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The Perfect Workout Routine for Hypertrophy and Strength Gains

December 9, 2020

workout for hypertrophy and strength gains

Training for lean muscle size and training for strength has been known to conflict with one another. Each requires a different approach, right?

There’s some truth to that if you’re competing at a high-level. In other words…

  • If you’re a powerlifter you should focus on strength.
  • If you’re a bodybuilder, your goal is building lean muscle mass, hypertrophy.

Right?

But what about those of us who aren’t professional powerlifters or bodybuilders and want the best of both worlds?

In this post, I’m going to share what I consider to be the perfect workout routine for hypertrophy and strength gains.

You’re also going to learn the strategies that you can start using in your next workout to get stronger while building visible muscle size. On that note, you will probably want to hit the gym as soon as you finish reading this, so get your pre-workout ready!

Before we get into your workouts, let’s first go over the core principles of each goal.

Principles for Building Muscle Size

Cable Flyes chest

Building muscle size is all about breaking down the muscle so that it can recover and grow (the recovery part is based on your nutrition and rest, and we’ll get into that later).

When it comes to training, there are three core elements you want in each workout muscle growth:

  1. Forcing your muscles to work harder
  2. Increased time under tension
  3. Exhausting the muscle

Forcing your muscles to work harder translates into making a particular weight feel heavier than it is. And this is the main contrast between training for muscle gains versus strength gains.

Next, your muscles need time under tension to grow. Forcing your muscles to work harder will naturally increase this time, as your reps will be more controlled than that of a powerlifter. The higher rep ranges will also increase time under tension.

Lastly, you want to train to the point where your muscles are broken down enough so that they can repair and new muscle tissue can be produced. This essentially means bigger muscles.

There will be some methods to help with all of this in your workouts. But before we get to that, let’s talk about getting stronger

Principles for Strength Gains

deadlifts low reps

Strength gains come from your muscles adapting to a certain weight to the point where they can support the lift. This is the point where you increase the weight a little more.

In theory, your muscles will eventually adapt to that heavier weight, and so on.

Below are two concepts to follow for getting stronger:

  1. Progressive overload
  2. Muscle adaption

This is extremely high-level. Michael Tuchscherer goes deeper into the principles of strength gains in his article: The Seven Principles and You

In short, if you lift the same amount of weight every workout, you’re not going to get stronger. You have to progressively overload your muscles for them to get stronger.

In short…

  • Your muscles adapt to a certain weight.
  • Once this happens, you can increase the weight in small increments to allow your muscles to eventually adapt to the new, heavier weight.

This requires a strategy of lifting maximum loads for compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.). Sure, you’ll do some work for smaller muscles but that work is only done to support the main lifts, not for show (muscle size). So your approach here is different than going for mass.

Now I’ll show you how to combine hypertrophy and strength training…

Workout Plan for Hypertrophy and Strength

Dumbbell rows - back exercises

Let’s dig into your workouts for making gains in both muscle and strength. This will be a 5-day training split and you’ll train each muscle once per week (with the exception of the lower body, as you’ll be doing a lower-body compound lift at the end of the week).

Important Note: As I mentioned in the beginning, this routine is mainly for recreational lifters, like myself, who want to gain quality muscle size and strength. If you’re competing in bodybuilding or powerlifting, I would encourage you to stop reading this and read one of these posts instead:

Training Split

Here’s an example of how you can split up your workouts:

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

You can rearrange your workout days to fit your schedule. For example, you may rather train on weekends and take your rest days during the week. Or you may want to take a rest day in the middle of the week, like Wednesday, and training once over the weekend.

Workout 1 – Chest

ExerciseSets x Reps
Bench Press4 x 6, 1 x 2-3
Incline Press4 x 8
Decline Bench Press*3 x 10
Dumbbell Pullovers3 x 12
Cable Flyes**3 x 15

*drop set on the final set
**rest-pause set on the final set
You can read more about methods to increase intensity here

Workout 2 – Legs

ExerciseSets x Reps
Squats4 x 6, 1 x 2-3
Stiff-leg Deadlifts4 x 10
Leg Press4 x 15
Leg Extensions*4 x 15
Leg Curls (any machine)*4 x 15
Calve Raises (any angle)**7 x 15

*drop set on the final set
**rest-pause set on the final set

Workout 3 – Back

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Rows4 x 6, 1 x 2-3
Dumbbell Rows4 x 8
Seated Rows*3 x 10
Lat Pulldowns*3 x 12
Cable Pullovers**3 x 15

*drop set on the final set
**rest-pause set on the final set

Workout 4 – Shoulders

ExerciseSets x Reps
Seated Overhead Press4 x 6-8
Arnold Press4 x 8
Lateral Raises*3 x 10
Bent-over Raises*3 x 12
Dumbbell Shrugs**3 x 15

*drop set on the final set
**rest-pause set on the final set

Workout 5 – Deadlifts and Arms

ExerciseSets x Reps
Deadlifts5 x 8, 5, 3, 2, 1
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions3 x 10
Rope Pressdowns*3 x 10
EZ Bar Curls3 x 12
Dumbbell Hammer Curls*3 x 12

*drop set on the final set

Recovery for Muscle Growth

Combining the goals of hypertrophy and strength is tough and this requires much more than just your time in the gym. You need a solid recovery strategy so that you can grow. And this is where nutrition and rest come in.

Eating for Lean Muscle Mass and Strength

steak for mass building

I’m going to put this as plain and simple as possible. There are 3 things to AVOID when training for both hypertrophy and strength:

  • Restricting calories
  • Substantially cutting any particular macronutrient (because you need them all)
  • Going on any trendy or fad meal plan

The bottom line is you need protein, you need carbohydrates, and you need fats in your diet. And you should be getting some of each in every meal.

I’m going to give you an example of a couple of meals and you can use these examples as a template to create your own meal plan.

Pre-Post Workout Meal:

  • 1-2 scoops of whey protein
  • 6-8 oz of almond milk
  • 1 serving of frozen dark berries
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 serving of natural peanut butter

*You can also add a serving of creatine monohydrate and glutamine to this shake!

Whole Food Meal:

  • 6-8 oz of sirloin, chicken, or fish (cooked in olive oil)
  • 1-2 servings of brown rice
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 serving of leafy green vegetables

Again, those are just examples.

If you want more meal plans and ideas, check out my posts:

Getting Plenty of Rest for Recovery

Without quality sleep, you simply won’t grow. Sleep is when your muscles and body are recovering. This is also when your growth hormone and testosterone levels are optimized. So it’s crucial to get your body into a deep, restful state at bedtime.

Here are a few practical ways to get better sleep (you can do just one of these):

  • Drink caffeine-free herbal tea before bed (like Sleepy Time tea…love that stuff!)
  • Take glutamine before bed
  • Take ZMA before bed (this is a zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 formula)

You can also do some light yoga and watch or read something entertaining before bed. Don’t get involved in anything that’s going to get you hyped up or wired, or put you in a negative state of mind. You want to be relaxed.

I mentioned how deep sleep can help optimize hormones. If you’d like to learn more about increasing testosterone, read my blog posts below:

It’s All About Making Gains

You don’t want to be all show but no-go (big, but can’t squat 185). You also don’t want to be strong but not even look like you workout.

No, you want it all. Size, strength, visible muscle, striations, a good squat, and deadlift. You want ripped muscle mass and strength.

I think you’ll find that this workout routine for hypertrophy and strength gains is perfect to get the best of both worlds. It’s also a routine that you’ll never get bored with.

One of the most exciting things about this routine is mixing up the heavy low reps with the pump from those higher reps. This is the main factor in progressing with both strength and muscle gains.

**For my elite programs, make sure you check my shop.

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!