Muscle Building Workouts- 27 Ways to Get Big & Strong

muscle building workouts should include heavy weights1) Before you get to the gym make sure you have your muscle building workouts planned out. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

2) Psyche up on the way there by visualizing the workout in your head. See yourself going through each of your exercises and dominating the weights.

3) If you train at a public gym, where it’s more than likely they’ll be playing Usher and similar R&B tunes that will make you wanna clean out your ears with a gun, make sure you have some good training songs loaded on your iPod.

4) Train hard but don’t make every workout a competition.

5) Limit your workouts to an hour, tops. Use a stopwatch or GymBoss Interval Timer to keep yourself in check.

6) Stick with a muscle building workout plan for 12 weeks, minimum. The best way to see zero results is by jumping from one routine to the next from week to week.

7) Start each workout with a full body dynamic warm up to fire up the CNS, lubricate the joints and activate the muscles; especially those that might not always fire properly or in the right order.

8) If you have nagging injuries stay covered up and dress warm for your workouts. I always wear a few layers unless it’s over 80 degrees in the gym.

9) Knee and elbow sleeves can also be a great friend to the older beat up lifter.

10) Develop a very close, personal relationship with the Rumble Roller and a lacrosse ball.

11) Don’t use more than five exercises per workout.

12) When in doubt about what those exercises should be, pick up something heavy and put it over your head in a variety of ways.

13) Don’t skimp on your warm ups. If 405 is your starting weight on deadlifts, doing 135×5, 225×3, 315×1 and then starting is not an effective warm up. Multiple sets of low reps will better prepare you for the task at hand.

14) Begin your workouts with some type of throw, jump or Olympic lift for 3-10 sets of 1-5 reps to fire up your CNS.

Captain Kirk knew a thing or two about muscle building workouts

15) Linear periodization  worked for Kirk Karwoski, Ed Coan and Bill Kazmaeir. It still works. But you have to know how to do it properly.

16) Don’t train for more than about six weeks straight without taking a deload week. Newbies can go longer.

17) Using Fat Gripz helps you get both grip and forearm work in without adding any extra training time. It also helps save your elbows.

18) Try to use as many bodyweight exercises as possible for assistance work.

19) Incorporate odd objects and strongman type exercises to build real world, functional strength and stability. If you could only pick one farmers walks would be the best.

20) Always strive for maximal muscle stimulation with minimal joint stress.

21) Speaking of joint stress, be careful to avoid elbow pain. When your elbows get screwed up you will most likely have to deal with it for years. And whenever you think they have healed you will find some exercise that causes excruciating pain.

22) One of the biggest benefits of bodyweight exercises is they allow you to get in some volume and train the muscle without destroying your joints or your CNS.

Sure, the deadlift is a better exercise for your posterior chain than the glute ham raise. But you can’t deadlift with a lot of volume every day. If you’re really strong you might not be able to do more than a couple of  sets of deadlifts per month.

With the glute ham you can hit it every day if need be and there is minimal joint or CNS stress.

Road Warrior Hawks muscle building workouts were legendary23) If you want traps like the late, great Road Warrior Hawk (and who doesn’t?) you have to add in some Olympic pull variations like cleans or snatch grip high pulls.

24) Do high intensity conditioning either immediately after strength training or as a separate workout on the same day, 4-8 hours later.

25) Before doing anything in the gym always ask yourself a couple questions. Will it help me? How? If you can’t come up with a good answer don’t do it.

26) Your goals and what you do during training should always coincide. If your number one goal is to gain 30 pounds of bodyweight and add 50 pounds each to your bench, squat and deadlift you have to ask yourself how a twenty minute circuit of battling ropes, sled and kettlebell work at the end of each workout will help you.

27) Have fun. At the end of the day most people will not continue to do something for the long haul if it’s not fun. So get a training partner or group, challenge each other, get strong and have fun.

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47 Responses to Muscle Building Workouts- 27 Ways to Get Big & Strong

  1. Jamin Thompson August 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    As always, great post dude. I couldn’t agree with #15 and #42 more.


  2. Ray August 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Looks like captain Kirk is doing the Anabolic periodization stack.

  3. Fabio Sekoff August 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Hardcore stuff, what muscle dreams are made of!

  4. Raymond - ZenMyFitness August 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Excellent tips I’ll do my best to include them into my workouts.
    Visualisation, fun and the Power rack is where it’s at for me.

  5. Niel August 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    10) I progressed to performing it from a push-up position. Great stuff.

  6. Lee Hayward August 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Awesome tips, thanks for posting!

  7. Byron Carrell August 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m still lookin’ at the “box”.

  8. Jedd August 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Love the use of Road Warrior Hawk for the trap example. He and Animal had some sick workouts. I love watching their dvd during the part where Animal talks about their workouts back in the day. SICK TRAP DEVELOPMENT. Those guys were brutes.


  9. Iron August 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Pretty cool article Jason!
    Loved the tips, man.

  10. jasonferruggia August 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Thanks guys.

    Bryon- me too.

    Jedd- I hear ya, man. I love that part of the DVD too. Good stuff.

  11. Bhusan August 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    That was really a great stuff………….

  12. clement August 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    Great post, Jay!

  13. Mike August 25, 2010 at 1:49 am #


    Great article…already forwarded it to a few friends who are newer to lifting.

    One question though: With the foam roller, what would you consider overuse time-wise?

  14. Guðmundur Pétursson August 25, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Hi Jason
    If i follow your Maximum Mass program, like I have for ca 2 years, i have a Q about warmup.
    I usually do warmup for ca 10 minutes, and then i attack the program. Like the program says i do just 2 heawy sets for one excersise. I have felt like the setup in this great program is that one excersise warms up for the next. The only time i do more than 2 sets is like when the days program starts with f.ex. squats or deadlifts. Then i take one or two lighter sets prior to the two heawy ones. After that I am all warmed up, (boliling ;-) and go straight to f.ex. 2 heawy sets of back extensions.
    So the Q is: Do you take warm up sets in every excersise prior to the 2 heawy sets, … or am i doing this right ???
    Greetings from Iceland ;-)

    • jasonferruggia August 26, 2010 at 10:39 am #

      @Guðmundur Pétursson: I would do a minimum of one warm up on the other exercises, if not 2-3. The first big exercise of the day always needs 3-6 warm up sets.

  15. Matt McLaughlin August 25, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Looks good.


    If you are starting to get aches and pains, it’s your body letting you know that if you keep pushing yourself at that pace, you are going to get injured.

    Back off a bit and build back up. The time delayed by being careful is much less than the time you’ll miss from an injury.

  16. Andy August 25, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    You forgot the tenet about the 25 sets of arm work and the required number of inches to raise your ass off the bench when bench pressing…..

    …..oh wait, those are the rules of most of the guys in my gym!

  17. Jocko August 25, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Regarding #34: Would a full body x3 routine with one 3x4reps day, one 3x6reps day and one 3×8 reps day, and with both shoulder presses and chest presses on every workout be too much stress for the shoulders?

  18. Jason August 26, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Great tips. I think #1 is a good way to start. I see so many people doing random things then wonder why they do not see gains.

    With respect to the shrugs I find cleans help them grow too.

    Thanks for the tips

  19. Chase Karnes August 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Great Stuff, Jason.

    As for #5 what is your take on strongman training event days?

    My gym training days I’m always in and out in a hour. Event days last 2 hours usually – sometimes a bit longer. We have to take time to set up equipment, rest, let numerous people go, etc. Plus it gives a closer simulation of an actual competition.

    I always drink on a protein/carb drink during these workouts – usually consuming at least 600 kcal or more.

  20. Farley August 27, 2010 at 9:24 am #


    What do you consider a beginner? Someone who’s lifted 6 months, a year, 2 years, can’t bench their own body weight?

    Thanks man,

  21. Arnoldus August 27, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Regarding the warmups and nr 16:
    What is then a good warmup?
    ” If 405 is your starting weight on deadlifts”, should I warm up with 3-4 set of 300lbs instead of the progressive sets you have shown?

  22. Patrick Crews August 27, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I posted this piece of testament in my gym locker here Jax, FL. Comandment #42 especially. Thanks Jason!

  23. Bret Contreras August 28, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Always great advice Jason!

  24. Dave August 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    As always, a great list of tips!

  25. Barry Gibson September 1, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Awesome post – love the tips as always!!!

  26. wrestling workout September 7, 2010 at 4:28 am #

    great tips, especially #15…and no, i’m sure this doesn’t include curls and band pressdown variations either!

  27. Alejandro "The Fittest Vegan" September 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Great advise, the rack is where the power is for sure!

  28. jasonferruggia September 16, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    Farley- Most people can be considered beginners for their first two years.

    Arnoldus- Nope. You always do a bunch of progressively heavier warm up sets.

    Thanks to everyone else for the comments

  29. Louis September 22, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    great post as always man

  30. Sameer October 18, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    Hello Sir. I am sameer frm india few past many months i am working out in gym there i can see the changes but after some time no change in my body so plz can you say me some trips so that i can see n feel change in my body . Thank you.

  31. Sameer October 18, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Hello. N plz if you know any supplements name or you want to me take gym supplements or not then plz send me some of them gym supplements names .. Thank you.

  32. Blake Chevins May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Hey Jason,

    Im looking at a few tips on how to build muscle fast. Im turning 18 and been doing weights fairly regularly since i was 15. in the last 6 months I have gone from 72 kilos to 90. I have a physical job and my traps, shoulders and arms are getting bigger but I have noticed that my abs dont show as much as they use to. I do a variety of abdominal workouts but they dont seem to be helping, are there any tips or workout methods that you could give me an insight on to help??

    Much Appreciated,

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      @Blake- that’s all diet related. Keep your carbs lower and maybe add in some conditioning.

  33. Alex February 14, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Jason,
    Awesome post !!
    Just 1 question.. i allready have elbow joint problems from heavy curling and extensions, how can i fight it or try to heal it ? Some kind of exercise or suplement ?
    Would really love your oppinion on this because it is starting to affect all my lifts :(

    • Jason Ferruggia April 20, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      @Alex- Tough to say from afar. But definitely avoid any exercise that bothers it. Also be sure to work the forearms and fingers. This can help

      • Alex April 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

        Yes, too much gripping and too litlle finger extension might be the problem.. will work on that.
        Thx 4 the help !!

  34. steve May 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Great tips on preparing before you go
    to the jym,
    I am one of those guys that get to the Jym
    then wonder what i am going to do next
    I will prepare for my next visit

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      @Steve- yeah, that’s a horrible idea.

  35. Paul Elliott-Smith August 2, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    Always love the advice, always love the hot photo’s of the women. If they’re the typical women you find in your gym mate I’m packing my bags and moving to the USA.

  36. ayoubarade November 23, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    thank you :)

  37. Jim June 26, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Great tips Jason. Plenty of solid strength nuggets here.

  38. Dan June 27, 2013 at 2:33 am #

    I am confused; which box?

  39. Matt July 16, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    this made me huge!!

  40. Matt October 15, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Nice tips