A good muscle building workout plan is principal when your goal is to add on mass and strength. The Internet and social media have given us access of an overwhelming amount of information. This has made it hard and confusing to distinguish a good workout program from a bad one.
This is why I have decided to share with you my favorite muscle building program that will truly help see results within a 6 week time frame.
Oh, you can also download the pdf version of the program by following the link below.
If you are a beginner, please read the workout description. There I explain everything about the workout plan – how it works, explain its split, and look over some training terms.
Goal: Build Muscle
Training Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Duration: 6 Weeks
Days Per Week: 3-6 Days
Workout Length: 45-60 minutes
Workout PDF: Download PDF
So what makes this muscle building program different from the rest? How can I guarantee that this workout will actually help you build muscle within 6 weeks.
Well, technically I cannot.
There are a lot of variables that play a role in muscle growth. Your diet, supplementation, rest, an general lifestyle to name a few. However, what I can promise is that if everything else is in check (i.e. you are eating enough, you are taking at least whey protein after your workouts and maybe using creatine, resting enough, and do not lead a destructive lifestyle) this workout program will do wonders for you.
At the end of this workout program I will add in some notes regarding your nutrition and supplementation. I’m not going into too much depth as this article would be 10 thousand words, but enough for you to have a crude understanding of what is expected of you.
With all of that being said, the workout program follows the push/pull/legs pattern. This pattern is going to help maximize muscle gain and lead to faster results.
Well, most traditional workouts follow a system that allows you to train each muscle once per week (the notorious bro split). Or others, that do not give your muscles enough time to rest between workouts thus leading to over-training. What’s the problem with that?
Well, over-training leads to muscle loss. The one thing that, ya know, you want the least.
READ MORE: 27 REASONS WHY YOU’RE NOT LOSING WEIGHT
Secondly, by exercising your muscles once per week you are not benefiting from protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the reason why your body builds muscle (study, source). It lasts for about 36-48 hours after exercising. What that means is that after your workout you have a 2 day window in which you can build muscle.
With traditional muscle building beginner workout plans you’re activating your muscles’ protein synthesis once instead of twice and as a result you are losing out on potential gains.
This workout plan will allow you to activate protein synthesis twice in the week and reduces the risk of over-training. This makes it ideal for muscle building.
Also, before we get started, you can download the PDF for the muscle gain workout plan.
6 Week Workout Program To Build Muscle
Please read this before you start!
(Especially if you are a beginner)
The workout plan is a 3-6 day split you can follow for the next 6 weeks to build muscle. Its focus is to help increase muscle gain and strength development. The muscle building program is suitable for beginners and intermediates.
Your rep tempo should be slow and controlled. Focus on the eccentric contraction of the muscle. For example when you are lowering the barbell during a curl, a bench press, or when you’re lowering yourself on a chest dip.
Aim for a resting tempo of 60 seconds. Give your body enough time to rest and regain its lost minerals to ensure you have enough energy during sets.
Remember, the reps indicated is what you should be aiming to do with weights that allow you to do just 8 repetitions correct form. If you don’t really know your limit yet, that’s fine too. If you notice that you can do 8 reps with 20lbs, but the last 2 sets are cheated, then lower the weight. The last thing that you want to happen is for you to injure yourself during a workout.
The workout program is designed so you can exercise 3 or 6 times a week. With that being said, if you want to maximize muscle gain, then you should aim for the 6 day split. If you are a beginner, you will find it hard going to the gym 6 times. This is simply because your muscles will not have fully rested. Start of with 3 days a week and progress towards the full 6 days to maximize your results.
Also, it does not have to be either 3 or 6. You can go 4-5 times. Use the extra 1 or 2 visits to focus on lagging muscle groups. For example, if you notice that your chest is not as developed as you want it to, then just do one extra push day after you finish the 3 day split.
While on the topic of beginners, another benefit of this workout program is that it will provide you with a lot of tools and information that will benefit your long-term development with your fitness journey.
After the workout program you will find quick nutrition and supplementation notes. As well as a list of exercises that you can substitute existing ones in the workout so you can add variability (promote more muscle growth).
Adding “drop sets” and “negative sets” help boost strength and muscle gain. And quite often can completely transform a workout for the better. If you are not aware what those terms mean, here is a quick explanation:
- Negative sets: They require either a spotter or assisted equipment. It involves doing 4-5 repetitions of eccentric movement with weights that are beyond your capacity. If you don’t have a spotter who can help you, that’s fine. Negative sets can often be swapped for drop sets.
- For example, let’s say that you’re doing biceps barbell curls. Your average weight with which you are capable of doing 8 repetitions is 45lbs. Let’s say you raise that weight to 65-70lbs. Your gym buddy (spotter) would help you raise the weight and what you are responsible for is lowering the weight in a controlled fashion to its starting position.
- For the exercises in this muscle building workout that I have recommended doing negative sets you will see a “Negative set” tag underneath the name of the exercise. Negative sets are usually done as a last set.
- Drop Sets: It’s where you strip the excess weight (taking away roughly 20-25%) so that you can do 1-3 more repetitions of a certain exercise. As you would probably notice, I have recommended doing drop sets for exercises where most commonly the lowest rep range is 5 or 6.
- For example, using the same exercise example as for the negative sets, imagine you are doing biceps barbell curls with 50lbs. This weight is ideal for you to properly carry out 5 or 6 repetitions. You bring the weight down to 35-40lbs and do another 1-3 correct repetitions.
- For the exercises in this workout program that I have recommended doing drop sets, you will see a “Drop Set” tag. Remember that the Drop set should be performed for the last set of the exercise where you will have the lowest rep range following weight progression.
Day 1: Pull (Back and Biceps)
Bent Over Barbell Rows (Mass) (Video)
Drop Set for the last set
Wide Grip Lat Pull Down (Mass) (Video)
Lat Pushdowns (Isolated) (Video)
Barbell Biceps Curls (Mass) (Video)
Drop Set for the last set
Preacher Curls (Isolated) (Video)
Hammer Curls (Isolated) (Video)
Day 2: Push (Chest, Triceps and Shoulders)
Bench Press (Mass) (Video)
Chest Dips (Mass) (Video)
Overhead Triceps Extensions (Mass) (Video)
Triceps Pulldown (Isolated) (Video)
Sider Lateral to Front Raise (Isolated) (Video)
Shoulder Press (Mass) (Video)
Day 3: Legs
Squats (Mass) (Video)
Dumbbell Lunges (Mass) (Video)
Leg Curls (Isolated) (Video)
Leg Extensions (Isolated) (Video)
Drop Set or Negative Set
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Pull
Deadlift (Mass) (Video)
Cable Rows (Mass) (Video)
Pull-ups (Burn out) (Video)
Alternating Dumbell Curls (Mass) (Video)
Seated Incline Curls (Mass) (Video)
Spider Curls (Isolated) (Video)
Day 6: Push
Incline Bench Press (Mass) (Video)
Cable Crossover (Isolated) (Video)
Skull Crushers (Mass) (Video)
Cable Overhead Triceps Extensions (Mass) (Video)
Lateral Raises (Isolated) (Video)
Single Arm Linear Jammer (Mass) (Video)
Day 7: Legs
Machine Hack Squat (Mass) (Video)
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat (Isolated) (Video)
Romanian Deadlift (Mass) (Video)
Bodyweight Squats (Burn out) (Video)
List of substitute exercises
As I previously mentioned it is wise to alternate between exercises and not have the same routine. Adding variability to your workouts prevents your body from getting accustomed to them. Thus, preventing you from hitting a plateau and boosting muscle gain.
When substituting exercises make sure that you follow the (Mass) and (Isolated) markers. For example, you swap your Bench Press (Mass) for Decline Bench Press (Mass). Rather than Bench Press (Mass) for Cable Flyes (Isolated).
READ MORE: TOP 13 REASONS WHY YOU’RE NOT GAINING MUSCLE
Mass marked exercises are those that help you build crude muscle mass and strength. Isolated exercises are those that isolate the muscle allowing you to target its full range of motion.
Also, those marked with (Burn out) are exercises that are those added at the end of the workout just to exhaust the muscle. They also help increase the workout’s volume.
Also, make sure that you alternating between the exercises that are already in the program. You would be surprised of how much you are impacting muscle growth just by swapping the order of your exercises.
Keep in mind that some muscle groups do not have a lot of compound or isolated exercises. So the ones already listed should be enough to work off of.
Chest Substitute Exercises
|Decline Bench Press||Dumbbell Flyes||Incline Pushups|
|Close Grip Bench Press||Incline Dumbbell Flyes||Ball Pushups|
|Dumbbell Pullovers||Butterfly Machine|
|Decline Bench Press||Flat Bench Cable Flyes|
|Machine Chest Press||Low Cable Crossover|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||Cable Chest Press|
|Dumbbell Incline Bench Press|
Back Substitute Exercises
|Farmer’s Walk||Single Arm Lat Pulldown||Rowing Machine|
|T-Bar Row||Back Extensions|
|Close Grip Pulldowns|
|Reverse Grip Pulldowns|
Biceps Substitute Exercises
|Concentration Curls||Pull-ups||Zottman Curl|
|Incline Hammer Curls||No-Plate Barbell Curls||Close Grip Pulldowns|
|E-Z Bar Curls||Inverted Rows|
|Overhead Cable Curls|
|Machine Biceps Curls|
Triceps Substitute Exercises
|Triceps Dips||Reverse Grip Extensions||Diamond Pushups|
|Close Grip Bench Press||Dumbbell Kickbacks|
Shoulder Substitute Exercises
|Standing Overhead Barbell Press||Reverse Flyes||Pike Pushups|
|Arnold Shoulder Press||Dumbbell Front Raises|
|Clean and Jerk||Bus Drivers|
Leg Substitute Exercises
|Leg Press||Hamstring Curls||Bodyweight Lunges|
|Squat Machine||Calf raises||Box Squats|
Nutrition and Supplementation Notes
As mentioned, I will not go into too much depth but provide enough for you to understand the fundamentals to nutrition and supplementation when building muscle.
That’s a whole other topic on its own.
One thing that you need to understand is that in order to build muscle, you need a good diet. A workout program is only half of the work.
I recommend starting off with our calorie calculator which will show you how many calories you need to take in order to build muscle.
There is no need to bulk and eat excessive amounts of calories. Crazy surpluses like 500-1000 calories above your amount to maintain your weight is unnecessary and will do nothing more but make you fat.
Try your best to eat clean food. There’s no need for you to be on a perfect diet, but just make sure that you are not over indulging on junk food.
Make sure that you are eating enough protein. While, there are a lot of reports that claim that it is not necessary to consume exactly 1g of protein per 1lbs of your bodyweight, there are also a lot of reports that claim that this amount promotes anabolism and ensures muscle preservation.
You don’t really need supplements to build muscle. That being said, supplements will help you improve muscle gain through their anabolic properties.
Whey protein is a must. Drink whey protein after your workout to ensure that you stop the post-workout catabolic effect and enter an anabolic state. Whey protein shortly after a workout has been shown to create a favourable environment for growth hormone production. Increasing post-workout whey protein to 40g is shown to enhance protein synthesis by up to 20%.
The second one is creatine. I have written an in-depth guide to creatine (there’s an infographic there) where I cover everything from what is creatine to the muscle building properties of creatine. The TLDR of creatine is that it helps with power output during your workout and ensure that you give it your 100% when exercising.
Beta Alanine will also help you increase the intensity of your workouts.
Lastly, omega 3s. They help with muscle inflammation, increase recovery time, and create an anabolic environment for your muscles through mTOR pathways. I have written an in-depth article about how omega 3 fatty acids improve muscle growth.