Workout Routines to Build Muscle

People get involved in a fitness routine for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes they are trying to lose weight, sometimes they are trying to improve their overall health, and some are trying to improve their general appearance and give themselves a sleeker, stronger look. Whatever your initial interest, most people who get involved with working with weights end up wanting to do more and go bigger. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or you’ve been lifting weights and doing strength exercises for a while, there is a proven method of building muscle that works for every level of expertise.

The Upper/Lower Split

The general consensus among fitness experts is that whether you are looking to make a difference quickly or build over an extended period of time, you should adhere to what is known as an upper/lower split; what this means is that you split the muscle workload over the course of the week between upper body and lower body work. An effective upper/lower split allows you to work each body part twice during the week, while still providing adequate time for rest and recovery. The reason for allowing at least a few days between workouts for each muscle group is that when you work a muscle, you create micro-tears in the tissue; as the muscle heals itself it gets bigger, and this is how muscles get built up.

Man lifting weights

Workout Routine

The muscles that you will be working and building for your upper body are your chest, shoulders, back, biceps and triceps, while the lower body exercises will work your abs, calves, hamstrings and quadriceps. The most effective and convenient way to work all of these muscles and allow for recovery is to work out your upper body on Monday and lower body on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, repeat the rotation on Thursday and Friday, and then rest on the weekend. Alternatively you can do a two-week rotation where you do upper body on Monday, rest on Tuesday, work your lower body on Wednesday and rest on Thursday, then work your upper body again on Friday. After taking off the weekend, you can repeat the rotation again, but start with lower body on Monday. The Monday Tuesday/Thursday Friday option will provide you with faster results.

Whether you opt for the first or second option, there are two separate days for upper body and two separate days for lower body, and each day’s workout is different in order to maximize the compound and isolation exercises and the way that they work together. The number of reps and the amount of rest time is specifically designed to maximize muscle growth, as is the order of the exercises, which goes from the most difficult exercise to the easiest.

Upper Body

The first upper body workout starts with a bench press followed by rows; you should do three sets of six reps each, followed by two to three minutes of rest. After completing your third set of rows, move on to an incline dumbbell press followed by lateral pulldowns; do three sets of ten each, followed by no more than two minutes of rest. Finally, you will finish with three different exercises – the lateral raise, the triceps press down and dumbbell curl, all done in two sets of twelve reps with just a minute or two of rest.

The second upper body workout consists of seven total exercises. Start with three sets of six pull-ups, with two minutes of rest between each set. The next three exercises should each be done as a set of ten reps, with just a minute or two of rest between; the exercises are the barbell shoulder press, the dumbbell bench press, and dumbbell flyers. Finally, finish the final two exercises with two sets of ten reps and a minute or two of rest between; the exercises are barbell curls and skull crushers.

Lower Body


For the lower body workout, the first muscle-building workout starts with three sets of 6 to eight reps of the Romanian deadlift with two minutes of rest between. Follow this with 3 sets of leg presses, ten reps each and 1 minute of rest between. Move on to 3 sets of seated leg curls, ten reps with 1 minute of rest between, and then standing calf raises; four sets of six reps each, with a minute or two of rest between. Finish with your favorite ab exercise, as may sets as you can stand with reps between eight and fifteen each, with just a minute of rest between.

The second lower body workout finishes with the same ab workout, but the four exercises that precede them start with three sets of 6-8 squats, with three minutes of rest between. Move on to the same numbers of split squats, but with only two minutes of rest between, and then to three sets of ten laying leg curls with just a minute or two of rest in between. Follow this with seated calf raises; four sets of ten reps each, with just a minute of rest between.

As you begin doing this workout, choose a weight that challenges you but is not impossible – your goal is to exhaust the muscle to the point where the last set of reps feels impossible, and you struggle to finish. Make sure you keep the weight the same for each rep, and once you are able to get through all of your reps with relative ease, it is time to bump your weight up by the smallest possible increment. Sticking to this routine and allowing yourself the appropriate rest will allow you to build muscle steadily.