July 02, 2021 10 min read

Building muscle is no simple task. If you find yourself struggling with your muscle-building goals, you are not alone, and knowing where to start can be difficult. When wanting to build some serious muscle, whether you’re a seasoned lifter or a gym beginner, following a program is essential for results. 

Workout plan and sports equipment

The Ultimate Workout Program to Build Muscle Mass

Workout programs can be organized in several different ways. For the most effective plan, sticking to a fixed timeline is best for both your physical and mental well-being. In this workout routine, we’ll work within a four-week timeframe.

In addition to following a timeframe, you must also organize the workouts by type and frequency. Training each muscle group twice a week is typically the most beneficial, however with adequate rest days certain body parts will require training just once per week.

It can be easiest to plan each week out individually, being sure to incorporate rest days. It is also common to focus on an upper body and lower body split, adding ab isolations and cardio here and there when desired.

Week One

In the first week, the most important areas of focus are heavy weights and establishing a good routine. This is especially important if you’re coming from a relatively inconsistent workout schedule. If you’re doing any of these movements for the first time, be sure to put emphasis on form rather than weight. Adequate warm-ups are also important.

For this week, you will also notice reps may be lower than what you’re used to if you workout often. This is because this week is all about maxing out those lifts and jumpstarting that muscle growth.

Furthermore, hypertrophy is most encouraged by a rep range of 6 to 12 and sets in the 3 to 6 range.

You’ll want to reserve the lower rep movements for your most important lifts, which are typically your compound exercises, in order to maximize the weight you can move.

Day One: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps 
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Pec Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Tricep Pushdown: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Overhead Extension: 5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Upright Row: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Two: Rest Day

Day Three: Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Day Four: Back and Biceps
  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Bent-over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Bench Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Five: Rest Day

Day Six: Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Day Seven: Rest Day

Week Two

Week two is all about increasing the weight from the previous week while maintaining workout intensity. You will still focus on the same movements, as well, since by now you should be used to the form and can really maximize your lifts. Aim for an increase of 2 to 8 pounds per lift.

Day One:  Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps 

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Pec Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Tricep Pushdown: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Overhead Extension: 5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Upright Row: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Two:  Rest Day

Day Three:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Day Four:  Back and Biceps

  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Bent-over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Bench Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Five:  Rest Day

Day Six:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Day Seven:  Rest Day

Week Three

In week three, we will work on increasing intensity and weight. In weeks one and two you established a good level of strength and should now be able to endure heavy weights for just a few more reps per lift.

We will also introduce a few new movements to create variety and challenge those muscles from various angles. Once again, aim for an increase of about 2 to 8 pounds per lift.

Day One:  Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps 

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Pec Flyes: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Tricep Pushdown: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Overhead Extension: 5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Upright Row: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Cable Crossover: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Two:  Rest Day

Day Three:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell Hack Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Four:  Back and Biceps

  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent-over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Bench Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Rack Pull: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Preacher Curl: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Five:  Rest Day

Day Six:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell Hack Squat: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8 reps

Day Seven:  Rest Day

Week Four

In week four, you’ll work on maintaining reps while increasing your weight once again to at least 2 pounds and up to 8 pounds per lift. We’ll increase the rep amount for the new movements that were introduced last week. In this last week, really push yourself and give it all you can at each session.

Day One:  Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps 

  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Bench Dumbbell Pec Flyes: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Tricep Pushdown: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Overhead Extension: 5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Upright Row: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Cable Crossover: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day Two:  Rest Day

Day Three:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell Hack Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day Four:  Back and Biceps

  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent-over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Bench Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Rack Pull: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Preacher Curl: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day Five:  Rest Day

Day Six:  Quads, Calves, Glutes, and Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Curl: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Calf Raise: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell Hack Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10 reps

Day Seven:  Rest Day

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More Tips and Disclaimers for Our Muscle Gain Program

In addition to having a workout plan and executing it consistently, there are many things you do inside and outside the gym that can make or break your results. In fact, training, although very important, is just one small portion of your end results.

Diet

Besides your training, diet is the next most vital part of reaching your goals. So, yes, there is some truth to the saying “your abs are made in the kitchen”. Without the proper nutrition, your body won’t repair muscle tissue as efficiently, which is how muscle growth occurs. In addition to this, without an adequate amount of calories, you will have no energy fueling your workouts resulting in less than ideal training sessions. 

To gain muscle, not only should you prioritize calories and protein, but also clean eating. Typically, people who embark on a muscle mass building program will also do what is called “bulking”, or staying in a caloric surplus.

When striving for a calorie surplus, it can be tempting to resort to unhealthy options, such as a calorie-dense fast food meal. However, while this may help you reach your calorie goal, it won’t fuel energetic workouts nor will it encourage muscle growth as these meals tend to be high in carbs and low on protein.

If you find yourself really struggling to reach a calorie surplus goal, there are many tools available to you.

Many looking to reach a calorie surplus utilize alternative calorie and protein sources, such as a high-quality whey protein powder or mass gainer supplements.

Mental

Most people fail to discuss the mental aspect of embarking on a training program. However, being aware of the potential psychological mishaps can make all the difference. First, be aware that when doing a muscle-building program properly, you will gain weight.

Seeing that number go up on the scale can be deterring for some people. However, despite the negative connotations, an increase in weight can have, weight gain is a good sign when training for hypertrophy. It typically means you’re doing something right! This is a mass-building program, after all.

Furthermore, it may be hard to push yourself in the gym and consistently show up to training sessions. It may be even harder to get an adequate calorie and protein intake as a muscle mass increase typically requires a large amount of food. This is why common strenuous training programs aren’t indefinite, so keep your mind focused on that end goal.

Most importantly, set realistic goals and focus on the way you feel rather than the way you look. It can be easy to get caught up in your physique. However, looking great is not nearly as important as feeling great. Furthermore, feeling strong will only fuel future gains. This is why no specific weight was prescribed for the above training program as we are all at different fitness levels.

Rest Days

Rest days are just as important as training days. While it can be tempting to go hard each and every day, overtraining will likely not result in much muscle growth. Note that on rest days you should still aim for your recommended daily step goal, which is typically 10,000 steps per day, as well as your determined surplus calorie goal, which may need to be tailored for non-training days.

Furthermore, on some rest days, you can choose to do what is known as an active rest day.

Active rest days won’t involve an intense training session, but you can choose to do a cardio session, ab isolations, yoga, or a relatively intense outdoor activity such as rowing.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload: something you have probably heard many times but never really knew what it is or how to execute it. Progressive overload really deserves an article of its own. However, it can be simply defined as constantly increasing the amount of weight you lift or the reps you do.

Some people have it down to a science, using mathematical equations for precise numbers. However, this is not entirely necessary to see gains. As prescribed in the training program above, each week increases weight and/or repetitions, therefore utilizing the progressive overload technique. Without a progressive overload, your body will quickly get used to what you’re putting it through and your muscles won’t grow much.

Cardio

As previously stated, you can incorporate cardio when desired. However, be aware that building muscle mass requires a caloric surplus, and cardio does a very good job of burning lots of calories. So, on days you do cardio, you will likely need to increase your food intake. This is why most people who wish to gain muscle tend to steer clear of cardio.

However, a few cardio sessions here and there can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being, so advising against cardio completely would be doing a great disservice to you. Furthermore, if you’re starting this program from higher body fat, incorporating cardio may be best to burn fat to see some muscle definition.

Mind to Muscle Connection for Activation

One of the top complaints amongst gym-goers is feeling a lack of muscle engagement in targeted areas. Without proper muscle engagement, there is a decreased chance of hypertrophy in that muscle. Some people will do activation exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, or body-weight movements prior to lifting. However, there is a lot of science-backed evidence for mind to muscle connection.

Mind to muscle connection is a technique used to promote activation. You can do mind-to-muscle techniques by simply thinking about the area you wish to target and be overall more mindful during your workout. Some people even use verbal cues for mind-to-muscle connection. 

One study found that a mind-to-muscle connection can increase a one-rep max, or the max amount of weight you can move just once, by 60%!

Workout Program for Mass: Conclusion

well-organized plan is essential for optimizing your growth potential and keeping your workouts efficient. Doing this program just once can show results, and you can easily keep it going on a loop for several months, adding weight accordingly.


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