Because there are literally thousands if not millions of different workout routines on the internet I would like to describe what are the most common types of muscle building programs. You’ll find out which ones are the best and what to look for when you choose the workout for yourself.
Any good bodybuilding coach will start any beginner from full body workout for a first few weeks or even months. After initial program which is nearly identical to all beginners their workout has to be changed.
Types of muscle building workout routines
We can divide muscle building workout routines into few categories. It makes far easier to understand the mechanisms behind them and realize what we are really looking for. And therefore we have 5 different types of workouts:
1. Full Body Workouts
Full body workout is usually performed by beginners and by people who had a break in weight lifting, but not only by them. These types of workout routines were very popular among old time bodybuilders and actually are still quite effective. Their downside is that they take much time at the gym and it’s not possible to perform more than 3-5 sets for each body part. However using the progression principle (adding weight each training) we are still able to build solid amount of muscle mass. Their advantage is that you can hit each body part 3 times a week. Example:
- Full Body Workout;
- Full Body Workout;
- Full Body Workout.
Full body workout has many variations. You can do the same exercises every other day and focus on adding weight or choose different movements in each training day. These types of workouts are often used by strength athletes. They often do only 3 exercises daily (squat, bench, deadlift) and repeat them over and over for months.
Full body workouts can be done 3 or 2 days a week but are recommended also for anybody who doesn’t have too much time to train and is able to work out only 1 day a week for example. With a constant progress you still can have good gains. At the moment we have only one Full Body Workout for Beginners however any more advanced athlete can use it as well – just use more weight, lower number of reps (12-6) and add one more set for each exercise (3-4).
2. Body Part Splits
Body part splits are the most common used bodybuilding workouts. Basically we split our body into parts and train each part different day. For example:
- Chest, Biceps, Lower Back;
- Legs, Shoulders, Traps;
- Back, Triceps, Abs.
There are really thousands different body part splits. We can divide whole body in many ways however usually we split it into 3 or 4 parts and therefore train 3 or 4 days a week. This is the most common way and that’s how often we recommend to train. Good example of this type of routine is our Beginner Split. Don’t be discouraged by its name. It’s called beginner but any intermediate lifter can use it as well by adjusting weight accordingly to his requirements. It’s very effective workout.
3. Upper – Lower Body Workouts
Another type of muscle building routine is Upper – Lower Body Workout. This time we divide our body into half: upper and lower part. We train them in separate days – usually twice a week each (4 days). Example:
Monday (upper body):
- Chest, Shoulders, Back, Arms;
Tuesday (lower body):
- Legs, Calves, Abs, Lower Back;
Thursday (upper again):
- Chest, Shoulders, Back, Arms;
Friday (lower body repeat):
- Legs, Calves, Abs, Lower Back.
Upper/Lower split is extremely effective for natural lifters. It allows us to hit each body part twice a week with high intensity (heavy weight) and small volume (only few sets for each body part). You can try our version of Upper – Lower Body Workout. It’s highly recommended.
4. Push – Pull – Legs Workouts
In PPL workout we divide our muscles depending from their function. In day one we train muscles responsible for pushing action. In day two we do pulling exercises. Day 3 we simply train legs. This is how it looks in practice:
- Chest, Shoulder, Triceps;
- Back, Biceps;
- Legs, Abs.
This way our whole body is also trained equally. This routine is very effective as well. As you can see it’s usually performed 3 days a week what gives us plenty time for rest and recovery.
We have prepared our version of Push – Pull – Legs Workout however it isn’t recommended for beginners. Training biceps with back and triceps with chest on the same session would be far too much for them.
5. Exercise Day Splits
In the last general type of workout routines we perform main compound exercise of each muscle group different day along with one or two additional exercises. Example:
Monday (Bench Day)
- Bench Press + additional exercises;
Tuesday (Deadlift Day):
- Deadlift + few back exercises;
Thursday (Squat Day):
- Squat + additional leg exercises;
Friday (Military Press Day):
- Military Press + few extra movements for shoulders;
This workout is quiet similar to body part split however we focus more particular movements (main compound exercises) rather than ‘blasting’ each body part. Biceps is usually trained on a deadlift day and triceps along with bench press.
This routine can serve us not only to build muscle but also to increase strength on the most important lifts. Our version of exercise day split is called TheBig4 Workout and you are very welcome to try it out yourself, for free.
So generally there are really 5 main types of muscle building workout routines:
- Full Body – for example Beginner Full Body Workout,
- Body Part – Beginner Split;
- Upper/Lower – Upper – Lower Body Workout;
- Push/Pull – PPL Workout;
- Exercise Day – The Big4 Workout.
Believe me or not but full body routines are very effective for natural athletes, maybe even the best. Most of old time bodybuilders used them for years, especially at the beginning of their careers. This is how they gained solid base of strength and muscles for the rest of their lives. It happens that FBW are back ‘in fashion’ now and are used by many modern natural bodybuilders. However lower repetition range is preferred with heavy weight (power or strength style) over high volume and high reps (pumping type of training).
Three bottom ones work probably the best in the long run. Body part splits are used the most, especially by professional bodybuilders but they are not the most effective for natural lifters who passed the beginning stage of training. Rest of programs out there is really their modification and there are probably thousands if not millions of them.
Which workout you choose is really up to you. They are all very effective as long as you stick to the chosen one and to the proper nutrition. I recommend you to try each of them (one after another) with a short break in-between for some strength training. Natural bodybuilders (athletes not using anabolic steroids) have to mix up their muscle building cycle (moderate weight and high repetitions) with strength training (heavy weight and low reps) to continue making progress. If you train whole year with the same weights you will look the same for the whole year doesn’t matter what routine you use.