10 Best Muscle Building Workout Plans, Strategies, and Routines

March 1, 2021

10 muscle building workout strategies plans and methods

The truth about bodybuilding and workout plans is that everything works. But nothing works forever.

You have to know when to change things up in the gym.

Have you ever noticed how sore you are when you get on a different workout routine? You also noticed results whether it’s new muscle growth, strength gains, or more definition.

That’s because you’re shocking your muscles into growth by making them do something they’re not used to.

The problem is that only lasts for a few weeks. At a certain point, you stop seeing and feeling those same results. This happens because your muscles have adapted to the workout routine.

This is why it’s important to make changes to your workouts from time to time. And in this post, you’re going to get 10 different muscle-building plans and strategies you can start using.

And at the end of the post, I’ll also show you how to use these methods together to create a training routine that will keep your muscles growing.

***Ignite your workouts with my top recommended pre-workout for razor-sharp focus and sustainable muscle energy.

1 – Typical Bodybuilding Routine

Cable Flyes chest squeeze

The typical bodybuilding routine is dedicating a complete workout to each muscle. This also usually means training each muscle once a week.

The reason this strategy works so well is that it allows you to focus on one muscle so that you can exhaust that muscle. Then you give that muscle a full week to recover, which allows that muscle to grow larger.

Train hard + adequate recovery = muscle growth

Here’s an example of a typical bodybuilding workout routine:

  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Back
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Arms
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

You could actually stay on a typical bodybuilding workout routine year-round and just make changes such as adding drop sets, rest-pause sets, changing some of the exercises, or even the exercise order.

You can find more bodybuilding workouts and details in this post: 9 Bodybuilding Workouts for Mass Gains

2 – 10 x 10 Weight Training Method

10 x 10 is exactly what you think. 10 sets of 10 reps.

The goal to increase training volume. The result is increased muscle size. You also become more proficient (and efficient) at those particular exercises, thus becoming stronger.

Since you’ll be doing fewer exercises in your workout it’s best to stick with compound movements. This way you’ll be working more muscles (more ‘bang for your buck’ kind of thing).

Here’s an example of a 10×10 program:

Monday: Chest

  • Bench press: 10 x 10
  • Dumbbell or machine press: 10 x 10

Tuesday: Back

  • Barbell rows: 10 x 10
  • Lat pulldowns: 10 x 10

Wednesday: Legs

  • Squats: 10 x 10
  • Leg extensions: 10 x 10
  • Leg curls: 10 x 10

Thursday: Shoulders

  • Seated barbell press: 10 x 10
  • Lateral raises: 10 x 10

Friday: Arms

  • Standing EZ bar curls: 10 x 10
  • Cable pressdowns: 10 x 10

Saturday and Sunday: Rest

Of course, there are multiple ways you can use the 10 x 10 method. For example, you could mix different muscles together. And we’re going to cover that concept in some of the methods below.

3 – 5 x 5 Strength Training Method

Deadlifts - 415

If your goal is to get stronger and build more muscle size, 5 x 5 is the perfect program. This is one of the most effective strength training methods known.

Like 10 x 10, 5 x 5 is 5 sets of 5 reps. As you probably guess, the key difference here is you’re going to be lifting heavier weights.

The goal with 5 x 5 is to get stronger week after week by adding more weight. This happens through the repetitive sets and getting your muscles used to that heavier weight.

There are basically two workouts in standard 5 x 5 weight training program:

Workout 1:

  • Squats: 5 x 5
  • Bench press: 5 x 5
  • Barbell rows: 5 x 5

Workout 2:

  • Squats 5 x 5
  • Overhead press: 5 x 5
  • Deadlifts: 5 x 5

5 x 5 is typically a 3-day a week program with a rest day between each workout. Since every workout is heavy and you’re putting in more volume, you’ll need that day of rest between workouts.

You can read more about 5 x 5 training in this post: Advanced 5 x 5 Workouts for Muscle and Strength Gains

4 – FST-7 Bodybuilding Method

FST-7 training is based on stretching the muscle fascia. This is done by performing more sets than usual at the end of your workout (seven, to be exact).

The method was created by Hany Rambod, coach and trainer for many Olympia bodybuilding competitors.

The actual workout is similar to the typical bodybuilding workout. Again, you’re just ending with seven sets for your final exercise.

Here’s an example of a chest workout using the FST-7 method:

  • Incline bench press: 4 x 6-8
  • Dumbbell press: 4 x 10
  • Hammer Strength press: 3 x 12
  • Cable flyes: 7 x 10-12

You can get a complete FST-7 bodybuilding program in this post: FST-7 Full Workout Routine for Mass Gains

5 – Agonist-Antagonist Training

Agonist-antagonist training is basically training opposing muscles in the same workout. You already do this when you train legs and also if you train arms on the same day.

What makes this workout method unique is training muscles like chest and back together (on another upper body day you might do shoulders and back together).

This is a great change-up from the typical bodybuilding workout if that’s what you’ve been doing. It’s really going to shock your muscles, especially on those upper body days.

Upper Body Day (chest and back):

  • Bench press: 4 x 8
  • Barbell rows: 4 x 8
  • Incline bench press: 4 x 10
  • Lat pulldowns: 4 x 10

Lower Body Day:

  • Squats: 4 x 8
  • Stiff-leg Deadlifts: 4 x 8
  • Leg extensions: 4 x 10
  • Leg curls: 4 x 10

One quick note on legs: Normally you would train your quads first followed by hamstrings. But with this program you’ll want to alternate quads and hams, as you see in the workout above.

6 – Agonist-Antagonist Superset Training

hammer strength iso-lateral low row - back exercise

If you want to do something completely different in the gym that will challenge you in a way you’ve never been challenged, this is a routine you need to try.

It’s essentially the same as what we just went over is #5. The caveat is the supersets you’ll be doing.

Not only will this ignite both strength gains and new muscle growth, but you’ll also get super conditioned on this program.

Here’s an example of training shoulders and back together (broken down by set):

  • Seated overhead press: 1 x 8 superset with
  • Barbell rows: 1 x 8
  • Rest for 2 minutes then repeat 3 more rounds
  • Arnold press: 1 x 10 superset with
  • Lat pulldowns: 1 x 8
  • Rest for 2 minutes then repeat 3 more rounds

I have a premium program that uses this same method in the 2nd phase (weeks 5-8 of 12). You can learn more about the program here: Lean Muscle Building Program.

7 – Push-Pull-Legs Routine

If there’s one bodybuilding and strength training routine you should do once or twice a year, it’s push-pull-legs. This program will give you the most ridiculous gains.

This is general a 3-day a week program (more advanced lifters may double-down and make this a 6-day a week routine).

Here’s how the push-pull-legs routine works:

  • Push: Chest, shoulders, and triceps
  • Pull: Back and biceps
  • Legs: I think this one’s self-explanatory

Here’s an example of a push-pull-legs routine:

Monday: Push Day

  • Incline bench press: 3 x 8
  • Dumbbell flyes: 3 x10
  • Seated shoulder press: 3x 10
  • Lateral raises: 3 x 12
  • Seated overhead dumbbell extensions: 3 x 10
  • Rope pressdowns: 3 x 12

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Pull Day

  • Barbell rows: 3 x 8
  • Dumbbell rows: 3 x 10
  • Lat pulldowns: 3 x 10
  • Seated rows: 3 x 12
  • Dumbbell Hammer curls: 3 x 10
  • Preacher curls: 3 x 12

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Leg Day

  • Squats: 4 x 8
  • Leg press: 4 x 12
  • Leg extensions: 3 x 12
  • Leg curls: 3 x 12
  • Stiff-leg deadlifts: 3 x 10
  • Seated calve raises: 4 x 15

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest (or start the routine over with a push)

This is one of the 6 phases in my premium mass and strength building program. You can read more about that here: Hardcore Muscle Building Program

8 – Cardio Before Weights Method

Oftentimes cardio is done either after weight training or at another time during the day. In fact, many bodybuilders will train with weights and schedule their cardio session for six hours or more later that day.

But one way to make a change to your routine is to do cardio first. This works great if you’re doing moderate cardio for longer durations such as walking on the treadmill or elliptical at a steady pace for 30 minutes or more.

At a glance this may seem counterproductive for building muscle. . However, you’d be surprised at how quickly your body adapts to this. And doing cardio first may give you even more energy for your weight training workout as your body is warmed up and your blood is flowing.

It’s definitely worth trying this for a few weeks if you feel you’re at a sticking point.

9 – Deload Routine

Alternate dumbbell curls - bw

About once every 90 days it’s good to give your body and your muscles a break. Many will simply take a week or two off from the gym.

But if you don’t want to mess up your gym routine the best thing you can do is a deload routine for that week or two.

Deloading is performing the same workout but cutting it in half in regards to volume and intensity. It means you’re just showing up and going through the motions.

Here’s an example of a deload workout for back and biceps:

  • Barbell rows: 3 x 8 (60% max weight)
  • Lat pulldowns: 2 x 10 (60% max weight)
  • Dumbbell curls: 2 x 8 (60% max weight)

The goal here is to just get a quick pump and go home. This type of workout will allow your body to recover and you may find that you’re stronger once you start back on your normal routine.

**All of my premium programs include a deload routine.

10 – Pre-exhaust Workout

Pre-exhaust means pre-fatiguing your muscles. In laymen’s terms, you’ll start your workout with an isolation exercise before doing a compound exercise (the opposite of any normal workout routine).

This method can work wonders for building and shaping your muscles, leading to extreme definition (as long as your diet is right!).

When you pre-exhaust the muscle it forces that muscle to work harder. When that muscle is pre-fatigued it forces you to concentrate more on that individual muscle to move the weight rather than mindlessly moving weight from point A to B.

And that’s the key to building more muscle and getting a more defined physique.

Here’s an example of a pre-exhaust workout for chest:

  • Pec-dec flyes: 4 x 10-12
  • Incline bench press: 4 x 8
  • Dumbbell press: 3 x 10
  • Incline dumbbell flyes: 3 x 12

You can read more about pre-exhaust training and get a pre-exhaust workout for each muscle in this post: How to Pre-Exhaust Your Muscles (Routines for Each Muscle)

The Ultimate Bodybuilding and Muscle-Building Strategy for You

Now you may be wondering…

  • How often should I change my workouts?
  • How can I use these routines together for max gains?
  • How do I know when my current routine isn’t workout anymore?

Here’s one strategy that you can use:

  • Weeks 1 – 4: Typically Bodybuilding Routine
  • Weeks 5 – 8: 5 x 5 Method
  • Weeks 9 – 12: FST-7 Method
  • Weeks 13 – 14: Deload Workouts

Or even better, you can make subtle changes to your program every 2-3 weeks. In fact, that’s what my Hardcore Muscle Building Program is based on.

The goal is to keep your core mass-building exercises in your program. The changes you make will be to the other exercises along with adding new methods every couple of weeks. This strategy constantly shocks your muscles giving you continuous growth.

Lastly, it’s also a good idea to know when to shift your training goals. For example, you may be building mass now. but 10-12 weeks from now you’ll want to start leaning out.

The two programs I recommend for this (both are 90-day programs) are:

Hardcore Muscle Building Program
Lean Muscle Building Program

Check those out and continue making gains. Training is a ‘huge’ part of your life and part of who you are!

Train with Passion,

Jason

About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!