Author: Joep Rooijmans, 20 jul. 2019          Updated: 03 jan. 2020


Some workout plans teach you to start with bodyweight exercises and increase the weight slowly.


Other training schedules dictate to not reach muscle failure and stop way before inflammation. 


This is NOT one of these workouts!


This is a hardcore bodybuilding workout program. This complete bodybuilding workout plan consists of 5 training days per week, targeting every muscle group two times per week. 


If you bring the right mentality, then this bodybuilding workout plan will bring you your results! Period.


This article explains:

  • The right fitness techniques to develop muscle mass
  • The progressive overload principle
  • A 5-day routine hardcore bodybuilding workout plan


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Hardcore bodybuilding workout: the right fitness techniques

In order to ensure that your hard work in the gym leads to bigger muscles, it’s important that you apply the right fitness technique.


'The right technique' means aligning the elements that determine your result:

  • Weight
  • Number of reps
  • Number of sets
  • Exercises
  • Rest time


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The weight with which you perform each exercise is crucial. 


How do you know how heavy you should lift?


When your sole focus is building muscle mass (bodybuilding) you select a weight that's 75% of your 1RM.


RM stands for repetition maximum. 1RM defines the weight with which you can perform 1 repetition with. It's simply your heaviest weight for that specific exercise. Example:


The heaviest weight with which you can still perform one chest press is 120 kg. In order to focus on developing muscle mass, you perform between 8 and 12 reps with 90 kg. Because 75% of 120 kg is 90 kg.


Selecting the right weight is crucial if you want to achieve results. Therefore, it is important that you know the 1RM weight for every exercise included in the bodybuilding workout plan below.


Perform every exercise with 75% of the 1RM weight of that specific exercise. 




Number of reps

Perform between 8 and 12 reps per set.


When you are not able to perform at least 8 reps then decrease the weight. When you perform less than 8 reps your focus shifts to increasing muscle strength (low reps, heavy weight).


If you have performed 12 reps and notice that you still have energy left then increase the weight. Having energy left over is not happening during this bodybuilding workout!


Research shows that in order to build muscle the 8 to 12 rep range is the sweet spot! 


Following the time-under-tension theory, your body activates its glycolytic-energy system when you keep putting tension on your muscles.


It starts to produce lactic acid which lies at the core for new muscle production. It induces a surge in anabolic hormone levels within the body, including testosterone.


hardcore bodybuilding workout plan

number of Sets

Perform 3 or 4 sets per exercise. Performing less than 3 sets decreases the effectiveness of your bodybuilding workout. 


Perform 4 sets for the first exercises of the workout. When you start to reach muscle failure at the end of your workout then you can decrease the number of sets to 3.


3 sets is the minimum for each exercise. Research shows that in order to build muscle tissue 3 to 4 sets is the optimum number.





Theory doesn't give a definite answer to how many exercises should be included in a workout plan. This depends on various factors.


One of those factors is simply 'how heavy do you want your training to be' and what's your desired result. 


Furthermore, the relation between the number of exercises and the production of muscle mass is not linear; adding extra exercises to your workout plan doesn't keep resulting in growth.


After a certain time your body will be tired and you reach muscle failure. 


Another factor is related to the muscle group(s) a certain exercise targets. Rule of thumb is that you should include more exercises in your workout plan that target the big muscle groups (legs, chest and back).


This bodybuilding workout plan includes at least 3 exercises for the smaller muscle groups and 4 exercises for the larger muscles.



hardcore bodybuilding workout plan

Rest time

The amount of time that you rest in between sets should be around 1 minute. Don't rest more than 90 seconds, you want to keep pressure on your muscles.


Don't give them the opportunity to recover completely, you want to feel them burn!


fitness technique building muscle mass

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Bodybuilding: the progressive overload principle

It´s one of the (if not the) most important concept in fitness when it comes to achieving results: progressive overload.


Too many people stick to a workout that they feel comfortable with. This leads to repeating the same workout over and over again without ever adjusting the exercises, weight or reps.


Your body gets used to the movements and tension and progress stagnates because the level of growth hormones that your body produces decreases.


Progressive overload is the continuing increase of stress placed upon the body during your workouts.


Keep pushing yourself to train harder. This can be achieved by increasing:

  • the weight
  • number of sets
  • number of reps
  • number of exercises per muscle group

Try to improve at least one element compared to the last time that you performed this routine. If you can't increase the weight then make sure that you perform at least 1 extra rep.


If you can't perform an extra rep then keep the weight and reps the same but perform an extra set. 


Continue to increase the level of stress that you place on your body to achieve maximum result every single workout.




Bodybuilding workout plan


A full explanation of every exercise that's listed below can be found HERE.


For maximum result, repeat this bodybuilding workout for 6 to 8 weeks.


Day 1: back, biceps & legs

The deadlift is one of the most effective compound exercises. It not only targets your back but almost every muscle in your body. The lat pulldown and cable row exercises focus on the side, upper and middle part of your back.


The 4 biceps exercises all focus on the largest central biceps muscle. By using both dumbbells and barbells you really push your biceps to work hard!


The leg press is a compound exercise focusing on the upper leg muscles, including your glutes. The leg extension targets the front of your upper leg (quadriceps) and the walking lunges target the back (hamstring).


full body bodubuilding workout plan


Day 2: chest, triceps & abs

The dumbbell press and bench press are the perfect exercises to target the middle part of your chest. The incline dumbbell press and incline push ups focus on the upper part of your chest. The combination of these chest exercises ensure full chest muscle growth.


Performing dips is an effective way to warm up the triceps and to get the first stretch into the muscle. The cable v-bar pushdown, rope pushdown and close grip push ups all target the long triceps muscle.


All 5 abs exercises focus on the front and lower part of your abdominals. By including the static plank exercise your abs are being target in different ways, enhancing muscle growth and fat burning.


full body bodybuilding complete workout plan gym schedule

Day 3: shoulders, biceps & legs

The 3 shoulder exercises combined target the entire shoulder muscle. With the dumbbell press you focus on the top part of the shoulder. The dumbbell side raise target the shoulders on the side and the front raise focusses on the front part of your shoulders.


Squats target both the muscles in your upper and lower leg. The adductor and adductor target the sides of your upper legs. By performing standing calf raises you isolate the lower leg muscles. And the leg curl targets your hamstring.


The 4 biceps exercises focus on the top part of your biceps muscle, called the ‘head’ of the biceps. By including different types of exercises (dumbbell and cable) and movement (sitting and standing) you ensure a complete biceps workout!


full body bodybuilding complete workout plan gym schedule

Day 4: back, triceps & abs

The wide pull up and 1 arm dumbbell row target the side, upper and middle part of your back. The lower back extension, bar row and dumbbell deadlift exercises isolate the muscles in your lower back.


The machine dips target the complete triceps muscle. The overhead dumbbell extension, lying triceps extension and close grip bench press exercises all focus on the short triceps muscle.


The 4 exercises for your abdominals focus on the side abs. 


full body bodybuilding complete workout plan gym schedule

Day 5: chest & shoulders

The dumbbell seated side raise targets the side of the shoulder. The dumbbell press and barbell press focus on the back and top part of your shoulder. The cable front raise isolates the front part of your shoulder. And the dumbbell fly is an all-round effective shoulder exercise. Together, these 5 exercises target your entire shoulder muscle.


The dumbbell press focuses on the middle part of your chest. The dumbbell fly, machine fly and close grip dumbbell press exercises target the center part of your chest. And the decline dumbbell press and decline push ups target the lower part of your chest.


full body bodybuilding complete workout plan gym schedule


Comments: 1
  • #1

    arnab (Thursday, 08 October 2020 22:27)

    what about rear delt and trap exercise? as well as fore arm exercise