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Exercise & Training, Fitness

A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine to Increase Strength

Written by Adam Evans
BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.
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Building muscle is, of course, great for helping you look better and feel better about your appearance. But, beyond that, it can help you stabilize your joints, experience less daily aches and pains, and be more active overall.  This article explores all aspects of a good muscle building workout that will help you in your endeavors and will get you into a routine that works for you.

What’s Included in a Muscle Building Workout?

Generally speaking, any muscle building workout program should consider both high repetition training for hypertrophy and low repetition for strength training.

Hypertrophy is an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells. Two factors contribute to hypertrophy:

  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy[1], which focuses more on increased muscle glycogen storage
  • Myofibrillar hypertrophy[2], which focuses more on increased myofibril size

For strength training, it generally means the strengthening of the C.N.S. (Central Nervous System), which occurs while working out in a lower rep range with a higher amount of weight—increased physical exertion by way of maximum force production.

Our goal is to build larger muscles but to support them with a foundation of strength. You can achieve this by implementing a simple workout routine, which I’ll describe below, or a more complex training program.


Getting Started

Developing muscle heavily revolves around pumping blood and oxygen into the muscles. In fact, that’s where the popular term “getting a pump” is derived from.

Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, which oxygen bonds with as the hemoglobin rich blood cells move through the lungs’ blood vessels. The now oxygen-rich blood cells carry that oxygen to the cells that are demanding it—the skeletal muscle cells.

If you are a beginner to a muscle building workout, then it’s actually very effective to apply a Whole-Body Split routine, whereby you are literally working out all muscle groups each day for at least 3-5 days per week. This approach is effective for newbies because you have not developed any muscular hypertrophy, and your body will respond quite well to full body routines before you hit a plateau.

An effective muscle building workout routine should include at least 3 days of training per week, and ideally 4 or more days.

A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine

Below is an outline for the basic structure of a 3-day per week bodybuilding/muscle building workout plan. This is merely to give an example of a training “split,” which I recommend for optimal muscle development and planned recovery time.

Feel free to adjust the days on which your workout lands; as long as you are hitting a four day a week minimum and giving adequate time for rest periods for each body part, you’ll see results!


If you feel like you need to build up your cardio a bit before tackling a muscle building workout, check out Lifehack’s Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

Monday (Push/Pull – Chest & Back)

  • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
Weight Training / Resistance Training (30-45 minutes)
  • Push-ups
  • Weighted or normal pull-ups
  • Bench press
  • Dumbbell press
  • Bent over rows
  • Cable machine chest fly
  • Lat pull-downs
  • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)


  • Rest

Wednesday (Lower Body – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

  • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
Weight Training / Resistance Training (30-45 minutes)
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Leg press
  • Calf raises
  • Sled pushing
  • Plyometrics, such as box jumps
  • Lat pull-downs
  • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)


  • Rest

Friday (Upper Body – Arms, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps)

  • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
Weight Training / Resistance Training (20-30 minutes)
  • Shoulder raises
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Overhead pressing, including Arnold shoulder press
  • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)

Saturday / Sunday

Active Recovery Cardio
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Jogging

Stress, Sleep, and Building Muscle

One of the biggest deterrents from building muscle is stress in the body. No matter which muscle building workout you jump into, if your life is filled with stress, you’ll find building muscle to be quite challenging.

Stress can completely diminish your efforts of building muscle by way of causing adrenal fatigue, which is a taxing of the adrenal glands, forcing them to overproduce or under-produce cortisol, the stress hormone, at the wrong times.


Stress will also impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which is when you are building the most muscle[3], specifically during the 5th stage of the sleep cycle—REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Deep Sleep.

Effective methods to reduce stress include being in nature, meditation, regular exercise, and the dietary removal of simple sugars and carbs, which can increase inflammation, cause joint discomfort, and generally make you feel lethargic.

The Importance of Diet in a Muscle Building Workout

If you are not consuming adequate macro nutrients (protein, carbs, fats) and micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals), any effort you make towards building muscle will be mostly wasted.

A Quality, High-Protein Diet

To effectively build muscle, you absolutely must support any muscle building routines with a quality, high-protein diet. If you think drinking protein shakes is enough, let me explain that synthetic protein holds no comparison to that of high-quality, food-based protein

The branched chain amino acid complex from a steak or chicken breast far surpasses that of any protein powder. The only time you should consider protein supplements is if they are to support an already established, well-rounded diet. Those powders should be compounded from hemp, pea protein, or even grasshopper protein, all of which I suggest above any whey/isolate proteins.


Minerals and Supplements

Along with structured dieting during a muscle building workout, you must consume lots of water to reap the benefits of your training efforts, and I also suggest supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate and unflavored BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid), which are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine.

Utilizing BCAA powder will help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, the metabolic process that takes place when your body creates new muscle protein. BCAA will also help reduce the rate of protein breakdown by reducing activity in the protein breakdown pathway, and decreasing the expression of complexes involved in protein breakdown (reducing the amount of mRNA).[4]

The Bottom Line

Building muscle requires dedication and commitment, and there are simply no shortcuts. The above muscle building workout will help anyone get started, and keep in mind that this can be adjusted to fit into the days when you have time to squeeze in a workout. Use it as a base, and tweak it to fit your goals and lifestyle.

More on Building Muscle

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com


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