The Classic 3-Day Workout
Credit: Kyoko Hamada

The Classic 3-Day Workout

As much as science and modern techniques have immeasurably changed the way we work out for the better, there are plenty of classic exercises that have stood the test of time. Here are three days' worth of challenging workouts using movements your grandpa would recognize.

Day One

1. Warm-up. Perform unweighted "air" squats and standing dumbbell presses. To do a standing dumbbell press, hold a light dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, and press both simultaneously straight up overhead.

2. Do squats. Perform three sets of five repetitions each with a weight that allows you to complete all sets and reps. Start by holding a dumbbell at shoulder height in each hand, held, instead of a barbell, so you can add weight in small increments and learn proper form (the weight of the dumbbell will move naturally in a straight up-and-down path – essential to good squatting technique). Add 2.5 to five pounds each week if you're comfortable and can maintain proper form.

3. Bench press. Follow the same protocol for squats, with three sets of five reps each. Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand to develop shoulder mobility before progressing to a barbell. Add one to two pounds each week if you're comfortable and can maintain proper form.

Day Two

1. Warm-up. Do a 15-minute cardio workout that elevates your heart rate.

2. Complete a chin-up ladder. Chin-up ladders let you accumulate volume and build muscle quickly, even if you can do only one or two at a time, since reps can be repeated frequently when using just your body weight. After two months of ladders, you should be able to do significantly more reps. To do a chin-up ladder, complete one chin-up (like a pull-up but with palms facing toward you), then rest for one minute. Do two chin-ups, then rest for one minute. Lead each rep with your chest, keeping shoulders back, and continue until you can’t do any more. Take a short rest, and start again.

Day Three 

1. Warm-up. Do push-ups until your heart rate is elevated and your muscles are warm.

2. Dead lift. Do one set of five repetitions of dead lifts at a weight that allows you to complete all five reps. Start with a dumbbell or light kettlebell in each hand, instead of a barbell. Add 2.5 to five pounds each week, if you're comfortable and can maintain proper form.

3. Complete a push-up ladder. To do the ladder, follow the same protocol as the chin-up ladder described in Day Two.