. And all in 3 workouts. Most other 3day splits don't have enough sets per body part. The only thing I've added is two Ab workouts, 4 sets each on Monday and Friday. For biceps and triceps, I do 2 exercises with 4 sets each.
This weekly workout is the same intensity as a 4 day a week split, but condensed to 3. Great time saver and definitely keeps you motivated to visit the gym regularly.

Posted on: Fri, 10/28/2022 - 09:46

looking to do this routine from home. could you recommend a different exercise for leg press in "legs and shoulders " day

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/28/2022 - 18:52

Go with squat jumps, Will.

Posted on: Thu, 04/14/2022 - 19:18

Hi could i replace ez bar curl with a preacher curl machine?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/25/2022 - 20:44

Hi, Alex. Yes, you can do that.

Posted on: Fri, 11/12/2021 - 12:11

Finally a workout that does not pair Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps routine. Shaun's routine of Chest/Biceps and Back/Triceps makes a lot of sense, because when you "double whammy" Chest and then Triceps,or biceps after Back, I feel this routine "burns" out the smaller body parts (Triceps/Biceps)so much that its impossible to work them properly and effectively.

Posted on: Sun, 10/24/2021 - 08:35

Hi, I am not sure how should the weight variations be. When you say 4 sets of 10 reps each, does that mean that the weight is always the same or I should increase it or decrease it at every set?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/25/2021 - 19:56

Hi, Joe. You can use the same weight or increase if you feel you need a greater challenge. Beginners should use the same weight, but intermediate and advanced trainees can add weight to increase the load.

Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2020 - 16:22

Hi I need 3 day split work out for muscle mass .like Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday Thursday rest same shedule in Friday,Saturday,sunday

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/06/2020 - 10:06

Hey Randy

This is definitely a great 3 day split for you!

Hammad Jadoon
Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:40

Only 60 sec. rest between sets comes to 33 minutes.. 45 mins is not possible unless machines and weights are lined up for you in advance and still i think "45 minutes" mark is a bit too ambitious.. Unrealistic.

Posted on: Sat, 09/03/2022 - 15:41

Ok, then do 60 minutes

Posted on: Sat, 08/10/2019 - 08:04

Is this better than the 4 day upper lower split? And why?

Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2019 - 19:43

Unfortunately I’m not able to do pull ups. I just lack the strength and my gym doesn’t have a pull up rig for assisted pull ups. Any idea for a substitute till I have the strength to do regular pull ups?

Posted on: Sat, 05/11/2019 - 03:14

hi,so raamadan just began,and I started fasting.I eat enough macros in my feeding window and my problem Is working out.I have weights at home.We break our fast at 9:15 and I finish at 10.I workout at 10:45 on the Friday,sat,sun since i'm cutting.But I don't have a squat rack,and I don't know how I bring the bar up on my traps?.I tried Olympic lifting it to me but I got hurt.Also,when should I workout in Ramadan,after iftaar.Also since my weights are in the basement,i also get scared since i'm the only working out in the basement in the miidle of night while my family is sleeping.My basement is old,creepy and its hard for me to workout.can you plz give me sidetips for the basement scary situation and my othter questions

Travis Thayer
Posted on: Fri, 04/05/2019 - 15:02

Very new to muscle building, my question is in between sets should I be adding weight for the next set or keep the weight the same through out the exercises?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:37

Hi Travis,

I'd recommend giving this guide on muscle building a read:

Callum Smyth
Posted on: Fri, 12/28/2018 - 16:21


Would I be able to swap the barbell chest press for dumbell? I just feel more comfortable with it as I train by myself

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/02/2019 - 12:24

hi Callum,

That would be fine.

Corey Chavoor
Posted on: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 07:18

I have put on 80 pounds in just over a year. I was looking at using this along with cardio to lose fat, gain muscle and avoid loose skin, is this routine suitable for this?

Michael Preator
Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2018 - 12:26

Is this in app form of any kind?

Posted on: Wed, 06/13/2018 - 03:07

Went from 5x5 to this program to increase volume and muscle gains. Damn it was very though first week, think I might went to heavy since I felt like puking a lot... not used to thia volume hehe.

Question, can I increase weight per set or should one aim at same weight for every set?
Also had struggle to complete 10 reps per set at dips, my arms and chest were dead from all the pushing before. So I did as many as I could per set instead, around 6-8.

Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2018 - 10:43

Thanks for creating this awesome program. I've been doing it for the last four weeks and have definitely gained muscle. How important do you think it is to rest in between days? Even though I always train to the fullest, the day after I have enough energy to go again. Is it for example a good idea to do each workout twice a week instead of only once (i.e. 6 days a week instead of 3)? On the one hand I have a feeling that an increase in training frequency by hitting each muscle group twice a week would work well for me, yet on the other hand I'm worried that sacrificing my rest days may not be ideal and instead hinder muscle growth.. I look forward to your reaction! Thank you in any case.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2018 - 13:43

Hi Lucien,

You might be better off finding a new routine that has more training days. I'd recommend moving to a 4 day workout, then 5 day workout, then 6 day workout if you continue to desire increasing your training frequency,

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 05/01/2018 - 19:32


I've been doing additional excercises from other days, ie, adding in some of Wednesdays routine to Monday, and some of Monday & Wednesdays onto Friday, is this a good idea or is it overtraining? I've gained weight but I'm not seeing much difference in my arms which is where I really really wanted the mass. I was worried I was not doing enough and that I could maybe add in a bit more by mixing it up but I'm worried it's detrimental.

Is it okay to do it like this?

Thanks in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 09:39

Hi Peter,

Depends on what you're adding.

Manipulating the workout to better fit your individual goals is completely fine. This workout is simply a template.

It's very difficult to truly overtrain. So long as you feel like you're recovering properly from your workouts, you'll be fine. Listen to your body.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 04/21/2018 - 21:46

Can I implement deadlifts on back days, as well as some grip exercises on chest/bi days? I wanna use this program as a training black for my powerlifting periodization. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/23/2018 - 09:27

Hi Aaron,

Sure that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

Patrick B Cotter
Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2018 - 22:41

I'm on the 6th and final week. I was at 192.5lbs, I'm now at 205.5 lbs. I am 46 years old and have worked out off and on my entire life. My question is, I want to keep gaining, should I continue eith this sane program for another 6 weeks, or do you have a follow up program for this one? Thank you so much

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:30

Hi Patrick,

Sure, you can continue with this program if you are still enjoying it and are seeing gains from it.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2018 - 20:38

I'm doing the work-out but doing the Reverse Barbell Curl is an absolute nightmare for me. My wrists keep hurting so I tried an EZ bar, but then I get this strange popping feeling in my right wrist. Is there another excercise I can substitute it for? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:20

Hi Peter,

Sure, go with any curl variation that doesn't cause pain or nix the curls if there isn't a variation that doesn't.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 12:35

BOUNDY, Janice, et al. Enfermagem Médico-Cirúrgico.

Cato Jørgensen
Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 13:47

Hi, seems like a great workout - I'm looking for a three day split, since I've packed two much in my own two day split and Im exhausted afterwards . like really nothing else gets done that day.
I have question though. What about abs?
Could I squeeze in another day that just has cardio and abs - or is this good enough as is? I'm usually at the gym three times a week, but hopefully this could motivate me to do one more day.

Posted on: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 15:57

Is is possible to lose a little weight too with this workout? Or will you only build muscle and gain weight?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 09:06

Hi Lewis,

Yes, absolutely! Weight loss is mostly determined by whether or not you're able to maintain a calorie deficit over time. in other words, If you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight!

Find you calorie needs here:

Then subtract ~250 calories from that number and aim to eat that many calories daily. This should result in weight loss.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 09:52

i go thrice a week and twice each day(morning and evening with a time gap of 7 hrs) for gym. please suggest me a good routine

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2017 - 15:31

When an exercise states for examlple 5 sets of 10. For each set are you adding weight or is more of a 5x5 thinking of doing one weight for all sets and if completed adding more for the next session?

Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 09:41

Hi Norton,

You can do either or. Both work, just depends whichever you feel more comfortable with.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 08/28/2017 - 15:45

I suck at wide grip pull-ups, is there a substitute I can do?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:52

Hi Magoo,

Any exercise that targets the lats ought to do the trick. Check out our database of lat exercises below:

Personally, I'd go with a different pull up variation, however you could certainly sub in an additional lat pulldown variation if you prefer.

Hope this helps!