As Shakespeare so beautifully put it, “to be or not to be, that is the question”.
However, for lifters it looks more like this:
“To train for strength or to train for hypertrophy, that is the question.”
It’s a delihemma we all face too often. But, who’s to say we can’t have it all? When I recently took a second to dissect my workout, I decided going forward I’ll always have a split that has it all and by sharing it, you’ll have it too. The next time you decide you want to build up your strength, without sacrificing your striations, return to this workout. It’s the total package, a 3 day full body workout.
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Breaking Down The 3 Day Full Body Workout
The total package workout is a simple concept, really.
You want gains.
But you’re also told you need to be functional. You need to be strong. And to accomplish this you have to train in the 1-5 rep range to increase your central nervous systems capabilities to elicit force output, aka strength gains.
Seems like a lot of confusing and conflicting circumstance. However, you can accomplish both.
How? I’m glad you asked.
The Frequency of the Total Package
We’re going to start off by switching from your traditional bodybuilding or strength split to full body workouts three days a week. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But, Josh! Full body workouts are so… are so… beginner level!”
Stop right there my friend. Sure, a lot of coaches and personal trainers put their clients through an initial full body program to ensure they fix any muscular imbalances a client may have, but there are so many benefits to full body workouts that we can all benefit from.
Instead of hitting the gym 5 times a week, we narrow it down to just 3 days. You’ll be thanking me when you start seeing gains in your social life to go along with the gains you’ll earn through this workout.
Plus, those three days are packed with two huge components (I’ll get to them shortly) that will leave you jacked! Not only that, the more often you can stimulate the muscle (especially true for natty lifters), recover fully, and repeat that muscle protein synthesis, the more gains you’re going to see!
So, now that you’re sold on working out 3 days a week, let’s move on to the two major components that make this program the total package.
The Strength Component
Each day begins with a 5x5 rep scheme of one of the big three lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift). The 5x5 rep scheme is used in a lot of programs and is seen as one of the key foundations of a strength based workout.
We’re going to split up each day to be paired with it’s own big lift. On Mondays, you’re going to come in and hit some squats.
I’m a big fan of squatting on Mondays; usually you tend to be the strongest you’ll be coming off dual rest days from the weekend and you tend to be more energized due to the extra calorie consumption most of us are guilty of on the weekends. Also, the squat racks tend to be free as everyone else is participating in international chest day.
Wednesday is your bench press day. Nothing like getting your #pumpday swole from some heavy bench pressing. It also will give you some extra time to allow your legs to recover from squats before we hit deadlifts on Friday.
The strength portion of the Total Package Workout ends with deadlifts on Friday. Deadlifts, for most, are a lifter’s strongest lift. So, by doing them on Friday you can burn some extra calories before going into the weekend.
The Hypertrophy Component
While we split up the big three lifts, we also hit each muscle group with just the right amount of volume to elicit a hypertrophic response.
This is where the full body component comes in and also where you’re going to see most of your physical gains. You’ll be doing a 4x10 rep scheme for all of the large muscle groups, with a 3x10 rep scheme hitting the smaller groups.
It’s certainly no easy task. You’re going to be dog-tired from performing the strength component of this workout. So, make sure you go lighter on the weight, focus on the range of motion while you’re lifting, and really try to create a pump in each muscle group.
Some people still think there shouldn’t be such a thing as a rest day. I kind of sit on both sides of that fence. I don’t like to lift weights every day, but I like to keep my body in motion.
On your rest days for this program, you’re going to refrain from touching the weights (you’re probably going to be too sore to want to anyway). Instead, go for a very light jog and/or walk. Keep the pace slow and really try to benefit from the active recovery.
Shoot for about 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio on your off days and also be sure to hit the foam roller afterwards to further promote your recovery.
3 Day Full Body Split FAQs
How long should I take for rest periods in between sets?
You’ll want to be sure to take 2-3 minutes of rest in between your 5x5 sets. For the rest of the hypertrophy workout, try to limit rest to 45-60 seconds. At the end of the day, if you need to take a longer rest, it’s better safe than sorry.
How should I progress the weight used for these workouts?
You can do this a number of ways and it really depends on your level of fitness. Personally, I like to add 5lbs for each set on the strength component. Each week, I’ll begin my working sets with the second lightest set from the previous week.
However, you can do sets where the weight remains the same throughout and try to increase by 5lbs each week too. This is how I prefer to progress with the hypertrophy sets of this workout.
Can I substitute (body part specific lift) with (lift in program)?
Absolutely! I wouldn’t swap out any of the main lifts unless you have a legitimate reason to do so, but for the hypertrophy lifts, you can swap out whichever exercise for an exercise targeting the same body part that you want to. You know your body’s weaknesses better than I do, so by all means swap away.
One thing that I’d like to note, no two lifts are the same day to day. If you decide to make alterations, try to make each exercises that you are doing on each day different, and consistently do them week in and week out so you can track improvements.
Can I add in additional lifts?
I wouldn’t recommend it. This program is pretty serious as is and you’re going to want to limit taking the rep count any higher. If you want to do a lift bad enough, sub it in for one and do it. Your gains will thank you in the long run.
Can I do HIIT Cardio/additional cardio than what is recommended on rest days?
Again, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you feel like you can and still recover efficiently enough to where it won’t affect your performance doing these lifts, give it a go!
Is this program good for someone looking to lose fat/build muscle?
This program is perfect for both of those scenarios. You’re ability to lose fat and build muscle is going to be highly dependent on what you do outside of the gym. You’ve got to make sure your diet is aligned with your goals, you're getting enough sleep each night, and you're doing everything possible to allow your muscles to recover.
The Total Package 3 Day Full Body Workout
|2. Dumbbell Bench||4||10|
|3. Dumbbell Row||4||10|
|4. Seated Dumbbell Press||4||10|
|6. Dumbbell Curl||3||10|
|7. Standing Barbell Tricep Extension||3||10|
|8. Calf Raise||3||12|
|9. Plank||5||20 secs|
|1. Bench Press||5||5|
|2. Machine Pec Deck||3||12|
|3. Leg Extension||4||10|
|4. Leg Curl||4||10|
|6. Seated Lateral Raise||4||10|
|7. Dumbbell Hammer Curls||3||10|
|8. Rope Extension||3||10|
|9. Plank||5||20 secs|
|2. Incline Dumbbell Press||4||10|
|3. Lateral Raise||4||10|
|5. Leg Press||4||10|
|6. EZ Bar Curl||3||10|
|8. Dumbbell Shrugs||3||12|
|9. Plank||5||20 secs|
The Total Package Workout is the perfect workout if you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts without spending every day in the gym.
It targets both strength and hypertrophy by utilizing a 5x5 rep scheme followed by a full body routine three days a week. It also allows you to work on your cardiovascular health during your low intensity recovery days.
While I certainly didn’t come up with these principles, I like putting them together. Strength, size, and health, what more could you ask for?
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!