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Bodybuilding Workouts: From Beginner To Advanced

Updated on June 27, 2015
which bodybuilding workout is right for you?
which bodybuilding workout is right for you? | Source

Bodybuilding Workouts

So you’ve decided to hit the gym and gain some muscle. Or maybe you’ve been training for a while but need some guidance as to the best way to train to maximize your results. Either way, here are four tried and proven bodybuilding workouts that will take you from beginner all the way to advanced bodybuilder…

For Beginners and Early Intermediates – The Full Body Workout

If you are just starting out or have not been training for very long you will make the most progress in the fastest time by working your entire body three times per week.

This is not as hard as it sounds as you can work all your major muscles with just three movements – a squat or a deadlift variation together with an upper body push and an upper body pull. This is all you will need when you are just starting out, but later you can add in some direct arm work at the end of your workouts if you wish.

You should not do the same workout each time you train though as this will soon lead to recovery issues, so alternate two different full body workouts over your three weekly sessions. And later on you could even do three different workouts if you wish.

For more information on this type of training see my article on the full body workout.

For Intermediates – The Upper/Lower Split

When you have been training a couple of years or so you will probably find you’ll make better progress by splitting your body up a bit. However a basic upper/lower split is all that most people need in order to get the best results.

If you try to train all of your upper body on the same day however it will end up being longer than your lower body workout, so you could add biceps (or full arm training if you wish) to your lower body day.

With an upper/lower split you can either train three days per week, alternating two different workouts, or four days per week, using two different workouts for upper body and two different workouts for lower body.

An example of the later type of routine is as follows:

Monday – Upper Body

Bench Press: 3 X 5 – 8

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 X 6 – 8

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Rope Pressdowns: 3 X 6 – 8

Wednesday – Lower Body + Biceps

Squats 3 X 6 – 8

Back Extensions: 2 X 10 – 12

Leg Press Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Barbell Curl 3 X 6 – 8

Friday – Upper Body

Overhead Press: 3 X 5 – 8

Pull-Ups: 3 X 6 – 8

Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Parallel Bar Dips: 2 X 10 – 12

Saturday – Lower Body + Biceps

Deadlifts: 2 X 5 – 7

Split Squats: 2 X 10 – 12

Seated Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Supinating Dumbbell Curl 3 X 8 – 10

You’ll need to do a couple of warm-up sets before the work sets listed in order to properly prepare your body for the heavier work. And increase the weights you are using a little when you reach the top end of the recommended rep range for all your sets.

Learn more about effective bodybuilding workouts and principles with this excellent book by Robert Kennedy

For Late Intermediates And Advanced – The Legs/Push/Pull Workout

Here you train your legs (thighs and calves) one day, your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders and triceps) on your next session, and your pulling muscles (back and biceps) on your third session. With this program you can either train three days per week (so each body part is being trained just once per week), or four days per week, alternating the workouts. The later method will give you faster progress as you’ll be training each body part more often, yet due to the structure of the workouts you’ll still have plenty of time for recovery.

An example of this type of workout routine is as follows:

Day 1 – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves

Squats: 3 X 6 – 8

Split Squats: 2 X 8 – 10

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 2 X 8 – 10

Leg Curls: 2 X 6 – 8

Leg Press Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Seated Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Day 2 – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Bench Press: 3 X 5 – 8

Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Cable Crossovers: 3 X 8 – 10

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3 X 8 – 10

Rope Pressdowns: 3 X 6 – 8

One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension: 3 X 6 – 8

Day 3 – Back, Biceps

Deadlifts: 2 X 5 – 7

Pull-Ups: 3 X 6 – 8

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 X 6 – 8

Close Neutral Grip Pulldowns: 3 X 6 – 8

Face Pulls: 2 X 8 – 10

Barbell Curl 3 X 6 – 8

Supinating Dumbbell Curl 3 X 8 – 10

Remember to do your warm-up sets first, and increase the weights a little when you can do all your sets for the recommended top number of reps. You may not need to do warm-ups for every exercise however, as once you have done for example your bench presses your chest will be well warmed up so you will not need warm-up sets for your incline dumbbell presses. The same applies for your other body parts as well.

And although you should be looking to increase your weights on a regular basis, you will sometimes encounter a plateau; that is a time when your progress comes to a halt. To rectify this you will need to de-load, i.e. reduce your weights by about 10% and build back up again.

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For Advanced Bodybuilders – The Four Way Split

Here you split your body into four parts and train four or five days per week. There are a number of ways you could do this, but the most effective and efficient is as follows:

Back/Chest & Shoulders/Thighs/Arms & Calves

This routine separates all of the main muscle groups into their own days (as does the standard legs/push/pull system above), but arms and calves are given their own specific day. The program is designed to minimize overlap and maximize recovery, which is essential especially for the advanced trainee.

An example of this type of program is as follows:

Day 1 – Back

Deadlifts: 2 X 5 – 7

Pull-Ups: 3 X 6 – 8

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 X 6 – 8

Close Neutral Grip Pulldowns: 3 X 6 – 8

Face Pulls: 2 X 8 – 10

Day 2 – Chest & Shoulders

Bench Press: 3 X 5 – 8

Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Cable Crossovers: 3 X 8 – 10

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 X 6 – 8

Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3 X 8 – 10

Day 3 – Quads & Hamstrings

Squats: 3 X 6 – 8

Split Squats: 2 X 8 – 10

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 2 X 8 – 10

Leg Curls: 2 X 6 – 8

Day 4 – Arms & Calves

Barbell Curl 3 X 6 – 8

Supinating Dumbbell Curl 3 X 8 – 10

Rope Pressdowns: 3 X 6 – 8

One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension: 3 X 6 – 8

Leg Press Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Seated Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Again, remember to do the required warm-up sets first, increase your weights when appropriate and de-load when necessary.

So there you have four excellent bodybuilding workout plans designed to give you the maximum results in the minimum amount of time depending on the level you are at. There are many others of course but these are the most effective, so pick the one that’s right for you, combine it with a good muscle building diet and some good bodybuilding supplements, and get started. Any questions? Just ask them in the comments below.

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    • dwelburn profile image
      Author

      David 3 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Thanks Neil. Yes deadlifts are one of my favorite lifts, and they are certainly my best lift. They are a tremendous exercise.

    • neilcook profile image

      Neil Cook 3 years ago from United States

      Deadlifts will do wonders for you as a bodybuilder. Some even call them the "King" of bodybuilding workouts. I'm glad that you included them in your article. Good stuff! Source: http://bestbarbells.com