Squat, Bench, Deadlift 3 Days Per Week – Should You Do It, And How To Do It Right

squat, bench, deadlift 3 days per week

You’ll find a lot of mixed opinions about how often you should squat, bench, and deadlift in a week, and even more opinions about how to split it up once you settle on the frequency. However you decide to do it, there are a few things to consider when deciding how often to perform these lifts. 

Should you squat, bench press, and deadlift three days a week? A lifter can absolutely squat, bench press, and deadlift three times a week, so long as they are considering the total volume (reps x weight), the intensity of the workouts, and their ability to recover. When each of the three workouts is focused on a different goal, the benefits are even greater. 

Let’s discuss the different ways you can structure squatting, benching, and deadlifting within a training week, and my tips for optimizing your performance within each workout. 

Should You Squat, Bench, Deadlift 3 Days Per Week? 

should you squat, bench, deadlift 3 days per week

The cool thing about powerlifting programs is they are pretty flexible. As long as we are getting the volume in throughout the week, you can adjust it as needed. 

If you are the type of lifter who enjoys lifting six or seven days a week, you can easily find productive ways to hit the squat, bench press, and deadlift three times each in a week, since you are going to the gym every day.

If you are the type of lifter who is pressed for time, or performs better with intermittent rest throughout the week, you can still structure your program to hit three workouts a week, and each one covers all three of these lifts. 

The question this comes down to is what do those workouts look like, and are they helping you reach your strength goals? 

If you’re doing the exact same thing for each lift three days a week, you’re doing it wrong. 

If your week of workouts was so intense you can’t perform well the next week, you’re also doing it wrong. 

And obviously, if you’re just going through the motions and not pushing yourself, that’s right, you’re doing it wrong.

Let’s break down the things to consider when determining your weekly split.

How To Squat, Bench, And Deadlift 3 Days Per Week (5 Rules To Follow)

the 5 rules to follow when squatting, benching, and deadlifting 3 days per week

Here are the 5 rules to follow when squatting, benching, and deadlifting 3 days per week: 

  • Alternate Training Methods
  • Set a Purpose for Each Workout
  • Spread Your Work Over Multiple Days
  • Incorporate Rest
  • Monitor Your Progress

1.  Alternate Training Methods

Let each workout focus on a different training method. 

In strength training, there are three generally accepted methods to building strength: the Max Effort Method, the Dynamic Effort Method, and the Repetition Method (click to learn more about those methods in our other training guides). 

When you are training each lift three times in a week, this is the perfect opportunity to train the lift in each of the methods of strength training. One workout addresses max effort lifts, another trains your speed/power, and another is focused on reps. 

However, you split up your workouts, be sure to include each of the three methods at some point in the week so that each workout improves the lift in a different way. 

Throughout different blocks of your training, you may swap an entire method out to focus on another (like doing more hypertrophy work early on and removing max effort work, or removing hypertrophy work as you get close to competing or maxing out), but most of the time, you should be training all three methods. 

2.  Set A Purpose For Each Workout

Have a clear goal for each workout. 

I don’t mean a goal like “do one more rep than last time” or “add five more pounds than last time,” I mean the focus of the workout. 

Based on what we just shared in the first rule, make a workout specific to train max effort squat, and another workout specific to dynamic effort bench, and another workout focused on deadlifts for reps, and so on. 

If you go into the week simply hoping to get all that done at some point, you’re going to miss elements of some method of training. If you make a plan for each workout to accomplish those specific goals, you’ll hit all the points of the training you need to make this program effective.

This also ensures you aren’t measuring your rep work by max effort metrics, or dynamic effort work by repetitive effort metrics, etc. You know what the goal of the training method is as you walk into the gym so you can get the most out of it.  

3.  Spread Your Work Over Multiple Days

Spread out your work so you aren’t overly fatigued on one lift or another. 

You may have done the mental math on that last rule and realized that three lifts getting three distinct workouts leaves you with nine workouts to perform and only seven days a week to get them done. 

Part of spreading out your week is combining things together that make sense to combine. 

For example, on the day you are doing max effort squat work you won’t have much volume to do. It should be just a few sets of very few reps with heavy load. This would be a great time to also hit dynamic effort or repetitive effort bench work, since your upper body is totally fresh. 

Alternatively, you might like keeping a workout focused on lower body work, so after performing your heavy sets of squats, you do your repetitive effort deadlift work too, as it’s low intensity and a perfect complement to the max effort work you just did. 

Hint: Repetitive Effort work (or accessories movements, or hypertrophy sets as they are sometimes called) are the most flexible of the three. You can pretty much always tack on your rep work after max effort or dynamic effort sets, if you have time. 

At the end of the day, be smart and creative with your combinations to get all your lifts in and all your strength methods in so that you have ample time to rest and recover. 

You might be interested in an article I wrote on Are Deadlifts Back Or Legs and what day you should consider putting deadlifts on when it comes to powerlifting training.

Incorporate Rest

Rest and recovery are important when hitting all three lifts three times a week. 

As we discussed above, one way to get some rest is to combine your lifts or combine your training styles into a single workout so you aren’t training seven days a week, but rest doesn’t always mean a complete day off. 

Look at your training split and see if there’s a day between squat and deadlift work. Plan your bench work (ME, DE, and RE styles) to split up your lower body days, and you’ll be resting your legs and lower back while you work your bench. You don’t have to be totally resting to rest specific muscle groups.

The same goes for your max effort days, regardless of what lift you’re focused on. By spreading those out, you’ll add a level of rest in your week, without taking a full day off. 

This progressive rest throughout the week will be key to maintaining this split. 

Monitor Your Progress

Keep track of what’s working and what isn’t.  

Like any program, what gets measured gets improved. If you aren’t paying attention to how your lifts are progressing, to how your energy levels feel, to how fast and clean your dynamic effort lifts are moving, you won’t be able to make the necessary adjustments to reach your goals. 


After all, how can you adjust what you don’t realize is a problem? 

If you’re running into obstacles, you can likely fix them with a few adjustments, instead of just throwing out the entire program and calling it a bust. Pay attention to those metrics from the start so you can adjust and adapt, instead of starting over and hunting for a new program or methodology. 

4 Mistakes To Avoid When Squatting, Benching, & Deadlifting 3 Days Per Week

avoid these four mistakes when training the squat, bench, and deadlift three times a week

Whether or not you follow the five rules we’ve shared, it’s important to at least avoid these four mistakes when training the squat, bench, and deadlift three times a week. 

  • Same Workouts Every Time
  • Not Spreading It Out
  • No Intention Behind Workouts
  • Ignoring Warning Signs

Same workouts every day

Do not do the same workout every time

I don’t just mean doing the same variations or the same rep ranges, but don’t train for the same goal every time. 

You have three different ways to train strength – max effort, dynamic effort, and repetition effort. Use all three of them, or you will hit a plateau very quickly.

Not spreading it out

Do not attempt to do all these workouts without spacing it out

Mix up when you hit deadlifts so you aren’t doing all your deadlift work at the start of the week or end of the week. The same goes for squat and bench. 

The worst alternative here would be do perform your max effort squat, bench, and deadlift work all on the same day, your dynamic effort squat, bench, and deadlift work on the same day, and your rep work of the three all on the same day. 

The only reasons I would program this is if you’re a comeptitive powerlifter and you want to gain some practice of what it would feel like to max out on a single day, which is how you would need to perform during a powerlifting competition. 

Even with that said, I would not be programming a max out day for all three lifts very frequently, it’s only used sparingly.  

Plan ways to spread out when you hit each lift to give your body a chance to recover from the last workout as much as possible before training it again. 

No intention behind workouts

Don’t show up just to lift without a thought of why you are doing it

Have a plan, as we explored above – know what lifts you are hitting that day, whether you are training that lift with the max effort, dynamic effort, or repetition effort method. 

Showing up to lift is the first step, and it’s indeed an important one. But if you are aimlessly showing up to lift each lift three times a week, you won’t make much progress. 

You can follow one of our sample programs below for more guidance. 

Ignoring warning signs

Pay attention to the warning signs that you need to make adjustments. 

It could be pain, fatigue, or injury. But it could be something much more subtle, like a lack of progress or a new sticking point in your form. 

Training all these lifts three times a week is a tall order, and there’s a lot to pay attention to. Don’t ignore the information your body and your results are providing you as you work through it. 

Read our other guides on breaking through plateaus: 

Sample Program: Squat, Bench, Deadlift 3 Times Per Week 

As we shared above, you can hit all three lifts three times a week whether you train daily or if you only have time to train three times a week. 

For that reason, we’ve provided a couple of examples of how you can do this type of program. 

One example for daily workouts, one with a couple of rest days, and one for only three workouts per week.  

Program Example #1: Daily Workouts

program example #1 daily workouts

In this program, every day has its own focus with very little overlap. This means some workouts are very short and focused. 

Monday: Max Effort Squat/Dynamic Effort Bench

  • Warm up 
  • Squat – 5 sets of 2 reps @ 87% of max
  • SSB Box Squat – 5 sets of 3 reps @ 80% of max 
  • Bench Press against bands – 8 sets of 3 @ 55% of max plus light bands

Tuesday: Dynamic Effort Deadlifts

  • Warm up
  • Deadlift against bands – 10-12 sets of 1 rep @ 50% of max against light bands

Wednesday: Repetitive Effort Bench

  • Warm up
  • Wide grip bench – 4 sets of 10
  • Close grip bench – 4 sets of 12
  • Pec deck – 4 sets of 12
  • DB Floor press – 4 sets of 10
  • Tricep Pushdowns – 4 sets of 10
  • Rope pulldowns – 4 sets of 12

Thursday: Max Effort Deadlift

  • Warm up
  • Deadlift – 5 sets of 2 @ 85% of max 
  • Paused Deadlift (below knee) – 5 sets of 3 @ 72% of max 

Friday: Dynamic Effort Squats/Repeated Effort Squats

  • Warm up
  • Squats against bands – 8 sets of 2 @ 50% of max against light bands 
  • Narrow stance squats – 4 sets of 8
  • Front Squats – 4 sets of 10
  • Goblet squats – 4 sets of 12
  • Leg press – 4 sets of 12
  • Leg extensions – 4 sets of 12

Saturday: Max Effort Bench

  • Warm up
  • Bench Press – 6 sets of 2 @ 85% of max 
  • Paused bench press – 5 sets of 3 @ 78% of max

Sunday: Repeated Effort Deadlifts

  • Warm up
  • Alternate Stance Deadlifts* – 4 sets of 6-8
  • Stiff leg deadlifts – 4 sets of 8-10
  • Good Mornings – 4 sets of 8-10
  • Lying hamstring curls – 4 sets of 10
  • Bent over barbell row – 4 sets of 10
  • Seated v-grip row – 4 sets of 12

Note: If you typically pull conventional, then do sumo, and vice versa.

Program Example #2: Two Rest Days

program example #2 two rest days

In this example, we’ve combined the rep effort and max effort work so it can be done in a single workout. We’ve also combined squats and deadlifts dynamic effort days into one lower-body dynamic effort workout. 

Notice the Rep Effort work is slightly reduced by 2-3 sets to fit into a single workout, while the previous example allows for a little more of that hypertrophy work since it’s often given its own day.

Alternatively, you might combine Rep Effort work with Dynamic Effort days of the same lift, or do the 2-3 sets of Rep Effort work you didn’t have time to do after Max Effort work on the days you do that same lift again for Dynamic Effort. 

The bottom line is that Rep Effort work is the most flexible and can be tacked on after both Max Effort and Dynamic Effort work, or given its own day.

Monday: Max Effort Squat/Rep Effort Squat

  • Warm up 
  • Squat – 5 sets of 2 reps @ 87% of max
  • SSB Box Squat – 5 sets of 3 reps @ 80% of max 
  • Narrow stance squats – 4 sets of 8
  • Front Squats – 4 sets of 10
  • Goblet squats – 3 sets of 12
  • Leg press – 3 sets of 12
  • Leg extensions – 3 sets of 12

Tuesday: Max Effort Bench/Repeated Effort Bench

  • Warm up
  • Bench Press – 6 sets of 2 @ 85% of max 
  • Paused bench press – 5 sets of 3 @ 78% of max
  • Wide grip bench – 4 sets of 10
  • Pec deck – 3 sets of 12
  • DB Floor press – 3 sets of 10
  • Tricep Pushdowns – 3 sets of 10

Wednesday: Rest day

  • Light cardio
  • Stretching
  • Active recovery protocols

Thursday: Max Effort Deadlifts/Rep Effort Deadlifts

  • Warm up
  • Deadlift – 5 sets of 2 @ 85% of max 
  • Paused Deadlift (below knee) – 5 sets of 3 @ 72% of max 
  • Alternate Stance Deadlifts* – 4 sets of 6-8
  • Good Mornings – 3 sets of 8-10
  • Lying hamstring curls – 3 sets of 10
  • Bent over barbell row – 3 sets of 10

Note: If you typically pull conventional, then do sumo, and vice versa.

Friday: Dynamic Effort Lower Body (Squats and Deadlifts)

  • Warm up
  • Squats against bands – 8 sets of 2 @ 50% of max against light bands 
  • Deadlift against bands – 10-12 sets of 1 rep @ 50% of max against light bands

Saturday: Dynamic Effort Bench

  • Bench Press against bands – 8 sets of 3 @ 55% of max plus light bands

Sunday: Rest Day

  • Light cardio
  • Stretching
  • Active recovery protocols

Program Example #3: Three Workouts Total

program example #3 three workouts total

In this example, the lifter only has three days a week to train, but ample time to warm up and perform all three lifts each workout. 

Аs this arrangement is the most restrictive on time and each workout is long to hit all three lifts, it doesn’t adhere as closely to the ME/DE/RE method split. 

Instead, each lift has a day where the lifter performs sets of 1, 3, and 5 reps, alternating throughout the week. 

The recommended load percentages are also more conservative, as the lifter has to regulate energy to perform all three lifts each workout. 

Monday: Max Squat

  • Squat – 5 sets of 1 @ 85% of max 
  • Paused Squat – 5 sets of 3 @ 75% of max 
  • Bench – 5 sets of 3 at 75% of max
  • Close Grip Bench – 4×8 at 55% 
  • Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 at 70% of max
  • Good Mornings – 4 sets of 10

Wednesday: Max Bench

  • Bench – 5 sets of 1 at 85% of max
  • Paused Bench – 5×3 at 75% 
  • Deadlift – 5 sets of 3 at 75% of max
  • Paused Deadlift – 5 sets of 2 at 70% of max 
  • Squat – 5 sets of 5 @ 70% of max 
  • Goblet Squat – 4 sets of 10-12

Friday: Max Deadlift

  • Deadlift – 5 sets of 1 at 85% of max
  • Deficit Deadlift – 5 sets of 2 at 75% of max 
  • Squat – 5 sets of 3 @ 75% of max 
  • SSB Squat – 5 sets of 5 @ 70% of max
  • Bench – 5 sets of 5 at 70% of max
  • Skull Crushers – 4 sets of 12

Final Thoughts

Hitting your squat, bench, and deadlift work three times a week is a very common, very productive way to train if you are doing it right. As there are three methods of strength training, it makes perfect sense that each of the three powerlifts would get dedicated time with each training method. 

Just remember that there’s no value in training each lift three times a week if you aren’t training it for a specific goal or outcome. Doing the same deadlift work three times a week won’t make your deadlift any better than having three copies of the same book will help you read the book three times faster. 

However, training your deadlift once a week with max effort, once a week with dynamic effort, and at least once a week with repetitive effort, you’ll be training the lift in three different ways, multiplying your ability to improve your overall performance with the deadlift. 

Make a plan to hit each lift in a different way each time you train it during the week, train hard, and train effectively, and you’ll absolutely see the benefits of training each lift three times a week. 

Read our other guides on training frequency: