Workout Plan for Gaining Muscle Mass

Without a well-structured bulking program you will gain only fat but not muscleWithout a well-structured bulking program you will gain only fat but not muscle


Follow the Rules

If you study the information on bodybuilding, you will see that the main topic of discussion among the athletes (both beginners and advanced) is increasing muscle mass. People are searching for the most effective and fastest ways to build muscle. And, by the way, it is hardly surprising. Working out big muscles and making them sculpted and defined is a matter of technique.

There is not much really useful information on bulking in the virtual space. Most articles describe general facts that most of us already know.

In this article we will tell you how to do it properly, and provide the detailed workout plan to help you achieve success in the shortest time.

Warm Up

Before you start your bulk-building workout that includes both basic and hard exercises, you need to warm up your ligaments and joints to prepare them for the physical activity. For this purpose, you should better use a treadmill. Ten minutes on the treadmill at an easy pace can prepare your body for the strength training. The next stage of your warm-up is stretching. Before you perform this exercise, identify your trouble zones: shoulders, elbows, and so forth. You should focus on them.

Prior to a working set you should perform one or two warm up sets with the light weights. It is easy to define your light weights: these are about forty-fifty percent of your target working weights. The warm up sets encourage your body and increase body awareness for the specific exercise.

How Long Should Your Workout Last?

Too long workouts at the gym are not sustainable. If you want to gain muscle mass, your training session should last approximately one hour. Every athlete should remember the main rule – "The intensity of training is more important than its duration".

After training you should take a short break and warm up your joints and muscles. Swimming at the pool is the best option.

Focus on your workout and limit distractions during training. Unfortunately, it is rather common to see someone talking on the phone, or playing video games in the gym. Only a few people are really working out – hence, there is no progress in muscle building.

Remember that if you are going to gain muscle mass, you should focus on your main goal and exercise without distraction.

Training to Failure

The key to success is a strict work till the last repetition. The last reps you complete by overcoming the body resistance and severe muscular pain are the most productive. This is what makes the muscle grow.

How Many Times a Week Should You Go to the Gym?

What is the process of muscle growth? The athlete consciously damages the muscular tissue (there is no need to worry – these injuries are absolutely safe). An intense workout can create micro tears in the muscles, and the body tries to repair them. The repaired muscle gets bigger. The body needs a few days to heal the micro tears, therefore, every day workouts are strictly contraindicated.

In this regard, if you want to gain muscle mass, you should train three times a week using a split routine. You can choose between two options:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

Allow your body time to recover – have at least one day of rest between workouts. Usually bodybuilders divide all the muscles into several groups: biceps, back, chest, legs, shoulders, and triceps. You should work specific muscle groups during each training session.

Effective Workout Routine

Monday: Chest, Abs & Triceps

Incline Bench Press with the head upIncline Bench Press with the head up

  • You should begin with the abs. Perform five sets of any abdominal exercise. You can do Crunches, Hanging Leg Raises, or other exercises. The number of repetitions depends on the complexity of the chosen exercise, but the last reps should be difficult and cause a burning sensation in the abdominal region.
  • Lie down on a flat bench, and start doing Barbell Bench Press. You should perform four sets of eight to twelve reps. The exercise targets the chest muscles and helps you build a massive chest.
  • Start by lying flat on a horizontal bench. Perform the Dumbbell Fly exercise: lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest and then return them back up. Do four sets of twelve reps. The exercise increases the size of your muscles making them more sculpted and defined.
  • The next exercise is the Incline Bench Press with the head up. You should perform four sets of twelve reps. Prior to this exercise, you need to warm up your shoulders to reduce the risk of injury. This exercise works your upper chest.
  • Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press – this exercise targets your triceps. Do four sets of twelve repetitions.
  • The last stage – perform four sets of Parallel Bar Dips. Do as many dips as you can. This exercise is highly effective for muscle building: it works your triceps and engages your shoulders as well.

So, the Monday workout has allowed you to train your chest muscles and improve their shape. Your triceps are fully worked out. The training session is hard, and you need some rest after exercise. Swimming at the pool is a good option.

Wednesday: Biceps & Back

  1. Perform five sets of your favorite abdominal exercise, and then do some warm-up exercises;
  2. Classic exercise – the famous Deadlift (if you have back pain, you can replace it with hyperextension). First, do two warm up sets, then three sets of twelve reps. Before the exercise you should warm up your back, especially its lower area. Deadlift is highly effective not only for the back, but also for all the muscles of the body. During this exercise the athlete’s body develops an incredible amount of testosterone necessary for the muscle growth. It requires the maximum tension and concentration;
  3. Wide-Grip Pull-Ups: perform five sets doing as many reps as you can. If you cannot do pull-ups, you can use the so-called pull-up simulator, or the block exercise machine for chest pull. Pull-ups themselves are an excellent basic exercise for the back muscles – it is more effective than any exercise machine;
  4. Incline Dumbbell Row: perform four sets of twelve reps. The exercise is highly effective for the back, and it helps define almost every muscle;
  5. Standing Barbell Curl targets the biceps. Do four sets of twelve raises. There is no doubt that it is the best exercise for the biceps;
  6. Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curl. This exercise targets the biceps and helps increase the biceps peak. You should do 3–4 sets of 10–12 reps each arm.
As a result, on Wednesday you managed to activate the mechanism of muscle growth and work the back muscles. Besides, you have pumped up your biceps in the most effective manner. You can have a rest by doing stretching and loosening exercises.

Friday: Legs & Shoulders

Barbell SquatsBarbell Squats

  • Begin with the Overhead Dumbbell Press. The exercise is performed in a sitting position by doing four sets of twelve repetitions. Before working out you should warm up your shoulder joints properly.
  • Perform Dumbbell Front Raises lifting your arms straight in front of you. This exercise targets your anterior (front) deltoids. You should complete 3–4 sets of 10–15 reps.
  • Incline Rear Deltoid Raise will help increase your shoulders visually. Take the light weights in order not to injure your shoulder joints. Two or three sets of 12–15 reps will be enough.
  • The hardest part is leg training – Barbell Squats. The standard number of sets and reps is 4/10–12. This exercise is very difficult because it requires a perfect technique and concentration. Before you start, you need to warm up your knee joints, lower back, and ankles.
  • The last exercise is Seated Calf Raises. The exercise is easy, and it can be done before squats. 3–4 sets of 12–15 reps are enough.
The result of your Friday training session is an excellent work to build your leg and shoulder muscles. Perform some loosening and stretching exercises, and have a rest.

On Friday you finish your muscle building workouts till Monday. You should follow the three-day program for two or three months, then you need to change it, in order for your body not to get used to the load.

The Keys to Muscle Building Success

On the bulking phase you should eat multiple and abundant meals 5–6 times a day. In this case, the digestive system is not overloaded, and the nutrients reach the blood and muscles regularly in equal amounts. The traditional diet of three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) will not increase your muscle mass but promote formation of fat deposits. Further, if you maintain a high-calorie diet, it will be impossible to get rid of unwanted body fat.

Your everyday high-calorie diet should consist of 70% of calorie-dense foods and 30% of low-calorie foods. The ratio helps absorb the useful substances better and avoid digestive discomfort. The vegetable cellulose that is contained in low-calorie vegetables and fruits stimulates the intestinal peristalsis and complicates the digestion of high-calorie foods. However, you should not completely refuse vegetables and fruits – just limit their intake to less than 30%.

You should split the total amount of the foods consumed per day into equal portions for each meal. Till 16:00 you need to digest nearly 70% of the foods provided by your diet. Do not eat high-fat and sweet foods at night. Your evening meal should consist of high-protein and easily digestible foods. Salads, eggs, fish, vegetables (including beans), and dairy products are good options for your dinner.

Decrease your intake of high-fat foods (fatty meat, butter, margarine, sausages, and so on) while keeping high-calorie diet. If the body has the corresponding amount of carbohydrates for building muscle tissue, the excess dietary fat is stored in adipocytes, fat cells.

Also, you should limit the consumption of fast-digesting carbohydrates (confectionery and pastry products, sweet fruits). They increase blood sugar levels quickly, and the body has to convert glucose to fat to decrease the sugar level. It reduces the efficiency of the diet.

Nevertheless, you can eat such products, but only after your workouts. At this time there is glucose deficiency in the muscles and organs, and the body can absorb large amounts of glucose because of the increased secretion (production) of insulin.

The nutrient ratio: carbohydrates – 50-60%, protein – 30-35%, fats – 10-20%. To gain muscle, you need to consume as many slow-digesting carbs as possible, and decrease your intake of fast-digesting carbs. Also, you should not reduce your fat intake to less than 10%. It can provoke undesirable changes in metabolism. You should include only plant-based fats into your diet. You can eat fatty fish without restrictions.

These percentages are not absolute for each person. Therefore, you should select the nutrient percentage that would be ideal for you to achieve your goals.

Also, do not forget about water intake. Any process in your body requires certain amount of water. The high-calorie diet and muscle growth boost the metabolism in the body systems and tissues. It inevitably leads to the sharp increase in water usage. Under such circumstances, you should increase your total water intake to 3 liters a day to avoid dehydration.

You can combine high-calorie diet with supplementation. Using sports supplements helps accelerate the muscle growth and replenish the essential micronutrients necessary for your body to cope with the constantly increasing loads.

Drink protein shakes between meals, before bedtime, immediately after waking up, and after your workout. If you use a gainer instead of whey protein, you should take it only after workouts.

Bodybuilders need a special vitamin and mineral complex to make up for fruit and greens deficiency in their diet. Creatine is used only after training. It is better absorbed by the muscle tissue in combination with gainer, sweet juice, or protein shake.

Speed Up the Process

The table below will help you take your supplements properly on the bulking phase:

Supplement intake schedule for muscle building


Immediately after waking up (30 minutes before breakfast)



30–40 minutes before a workout

Immediately after a workout

Before bedtime


1 serving (22g)



1 serving (22g)


1–2 servings of casein (44g)






1 serving











1 serving





Pre-workout supplement




1–2 servings















5g (if no gainer included)




1 serving

1 serving




When to Expect the First Results?

The muscle growth occurs when the amount of total energy required for all vital processes exceeds the amount of energy obtained from food. However, considering the natural body’s capacity to homeostasis (self-regulation in response to external factors), you should increase your caloric intake by 50 or even 100%. Experience shows that an increase in caloric intake by 10 or 30% is inefficient in most cases.

You should increase your daily caloric intake gradually until you gain 700 g per week. It is possible to gain 4–5 kg within a month of intensive training.


It should be noted that year after year it will be harder to gain muscle mass. If you are at the very beginning of this way and really want to achieve good results, you should follow all the above principles: a well-balanced diet, optimal training program, strict discipline. This is the only way that can help you build a beautiful physique and maintain the result for a long time.

Shesternenko Alexander
Fitness trainer, group instructor, dietitian
  • Counsels and educates on proper nutrition principles, body weight correction, and adjustment of individual diets and diets during pregnancy;
  • Develops meal plans that meet nutrition goals and dietary needs for obese and underweight people;
  • Specializes in modern functional testing techniques in sports, athletic recovery, sports supplementation, pharmacological support, and actual women's problems in sports;
  • On the website, provides analysis of different dietary schemes, reviews modern training techniques and effective exercises.


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