Man working out with dumbbells

When it comes to building muscle most effectively and efficiently, muscle hypertrophy workout routines are the best way to achieve that.

If you haven’t heard of this term before or if you aren’t familiar with its meaning, don’t worry. You will learn everything in this post about muscular hypertrophy and the best ways to use its principles to help you gain muscle size.

This information was life-changing for me when I learned of hypertrophy workout routines. As I gained more knowledge on this subject, I got in the best shape of my life. I followed the workout programs that worked best and applied all proven strategies to maximize my muscle growth.

I’m sure that it will result in the same for you once you understand the simple concepts of hypertrophy. I will share with you what I have learned and applied to my training using years of knowledge gained. The advice you will read here will give you guaranteed results and help you build muscle in the gym.

Let’s get started.


What is Hypertrophy Training?

Muscular hypertrophy in simple terms is the increase in the size of muscle mass that results from a combination of factors like training variables (strength, intensity, etc), nutrition, and supplementation.

Hypertrophy training refers to the type of training that helps induce muscular hypertrophy. This is without question, one of the best approaches for maximizing exercise-induced muscle growth.

It plays an important role in bodybuilding as well as strength sports like powerlifting, football, and Olympic weightlifting. Hypertrophy training can also be generally used for building an aesthetic body or getting you one step closer to achieving the shredded physique you’ve always desired.

On a more general level, many lifters who wish to develop the aspects of their physiques use muscle hypertrophy principles to get there. If you also wish to develop and gain muscle to look good and more confident with your self-image, then this approach will help you get there.

Whatever be the reason, hypertrophy training will help you in your journey to increase lean muscle mass. It is thus important to know the application of hypertrophy to your training along with its techniques which we will talk about below.


3 Best Approaches To Training for Muscle Growth

Muscular man carrying weights

Before we get into the different training routines, it is important to understand the different mechanisms of hypertrophy that you can use to your advantage to get the greatest benefits for muscle growth.

Three primary factors are responsible for building muscle through training which I will explain below. For a more detailed overview of them, please read my article How to Build Lean Muscle Fast: 3 Fundamentals of Muscle Growth.

Mechanical Tension

This refers to the amount of overloading force that is generated in your muscles when you lift weights.

Progressively lifting heavier weights to maintain a high level of effort stimulates maximum mechanical tension and results in the best muscle growth response when training for hypertrophy.

By placing the muscles under greater than normal stress through heavy lifting, the body starts adapting to better handle future incidents of higher stress levels. In response, the body becomes stronger following an increase in muscle mass.

Muscle Damage

This refers to the actual damage caused to the muscle tissues in response to resistance training which is then repaired by the body through proper rest and nutrition.

Focusing on eccentric or negative reps (where your muscles are in the most stretched position while lowering the weights) and slowing them down while resisting against gravity will result in maximum muscle damage through resistance training.

Metabolic Stress

The stress in the muscles known to be caused by lifting moderate to light weights for a higher number of repetitions causes the maximum amount of metabolic stress in the muscles and in return the muscles respond with a pump or a temporary burning feeling to promote muscle growth.


Training Techniques Responsible for Stimulating Hypertrophy

Man doing deadlifts using barbells

After learning everything about muscular hypertrophy and the three approaches to training for maximizing it, let’s discuss the most important training variables that directly impact the muscle growth response.

Intensity

The training load or intensity of your exercise has been shown to have a significant impact on muscle hypertrophy and is one of the most important exercise variables responsible for muscle growth. The level of intensity depends on an individual’s training experience and the current fitness levels.

Intensity is expressed as a percentage of 1 Rep Max (RM) and equates to the number of repetitions that can be performed with a given weight.

For trained individuals, high-intensity (50-80% of your 1 Rep Max), with low (1-5) to moderate (6-12) repetitions provides a greater stimulus for muscle growth according to numerous studies.

For untrained individuals or beginners, studies have suggested that a moderate intensity (50-60% of 1 Rep Max or less) with low to moderate repetitions should be used initially as learning proper form and technique is of paramount importance to build a strong foundation of strength when training for muscle building goals.

When you are training with high-intensity, it is important to know that your intense workouts should not last longer than one hour to ensure maximal training capacity throughout the session.

Volume

Training volume is defined as the total number of repetitions, sets, and load performed in a training session.

Higher-volume and multiple-set training (performing 2-3 sets per exercise) sessions have been considered the most beneficial for stimulating muscle growth in both experienced lifters and beginners.

The reason behind this is the greater total muscle tension, muscle damage, metabolic stress, or some combination of these factors that results in higher-volume training routines are considered to be the most effective for building muscle.

As far as training routines for maximizing hypertrophy are concerned, research shows that a split-body training routine where multiple exercises are performed for a single muscle group is better in comparison to a full-body training routine.

Furthermore, to maximize hypertrophy using this method, it is advised that the training volume should be progressively increased to avoid overtraining the muscles which can be counterproductive to your muscle-building goals.

Exercise Selection

When planning for the various exercise to add to your training routine for maximizing muscle gains, it is effective and beneficial to add both single-joint or isolation exercises like leg extension, incline arm curls, and overhead triceps extensions and multi-joint or compound exercises like squats, bench press, overhead press.

Another way to vary exercise selection is to include unilateral exercises that involve single-leg or single-arm movements as well as bilateral exercises that involve both-legs or both arm movements.

A few examples of unilateral exercises are Bulgarian split squat and side lunge that work the lower body with single-arm bicep curls or lateral raises that work the upper body.

A few examples of bilateral exercises are squats and deadlifts that work the lower body with the barbell bench press and barbell biceps curl that work the upper body.

Rest Periods

Taking the proper amount of rest between sets is another factor that contributes to the overall muscle-building stimulus generated in the body. The length of rest periods will depend on the type of exercises you are performing along with its intensity and your training goals.

For maximizing hypertrophy, a moderate amount of rest between sets varying from 60 to 90 seconds is recommended when training with moderate weights.

However, for exercises using heavier loads (70-90% of 1 Rep Max) like squat and bench press, a longer rest period of at least 2-3 minutes is required to promote a full recovery of strength in between sets.

Muscle Failure

Training to failure refers to the point during a set where you cannot do another repetition with a given weight and where your muscles are incapable of completing another complete repetition without assistance.

Many studies claim that training to failure is necessary for muscle growth which is only true to a certain point.

The training to muscle failure approach should be used periodically or in a limited way and should not be applied to every set in your weight training routine to avoid its potential disadvantages of overtraining.

The best strategy to use here for maximizing hypertrophy using muscle failure is to limit the use of training to failure while doing compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows because these exercises are more physically and mentally demanding.

On the other hand, it is advised to use muscle failure technique liberally while performing isolation exercises to keep the overall load on your muscles balanced.

Multiple pieces of evidence clearly show a greater increase in muscle strength and hypertrophy after performing a high-intensity training workout to failure, so the takeaway here is that its use should be limited or periodized to avoid an overtraining state.

Repetition Speed

The speed at which you lift your weights and lower your weights during a training session also contribute to the muscle-building process. The higher the tension on your muscles, the more your muscles will grow.

For stimulating hypertrophy, the best way to train is by increasing the tension on your muscles which can be done by slowing down your repetition speed while lowering the weights by resisting gravity, also known as an eccentric contraction for a count of 3-4 seconds.

For the concentric part of the lift where you are raising the weights, a moderate to fast repetition speed for a count of 1-2 seconds is the most beneficial for hypertrophy.

This manipulation of the repetition speed is used to increase the time under tension for each set to maximize the muscle gains.

Always remember to lower your weights slowly, pausing slightly at the bottom, and then raising the weights in a controlled manner to develop maximum muscle size and increase tension.


The Best Hypertrophy Training Routines for Gaining Muscle

Man training with dumbbells in the gym

I know this is what you came here for but before getting directly to the training routines for hypertrophy, you needed to understand the foundation on which you are going to build an amazing physique.

You have two training routines to choose from that you will have the flexibility to add in your current schedule. I believe that these two are the best hypertrophy training routines that will give you the best results and the proper time for recovery outside the gym.

Following these workouts have given me a considerable amount of lean muscle gains over the years. So, now let’s dive into the workouts and know more about the best exercises, sets, and repetitions in a step-by-step layout.

Workout Notes:

These workouts have been designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilders who can adjust their training volume and intensity as per their experience levels and training goals.

The 3-day hypertrophy training routine will work all the muscles in your body twice per week which is the most effective frequency for muscle growth as compared to the 4-day training routine.

Total workout time should be around 60-70 minutes, not including warmup exercises.

Be sure to keep one rest day in between every workout for proper recovery. Doing straight sets is recommended where you will lift the same weight for all of your sets of an exercise in the rep range described in the workout. For training your core and abs / HIIT cardio, it is suggested you train them at least two to three times per week on your off days.

Warm-up:

Before all workouts, you should do a proper warm-up routine to prevent any injury to the muscles and open them up, getting the blood pumping to the muscles for them to prepare to do the hard work.

You can do either dynamic stretching, mobility exercises, or perform a combination of a few exercises with short rest periods (circuit training) that target the muscle groups you will be working out for the day.

While warming up the muscles for an upper-body training day, always remember to work your rotator cuff muscles by doing 1-2 sets using light weights with exercises that externally rotate the shoulders. Doing this will strengthen the rotator cuff muscles thus keeping them healthy, avoiding shoulder pain issues, and preventing rotator cuff injuries like impingement and tears.

The 4-Day Workout Routine

Day 1 – Back and Biceps

1. Barbell Deadlift

Warm-up sets and then 3 working sets of 5 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

2. Underhand Wide Grip Pulldown

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

3. Alternating One-Arm High Cable Row OR Rocking Pulldown

2-3 sets of 8-10 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

4. Barbell Row

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

5. Barbell Biceps Curl

3 sets to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

6. Incline Dumbbell Curl

2-3 sets to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

7. Dumbbell Cross Body Hammer Curl

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

8. Hyperextension

2 sets of 10-12 reps

Day 2 – Chest and Triceps

1. Barbell Bench Press

3-4 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

3. Weighted Chest Dip

3 sets to failure

2-3 minutes rest between sets

4. Cable Crossover

3 sets of 12-15 reps

5. Skullcrusher OR Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

3 sets to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

6. Overhead Cable Triceps Extension

3 sets of 8-10 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

7. Cable Rope Triceps Pushdown or Rocking Pushdowns

2 sets to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

Day 3 – Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves

1. Barbell Squats

3 sets of 6-8 reps

3 minutes rest between sets

2. Barbell Hip Thrust

3 sets of 8-10 reps or to failure

2-3 minutes rest between sets

3. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

3 sets of 6-8 reps or to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

4. Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

5. Leg Extension

2-3 sets of 8-10 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

6. Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 6-8 reps or to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

7. Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 12-15 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

Day 4 – Shoulders, Traps, and Forearms

1. Overhead Shoulder Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

2. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

3 sets of 8-10 reps

60 to 90 seconds rest between sets

3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60 to 90 seconds rest between sets

4. Reverse Barbell Curl

2 sets to failure

5. Cable Face Pulls

3 sets of 10-12 reps

60 to 90 seconds rest between sets

6. Barbell Shrug or Dumbbell Shrug

3 sets to failure

60 to 90 seconds rest between sets

7. Dumbbell Farmers Walk

1-2 sets of 30-60 seconds walk carrying heavy dumbbells

The 3-Day Workout Routine

This is currently my personal workout routine that I’m sharing with you below.

Day 1 – Upper Body Workout (Chest, Shoulders, and Back) –

1. Barbell Bench Press or Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

2. Chest Supported Dumbell Row or Barbell Bent Over Row

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

3. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown or Rocking Pulldown

3 sets of 8-10 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

4. Barbell Incline Bench Press

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

5. Military / Overhead Shoulder Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

6. One-Arm High Cable Row

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

7A. Dumbbell Lateral / Side Raise (Superset)

2 sets of 6-8 reps

7B. Face Pulls

2 sets of 8-10 reps

Day 2 – Lower Body Workout (Legs and Arms) –

1. Barbell Squats

3 sets of 6-8 reps

3 minutes rest between sets

2. Barbell Hip Thrust

3 sets of 8-10 reps or to failure

2-3 minutes rest between sets

3. Bulgarian Split Squat

3 sets of 6-8 reps or to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

4. Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

5. Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 6-8 reps or to failure

60-90 seconds rest between sets

6. Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 12-15 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

7. Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curls (arms moving together)

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

8. Close-Grip Bench Press

2-3 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

Day 3 – Upper Body Workout

1. Barbell Bench Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets

2. Superset (perform one set of an exercise and then immediately switch to another exercise and do another set)

A. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2 sets of 8-10 reps

B. Dumbbell Bent-Over Rear Delt Row

2 sets of 8-10 reps

3. Straight Arm Pushdown

2 sets of 6-8 reps

60-90 seconds rest between sets

ARMS (Superset) –

4A. Barbell Bicep Curl

3 sets of 6-8 reps

4B. Incline Dumbbell Triceps Extension or Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

3 sets of 6-8 reps

5A. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

3 sets of 6-8 reps

5B. Barbell Skull Crushers

3 sets of 6-8 reps

6A. Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl

3 sets of 6-8 reps

6B. Triceps Rocking Pushdown or Triceps Pushdown

3 sets of 6-8 reps

7A. Forearm Reverse Curl

2 sets of 8-10 reps

7B. Farmers Walk

1-2 sets of 30-60 seconds walk carrying heavy dumbbells


Train Less, Grow More

Man doing a gym workout with weights

Applying the ‘Less is More’ strategy in your workouts, these two training splits are all you need to build muscle. You don’t need to spend every day in the gym to get results.

Working hard in your training with the right plan for just a few hours per week is all it takes to get bigger, leaner, and stronger.

If you truly train hard and stay consistent with your workouts, the muscle growth effect from these workouts will be so high that you will be glad you got these results with following just a 3 or 4-day training routine.

So, go ahead, get rid of all distractions, and focus every second on maximizing your muscle gains. This hypertrophy training program will only work if you put in the work without wasting a moment of your precious gym time.

Remember your why or the long term goal that got you started if you struggle on your fitness journey.

Good luck and let those gains begin!

Leave a Comment