Build Muscle Workout Plan

If you want to build muscle in the shortest space of time, you’re going to want to implement this workout plan.

The program I illustrate for you guys here will help you achieve your goal of maximum muscle in minimum time. 🙂

STOP! This routine has been totally revised and improved! Please go here to learn about the amazingly effective THT Weight Training Program. Alternatively, enter your details in the sidebar to get a free book which will explain it all to you.


The Fundamentals

I base this workout plan on 2 fundamental principles of muscle building:

  1. The anabolic / optimum rep range of 8-12 reps
  2. Seeking Progressive Overload each and every workout

If you’re a regular bodybuilder and you’re no longer getting the results you once did, I’ll wager that your progress halted once you started complicating things.

  1. You listened to some gym rat who carries more fat than muscle
  2. you mistakenly took advice from some rag of a magazine that has more ads than articles
  3. you copied a roid-head’s routine (including the sloppy form) thinking that you’d get similar results.

Whatever your story is, now is the time to come back to sanity. Working in the 8-12 rep range and ensuring progressive overload every workout (or as close as possible) is the way to pack on new slabs of muscle.

On the other hand, maybe you never even got started because of all the conflicting advice. Let’s cut through all the noise and get started on the road to building some serious muscle!

A few years ago, I fell for all the gimmicks and seriously stunted my gains. Are any of these familiar?

  1. Supersets
  2. Forced Reps
  3. Very Low Reps (2 – 5)
  4. Very Slow Reps (4 seconds up, 4 seconds down if not more!)

Yep, I was stupid! Growth stopped and I actually had to stop for a while due to an arm injury, which I blame on crap form with weights that were too heavy for me. I got fed up, did some research and got back to basics; if you identify with my story, you should too.

How to use this Workout Plan

I have long been a believer in training 1 muscle group just once a week. I’m aware of the advice given to hard-gainers that they should stick to full-body workouts three times a week but I’m not buying it.
Why not?
Because I’m a hard-gainer by nature and I’ve tried both systems; workout plans that train each body part once a week win hands-down in my opinion.

Some days I train one body-part and some days I train two, but never any more than that. The workout plan detailed here is my advice to help you build muscle, but it’s also an exact replica of my own current workout plan.

It has been designed to provide maximum muscle growth while at the same time keeping workout times to a minimum. You should never be going over 12 reps and sets are kept to a minimum too.
Because natural bodybuilders must avoid overtraining at all costs. You must stimulate your muscles to their maximum in the minimum time possible; that’s what this workout plan does. “Rip up those muscles quickly then get the hell outta there and relax” is my motto.

The 8 Anabolic Workout Plan Commandments

  1. Thou shalt workout each body part once a week
  2. Thou shalt workout 5 times a week (pick the days that suit you)
  3. Thine workouts shall never last more than 45 minutes
  4. Thou shalt stay within the optimum muscle-building rep range of 8-12
  5. Thou shalt lift for 1-2 seconds and lower for 2 seconds per rep
  6. Thou shalt seek Progressive Overload every week (you need to keep written logs of your workout progress!)
  7. Thou shalt take 1.5 to 2 minutes rest between sets
  8. Thou shalt perform at least 6 sets, and at most 9 sets for each muscle group

You can choose the days you would like to workout on; I like Monday to Friday with a break at the weekend. You can also vary the muscle groups to combine on any given day. For example, at the moment I like to work my chest and triceps on the same day but you can choose to hit your abs and chest on the same day instead.

However, you must prioritize your workouts like this:

On days when you are working out 2 body parts, work the body part you would like most growth in first. This is because the second body part will have become slightly fatigued and will not perform to its full potential.

Give priority body parts a day of their own. So, if your chest is lagging, work it separately on a day of its own. Either this or, at least, work them first before a body part you consider less important at this time.

On single body-part days, do the full nine sets

Always do one warm-up set before each body part. Your warm-up set should be 50% of the weight that you will use for your first real set; perform 12-15 reps and rest for 1.5 to 2 minutes before the first set.

Now let’s get down to the actual program

Monday – Shoulders

  1. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  2. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  3. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  4. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  5. Flies (Dumbbell Lateral Raise)
  6. Flies
  7. Flies
  8. Dumbbell Front Raises
  9. Dumbbell Front Raises

Comments: Standing overhead dumbbell presses are the best overall exercise for shoulders. They hit all heads of the shoulder and you can feel the difference between these and sitting dumbbell presses. With the seated version, you have a tendency to allow your butt to slip forward and involve more of your pecs in the movement; that’s why you can usually push more weight with the seated version. However, if you really want to build up your shoulders, stick to standing dumbbell presses.

Flies are so important for giving width to your body. When someone is looking at you head-on, it’s this part of the shoulder that stands out most, you’ll look broad, don’t skip on these. Allow your arms to be bent slightly throughout the movement. Make sure your shoulders are doing the work, not your arms.

Front raises. An excellent exercise for overall shoulder development but especially the front head. 2 sets only because the front head will also get stimulated from your chest workout.

Tuesday – Back & Abs

Abs (With the aid of a Sit-Up Bench)

  1. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  2. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  3. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  4. Weighted Crunch
  5. Weighted Crunch
  6. Weighted Crunch


  1. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  2. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  3. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  4. Deadlifts
  5. Deadlifts
  6. Deadlifts


Comments: Abs are like any other muscle, they need weighted resistence in order to grow. 100’s of sit-ups in a row does not encourage any real growth no matter what your gym instructor says. For abs I advise a slight variation in that the rep range increases from 8-12 reps to 8-16; simply because ab exercises are meant to be performed slowly and this slightly higher rep range encourages good form because you’ll have to use a lighter weight. Remember, building abs is not a race, take it slow! (2 seconds up, 2 seconds down).

For both the sit-ups and crunches I recommend you hold the movement at the top for a second. Just contract your abs and hold them for a second before the negative part of the repetition.

My back isn’t one of my main focus points so 6 sets is fine. 2 simple exercises but when performed correctly provide great muscle stimulation and overload. On the barbell rows ensure that the bar comes up and touches your lower chest; if you have to decrease the weight to accomplish this, do so. Keep your back straight throughout the whole movement. Remember real bodybuilders feel the muscle, not the weight. If you’re natural you don’t have the luxury of getting great results with sloppy form.

Getting the form right on deadlifts is crucial if you want to avoid injury. This ‘deadlifts video tutorial‘ will walk you through how to execute this move correctly. I highly recommend you check it out.

Wednesday – Biceps

  1. Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curls (Alternate)
  2. Standing Dumbbell Curls
  3. Standing Dumbbell Curls
  4. EZ Bar Curl
  5. EZ Bar Curl
  6. EZ Bar Curl
  7. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  8. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  9. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Comments: I really like to focus on my biceps so I give them a day of their own. Dumbbell curls should be at the heart of your bicep routine. I perform these by alternating reps on each arm i.e. the first rep I perform with my right arm only while my left stays stationary. On completion of that rep I keep my right arm stationary and lift with my left arm; repeat as necessary.

I find it best to keep my palms facing outward right from the beginning of the movement. Others advise holding the dumbbell in a hammer-curl style at the bottom of the movement and twisting around on the concentric part of the movement. I find this doesn’t actually place enough stress on the actual bicep at the hardest part of the lift (where most strength is gained). Also I feel the twisting can lead to injury.

You can stick with regular barbell curls instead of EZ bar curls if you prefer. The reason I like using the EZ bar is that while the dumbbell curls hit my bicep head at a 90 degree angle, this stimulates the muscle from a slightly different angle and helps vary the workout.

Lastly, my secret bicep weapon! Not enough people perform incline dumbbell curls! A FULL range of motion is critical here. When your back is in an incline position and your arms are hanging straight by your sides, the range of motion is greatly increased compared with a regular dumbbell curl. In this position the beginning of the lift is actually perform from a starting position behind the back as opposed to parallel with it. This is great but be warned; you’ll have to use a much lighter weight for this than regular dumbbell curls. You’ll feel the difference with these, a great muscle building exercise!

Thursday – Triceps & Chest


  1. Decline Tricep Extensions
  2. Decline Tricep Extensions
  3. Decline Tricep Extensions
  4. Tricep Cable Push Downs
  5. Tricep Cable Push Downs
  6. Tricep Cable Push Downs


  1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  3. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  4. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  5. Flat Dumbbell Flies
  6. Flat Dumbbell Flies

Comments: Whichever of these 2 body parts you want most growth in goes first. I’m very pleased with my chest and so I hit my triceps first.

For tricep extensions I like to bring the dumbbells down behind my head for the starting position. I feel this fully stimulates the muscle more. For the cable pushdowns I start about shoulder height and push right down to the bottom of the movement. These 2 exercises alone will allow for a full tricep workout.

It is very important to do a full range of motion for stimulating the chest. Oftentimes you’ll see pro-bodybuilders working their chest with poor form but again, you’re natural, you don’t have that luxury. For example, on the flies, lower your arms as far as you can until you feel a real stretch right across your pecs. Keep your arms slightly bent throughout and raise the dumbbells again to the top of the movement. Flies are great for adding real width to your chest! Remember to lower the weight slowly, moving slightly faster on the concentric part.

For both incline and flat dumbbell bench press, lower the weight slowly (2 seconds) so that you are controlling the weight. Lower until you feel a stretch across your pecs to ensure full range of motion.

Friday – Legs

  1. Barbell Squats
  2. Barbell Squats
  3. Barbell Squats
  4. Leg Press
  5. Leg Press
  6. Leg Press

Comments: 6 sets only. With proper form six sets are easily enough to blast your legs for maximum growth. My confession is that because I workout in my home gym and don’t have a leg press machine, I simply do six sets of squats. Believe me, I am crippled for a couple of days afterwards! Squats are the absolute best exercise for your legs (and also your ass!). Do not avoid them in favor of leg extensions or some other isolation exercise. Yes guys, they hurt like a bitch, but that’s because they work.

Leg Presses are excellent and I do recommend them if you have access to a machine; I’ll fork out for one some day!

Take this workout plan and implement it! Take some action and report back to me on your results. I have every confidence that you’ll build more muscle on this plan in one month if you really obey the ‘8 Anabolic Workout Plan Commandments.’ Don’t always look for what’s new and sexy, practice the fundamentals every day to achieve mastery!

Enjoy Your New Body!

Mark McManus

You'll love your fast gains on THT!

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You'll love your fast gains on THT!

Cool! Click here to take you to the download page. (or check your email for the download link)