Planning a Bodybuilding Weekly Workout Schedule for Men

Note: The Workout schedule detailed below can be used for men or for women. I’ve had many workouts with women who have made me think about my own fitness and intensity level, on more that one occasion.

bodybuilding workout schedule Planning a weekly bodybuilding workout and exercise schedule is hands down the best way to build a huge, lean and muscular physique. You know the one, the one dreamed about when you first started lifting weights in your local youth center, garage or even, bedroom! Without planning the week ahead, you are leaving yourself open for frustration and disappointment.

Listen. If your life is quite hectic, maybe you have a job that requires you putting in long hours, and maybe you have a young family to think of. By planning the forthcoming weeks weight lifting program, and even what exercises you will be doing for specific muscles, it will take the guess work out of the equation. So when you get to the gym, you will be able to shut your eyes and just ‘float’ from one machine to the next, or from a heavy barbell exercise to the next dumbbell exercise station.

The only thing you will need to focus on is stretching and warming up, and then, BOOM..! Blast those muscles with the highest intensity you can! Yes, yes, yes. I can feel my muscles burning already, and throbbing from my workout later today.

I can’t wait.

However, when you do plan your weekly workout schedule (male and female) and you consistently follow it over a long period of time, you are guaranteed to get amazing results (1). This is a great way to make sure you achieve your bodybuilding and weight training goals.

So first let me congratulate you on achieving your goals, because I know that you will easily achieve them.

How Do You Plan a Weekly Bodybuilding Workout Schedule?

Firstly you need to figure how many days a week you are going to train. How many days of that are going to be lifting weights and how many are going to be cardio?

Ah, but what are your goals?

Do you want to build muscle mass? Or are you looking to shed a few pounds of fat and tone up what you already got?

We have to use an example here, so let’s say you want add muscle, but keep it lean. And you’re already in pretty good condition, so you’re not really concerned with losing body fat right now.

Planning a seven day schedule makes perfect sense. Why? Because, there are seven days in a week. I’ve searched for a weekly workout schedules on the web and people have put together some pretty strange combinations, split into five day programs and three days workout splits.

But the funny thing is, they all have to fit the five day schedule into seven days anyway, so why not just plan your workouts that way anyway and take the hassle out of the whole plan?

That way, as we’ve said – all you have to do is get to the gym and TRAIN like a pro!

Out of the seven days of the week, you want to hit every muscle group once (apart from abs), so if you have five days free to get into the gym split it to four days for weights and one day for cardio.

It is a common misconception that you have to train a body part more than once per week. Your muscles need at least four days to recuperate (without going into the science of bodybuilding) – which means that after you have broken them down in your workout, they need rest and for you to eat the right nutritional diet to repair them and make them grow! (2)

Working the entire body once per week is all you need, ok? Any more can lead to over training and injuries.

If you only have four days spare to workout (which is what I generally have these days), I’ll set out a different ‘weekly workout schedule’ after the five day split, so keep reading if that applies to you.

But for the five day split (if you are beginner), don’t lift weights on more than two consecutive days at a time unless you have to and then slot the cardio workout at the end, before your rest days.

A good workout schedule should last no more than sixty minutes and you should rest no longer than 45 – 60 seconds between sets. Only rest more between exercises.

NB: As always, what you see written here is based on how I workout, or have worked out in the past. As my lifestyle changed over the years, I had to adapt my weekly and daily workout schedule to suit the time I have available.

Bodybuilding Workout Schedule – Planning and Preparation

Important Tips

Always stretch before lifting weights (or any other type of exercise), particularly the muscle group and associated muscles that you are working that day. And do one or two warm up sets before lifting heavier weights.

NEVER lift a weight which is too heavy for your joints to handle or if this is a completely new arena for you, give your joints a few weeks to get used to your gruelling new workout schedule before increasing the weight on the dumbbell or barbells. (3)

One thing I am hot on is protecting joints and connective tissue, because over the course of the last twenty five years I have suffered with many joint problems, because I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started lifting weights in the gym.

So I really do advise you to take great care of your joints when you are young. Even if you think you can add more weight on the bar, or use heavier dumbbells, ask your self “will my shoulders or elbows handle this weight as much as my chest or deltoids can? I also suggest that right from the very beginning, you add a joint protecting supplement to your diet plan. Glucosamine is recommend. I’ve had little trouble since I added this to my diet.

Your Bodybuilding Workout Schedule Template

There are many variations you can use when lifting weights. Nothing is set in stone. And what works for you, may not work for the guy training next to you. The following schedules and splits are the ones which have worked really well for me over the last twenty five years, and will work for you to, when you train at the highest intensity.

That is what makes the difference between looking just ok with your shirt off, and looking absolutely amazing. Maximum intensity, every time you lift a weight, do a rep and complete a set

Day 1

Chest:

  • Incline bench press – 4 sets x 10/12 reps
  • Flat dumbbell flyes – 4 sets x 10/12 reps
  • Pec-deck – 3 sets x 10/12 reps

Do this for the first four to six weeks.

Then add at the end – 2 sets of dips, superset with push-ups. Believe that push (press) ups can finish off your chest workout. They build strength just by using your own bodyweight, but it is a different kind of strength. I’ll go more into that in another article.

Upper and Mid Back: (lower back is done after hamstrings)

  • Under-grip pull downs – 3 sets x 12 to 15 reps (a great warm up, which gets you ready for the next exercise
  • T-bar row OR Bent over barbell row – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell pull-overs 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Lat pull downs – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

Do this for the first four to six weeks.

Then add at the end – 3 sets of pull-ups (alternate workouts between wide and narrow grip) x 10 reps (add weight if necessary)

Day 2

Quadriceps:

  • Squat/machine squat – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Leg press – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Leg extensions – 4 sets x 10 reps

Do this for the first four to six weeks.

Then swap the leg extensions for weighted walking lunges. Just use a set of light dumbbells and perform about 10 steps per leg. I sometimes use a set of chains wrapped around my neck or even hold a 20kg plate next to my chest, just for variation.

Also add in after walking lunges (or leg extensions), 3 sets of ‘box squats’. Perform 10 to 12 reps. This is a great preparation exercise, moving from quadriceps into hamstrings.

Hamstrings:

  • Leg curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Standing single leg curls – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Straight leg deadlifts – 4 sets x 10 reps

(Note: Although the exercise says ‘straight’ leg, you may find it more effective to bene your knees just slightly as you bend over with the bar (or dumbbells)).
Hyperextensions (lower back) – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

Day 3

Shoulders:

  • Seated shoulder press (smith machine or dumbbells) – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Seated lateral raises – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Front dumbell raises (dumbbells or barbell) – 3 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell shrugs – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Barbell shrugs – 3 sets x 10 reps

(Perform dumbbells shrugs slightly bent over to work the middle of your trapezius, where it meets your latissimus dorsi. This adds thickness to your traps. Next, perform barbell shrugs ‘straight up and down’ to add some height to your traps.)

  • Bent over lateral raises (for rear deltoids) – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Cable pull downs – 4 sets x 10 reps

(These are very similar to wide grip pull downs, only you will be using the cable cross-over machine and holding your body so that your hands come down to your body like a wide-grip pull down, only you are pulling your hands either side of your head. So if you were holding a bar, you would probably break your nose!)

This shoulder workout hits all three heads of the deltoids, and also works your trapezius muscle in every way possible.

Calves:

  • Standing calf raises – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Seated calf raises – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

After the first four weeks, add in 3 sets of calf presses done on the leg press machine. Perform 10 to 12 reps.

Day 4 – Arms

Biceps (Two variation workouts):

Variation #1

  • Standing barbell curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Seated dumbbell hammer curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Concentration curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

I prefer to do concentration curls in a bent over position (from a standing position) and resting the opposite arm on the weight rack. This does allow for more ‘cheating’, however it does give your bicep a great workout and a massive huge pump!

To perform this exercise correctly, start with your arm straight down, start raising the dumbbell upwards towards your chest. As the weight nears your chest, squeeze hard and drop your elbow slightly to the floor, before lowering it again to start position.

After six weeks include 2 or 3 sets of rope curls. This hits the long head of the bicep and warms up the forearm ready for triceps and forearm exercises.

Variation #2

  • Preacher curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Alternate dumbbell superspinated curls – 4 sets 10 to 12 reps
  • Concentration curls – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

Triceps:

  • Reverse triceps push-downs – 3 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Lying French press (lying barbell extensions/cable machine) – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps
  • Bodyweight dips (hands on bench, feet resting on another bench –  making sure just your feet and not your calves are resting on the bench – Don’t cheat now!) 3 sets x 10 to 12 reps (get your training partner to place some 20kg plates in your lap for these, then drop set them!)
  • Single arm lying extensions/Single arm triceps cable push downs – 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

Cardio and HIIT

  • 20 minutes of slow cardio before breakfast. As many mornings as you can fit in to your schedule
  • HIIT – Perform twenty minutes of HIIT for fat loss around 2 to 3 times per week (see link for more information on this). The basis of HIIT (high intensity interval training) is to keep your metabolic rate high.

That means that although you only exercise for twenty minutes, your body remains in a fat burning state for up to 36 hours.

Conclusion

By the sixth week of your new weekly workout schedule, your body will be accustomed to this routine and so will your mind. And what I mean by that is you will want to add in a few new exercises and adjust the number of reps you perform for each set, perhaps even doing drop sets and super sets!

References:

1 – http://bodybuilding.about.com/od/howtoachieveresults/a/formula.htm

2 – http://eas.com/training/manage-weight/12-deadly-workout-sins

3 – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/knee_injury_prevention.htm

About Andy James

Andy's background was in engineering, qualifying as a surveyor at aged twenty. He also had a very early interest in interest in weight training, fitness and nutrition, and started lifting weights at just 16. Now having over thirty five years experience in bodybuilding, resistance training and cardiovascular health, Andy shares his vast knowledge with you on this site hoping that you can take away a minimum of one small idea and put it to use in your own fitness regime and make a huge difference to to it. You can follow him on Twitter, catch up with him on Facebook and also on Google +1. Feel free to leave Andy a comment or question and look up his Facebook page.

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