Itís very important to understand a few things before we get started. Time to dispel some myths and get a few things clear.
#1 You have to lift heavy weights and you have to go to failure (that means busting your ass until you canít lift the weight anymore) or at least very close. You have to stay in the 6-12 rep range if you want to see any new muscle development. You can dip to the 4-5 rep range, but donít do that too often, as most people will respond the best in the 6-10 rep range.
#2 Donít even expect to put any kind of serious muscle on UNLESS you eat enough food. If you donít eat enough calories to build extra muscle, you are wasting your time in the gym (if your goal is to get bigger that is).
#3 PERFECT FORM! PERFECT FORM! PERFECT FORM! I donít know how many times I see jabronies in the gym doing horrible form and no matter how much weight they are heaving up, they look like crap. DONĒT LET YOUR EGO GET IN THE WAY. Perfect form, and I mean strict, controlled movements, will build quality muscle better than anything. Once I got over my ego, I got bigger. Some of my weights are still the same as they were two years ago, but Iím 20 lbs bigger because it was my form that improved. Itís easy to do a bench press and bounce 250 lbs off your chest, but itís a hell of a lot harder (and thus more productive) to slowly push up, and slowly bring down 200 lbs. Use a FULL range of motion, very important here, go all the way up and ALL the way down. And I'd suggest consistently training with weights for 2 months, followed by a week of no weight training at all, this is for your body to get a rest and rebuild so you'll continue to make good gains.
OK, hereís my current routine.
I split my training into three different workouts, one day is Chest and Shoulders, day two is Legs and Biceps, and day three is Back and Triceps. I workout 4-5 days each week and I do the workouts in this order:
Legs and Biceps
Back and Tris
Chest and Shoulders
If I work out 4 days in one week, then one of the workouts gets repeated. If I workout 5 days in a given week, then two of them are repeated. 4 is plenty, 5 is if youíre really feeling like busting your ass, but only do it if you think you can handle it without overtraining. The last thing you want to do is overtrain.
I will list the exercises and correspond the number of sets you do to the level of experience you have. Beginners (less than 1 year of weight training) do 2 sets of each exercise. Intermediate lifters (1-2 years of training) do 3 sets of each exercise. And advanced trainees with more than 2 years of training, do 3-4 sets of each exercise.
Remember, STRICT FORM. If you donít use good form you SUCK. You are cheating yourself out of good gains. Donít let your ego get in the way.
Legs and Biceps:
Leg Press or Squats - Really bust your ass on these, this is what will give you big legs
Hack Squats - use a smith machine or hack squat machine. Keep your back straight.
Leg extensions - burn it up on these
Stiff leg deadlifts - go down until just before your back rounds, then return to starting position, these will build your hamstrings.
Leg curls - burn the hamstrings on these
Straight bar Biceps Curl - I like to use an olympic bar for this, DONíT put your back into it, curl it up nice and controlled.
Incline alternating dumbbell curls - sit on a bench set at about 60 degrees
Preacher curls or concentration curls - use dumbbells if you need to and put your elbow on the side of your leg if you donít have access to a preacher curl bench.
Back and Triceps:
Bent over barbell rows - bend over with your back straight, no rounding, and pull to your upper abdominals as much as you can.
T-Bar rows - these will help also with thickness in your back
Over-hand grip Chins - use your weight if you can, if not, use a pulldown machine, but pull to your chest, not behind your back.
Under hand grip chins - think CONTRACTION
Skullcrushers - donít really crush your skull on these, but cook those triceps!
Cable Pushdowns - Donít lean into these, stay upright.
Overhead Triceps extensions - use perfect form on these to prevent injury
Chest and Shoulders:
Incline Dumbbell Presses - a good upper chest is key to a good physique
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
Flat Bench press (bar or dumbbells)
Cable Crossovers or Flat flyes
Dumbbell side lateral raises - keep your arms as straight as you can on these, the straighter the better!
Dumbbell Military Press - you won't be able to use as much weight as when you do these first in your shoulder routine, but I believe it works better to do them once you've already done some lateral raises. Use perfect form for big, round shoulders.
Bent over laterl raises - you should never neglect your rear delts!
Well, there you have it. Train hard and train smart. Use perfect form! To recap: beginners do two sets of each exercise, intermediate trainees do 3, and advanced to 3-4 sets of each exercise.