Due to my work schedule, I’m only able to lift weights three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I have about 1 hour each day for my workout which includes warming up and lifting. My question is what is the best weight lifting plan to train all my muscle groups while getting a full 48 hours of rest between workouts for my muscles to fully recuperate? Is it better to work each muscle group only one time per week and get rest in between workouts. Or, should I work each muscle group more but not get the rest in between? My goal is to develop more muscle mass and overall size. What do you recommend?
You can definitely train your entire body with 3 workouts per week. This will basically be a 3 day split routine where you train your whole body over the course of 3 separate workouts during the week. The normal 3 day split will consist of working out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so it’s a little different to do your final workout on Thursday but if your schedule only allows you to train at this time, then you will need to make the best of it.
With a 3 day split, you will only want to train each muscle group once per week. This is actually a good rule of thumb even on a 5 day split routine since your goal should be to overload your muscle and then let it rest, recover and grow. Below is an example of a 3 day split routine that will cover your entire body:
Monday: Chest and Back
Thursday: Shoulders and Arms
Since you only have 1 hour to complete your workouts, I highly recommend doing a circuit style workout where you don’t take an active rest break between sets. You will do this by working opposing muscle groups. For example, on your chest and back day, you will do a set of chest (bench press) and then immediately go over and do a set of back (barbell rows). When you’re finished doing the set of back, go right back and do another set of chest. You will follow this style of training throughout your entire workout. When you do legs, you will do a set of quadriceps (squats) and then do a set of hamstrings (leg curls) back to back. This is a great way to train when you have limited time and you should be able to get your entire workout in within 1 hour. Just make sure to avoid chatting with other people or wasting time during your workout. You’re in the gym to take care of business, so focus your energy on getting the job done and leave the chit-chat for after your workout.
Focus your overall repetition range on the lower end of around 6-8 reps per set to maximize muscle building and overall size. By focusing on lower reps, you can pack on some serious weight onto your exercises in order to really stimulate growth! Your choice of exercises should consist of basic, multi-joint mass building movements that recruit the maximum number of muscle groups. For example, the deadlift is the king of exercises for packing on slabs of muscle mass since you’re working big muscles like your quadriceps, hamstrings, back, chest, shoulders and arms. Choose these types of mass movements when designing your overall weight training program so you can reach your goals of building lean muscle tissue while gaining size and strength.