Bodybuilding Workout Plans

Nadia Santiago
Woman training at gym

A good workout plan for bodybuilding should hit all major muscle groups in a way that optimizes the growth response. A sample schedule will give you an idea of how bodybuilders, both male and female, train for this purpose. These workouts are meant for all levels, from beginners to advanced. Strength days are built to work two to three muscle groups per session, with cardio days in between for fat burn.

Monday

Morning: 30 minutes treadmill, medium intensity

Evening: Weight training, back, shoulders and abs

  • Deadlifts - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    Woman practicing deadlifts
  • Seated cable rows - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Chin ups - 3 sets, to failure
  • Dumbbell shrugs - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Cable lateral raises - 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Bent-over dumbbell lateral raises - 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Shoulder machine of choice - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Classic crunches - 2 sets, to failure
  • The plank - 2 sets, to failure
  • Captain's chair - 2 sets, to failure
  • Twisted crunches on exercise ball - 2 sets, to failure

Tuesday

45 minutes outdoors interval training, high intensity

Wednesday

Morning: 30 minutes treadmill, medium intensity

Evening: Weight training, chest, triceps, and biceps

  • Incline dumbbell presses - 3 sets, 8-10 reps
    Man Doing Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
  • Iso-lateral chest press machine of choice - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Standing barbell military presses - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Dips - 3 sets, to failure
  • Skullcrushers (aka. French presses) - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Tricep cable pressdowns - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
    Triceps pressdown
  • Standing wide-grip barbell bicep curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Bicep machine of choice - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Seated bicep concentration curls - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Standing dumbbell hammer curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Reverse barbell curls - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Dumbbell forearm curls - 2 sets, 12-15 reps

Thursday

60 minutes swimming

Friday

Morning: 30 minutes treadmill, medium intensity

Evening: Weight training, legs and abs

  • Classic squats - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Glute bridges - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Leg extensions - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Leg press machine - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
    Leg press exercise
  • Dumbbell lunges - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Seated hamstring curls - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Lying hamstring curls - 3 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Standing calf raises - 3 sets, 8-10 reps
    Calf raises exercise
  • Donkey calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Seated calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Classic crunches - 2 sets, to failure
  • The bicycle - 2 sets, to failure
  • Side Plank - 2 sets, to failure

Saturday

60 minutes spinning class, advanced level

People using spin machines in gym

Sunday

Rest

Modify or Progress?

Any new exercise should be explored using lighter resistance or, where appropriate, only bodyweight. This is true whether you've been working out or some time or are just starting out.

When to Modify

There are a few easy ways to know if you should modify. For example, if your hips jut forward and your back rounds while trying to complete a bicep curl with a set of 25-pound dumbbells, you need lighter weights. Other signs include:

  • Your form falls apart during the movement.
  • You experience pain while performing the exercise.
  • It's too difficult to move through a full range of motion.

When to Advance

There are also signs that it's time to go heavier, assuming you can still meet safety guidelines. Consider advancing if:

  • You can complete the exercise with good form through a full range of motion.
  • You can easily perform 12 or more repetitions.

Tight on Time?

It is tough for some to carve aside a full 60 minutes or more of gym time. If that's you, it may be in your best interest to complete full body workouts each day rather than emphasizing different areas on certain days. If you go this route, aim to complete five to six days a week of workouts with at least one rest day.

Maximizing the Benefits

To get the most from this approach to working out:

  • Focus on working one or two muscle groups per set to build strength and achieve larger muscles faster.
  • Perform exercise sets back to back or in 10-minute spurts throughout the day, as time permits.
  • Complete them circuit-style, using intervals to maximize time.

Sample Sets

Before you begin your workout, warm up for five to 10 minutes with a jump rope or HIIT cardio exercises. Sample sets include:

  • Chest - Incline press, chest fly, and pushups performed for three rounds at an interval of 45:15.
  • Legs and abs - Glute bridges, plank with rotation, lunges, and bicycles performed for two rounds at an interval of 50:10.
  • Arms and shoulders - Lateral raise, bicep curls, and bent over tricep kickbacks performed for three rounds at an interval of 40:15.

Feel free to change up the exercises and intervals to fit your schedule and needs.

Experiment to Find Your Style

The truth is that there's no right or wrong way to create an ideal workout plan, even when your focus is bodybuilding. The schedule you choose will depend on how your body responds to the workouts, as well as the amount of time you have to spend at the gym. Experiment by switching exercises around, pairing different muscle groups in your sessions, or varying the tempo and intensity. Just be sure to maintain proper form as you complete each exercise to avoid injury.

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Bodybuilding Workout Plans