If You Could Only Do Three Exercises…

Strength Training 2 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

I’ve told you what exercise you should do if you could only choose one.

Then I told you which two exercises to do if you had just a little more time.

What if you had the time to do three exercises? Maybe you’re limited on time, or just have access to limited equipment.

Let’s figure it out.

Push. Pull. Legs.

Push, pull, legs is a classic strength training split. It refers to hitting the upper pushing muscles, the upper pulling muscles, and then the muscles of the lower body.

It’s popular because it’s the bare minimum necessary to hit all of the major muscles in the body, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. The bare minimum.


For pushing we’re going to stick with the incline dumbbell press from If You Could Only Do Two Exercises.

Chest. Triceps. Shoulders. Stabilizers.

Upper pushing muscles will grow.


We need something good for the biceps, forearms, lats, and other upper back muscles–there are a lot.

There are a lot of pulling exercises to choose from, but let’s keep it simple since we’re on a time crunch (that’s the reason you can only do three exercises, remember?).

Do your incline dumbbell presses, and then flip over to go into chest supported dumbbell rows.

There is no better freeweight exercise for upper back development. I love these, and you will love them too.


I’m going to pull a switcheroo on you. We’re dropping deadlifts.


Because we’ve added dumbbell rows to hit your grip, and upper back.

What should we replace it with?

Squats. Squats. Squats.

No other exercise will develop your legs more wholly than the squat, and specifically the low bar squat.

Barbell squats are best, but you’re limited on time.

Do your incline dumbbell presses, flip over for your rows, and then hop off the bench for goblet squats.

Push. Pull. Legs.

What if you Have More Time?

Those three exercises will hit most of the muscles in your body, and are great if you are in a hotel gym where they often only have a set of dumbbells.

But what about when you have access to a real gym with several hours to devote to strength training?

You need to check out one of our strength training programs. They are free. They are effective.

The Seriously Strong Beginner Program

The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program

The Seriously Strong Advanced Program

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.