Hercules Workout: Build Raw Muscle And Strength

It's time to go to war! To be like Hercules you must have both an impressive physical prowess and the raw, brute strength to strike fear into the heart of your enemies.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
9 weeks
4
60-75 minutes
Barbell, Dumbbells
Male

Workout Description

Brad Borland is a strength & conditioning specialist, cancer survivor and the founder of WorkoutLab.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars won’t pound its way into theaters until next summer, but you can’t help but to be in awe of all the Tweets Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has filtered out about this monumental movie. Between his behind-the-scenes movie pics and, more specifically, the training videos, you cannot help but get insanely motivated and super jacked about your own training.

This winter is the perfect time to pack on some serious, strong, raw muscle. Like Hercules, it will take a brutal plan that is not only effective but also savagely simple in execution. No overly complicated program here, just real, heavy strength training to pack on thick, sinewy muscle mass the Hercules way.

Most successful endeavors in life are simplistic in nature; hard work, discipline and dedication are the all-important common threads that run through all victorious outcomes. This Hercules-inspired training program will challenge you to go to war but will also try to bury you under the heavy weight and effort it requires. But you will prevail in the face of adversity and rise to this demanding test of will and determination and emerge with a thicker, stronger and more muscular physique. Time to go to war!

Hercules Workout

Rules of War

Building raw muscle and strength will require a few rules. Keeping with the simple theme, you will utilize some easy to implement tactics for significant gains.

Simple, compound movements are at the top of the list. The majority of the exercises will be in the form of multi joint moves so a large number of muscles will be stimulated instead of countless single joint moves. This will allow you to lift heavier without wasting your time on too many lighter exercises.  Big weight = big muscle.

Go heavy, then moderate, then heavier. This program will have you training with a low rep range for three weeks, then a moderate rep range for another three weeks, then back to a lower rep range. Too much time on the bottom of the rep ladder has the potential to cultivate burnout. The moderate “break” in the middle will keep your interest level up and injury-free.

Train three days per week. Whether it’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday be sure you are training on non-consecutive days with a day away from the weights in between. This will give you enough rest in between these brutal sessions – you’ll need it.

Do something different on rest days. If desired, take two rest days per week and do something fun and different. This could be circuit cardio with kettlebells, sled pulls/pushes or participate in your favorite sport such as shooting hoops with friends or casual activity like swimming, biking or hiking.

Always adhere to good form and technique and leave your ego at home.  Just because you are training with a heavy, basic program doesn’t give you the green light to swing and heave weights you have no business lifting. Be patient and the gains will come with proper and safe form and technique.

The Nine Week Hercules Muscle and Strength Program

For this nine week program your training will be split into three parts. As stated earlier, you will go hard and heavy for three weeks, throttle back on the weight for the next three weeks and then go back heavy for the final three weeks. By the last three weeks you should be lifting heavier than you did in the beginning of the program.

Don’t get the idea that the middle three-week phase is your hall pass to take it easy. The weights will be a bit lighter, but you will still go to failure with higher reps.

Weeks 1-3

Session 1
Weeks 1-3
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Squat 2x12 4 6-8 120
Flat Bench Barbell Press 2x12 4 6-8 120
Bent-Over Barbell Row 2x12 4 6-8 120
Barbell Upright Row 1x12 4 6-8 60
Seated Calf Raise 1x12 4 8-10 60
Floor Crunch   3 15 30
Session 2
Weeks 1-3
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Deadlift 2x12 4 6-8 120
Barbell Romanian Deadlift 2x12 4 6-8 120
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press 2x12 4 6-8 120
Standing Barbell Push Press 1x12 4 6-8 120
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press 1x12 4 6-8 60
Barbell Curl 1x12 4 6-8 60
Hanging Leg Raise   3 15 30
Session 3
Weeks 1-3
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Front Squat or Leg Press 2x12 4 6-8 120
Incline Bench Barbell Press 2x12 4 6-8 120
Medium-Grip Pull-Up or Dumbbell Row 2x12 4 6-8 120
Standing Dumbbell Upright Row 1x12 4 6-8 60
Standing Calf Raise 1x12 4 8-10 60
Incline Sit-Up   3 15 30

Hercules Workout

Weeks 4-6

Session 1
Weeks 4-6
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Deadlift 2x12 3 8-10 120
Dumbbell Row or Close-Grip Pull-Up 2x12 3 8-10 120
Incline Bench Barbell Press 2x12 3 8-10 120
Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral 1x12 3 8-10 60
Leg Press Calf Raise 1x12 3 10-12 60
Floor Crunch   3 15 30
Session 2
Weeks 4-6
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Squat 2x12 3 8-10 120
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press 2x12 3 8-10 120
T-Bar Rows 2x12 3 8-10 120
Standing Barbell Push Press 1x12 3 8-10 120
Dumbbell Curl 1x12 3 8-10 60
Parallel Bar Dip 1x12 3 8-10 60
Hanging Leg Raise   3 15 30
Session 3
Weeks 4-6
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Romanian Deadlift 2x12 3 8-10 120
Barbell Front Squat or Leg Press 2x12 3 8-10 120
Flat Bench Barbell Bench Press 2x12 3 8-10 120
Bent-Over Barbell Row 2x12 3 8-10 120
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 1x12 3 8-10 60
Incline Sit-Up   3 15 30

Hercules Workout

Weeks 7-9

Session 1
Weeks 7-9
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Squat 2x12 5 5 120
Flat Bench Barbell Press 2x12 5 5 120
Bent-Over Barbell Row 2x12 5 5 120
Barbell Upright Row 1x12 5 5 60
Seated Calf Raise 1x12 5 6-8 60
Floor Crunch   3 15 30
Session 2
Weeks 7-9
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Deadlift 2x12 5 5 120
Barbell Romanian Deadlift 2x12 5 5 120
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press 2x12 5 5 120
Standing Barbell Push Press 1x12 5 5 120
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press 1x12 5 5 60
Barbell Curl 1x12 5 5 60
Hanging Leg Raise   3 15 30
Session 3
Weeks 7-9
Exercise Warm Up Sets Reps Rest
Front Squat or Leg Press 2x12 5 5 120
Incline Bench Barbell Press 2x12 5 5 120
Medium-Grip Pull-Up or Dumbbell Row 2x12 5 5 120
Standing Dumbbell Upright Row 1x12 5 5 60
Standing Calf Raise 1x12 5 6-8 60
Incline Sit-Up   3 15 30

 

33 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 03/12/2017 - 10:16
Owen

This looks great, and I'm looking forward to starting it this week. Thanks for putting it up Brad! It's hard to find a decent all-parts 2x/week program that has a good progression like this. I'll be doing both this and your second Hercules workout, with a week of unloading in between.

One question: Can I up the shoulder work in here without going too far outside the total reps range (or risking injury)? If that's doable, what exercise would you suggest I tack on or modify from this basic pattern?

I want to concentrate a lot of shoulders (both strength and mass). In the first three weeks I see only the Push Press concentrating on that area. In the second phase there's a dubmbell shoulder press too for two concentration exercises for that area, and in the third phase I see three exercises for it (two days of dumbell upright row, plus the push press).

I was thinking about tossing one more shoulder exercise in here on top of what you reocmmend, maybe on one session, all three phases, to really go for the shoulders. Do you think that's too much?

And/or what exercise would you recommend? I was thinking Arnold Press for the first phase, Lat flyes for the second and third phases.

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Posted Mon, 01/09/2017 - 04:38
charles

Great workout. Just done my first session. Felt like pucking again the crunches. Great work Brad!!!

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Posted Tue, 01/19/2016 - 09:58
Ron

How do you determine how much weight to use? Do you increase the weight each week/workout?

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Posted Tue, 04/14/2015 - 04:03
Darin

Do I do all three sessions in one day breaking them up or do I do session 1 for one day then session 2 two days later and session three two days later after session 2?

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Posted Mon, 03/09/2015 - 23:04
Matthew Hammett

i always enjoy the articles and programs that are posted here. I really appreciate the multitude of views that are covered and options provided; and what would make it even better would be if there was a way to download to pdf, word or xls document so they can be saved and more easily viewed offline

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Posted Sun, 08/03/2014 - 08:40
tim

i think the point your missing here is that the rock is already in spectacular shape to begin with , this thing isn't going to make you the rock in 3 months

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Posted Sun, 07/27/2014 - 08:35
Jay

This is not the Hercules workout at Dwayne Johnson did for the movie...

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Posted Tue, 06/24/2014 - 17:17
D Lill

Hey whats going on guys? I'm 6-6'1 and I'm sitting at 198- 200 Lbs. i had cut like 20-25 lbs this last 2 months and I would like to get back in shape. I'm trying to see if this is a good plan to start and hopefully get solid once again. Any help would be great! Thx

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Posted Sat, 04/26/2014 - 01:05
Elmer

im 5'9 at 196lbs, do you think that i can do this workout while trying to get to 185 or will this just to gain?

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Posted Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:14
JOEY

can i print or save this workout?
and if so, how do i do it?
thank you . any help is greatly appreciated.
joey

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Posted Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:24
Caleb

Just got finished with the second phase and have gained 13 pounds. Sitting at 215 pounds right now and my strength has gone up quite a bit at 18 years old. My genetics play a big role in it but this workout works great for naturally bigger guys that respond well to lower rep ranges.

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Posted Wed, 02/12/2014 - 03:59
conor

Is this okay for an intermediate lifter

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Posted Tue, 01/21/2014 - 21:07
jeffhardy

Hi. This work-out plat looks amazing. But I can't do 3 days split. Because I have to work on wednesday and saturday. And it says that you can't do this work-out on consercutive days. Any suggestion?? Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 02/13/2017 - 18:05
Don imp

You call it Wednesday, I call it Thursday.
Hmm... LOL.

Just Do Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday... ahh, you cant Do saturday?

Then do Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday.

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Posted Mon, 01/20/2014 - 07:10
omar elzoghby

is that the real hercules workout?

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Posted Fri, 01/10/2014 - 09:06
Jeff

Has anyone actually done this workout?

The second session has sooo many deadlifts. Completing the second workout means you have done 96 deadlifts, of two different variations. Is that really true?

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Posted Mon, 05/12/2014 - 02:05
Brad

I just completed the first 3 weeks. I had to split the deadlifts up to the first and last exercises to ease the lower back pain, instead of back to back. It's not impossible but it would have probably been better to move the stiff leg deadlifts to the third day.

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Posted Sat, 05/17/2014 - 03:22
Church

I agree, it sucks but to be honest it could be worse...he could've thrown in something like rack pulls, weighted hyperextensions or good mornings as well. I'm in my second week into the program now and let me just put this out there, I hurt more from the incline sit ups then I did from the deadlifts and rdl's. That's really my own fault though; haven't been training them for quite some time.

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Posted Sat, 01/04/2014 - 10:42
Peter

Do the 2 warm up sets add to the 4 actual sets in each workout? So I would be doing a total of 6 sets each?

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Posted Wed, 01/01/2014 - 23:43
Andrew

Any info on diet? How many cals, And breakdown.

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Posted Thu, 12/12/2013 - 03:29
Posh

sooo wat do i do after i done this 9 weeks workout?? Do i restart it again???HELP PLSS!!!

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Posted Sat, 12/14/2013 - 10:50
Pete

Any results? I think that take 1-2 week easy and start over again.

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Posted Sun, 12/15/2013 - 09:34
Maikel

You can do whatever you want, you could switch to another routine. I am sticking with my routine until I peak, when I can't make any more gains.

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Posted Sun, 12/15/2013 - 15:53
Pete

Any results? Take it easy about 1-2 weeks. then start over.

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Posted Wed, 12/11/2013 - 14:45
Anthony

This question may be very silly, but i just have to ask to be 100% sure. Each work out has its own warm up? So when it tells me to do 2x12, I will to two sets of 12 reps with a low weight? Or how I determine what weight to use for each warm up? Also this work out is amazing. Thanks!

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Posted Sun, 12/15/2013 - 09:35
Maikel

Yeah, you would do two warm up sets for 2x12 at 25% of the working weight and 50% of the working weight.

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Posted Fri, 12/06/2013 - 15:33
Albert

Seems like a great workout, i will try this program next week, i need to spice things up a bit.

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Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 23:03
Eddie

For the warm up sets (2x12) ... What percentage of the working sets should we use?

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Posted Sun, 12/15/2013 - 09:32
Maikel

25% and 50%. So if the working weight was 100, you would first use 25 lbs and then 50 lbs.

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Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 00:18
George

dude, wich workout do you think is best for a 140lbs ectomorph, this hercules workout, or the thor one ?

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Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:42
Keith

George, I can't guarantee you that the Thor workout will be better for you but I just cycled off of it and it was a game changer. The versatility of it along with the intensity of all of the muscle groups almost every workout was a definite shock to my body. I would go with that one! And of it doesn't work, then you can always try this one out. But comparing the two, Id definitely go with the Thor.

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Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 23:48
George

thanks keith , ill try it !!

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Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 16:54
Colton

I would say either one would be fine, but probably the Hercules one because it sticks with full body workouts throughout. It looks like a great mass building program which is what you need. Hope this helps.