Machine-Only 3-Day Split Workout Routine (with PDF)

Machine-based workouts are highly underrated. They reduce the threat of exercise-induced injuries, prevent any errors in technique, and yield quite efficient results when it comes to hypertrophy and strength gains.

Many people even make the mistake of thinking that free weights are more efficient than machines at the gym. But that is far from the case.

According to research, there is no difference in how much you will improve your strength, muscle hypertrophy, and jump performance by working with machines versus exercising with free weights [1]. Ultimately, it all boils down to your personal preferences.

So, don’t hesitate to have a workout plan that features only stationary workout machines.

In fact, to help you out on your journey, we’ve created the perfect machine-only 3-day split to make your workouts more structured and efficient.

Let’s dive right into it!

Machine-Only 3-Day Split Workout Program

Machine-Only 3-Day Split Workout Routine

People with a busy schedule can benefit from a 3-day split. They will only have to show up at the gym thrice a week and still gain maximum results.

Studies have shown that when it comes to strength, training anywhere between 2 and 6 days per week can be effective as long as the workout plan is well-balanced and stimulating enough [2].

On the other end of the spectrum, 3-day splits can even work for people who prefer to train at the gym frequently. They can repeat the whole routine twice to make it 6 days a week of intense and vigorous training.

According to research, the best way to improve your gains is to train each muscle group twice a week, which is very possible if you follow our machine-only 3-day split [3].

You don’t have to worry about not getting enough time to recover completely. We follow a Push Pull Legs (PPL) split routine to give all the muscles enough time to rest before they are engaged again.

The optimal recovery time for any damaged muscle group is 48-72 hours [4]. When you follow our PPL routine with only machines, your push muscles are engaged on the first day and then on the fourth day of the training week, giving them plenty of time to recover in between.

So, there is little to no chance of sustaining any injuries or overtraining while following our machine-only push-pull legs split training routine.

If you are a beginner with less than 6 months of experience at the gym, we recommend only training 3 days a week and taking a day’s rest between day 1, day 2, and day 3 of our workout plan.

But if you’re a seasoned gym-goer wanting to push yourself, you can work out 6 days a week by repeating our workout plan twice.

Our workout plans feature simple movements only. But they are also scientifically backed to improve your performance and strength gains significantly.

For example, all our compound exercises involve different movements and ranges of motion. This sort of workout structure allows your muscles to be stimulated in a more efficient manner, triggering growth quicker [5].

Now, let’s get into the actual workout plan:

Machine-Only 3-Day Split Workout Routine

Day 1: Push Day

For the push day, we have devised exercises that will activate your chest, deltoids, and triceps, all upper-body muscles involved in facilitating pushing movements.

Our machine-only PPL workout plan comprises simple exercises that yield the most efficient results. The chest press, for instance, is the most effective exercise for building your chest muscles. We have included flat and inclined variations of those exercises for maximum yields.

Contrary to popular belief, chests pressing on a machine with a coordinated range of motion is as effective as using a dumbbell or a barbell [6].

We have also included other popular exercises like flys, lateral raises, and tricep extensions to provide a holistic and stimulating workout experience.

Here’s the complete workout plan for your push day:

  • Chest press machine/Smith machine chest press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Machine incline chest press/Smith machine incline chest press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Peck deck flys: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Shoulder press machine/Smith machine shoulder press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Leaning cable lateral raises: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Cable front raises/cable face pulls: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Cable tricep pushdown: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Cable behind head tricep extension: 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Day 2: Pull Day

The second day of the workout plan will focus on pulling muscles in our upper bodies like the back and biceps.

  • Wide grip lat pulldown: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Cable row: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Chest-supported machine row: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Preacher curl machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Cable curl: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • High Cable Curl: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Smith machine shrugs: 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Day 3: Legs and Abs

On the last day of our machine-only 3-day workout program, you will be training your leg and abdominal muscles.

For any workout routine to be complete, it’s essential to dedicate some exercises that will activate the core muscles specifically. And that is exactly what we have done.

For many people, leg days can be particularly taxing. As such, it makes sense to pair your leg muscles with smaller muscles like the abs.

We begin the workout by performing 3 sets of Smith machine squats. Remember that the barbell on such machines may feel lighter because it has a fixed path of movement. So, you’ll probably be able to lift more using a Smith machine compared to free weights.

While squats mostly activate your glutes and hamstrings, our second and third exercises – the leg press and extensions – focus more on the quadriceps, providing well-rounded muscle development.

We then revert to focusing on the hamstring by using a curl machine. Finally, we start on the calves by doing the simple calf raise movement.

That marks the end of the leg workout. From there, we move on to working out your core and abdominal muscles.

We start with some light machine crunches. This is the exercise that is deemed most effective for targeting only the abdominal muscles. But since you’re only using machines to work out, your core might be lacking in strength as well.

To remedy that, there’s no better solution than using the ab coaster machine. It effectively targets all the core muscles to give you more balance, coordination, and strength.

Here is a well-structured workout plan to train your legs and abs on the same day:

  • Smith machine squat: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Leg press machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Leg extension machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Lying hamstring curl machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Seated calf raise machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Ab machine crunch: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Ab coaster machine: 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Machine-Only 3-Day Workout Program PDF

And that is our complete 3-day split gym machine workout routine. The best thing about this plan is that you don’t have to worry about the risk of injuries associated with using dumbbells and other forms of free weights.

You can also plan your training frequently according to your workout goals. By using our split, you can either train 3 days a week or 6 days a week.

Download our plan to keep your workouts more structured and efficient. You can get the 3-day push-pull-split routine in PDF format by clicking on the download button given below.

You can also print the PDF to keep a physical copy of the workout plan with you at the gym.

Don’t miss:

Gym Machine Workout Routine for Beginners
3 Day Full Body Workout Routine
Women’s 3 Day Beginner Full Body Gym Workout Plan
6 Day Workout Split Routine

Final Words

3-day splits can be very effective in terms of strength and muscle gains, especially if you follow the push-pull-leg routine.

And by using only gym machines for exercising, you can keep yourself safe from any potential injuries.

These two benefits can help you along your bodybuilding journey for a long time.


  1. Haugen, M. E., Vårvik, F. T., Larsen, S., Haugen, A. S., Van Den Tillaar, R., & Bjørnsen, T. (2023). Effect of free-weight vs. machine-based strength training on maximal strength, hypertrophy and jump performance – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Sports Science, Medicine & Rehabilitation, 15(1).
  2. Ralston, G. W., Kilgore, L., Wyatt, F. B., Buchan, D., & Baker, J. S. (2018). Weekly training frequency effects on strength gain: A meta-analysis. Sports Medicine – Open, 4(1).
  3. Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Davies, T. B., Lazinica, B., Krieger, J., & Pedisic, Z. (2018). Effect of Resistance training frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 48(5), 1207–1220.
  4. Monteiro, E. R., Vingren, J. L., Corrêa Neto, V. G., Neves, E. B., Steele, J., & Novaes, J. S. (2019). Effects of Different Between Test Rest Intervals in Reproducibility of the 10-Repetition Maximum Load Test: A Pilot Study with Recreationally Resistance Trained Men. PubMed Central (PMC).
  5. Ralston, G. W., Kilgore, L., Wyatt, F. B., Buchan, D., & Baker, J. S. (2018). Weekly training frequency effects on strength gain: A meta-analysis. Sports Medicine – Open, 4(1).
  6. Ferreira, D. V., Ferreira-Junior, J. B., Soares, S., Cadore, E. L., Izquierdo, M., Brown, L. E., & Bottaro, M. (2017). Chest press exercises with different stability requirements result in similar muscle damage recovery in Resistance-Trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(1), 71–79.