Create an Effective 3-Day Workout Routine With This Template

This basic template will help you build an effective program to train for strength and power.

When it comes time to write programs, whether for yourself or someone else, the process can quickly become overcomplicated. You can spend hours upon hours trying to get the combination of exercises and volume just right.

At times like these, it can be easy to forget that the simple way is often the best way. Over-complication comes into play when we try to get too cute with our programming.

With that in mind, here's an easy template to create an effective Three-day workout program.

The Template for an Effective Three-Day Routine

Using a template ensures you get the movement in that you need to get in, in an order that makes the most sense for our goals. In this case, our goal is power and strength.

Day One

  • A1. Power Movement
  • A2. Speed/Agility
  • B1. Lower Body Push
  • B2. Corrective
  • C1. Upper Body Push
  • C2. Lower Body Accessory
  • C3. Upper Body Pull Vertical
  • D1. Anti-Rotation
  • D2. Anti-Extension

Day Two

  • A1. Power Movement
  • A2. Speed/Agility
  • B1. Lower Body Pull
  • B2. Corrective
  • C1. Upper Body Push Vertical
  • C2. Lower Body Accessory
  • C3. Upper Body Pull
  • D1. Anti-Lateral Flexion
  • D2. Frontal Plane Movement

Day Three

  • A1. Power Movement
  • A2. Speed/Agility
  • B1. Lower Body Push
  • B2. Corrective
  • C1. Upper Body Push
  • C2. Lower Body Accessory
  • C3. Upper Body Pull
  • D1. Anti-Lateral Flexion
  • D2. Anti-Extension

Understanding The Terminology

Power Movement: These are exercises that require quick, explosive movements, ideally using the whole body. Examples include Cleans, Box Jumps, Push Press, etc.

Speed/Agility: These are movements that work on acceleration, deceleration and change of direction. Think sprints, sled pulls or agility drills.

Lower-Body Push/Pull: Lower-body push movements are like Squats, Lunges, Step-Ups, etc., while lower-body pull movements are Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlift, Glute Bridges, etc.

Lower-Body Accessory: If you did a heavy push movement to start the day, your lower-body accessory lift should be a lower-body pull. For example, if your A1 move was a Barbell Front Squat, your B2 move could be a Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift or other lower-body pull.

Corrective Movements: These are movements used to correct a movement pattern. They also allow you to get proper rest between sets of strength exercises. An example would be if you or your athlete had limited overhead range of motion, then your A2 exercise on Day One could be a Back-to-Wall Shoulder Flexion move.

Upper-Body Push/Pull: Push movements are Bench Press, Overhead Press, Cable Press, etc., while Pull movements are Barbell Row, Cable Row, Cable Lat Pulldown, etc.

Core: This is admittedly a broad term, but think of it as exercises that strengthen the connection between the lower body and the upper body. Examples: Front Plank, Pallof Press, Chop/Lift variations, Loaded Carries, etc.

Frontal Plane Movement: These are movements that are done in a side-to-side manner. Often underused but very important for athletes who play sports with a change of directions, to teach proper deceleration or powerful cuts.

Exercise Bank

Here are a number of exercises you can utilize in your workouts. Feel free to add more moves to your routine over time, but these exercises are extremely solid choices for creating an effective three-day routine.

Power Movements

Upper Body: Med Ball Side Toss, Med Ball Chest Pass, Med Ball Side Push, Dumbbell 1-Arm Push Press, Barbell Push Press

Pull: Med Ball Slams, Broad Jumps, Kettlebell Swing, Barbell Power Shrugs, Kettlebell Clean, Barbell Hang Clean

Push: Box Jumps, Hurdle Hops, Depth Jumps, Goblet Squat Jumps

Speed/Agility Movements

Speed: Sprints, Kneeling Sprints, Belly Sprints, Band Resisted Sprints

Agility: Ladders, Sprint to Crossover, Sprint to Cut, 5-10-5

Lower-Body Movements

Lower Push: Kettlebell Front Squat, Barbell Front Squat to Box, Barbell Back Squat to Box, Barbell Pause Squat

Accessory: Dumbbell Step Ups, Dumbbell Walking Lunge, Sled Push, Single Leg Squat

Lower Pull: Barbell RDL, Barbell Hip Thrusts, Trap Bar Deadlift, Barbell Deadlift

Accessory: Stability Ball Ham Tuck, Glute Ham Raise, Dumbbell Reverse Lunge, Dumbbell Single Leg Deadlift

Corrective Movements

Upper Body: Lying Shoulder Slides, Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion, Thoracic Spine Rotations, Prone Thoracic Spine Extensions, Band Pull Apart, Cable Shoulder External Rotations

Lower Body: Wall Ankle Mobility, Quadruped Hip Mobility, Heel to Butt Stretch Off Bench, Shin Box Drill

Upper-Body Movements

Upper Push: Dumbbell 1-Arm Bench, Dumbbell Alternating Bench, Barbell Floor Press, Barbell Bench

Vertical Push: Landmine Shoulder Press, Half Kneeling Dumbbell 1 Arm Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Incline Press, Barbell Shoulder Press

Upper Pull: Cable 1 Arm Row, Seated Cable Row, Dumbbell 1 Arm Row, Barbell Bent Over Row

Vertical Pull: Cable 1 Arm Lat Pulldown, Cable Lat Pulldown, Dumbbell Pullover, Chin/Pull Ups

Core Movements

Anti-Extension: Farmers Walks, Ball Rollouts, Turkish GetUp, Body Saws

Anti-Lateral Flexion: Suitcase Carry, Side Plank with Cable Row, Kneeling Cable Lift, Kettlebell Windmill

Anti-Rotation: Pallof Press, Bird Dog, Bear Crawls, Standing Cable Chops

Frontal Plane: X Band Lateral Walk, Lateral Bear Crawls, Goblet Lateral Lunge, Slide Board Lateral Lunge

Putting it all Together

Select your exercises and then pick your sets and reps.

Sets and reps will vary depending on the goal of the program and how much time you have. As an example, if I play a sport that requires a lot of strength, working reps of 12-plus might not be the best idea. You would be better off working in the 3-8 range. Obviously, lower rep ranges should utilize heavier weights than higher rep ranges. Here are some basic rep/set suggestions for different goals/categories:

  • Power and Strength: 4-5 sets of 3-8 reps
  • For Size: 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Correctives: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Accessory and Frontal Plane Lifts: 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps for strength or 10-15 for size
  • Core: 2-3 sets or 8 to 12 reps

Example Program

Day 1

  • A1. Box Jumps 4x8
  • A2. Kneeling Sprints 3x 20yds each side
  • B1. Barbell Front Squat to Box 4x6
  • B2. Heel to Butt Stretch Off Bench 3x30 seconds each side
  • C1. Barbell Bench 4x5
  • C2. Glute Ham Raise 3x8
  • C2. Chin-Ups 3x6
  • D1. Pallof Press 3x8 each
  • D2. Farmers Walks 3x40yds

Day 2

  • A1. Barbell Hang Clean 4x4
  • A2. 5-10-5 3x each side
  • B1. Trap Bar Deadlift 4x5
  • B2. Lying Should Slides 3x12
  • C1. Landmine Shoulder Press 4x6
  • C2. Dumbbell Step Ups 4x6 each
  • C3. Cable 1 Arm Row 3x10 each
  • D1. Suitcase Carry 3x 40yds each
  • D2. Lateral Bear Crawls 3x8 each

Day 3

  • A1. Dumbbell 1 Arm Push Press 4x4 each
  • A2. Sprints 2x10yds 2x15yds 1x20yds
  • B1. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat 4x8 each
  • B2. Wall Ankle Mobility 3x10 each
  • C1. Barbell Bent Over Row 4x10
  • C2. Dumbbell 1 Arm Bench 3x10 each
  • C3. Dumbbell Single Leg Deadlift 3x10 each
  • D1. Kneeling Cable Lift 3x12 each
  • D2. Ball Rollouts 3x12