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When it comes to achieving your best physique, a proper strength training program is essential.

Whether you’re looking to transform your body or just kick your training up a notch, it’s important to add training volume (in the form of reps, sets, and weight) to stimulate new muscle growth as you progress.

In general, most beginners have been lifting for less than a year, intermediates for at least 1 year, and advanced trainees for at least 2 years. Keep in mind that advanced workouts should not be attempted unless you have appropriate strength training experience.

This article reviews several high-quality exercise regimens for men of all experience levels to maximize muscle and strength gains while ensuring adequate recovery.

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or new to strength training, working out at home is a great option when you can’t get to the gym or need a change of pace.

The at-home workouts below require a limited amount of equipment. Plus, some of the movements can be substituted for bodyweight exercises in which you use your body’s own weight as resistance.

These exercises can serve as a weeklong beginner’s routine or cycled to provide several sessions per week for advanced trainees.

If your goal is weight loss, you can add a form of cardio, such as running or cycling, between sessions.

Equipment required: flat-weight bench, appropriate adjustable dumbbells based on your level of experience

If you’re just starting out you may want to get expert advice at a specialty store to select the right equipment, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can also purchase adjustable dumbbells online.

Rest intervals: 60–90 seconds

man doing pushups at homeShare on Pinterest
Pushups (from “Day 2: chest and back” workout below)

Day 1: legs, shoulders, and abs

Day 2: chest and back

Day 3: arms and abs

Summary

This home workout routine includes all the exercises you need to make sizeable muscle and strength gains with minimal equipment.

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Lateral raises (from “Day 1: full body” workout below)

Starting out in the gym can seem intimidating, but with proper guidance the process becomes more approachable — and even invigorating.

As a beginner, you can progress very quickly because almost any exercise promotes muscle and strength gains. Still, it’s important to avoid overexertion, which can lead to injuries or decreased performance.

This workout routine has you in the gym 3 days per week (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), with full-body sessions completed each day. This allows you to get used to new movements, focus on proper form, and take time to recover.

You can add reps and sets as needed as you progress.

The beginner phase should last as long as you continue to improve. Some people may plateau at around 6 months, whereas others may continue to see results for over a year.

Equipment required: fully-equipped gym

Rest periods: 90–180 seconds for main movements, 60–90 seconds for accessories

Intensity: Select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps while leaving about two solid reps in the tank.

Day 1: full body

Day 2: full body

Day 3: full body

Summary

This 3-day beginner program provides the full-body stimulus you need to gain muscle while allowing adequate recovery between sessions.

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Overhead press (from “Day 3: upper body” workout below)

After working hard in the gym for several months, it’s time to step your training up a notch to keep your gains coming.

At this point, you should have good exercise technique and be able to handle more weight on the bar.

This 4-day-per-week intermediate program increases reps and sets to stimulate new muscle growth. When they become too easy, you can gradually add more weight or more reps/sets.

If done right, you can follow this routine for several years until you reach an advanced level. It may be helpful to switch up your exercises on occasion to keep yourself engaged and prevent burnout.

Remember that soreness is not always an indicator of muscle growth. Now that you have some training experience, you may not get sore after every workout.

Equipment required: fully-equipped gym

Rest intervals: 90–180 seconds for main movements, 60–90 seconds for accessories

Intensity: Select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps while leaving about two solid reps in the tank. To increase intensity, go to your limit on the last set.

Day 1: upper body

Day 2: lower body

Day 3: upper body

Day 4: lower body

Summary

This 4-day, intermediate program adds additional sets and reps, as well as more complex exercises, to jumpstart new muscle growth.

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Hanging leg raises (from “Legs B” workout below)

Additional volume (sets and reps) and intensity (weight on the bar) is essential for advanced gym-goers to keep gaining muscle. Keep in mind that this routine should not be attempted unless you’ve been training consistently for 2 or more years.

While the muscle gains won’t come as fast as they did when you were a beginner, there’s still room for significant progress at this stage.

This gruelling workout routine has you in the gym 6 days per week with 1 rest day in between. It follows a pull-push-legs pattern, hitting each muscle group twice per week, with supersets incorporated for maximum hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Again, you can increase weight on the bar, as well as sets and reps, from week to week to ensure continued progress while following this program.

Equipment required: fully-equipped gym

Rest periods: 90–180 seconds for main movements, 60–90 seconds for accessories

Intensity: Select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps while leaving about 2 solid reps in the tank. To increase intensity, go to failure on the last set.

Supersets: Complete the initial set of the first movement immediately followed by the second movement. Repeat until all designated reps and sets are complete.

Pull A

Push A

Legs A

Pull B

Push B

Legs B

Summary

This advanced program is incredibly intense and follows a push-pull-legs pattern for 6 days per week. Only attempt this program if you have several years of training under your belt.

As you age, muscle and bone mass decreases at a gradual rate. Nonetheless, you can counteract this loss by following a resistance training program to stimulate muscle and bone growth (1, 2).

The exercise routines outlined above still apply to people aged 40 and older, though some of the exercises may need to be replaced with more joint-friendly options — especially if you have any pre-existing injuries.

For example, you can do goblet squats instead of back squats or tricep pushdowns instead of dips.

Regardless of your age, it’s best to start with the beginner program and work your way up.

It’s also important not to work out too strenuously, as there’s an increased risk of injury as you age. You may likewise need to extend recovery times to 2 days between workouts instead of 1, as your body takes more time to recuperate (3).

While exercise presents some obstacles for older adults, maintaining a proper resistance training program can provide endless benefits and keep you consistently in shape.

Summary

Trainees above the age of 40 may have to adjust their workout routine to account for injuries or slower recovery times. While muscle and bone mass decline as you age, you can combat this with proper exercise.

While working out in the gym provides the stimulus for muscle and strength gains, nutrition plays a major role in recovery and exercise optimization.

Thus, it’s important to ensure that your food intake is adequate to meet the demands of your training.

This can be done by ensuring sufficient calorie, protein, carb, and fat intake based on your training intensity and physique goals. You can use a calorie counter to calculate your needs.

In order to gain muscle, it’s best to be in a calorie surplus, or eat more than your body needs to sustain itself. A surplus of 10–20% over your baseline calorie needs should be sufficient to promote muscle gains (4).

If you’re trying to lose body fat instead, maintaining your baseline or adopting a slight calorie deficit is generally recommended (4).

Nutrient timing, which involves eating at specific times to yield results, may also be vital to maximize muscle gains. For example, many experts recommend eating a well-balanced meal or snack within 2 hours of a workout, ideally both before and after (5, 6).

If you want to ensure proper dietary intake or create an individualized plan to help you meet your goals, consider consulting a registered dietitian.

Summary

Proper nutrition is vital to exercise, as it provides your body with the necessary building blocks for gaining muscle and strength.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned gym-goer, workout routines catered to your experience level can help you progress towards your muscle and strength goals.

Over time, you may find that your body responds better to certain movements over others, allowing you to adapt your training accordingly.

A proper exercise regimen and good nutrition habits are the first steps to getting in the best shape of your life, no matter your level of experience.

If you have an underlying health condition, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.