Illustration of a weight lifter flexing his shoulder muscles after a Shoulder Day workout.

The Best Shoulder Day Workout for Building Muscle

Shoulder Day is a workout designed to bulk up your shoulders, making them bigger, stronger, and broader. You can also use it as an opportunity to sneak in some extra chest, back, or arm work, rounding out your workout routine.

In return, you can sneak some shoulder exercises into your other workouts, increasing the training frequency for your shoulders and provoking even faster shoulder growth.

You can do Shoulder Day once per week as part of a Bro Split or twice per week as part of a shoulder specialization program. We’ll show you how to do both.

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Illustration of a weight lifter flexing his chest muscles after his Chest Day workout.

The Best Chest Day Workout for Building Muscle

I have a fond spot for Chest Day workouts. I started bulking with absolutely no idea what I was doing. I gained my first 20 pounds while following a workout program that was little more than a push-up challenge.

When I finally started following a real hypertrophy training program, I could bench press more than I could squat or deadlift. As you can imagine, that made me love Chest Day even more.

I soon came into contact with Marco. He’d just gotten back from training under Eric Cressey, the head strength coach for the New York Yankees. He’d started up his own training business, where he was helping professional and Olympic athletes bulk up.

He switched me over to a full-body workout routine, which helped me gain another 40 pounds. However, my bench press soon got stuck at 250 pounds. So I brought Chest Days back into my workout routine, and lo, my bench started moving up again. After a few months, I accomplished my lifetime goal of 315 pounds.

Fortunately, Chest Days aren’t difficult to program. We’ll teach you how to make your own. We’ll also give you a few workouts you can use.

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Illustration of a weight lifter flexing their leg muscles during a Leg Day workout.

The Best Leg Day Workout for Building Muscle

Leg Days work all the biggest muscles in your body, giving you chiselled thighs, round glutes, and muscular calves. They’ll also give you a thicker torso, making you sturdier from head to toe.

We’re coming at this from a hypertrophy training angle—these workouts are designed to help you build muscle—but leg training always goes better when it’s built on a solid foundation of strength-training principles.

If you understand the basic principles, it isn’t difficult to program a good Leg Day workout. Your legs are full of big, simple muscles that respond well to big, heavy exercises. Unfortunately, those exercises are notoriously intimidating, and the punishment for skipping them is severe: you will come to physically resemble a chicken.

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Illustration of the muscles trained by a Pull Day workout.

The Best Pull Day Workout for Building Muscle

Pull Days can give you a wide back, a sturdy torso, and big biceps. They’re tricky, though. You’ve got a glorious mess of muscles back there, all of them yearning to grow, but each demanding a different elbow position or pulling angle.

Then come deadlifts and bent-over rows, which work your upper back and lats, but also your spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings. That makes them amazing lifts for stimulating muscle growth, but they can also interfere with Leg Days.

There’s a system for programming Back Days. It’s not as simple as our systems for Push Days and Leg Days, but we’ll give you plenty of examples, along with some workout routines you can choose from.

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Illustration of a lifter flexing his chest muscles during his Push Day workout.

The Best Push Day Workout for Building Muscle

As an underweight beginner, I gained my first 20 pounds from doing poorly programmed Push Days. Only Push Days. No Leg or Back days. The only exercise I knew how to do properly was the push-up. That was enough to bring me up to a healthy body weight.

Another 40 pounds later, I used a Push Day specialization routine to accomplish my lifetime goal of benching 3 plates. My bench press had plateaued for years. What finally got it moving again was having 2 dedicated Push Days every week.

I love these workouts. They’re what sparked my love of lifting. They’re also quite simple to program.

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Illustration of a weight lifter doing a 6-day workout split to build muscle.

The Best 6-Day Workout Split for Building Muscle

6-day workout splits can be remarkably good for building muscle. With so many training days to play with, you can take several different approaches, ranging from minimalism to total maximalism. You can get great results with 20-minute workouts. You could also lift for an hour every day, building a truly terrifying amount of muscle.

However, when you’re training this often, it’s easy to wear yourself out. You’re stressing your hands, postural muscles, and joints almost every day of the week. You need to be smart about it. Fortunately, there’s a long tradition of training 6 days per week. All the lumps have been hammered flat.

The two most popular 6-day workout splits are the push/pull/legs split and the upper/lower split. Both can be great for building muscle, but one makes for a better default, especially when done right.

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Illustration of a lifter doing a 5-day workout split to build more muscle.

The Best 5-Day Workout Splits for Building Muscle

5-day workout splits can be incredibly good for building muscle if you program them properly. When you’re training this often, it’s easy to beat up your hands, tire out your back, or accumulate nagging aches. Fortunately, there are simple methods for avoiding all those problems, which we’ll delve into in a moment.

My two favourite 5-day workout splits are the Bro Split and the Outlift Split. Both are equally good for building muscle, but the Bro Split has more emphasis on aesthetics, whereas the Outlift Split puts more emphasis on progressively overloading the big compound exercises. We’ll break down both splits in detail.

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Illustration of a man doing push-ups to build muscle.

How Many Push-Ups Should You Do Per Day?

The number of push-ups you should do depends on how many you did last time. To get bigger, stronger, and fitter, you have to focus on progressive overload. You have to do more push-ups than last time.

For example, let’s say in your last workout, you got 13 push-ups in your first set, 11 in your second, and 9 in your third. That’s 33 push-ups. Today, your goal is to do 34 push-ups or more.

If you can do more push-ups than last time, that’s progressive overload. It’s by far the most important part of gaining muscle and strength. It proves you’ve gotten stronger, and it stimulates a new wave of growth. It’s both the sign and signal of muscle growth.

Here’s the catch: to have any hope of getting more push-ups than last time, you need to follow a sensible workout plan, eat a diet that supports muscle growth, and live a good lifestyle. Let’s delve into how to do that.

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Illustration of a man doing the 100 push-ups a day challenge to build muscle.

100 Push-Ups a Day? You Can Do Better

The 100 Push-ups a Day Challenge is when you do 100 push-ups every day, usually for 30 days in a row. The goal is to improve your strength and fitness, building a bigger upper body as you go. It’s an admirable challenge. It’s also controversial.

Muscles take 2–4 days to recover from a strenuous workout. It’s during those days of recovery that they grow bigger and stronger. You won’t gain more muscle and strength by doing push-ups every day. In fact, you may gain less.

On the other hand, repeating the same exercise every day is a great way to practice your form. It can be great for your health and fitness, too. But if that were your goal, you’d want to keep your workouts easier. That way, you aren’t accumulating muscle damage.

The final problem is that push-ups work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and a slew of postural muscles in your torso. That’s fantastic. Push-ups are one of the best muscle-building exercises. Still, that leaves 3/4 of your body untrained.

We can solve all these problems, creating a much better challenge.

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Illustration of a skinny person building muscle.

How Many Calories Does It Take To Build a Pound of Muscle?

A pound of muscle contains about 1,200 calories of stored energy (study, study). However, just like a mason spends energy laying stones, it also takes energy to construct that muscle, adding another 500–1,000 calories. And so, overall, it takes about 2,000 calories to build a pound of muscle (study).

Now, a mason can only lay so many stones in a day. Giving him more energy than he can use won’t help him lay those stones any faster. Instead, the extra calories will simply be saved for later. They’ll be stored as body fat. So, how many extra calories should you eat every day to maximize your rate of muscle growth?

To answer that question, we have to consider the hardgainer issue. Some people have more aggressive metabolisms than others. It might take 2,000 calories to build a pound of muscle on average, but it varies from about 1,500 to 2,500 calories, depending on the person. We’ll delve into that, too.

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