There you are, sitting on your couch one night watching reruns of old SNL skits when on the television, an overly inflated muscle man says, “Hey dude, you need to pump some iron!” Alright, so maybe you weren’t watching Hanz and Franz lift weights and perhaps you just decided now is the time to get back in shape, start lifting again and putting on muscle size.
Getting into the right mindset is half the battle.
However, keeping this mindset is just as important. The best way to maintain this mindset is to have an established schedule for when you’re going to lift and what muscles you’ll work.
Walking into a gym without any kind of plan is a good way to destroy your goals.
Gyms are often incredibly intimidating. You have the guys in there who seem to never leave, and the girls in there who were apparently born in yoga pants. Don’t worry about anyone else around you. You’re not there for them. You’re there for yourself.
And we’re here for you as well. So take note of this bodybuilding workout schedule. It’ll do you wonders.
A New Way to Workout
If you played any kind of high school sports, you probably were in the weight room a good amount of the time (or at least, the coaches wanted you in the weight room a good amount of the time).
Many of the coaches likely put you on the schedule of the upper body Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with legs on Tuesday and Thursday. This lifting schedule has been around for decades and most people who have lifted at some point in time found themselves on this kind of schedule.
However, in terms of seeing actual gains, it’s not the kind of lifting schedule you want to focus on.
So what’s wrong with this kind of lifting schedule?
The time off.
Not that you’re receiving too much of it, but that you’re muscles are not receiving enough. After really hitting your muscle fiber, you’re going to tear and damage the tissue. Protein is then used to build it back up.
However, it takes time for the muscle tissue to fully repair.
If you hit your chest on Monday and then return Wednesday, your tissue will not have had enough time to repair, which means you won’t be able to lift as much and you’ll just be tearing down half-built up tissue. That’s why you need to look at a modern way of lifting (WebMD 2017).
Your Bodybuilding Workout Schedule
On Monday, hit your legs. Yup, we’re going straight for the legs.
Let’s just get it over with, right?
Nobody likes to do leg day, so you might as well do it first. If you’ve been in the gym world long enough, you’ll notice Tuesdays and Thursdays are the least busy gym days.
Because many of these people still do the every other upper/lower body workout days, and those are leg days.
But in this workout configuration, you’re going to only do legs once a week. This way, you’ll have plenty of time off for your legs to wrest. The muscles in your lower body are the largest muscles you have, so it takes extra time for the thicker tissue to repair. A week off is more than enough time.
Plus, if you’re lifting like a bodybuilder you’re going to be going hard, so you’ll really need that recovery time (WebMD 2018).
Tuesday is chest day. Now, we call it chest day, but in reality, you can mix and match these days.
There isn’t a specific order you need to go in, although the schedule we’re going to give you is preferable (we’ll get more into that in a little bit). But if you find you don’t have as much time to spend in the gym on a certain day and one of your muscle group days doesn’t take as long as others, you can shuffle it around. Just give yourself a week or so in between lifting with that muscle group again.
On Wednesday there are some who would flip over and do their back.
However, we like to do arms here.
Because whenever you lift one way, you’re always going to be hitting the opposite side of the body. In other words, which you lift with your chest, you’ll also be using some of your back. This is especially the case if you lift slowly. Take the bench press, for example. When you push and explode up you’re using your chest. If you go down slowly you’re using your back muscles.
Now, you aren’t directing all of your attention go your back, but you’re touching it enough to where we would like some time off. That’s why we go to shoulders on Wednesday.
Thursday is an off day.
This will give your body the added time to recover. You’re back will be ready to go when you return to the gym and you’ll feel fresh.
However, that doesn’t mean you should sit around during the day. Spend an hour putting in cardio. If you’re going to be doing upper body work on Friday, don’t do any heavy upper body cardio that might reduce your performance potential (such as a rowing machine). Instead, go jogging, ride your bicycle, swim or jump rope. Really any kind of cardio you like, just avoid the upper body heavy work.
Now that you’re back from your day off and ready to hop back into the saddle, it’s back day. You’ll perform many of the same moves you did on chest day, only in reverse. You will use a bit of your chest when performing back lifts, but you’ll have enough time off in between back and your next chest day that you’ll be at full strength come Friday.
Saturday is arm day. However, don’t spend the entire time working on your biceps. There are other muscles in your arms you need to be working.
Also, focus on your triceps.
You can work on your triceps when doing traditional curls by lowering the weight slowly. This way, you hit both sides of your arm. Additionally, make sure to get your forearms as well. If you’re really concerned with your arms, make sure to educate yourself on the different heads of the biceps and triceps. Your biceps are made up of two different heads while the triceps are made up of three heads. Different lifts will hit different heads, which can affect size, width, peak and other elements of your muscles.
Sunday is another off day.
Much like Thursday, fit in your hour of cardio here. Now, depending on your daily schedule, you can slide leg day up into this day and then give yourself the day off, although at the beginning of starting with this brand new workout, it is a good idea to give yourself a full week in between leg days.
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What About Abs?
This one of the big questions people have.
When should abs be done and how much ab work is needed?
Both answers may actually surprise you.
If you want really solid abs, you want to hit them every day (if you want to rest your abs during the off days that’s alright, but feel free to do abs every single day if you want). Your abdominal muscles are a bit different from the other muscles in your body.
Abdominal muscles are stabilizing core muscles.
This means the muscles are engaged and used every single day. Because of this, the muscles are used to the work and can put up with daily workouts. Plus, the muscles are relatively small (comparatively speaking), so it doesn’t take as long to recover (Mayo Clinic, 2018).
The second part of the question is you don’t need to work these muscles long. In fact, anything more than 10 minutes is overkill. If you work your abs hard for 10 minutes, that’s all it takes. It’s actually a great way to start your morning. Want a quick wakeup call? Do 10 minutes of abs. That will wake you up faster than just about anything else.
And the great thing is you can find loads of 10-minute ab workouts on YouTube.
Look for anything 10 minutes and under, then just save the ones you like and the ones that really give you a solid burn. We like going this route because then every single day you’re not doing the same ab routine.
You can switch it up, which prevents it from getting boring and allows you to avoid your muscles becoming accustomed to the workout (which kills your gains).
What Time During The Day Should I Workout?
Really, whenever you can is the answer.
Now, we do like workout out in the morning if possible. It helps boost oxygen and blood flow to your brain, which can help improve your productivity and mental clarity for the day. It also does wonders for your metabolic rate as well.
However, we totally get it’s not always possible to work out during the morning. Maybe your not a morning person. Perhaps your significant other hogged the blanket and you couldn’t sleep. Or perhaps you already need to get to work by 6 AM, so that early workout isn’t a viable option. Whatever the case may be, squeeze in that hour or so a day, at any time of the day, and you’re good to go.
Reps and Sets?
So a few things on this.
If you’re going to the bodybuilding physique you likely want to build size.
That means you want to stick within the 8-12 rep range, but it also means you need to lift heavy. So ideally shoot for the lower side, around 8-9 reps. But don’t chain yourself to rep numbers. If you’re lifting, hit 8 and can do more, don’t stop. Keep going. Stopping at a number just because you hit a number will really kill your gains. If you can squeeze off more reps put in as many as you can. Then just up the weight the next time around.
Start your workouts with the bigger weight lifts. So for leg day start with squats and deadlifts. On the chest, day starts with a bench, and chest begins with a military press. For your big weight lifts, you want 3-4 sets, then for the smaller weight lifts, shoot for 2-3.
And remember, do every lift and every set to failure. Don’t stop if you have another lift in you, regardless of how many you’ve done.
Even when your lifting to become a bodybuilder, you want to put in cardio.
You already have the cardio you’re putting in on the off days, but what about the days you do lift?
Yes, ideally you do put in some cardio. That will help keep your metabolism burning and help shed additional weight. You just need to keep a few things in mind. Don’t do cardio that relies on the muscles you just used on that day and the muscles you’ll use on the next day. You want your just used muscles to recover, and you want the next day muscles at full strength.
Keeping to a schedule is extremely important. Routing helps you avoid skipping out on lifting.
Once you miss a day of lifting it becomes that much easier to miss another day and another, and before you know it you’re back, sitting on your couch, watching SNL reruns.
This routine will keep you on track and help you see your ultimate goals.
Of course, right along with your bodybuilding workout schedule you also have a few other questions to answer, including what your diet is going to be and if you’re lifting to be a competitive bodybuilder or if you just want to look great in a bathing suit. Whatever your other questions are, we’ve got all the answers right here.
So check out the other essential workout blogs. You’ll be well on your way to a brand new you.