Developing a Muscle Building Workout Plan for Men That Yields Results


By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at Fit Father Project.

Muscle Building Workout Plan
Muscle building for men may be easier than you think with a free beginner’s workout guide at your fingertips. Even if you don’t have a specific muscle building workout plan in place yet, knowing the basics of strength training and how to eat for lean gains is all you need to get started.

Don’t get discouraged, as muscle building takes time. Aim to gain about 1/2 – 1 pound of lean mass each week by lifting weights and boosting your calorie intake.

Mindset is the most important part of any longterm project. When you're ready to commit to a serious muscle building workout plan, challenge yourself with our Old School Muscle program. Learn the advanced techniques and subtle details that have proven effective for professionals time and time again.

Muscle Building vs. Fat Loss

Gaining weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re packing on just lean body mass. It takes the right combination of diet and exercise to ensure the weight you’re putting on is mainly lean body weight, not fat.

muscle building workout planWhen participating in a muscle building workout plan for men, you may indeed gain fat in addition to muscle mass. Eating right is the key to minimizing fat gains during muscle building.

When you’ve reached your muscle mass goals, you can achieve fat loss by slightly lowering your calorie intake or by burning extra calories throughout the day.

In fact, many body builders first focus on muscle building to bulk up, and fine tune their diets for fat loss closer to competition time.

Important Features of Muscle Building Workouts

There are several important factors to keep in mind when participating in a muscle building workout plan for men, including:

Tip #1: Ease Into It Slowly

bench press muscle building workout planBelieve it or not, you don’t have overexert yourself to achieve results from a new muscle building workout plan for men. Slow and steady does the trick, and you’ll notice results before you know it. Start by lifting weights heavy enough for you to complete 8 – 12 repetitions using good form.

When you become more advanced, use heavier weights and complete 6 – 12 reps while maintaining proper form.

Tip#2: Complete More Than One Set

For each muscle building exercise you do, aim to complete more than just 1 set to maximize lean body mass results. For example if you’re doing biceps curls, aim to complete 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions if you’re a beginner.

Work up to completing 3 – 6 sets of each exercise you when you become more advanced, recommends the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Tip #3: Work All Major Muscle Groups

It’s important to work all major muscle groups when participating in a muscle building workout plan for men, to achieve the best aesthetic results and boost overall workout intensity.

Doing so helps you become stronger, look better, and feel more energized on a day-to-day basis. Major muscle groups include your:

muscles of the body strength training for weight loss

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Glutes/butt
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves

Avoid working all major muscle groups in the same day.

Work the biceps and back one day, chest and triceps the next, butt and quads another day, and shoulders, hamstrings, and calves during your final weight lifting workout for the week.

You can work your abdominal muscles every day to maximize results and get the six-pack abs you desire.

Tip #4: Lift Several Days Each Week

The more often you lift weights, the easier it is to gain lean muscle mass. You don’t have to lift daily, especially when just starting out.

calendar muscle building workout planACSM recommends the following training frequency schedule for weight lifting in healthy adults:

  • 2 – 3 days weekly for beginners
  • 3 – 4 days weekly for intermediate level weight lifters
  • 4 – 6 days weekly for more advanced training

It’s generally best to take a day or two off to rest and let your body recover, even if you’re a more advanced weight lifter.

Tip #5: Rest between Sets

Don’t forget to rest between sets when weight lifting, to give your muscles a chance to recover and reload before the next set.

man resting muscle building workout planThe American College of Sports Medicine recommends resting for 1 – 2 minutes between sets when you’re first starting out or if you’re lifting lighter loads, but advancing to 2 – 3 minute rest periods for more intense strength training sweat sessions.

To change things up a bit and confuse your muscle fibers, try super set strength training on certain days each week instead of resting between sets. You'll probably have to lift lighter weights during super set days.

Tip #6: Change Up Your Workout Routine Often

To maximize muscle building results, avoid doing the same strength training workout day after day. Switch up the muscle groups you work, and alter type of strength training you’re doing.

crossfit workout concept, muscle building workout planDifferent workouts to choose from include:

  • 2 – 4 sets of 8 – 12 reps with 1 – 2 minute rest periods between
  • Super sets (switch exercises without resting between sets) of 15 reps using lighter weights
  • 3 – 6 sets of 6 – 10 reps with 2 – 3 minute rest periods between using heavier weights

You don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain the muscle building benefits strength training offers. Exercising your muscles, regardless of how hard, and letting them recover increases lean mass. Switch up your routines often to prevent boredom, increase muscle definition, and prevent muscle staleness.

Tip #7: Don’t Forget Cardio

man running muscle building workout planAdding cardiovascular exercise to your muscle building workout plan:

  • Boosts strengthand endurance
  • Enhances muscle gains
  • Keeps your heart healthy
  • Reduces chronic disease risks
  • Keeps body fat low

You don’t have to participate in high volumes of cardio workouts when muscle building is your goal, but aim to complete 20 – 30 minutes a day most days of the week to reap all of the benefits cardiovascular exercise offers.

Tip #8: Avoid Overtraining

When you overtrain, your muscles don’t have to chance to recover and grow the way they should after resistance training workouts.

ACSM recommends you avoid drastically increasing the amount of weight you lift or the volume of training from one workout to the next. Instead, increase the weight you lift by just 2 – 10 % after you can comfortably complete your current strength training regimen using good form.

Which Strength Training Exercises Should I Choose?

There are numerous strength training workouts you can choose from, depending on the muscle group you’d like to work. The list below provides various exercises for each of the major muscle groups:


muscles of the body



  • Standing shoulder press with dumbbells
  • Standing shoulder press with a barbell
  • Standing lateral raises with dumbbells
  • Front raises with dumbbells
  • Barbell upright rows
  • Dumbbell upright rows
  • Bent-over lateral raises
  • Cable lateral raises
  • Cable front raises





  • Dead lifts
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Barbell squats
  • Weighted walking lunges
  • Step-ups
  • Leg press machine
  • Kettle bell swings
  • Medicine ball squats


  • Dead lifts
  • Lying leg curls
  • Seated leg curls
  • Standing leg curls
  • Jump squats
  • Lunges
  • A bridge using sliders under your feet


muscle building workout plan



  • Regular sit-ups
  • Weighted sit-ups
  • Knee-ups
  • Crunches
  • The bicycle
  • Plank holds
  • Side plank holds
  • Mountain climbers
  • Shoulder touch planks
  • Swaying hips plank holds
  • TRX fallout 
  • Medicine ball Russian twists
  • Lying leg raises
  • Ab wheel or barbell roll-outs
  • Leg raises holding a bar
  • Lying flutter kick
  • Stability ball crunches
  • Planks with feet sliders
  • RKC Plank
  • Plank jacks
  • Medicine ball V-ups
  • Leg raises with a stability ball between the legs

If you don’t have a gym membership, use resistance bands in place of a cable machine. Choose dumbbells or a barbell if you have one at home instead of weight machines.

Free Muscle Building Workout Plan for Men

When beginning a new muscle building workout plan, use the list above to mix and match strength training workouts from each of the major muscle groups to maximize muscle gains.

Add cardiovascular exercise to your regular routine to keep body fat low,  protect your heart, and keep energy levels high.

A sample free muscle building workout plan for men includes:

Day 1

  • 20 – 30 minutes of cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling)
  • 6 total butt, quadriceps, and calves exercises (3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps for each exercise)
  • 10 minutes of abs

Day 2

  • 20 – 30 minutes of cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling)
  • 4 – 6 back exercises (3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps for each exercise)
  • 10 minutes of abs

Day 3

  • 20 – 30 minutes of cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling)
  • 6 total chest and triceps exercises (3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps for each exercise)
  • 10 minutes of abs

Day 4

  • 30 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling) plus 10 minutes of abs
  • OR a rest day

Day 5

  • 20 – 30 minutes of cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling)
  • 6 total hamstrings, butt, and calves exercises (3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps for each exercise)
  • 10 minutes of abs

Day 6

  • 20 – 30 minutes of cardio (walking uphill, stair climbing, rowing, using an elliptical machine, or cycling)
  • 6 total shoulders and biceps exercises (3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps for each exercise)
  • 10 minutes of abs

Day 7

  • Rest
best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

A Muscle Building Plan: Other Things to Consider

An effective strength training workout isn’t the only thing to consider when building muscle mass is your goal. A few other tips and tricks can get you the lean muscle gains and physique you desire, including:

Tip #1: Getting Rest is Crucial

man sleeping muscle building workout planRest helps your body to recover, allowing your muscles to grow after strength training workouts. This means taking a day or two off from weight lifting, but also getting in plenty of high quality sleep each night.

Men need 7 – 9 hours of sleep at night regularly to maximize health, wellness, and muscle mass gains.

Tip #2: Hormones Affect Muscle Growth

Your hormone levels affect muscle mass growth, so if you’re struggling to pack on pounds talk with your doctor about having your hormone levels checked.

Low testosterone, which is common among older men, can make muscle gains much more difficult.

Once hormone levels return to normal, your chance at achieving the chiselled physique you desire increases drastically.

Tip #3: What You Eat Matters

What you eat is just as important as which muscle building workout plan for men you choose. The key to gaining lean body mass is to increase daily food intake by about 350 calories a day by eating plenty of proteins, fiber-rich carbs, and heart healthy fats.

High-calorie foods that help increase your total intake to gain muscle include:

selection of healthy food muscle building workout plan

  • Nut and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Oils
  • Dried fruits
  • Avocados
  • Cheeses
  • Other full-fat dairy products

When you want to increase muscle growth and strength, The ACSM suggests eating 0.68 – 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, or 120 to 160 grams per day for a 175-pound man.

protein shake muscle building workout plan
Chocolate splash | Chocolate splash

The following foods are good sources of protein for muscle building:

  • Protein-rich shakes
  • Dairy foods, especially Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Lean meats
  • Fish and seafood
  • Poultry
  • Soy products
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Try a homemade protein shake by blending together protein powder, milk or plant-based milk, fruit, and nut or seed butters plus ice.

Eat about six evenly spaced meals every few hours throughout the day to ensure you’re eating enough calories for muscle building. Eat a protein-rich food, such as a protein shake, plus fiber-rich carbs before and after muscle building workouts.

Beginning a Muscle Building Workout Plan for Men

Start small when you first begin a muscle building workout program for men. Slowly increase the amount of weight you lift, your workout intensity, and exercise volume until you achieve your desired results.

Remember to eat extra protein, consume meals every few hours, and get plenty of sleep to boost your chance at success.

Test yourself with Fit Father Project’s Old School Muscle program to learn more about weight lifting for muscle building, and receive detailed customized workouts that get real results.

Gaining lean muscle mass has never been easier. The strong muscular body you desire is within reach, regardless of your age and experience level!


Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at Fit Father Project.

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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