A Jim of All Trades

Working Out: 3 days on, 1 day off

with one comment

After finishing my weight gaining experiment in April I was looking for something new to try for working out. I had previously read about doing a schedule where you always had the same amount of rest between each workout despite what day of the week it was, instead of doing a typical structured schedule where you always do the same exercises on the same day, week in and week out.  The idea of consistent rest always made sense to me, though I never tried it. Being a little burnt out on the same old types of routines I decided to give it a go and searched around for some workouts to get some ideas.

Through my searches I came across Hugo Rivera on About.com. There is a lot of info about bodybuilding and weight lifting on About.com and I believe Hugo is the main contributor for the site, or at least the blog I linked to. Now, I’m not saying most of it is great info, or that most is bad, I honestly haven’t looked through all of it and wouldn’t be qualified to make that judgement anyway, but if you’re looking for a resource I think it is worth checking out. Hugo Rivera also has his own website, though I haven’t explored it much at all. And don’t be scared off by the “bodybuilding” references, it’s not all geared for meat heads and there is some good information about supplements, diet, rest, and general fitness if you look around on About.com. No, I’m not getting paid to say this. Hugo does focus on bodybuilding, but it doesn’t read like a muscle magazine and he says that the term bodybuilding can mean different things to different people, which I agree with; it’s not just about getting huge. (if you were to meet/see me in person, “bodybuilder” most likely wouldn’t cross your mind as you formed your first impression…)

Anyway, back to the topic. Hugo talks about the “three on, one off” type of workout structure, seems to favor it, and has some sample workout splits available. I couldn’t find a specific link devoted to this but know I’ve seen him recommend it on some of his YouTube videos, and found it here on an arms exercise article. Of the different examples given, I chose to use the following:

Bodybuilding Training Split #2:
Day 1: Chest, Back, Abs
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Start Over

So, for the past three months this is what I’ve been doing. And I LOVE it! This is possibly my favorite workout split of all I’ve ever done. It feels like the perfect amount of time for recovery after a workout before you’re at it again.

I’ve also been doing something that I haven’t done in a while: supersets — doing one set of lifts, followed immediately by another with no rest in between, then resting for a minute before doing the cycle again. I had used supersets quite a bit before when I was younger but got away from them, for whatever reason. I’m loving them now, it feels like the most efficient use of my time in the gym, and what a workout. I leave whooped, which is a good thing. The purpose of this post isn’t to get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what I’m doing, so I’m going to cut myself off here. Whether doing supersets or not, one can still use this type of three on, one off split, and I’ve (re-)found them to be a good way to workout.

There are some drawbacks though. The biggest is, it’s a lot of working out. Six days lifting in the gym each week. Add in the cardiovascular exercise I do, and it typically makes for eight or nine workouts a week. If I had children or a more demanding job it would be very difficult to keep up. Another challenge is that the days of the week can get in the way of your workouts. You might have weekend plans or just not feel like going into the gym on a Sunday, so that can be tough. If you don’t go it defeats the purpose of doing this type of split, so sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. The last thing that bothers me is how recovering can affect other things you want to do, mainly with my legs. After a good leg workout I walk around all stiff like a robot for about two days. On the third day I’m feeling pretty normal, and then I lift again the next day and am back to walking stiff… It’s a never-ending cycle and can make it hard to comfortably fit running in, basketball, or other activities that could also interfere with recouping. Just something to keep in mind and try to plan around.

The pros far out weigh the cons though, for me anyway. I haven’t actually measured myself to see if my muscles have gotten bigger, but I am feeling fitter, think I can notice some physical changes, and I’ve actually gotten a few unsolicited compliments recently. I’m sure it’s a combination of my total activity level, effort in the gym, diet, and the supersets, but the workout schedule cannot be overlooked, I really think it’s made a difference for me.

So, to anyone who might be a little burnt out on typical workout routines and might want to try something a little different, this type of schedule could be worth checking out. If interested, there’s a lot of info available from Hugo about setting up a workout, or elsewhere online from reputable sources.


Written by Jim

July 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm

One Response

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  1. This is interesting! I want to try it. You always know your stuff, and i’m thrilled to hear that you’ve enjoyed it so far!


    July 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm


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