Get Fit In 3 Days A Week

I started a 6-day exercise routine last year but couldn’t keep it up. Even though each routine was very short, life continued to throw obstacles in the way. This post is an outline of the new exercise routine I’m using to get fit in only 3 days a week.

Exercise and get fit

There is value in daily exercise. Once I’m able to free up more time, I intend to go back to my daily program. But at this season in my life, daily exercise isn’t working.

These condensed routines are the product of missing many of my daily exercises. As I missed a routine, I would combine it with the next day to catch up. I’ve also added in a few exercises thanks to suggestions from readers. (If you have other suggestions, I’d love hear them: @russelltnet).

About These Exercises

  • When I only do 1 set, I do as many reps in one set as I can do slowly, comfortably, and in good form.
  • When I do three sets, I choose the weight (where applicable) to allow me to perform 12-15 reps in slow, comfortable, good form. If you are shooting for bulk rather than lean, use more weight and target less reps (6-8).
  • When I increase weight from set to set, I typically add 10 lbs., but that’s just a limitation of the machine at my gym. The goal is to start easy and finish hard but still be able to perform your target reps (though your last rep should just about kill you).
  • Each exercise includes a link to a video that illustrates proper technique (if you find a better video, send the link my way: @russelltnet).

Exercise (Day 1) – Chest & Back

I start the week off focusing on my chest and back, finishing with a short, interval cardio exercise. I do exercises 2 and 3 at home right after warming up, then exercises 4-8 in one continuous set, resting about a minute in between sets.

  1. 5-minute warm up
  2. Push ups – 1 set
  3. Chin ups – 1 set
  4. Nautilus press – 3 sets increasing weight
  5. Seated rows – 3 sets increasing weight
  6. Incline press – 3 sets increasing weight
  7. Lat pull downs – 3 sets increasing weight
  8. T-bar rows – 3 sets
  9. Interval bike ride – 2 minute warm up, 30 second burst as fast as I can go (the goal is to get my heart rate up), 90 second recovery (the goal is to bring my heart rate down, deep breathing helps), repeat burst and recovery for up to 8 reps.
  10. Cool down and stretch

Exercise (Day 2) – Shoulders & Arms

The second day of exercise I focus on shoulders and arms. After the pull ups, I do the rest of the exercises in one continuous set, resting about a minute in between sets.

  1. 5-minute warm up
  2. Underhand pull ups – 1 set
  3. Arnold press – 3 sets
  4. Overhead extension – 3 sets
  5. Hammer curls – 3 sets
  6. Lateral raises & front raises – 3 sets (I combine these alternating lateral and front raises in one set, though you can do them separately)
  7. EZ curls cable – 3 sets
  8. Push downs – 3 sets
  9. Cool down and stretch

Exercise (Day 3) – Abs & Legs

The final day I focus on abs and legs, with another short interval cardio exercise in between. I start with a set of ab exercises, break for an interval cardio exercise, do one more set of sit ups, and finish on my legs.

  1. 5-minute warm up
  2. Sit ups – 1 set
  3. Leg raises – 1 set
  4. Knee raises – 1 set
  5. Interval bike ride – 2 minute warm up, 30 second burst as fast as I can go (the goal is to get my heart rate up), 90 second recovery (the goal is to bring my heart rate down, deep breathing helps), repeat burst and recovery for up to 8 reps.
  6. Sit ups with oblique twist – Half of however many regular sit ups I did
  7. Lunges – 3 sets
  8. Squats – 3 sets
  9. Cool down and stretch

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to my outline of the 3-day routine (including the warm up and stretch movements) in Evernote. I reference this constantly, though I’m getting close to having it memorized.
  • This is the doorway pull up bar I use. I like it because it has additional padding on the supports to keep from messing up the doorway.
  • A dumbbell set is handy to have at home. I like this adjustable dumbbell set so you don’t need a separate set for each weight.
  • These are the running shoes on my shopping list (mine are due for a replacement). Here’s a great pair of women’s running shoes too.

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What is your biggest challenge sticking with exercise?