Workout Routines for Men: The Ultimate Guide

Man doing a plank

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 you should not attempt advanced workouts 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.

  • At-home workout routine for men

    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 routine or be 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 visit a specialty store to get expert advice on selecting the right equipment. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can purchase adjustable dumbbells online.

    Rest intervals: 60–90 seconds

    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 sizable muscle and strength gains with minimal equipment.

  • Beginner’s workout routine for men

    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 more than 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 2 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.

  • Intermediate workout routine for men

    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 techniques 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 you do it correctly, 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 2 solid reps in the tank. To increase the 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 jump-start new muscle growth.

  • Advanced workout routine for men

    Additional volume (sets and reps) and intensity (weight on the bar) are essential for advanced gym-goers to keep gaining muscle. Keep in mind that you should not attempt this routine 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 grueling 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 the 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 the 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. Attempt this program only if you have several years of training under your belt.

  • Considerations for lifters over 40

    As you age, muscle and bone mass gradually decreases. Nonetheless, you can counteract this loss by following a resistance training program to stimulate muscle and bone growth (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

    The exercise routines outlined above still apply to people ages 40 and older, though you may replace some exercises with more joint-friendly options — especially if you have any preexisting injuries.

    For example, you can do goblet squats instead of back squats or triceps 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, because 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 day because your body takes more time to recuperate (3Trusted Source).

    While exercise presents some obstacles for those over 40, maintaining a proper resistance training program can provide endless benefits and keep you consistently in shape.

    SUMMARY Trainees over age 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.

  • Don’t forget nutrition

    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.

    You can do this 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 (4Trusted Source).

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

    Nutrient timing, which involves eating at specific times to yield results, may also be vital to maximizing 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 (5Trusted Source6Trusted Source).

    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 because it provides your body with the necessary building blocks for gaining muscle and strength.

  • Tips

    When starting a new strength training program, it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting injured or overexerting yourself.

    First, you’ll want to accurately assess your level of experience as outlined above and select the appropriate workout program for you.

    It’s always best to start with a program that may be slightly too easy rather than an advanced program that is too difficult.

    The workout routines above are broken down into specific muscle groups for each session to provide enough stimulus to achieve results without overtaxing your body.

    What is your goal?

    Depending on your individual goal, you may want to consider adjusting your reps and sets.

    For instance, if strength is your goal (your power against resistance), the National Sports and Conditioning Association recommends 3 or more sets of up to 6 reps. You should lift heavier loads if strength is your goal (78).

    If hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle size and definition, is your goal, focus on sets of 6–12 reps with 1 minute of rest in between. You should lift about 65–85% of your 1-rep maximum for hypertrophy (9).

    If muscular endurance is your goal, you’ll want to focus on lighter weight and higher reps (8).

    In addition, performing a proper warmup is key to avoiding injury because it primes your muscles and cardiovascular system for the exercises to come.

    Wear comfortable, close-fitting clothing that makes it easy to move, along with sneakers or other appropriate footwear.

    If you’re increasing the weight you’re lifting or are unsure about a movement, it’s a good idea to have a spotter keep a close eye on the weight while you move it.

    Lastly, allowing sufficient recovery time between workouts is another factor that will greatly reduce your risk of injury.

    SUMMARY To avoid getting injured or overexerting yourself, it’s important to choose an appropriate workout routine for your level of experience, perform a proper warmup before exercising, and allow enough recovery time between workout sessions.

The bottom line

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

Over time, you may find that your body responds better to certain movements than to others and choose 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 a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.

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