Best Morning Workout For Building Muscle Mass

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
October 30th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
292.3K Reads
Best Morning Workout For Building Muscle Mass
Most workout routines are designed for the evening lifter. If you're an early riser, we've got the perfect morning workout routine and advice for you!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Full Body
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

Most online training programs are programmed for the evening lifter. The 9-to-5 worker who trains in the evening hours after a long day at the office.

You know the programs where all the meals lead up to training later in the day?

What about those of you who work different shifts or only have time in the morning to train? Whether it’s family, work, or other obligations that influence your gym time, you need a different plan of action. One that has you training first thing in the morning and the pre- and post-workout meals to go with it.

Below is the framework for morning lifters. Take the guesswork out of your training and eating to reap more muscle for being an early riser.

Rules for Morning Workouts

Here are just a few rules for morning workouts. Some will be familiar while others may take some getting used to.

1. The Dynamic Warm Up is a Must

This isn’t your granddaddy’s warm up of slow pedaling on a bike or walking on the treadmill. You don’t have all the time in the world in the morning so you need to get down to business. Dynamic warm ups consist of activating certain areas of the body for the work ahead. Push ups, bodyweight squats, and burpees are just a few examples. Do them. They will prepare your body more effectively than a slow stroll on the treadmill.

2. Start with Abs

Your spine is cold first thing in the morning. Less fluid, less pliability, and less activation mean more risk for injury. The dynamic warm up will take care of some of this, but let’s take it a step further. Get specific. Start each morning workout with some abdominal work. This will wake up and warm up that spine for the heavier lifting to come.

Rules for Morning Workouts: Warm up your abs!

3. Make the Most of Warm Up Sets

Now that you are ready to take on your weight workout, don’t just start throwing some light weights around like you normally would to warm up. When performing progressive warm up sets, be sure that each set and rep is executed perfectly. You want to continue to increase blood flow to the muscle and now’s not the time to become careless.

4. Err on the side of Higher Reps

Lifting heavy for strength is a great goal, but if you’re in this for the long haul, use some caution and go a bit higher on reps for most of your sets. Lifting moderate weight for moderate reps will do more for reshaping your physique than ultra-heavy lifting. Stay moderate and you will build more muscle. Your joints will thank you for it too.

5. To Adapt, Be Patient

Starting a morning lifting plan takes some getting used to. At first you may find you struggle to stay strong throughout the each workout, but over time your body will adapt and play catch-up in little time. Be patient, gut through your sessions, and you will soon progress easier than before.

Complete Line of Dymatize Supplements!

The Morning Workout Routine

Start this program each morning with the dynamic warm up below. Perform the warm up deliberately – don’t just go through the motions. Perform each workout once per week such as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Take Wednesday and the weekends off.

Do 2-4 rounds with a minute rest between each round before every workout.

Exercise Reps
Push Ups 10
Bodyweight Squats 10
Floor Crunches 10
Lunges 10 (each leg)
Day 1
Exercise Warm-Ups Work Sets Rest
1. Incline Bench Barbell Press 2x12 3x4-6 90 sec
2. Flat Bench Dumbbell Press -- 3x4-6 90 sec
3. Medium or Wide-Grip Pull-Up (add weight if necessary) 2x12 3x4-6 90 sec
4. Barbell or Two-Arm Dumbbell Row -- 3x4-8 90 sec
5. Standing Barbell Military Press 1x12 3x4-8 90 sec
6. Dumbbell Upright Row -- 3x4-8 90 sec
7. Hanging Leg Raise -- 3x10-15 30 sec
8. Floor Crunch -- 3x10-15 30 sec
Day 2
Exercise Warm-Ups Work Sets Rest
1. Barbell Curl 1x12 3x4-6 90 sec
2. Close-Grip Bench Press 1x12 3x4-6 90 sec
3. Leg Press 2x12 3x6-8 90 sec
4. Barbell Squat -- 3x6-8 90 sec
5. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 1x12 3x6-8 90 sec
6. Seated Calf Raise 1x12 3x6-8 90 sec
7. Incline Sit Up -- 3x10-15 30 sec
Day 3
Exercise Warm-Ups Work Sets Rest
1. Incline Bench Dumbbell Press 2x12 3x8-12 60 sec
2. Flat Bench Barbell or Machine Press -- 3x8-12 60 sec
3. Inverted Row 1x12 3x8-12 60 sec
4. Machine Row or Close-Grip Pulldown -- 3x8-12 60 sec
5. Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral 1x12 3x8-12 60 sec
6. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press -- 3x8-12 60 sec
7. Incline Crunch -- 3x15-20 30 sec
8. Hanging Knee-Ups -- 3x15-20 30 sec
Day 4
Exercise Warm-Ups Work Sets Rest
1. Incline Bench Dumbbell Curl 1x12 4x8-12 60 sec
2. Lying Two-Arm Dumbbell Nosebreaker 1x12 4x8-12 60 sec
3. Bulgarian Split Squat 2x12 3x8-12 60 sec
4. Barbell Squat or Leg Press -- 3x8-12 60 sec
5. Lying or Seated Leg Curl 1x12 3x8-12 60 sec
6. Standing Calf Raise 1x12 3x8-12 60 sec
7. Hanging Leg Raise -- 3x15-20 30 sec

Rules for Morning Nutrition

You may also need to adjust your morning eating. Depending on when exactly you train in the morning, you will need some sort of eating plan (specifically pre- and post-workout meals).

Rules for Morning Workouts: Rethink your breakfast

1. Get Over Your Mental Block

First and foremost, you have to get over the notion that you have to have some huge, perfectly designed meal before every workout. The larger and more complex the meal, the more blood pools to your digestive system and not to where you want it – your muscle tissue.

2. You need Less Than you Think

With the above said, you actually don’t need a ton of food early in the morning – especially prior to training. Again, you just need a little so your stomach doesn’t horde a bunch of blood volume, leaving you with a bloated midsection, a sluggish workout, and no pump. A little goes a long way. Your muscles and liver, along with a small meal, will provide enough energy to get you through an effective workout.

3. Stay Lean and Light

So what do you eat? Keep it light and simple. Nothing too heavy or hard to digest. Easily digestible proteins and carbs are your best bet. Remember, you don’t have a ton of time to sit and wait for your food to settle. You need to get up, go to the gym, and get in a kick-butt workout. You could try 1 scoop of whey protein with a small piece of fruit.

4. Decide How Much You Need

Normally, those who get out of bed and head straight to the gym will only need some fast-digesting protein and possibly a healthy fat. Others who have a small window of time between waking and working out can get away with a small amount of a complex carb along with a protein source. You can decide which category you fall into. You can have a fast breakfast after you hit the gym.

5. Be Patient

As stated earlier, adapting to a morning routine takes time and consistency. Over time your digestive system will adapt and learn to process your food along with your metabolism. Just keep a relatively consistent schedule and then you will start to see some real progress.

Complete Line of Dymatize Supplements!

Morning Meal Plan Suggestions

Pre-Workout (upon rising)
Post-Workout (immediately after training)
  • 1 scoop of whey protein
  • 8-12 ounces of sports drink
  • ½ to 1 cup of oats mixed with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, cinnamon, and water
  • 3 whole eggs scrambled
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
Posted on: Thu, 11/16/2023 - 17:03

Regarding this and other upper-lower splits, is it better to do upper body days as displayed here (all chest exercises, all back exercises, all shoulder exercises) or to mix them up (chest, back, shoulders, chest, back, shoulders)? I’m specifically wondering about fatigue setting in and using your strongest sets on one muscle group, then the other muscles aren’t hit as hard.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2023 - 18:50

Hi, Ron. In most cases, this is individual based. Some find it better to train the same muscle group with all exercises before the next, while others mix them up. I have done both methods a lot in my 25 years of training, and I saw results both ways. I would suggest trying both ways and finding the best for you. If others want to chime in with their own thoughts, they are welcome to do so.

Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 06:40

Can I replace pull-up with lat pull down?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:54

Yes, but try to do at least one set of pullups if you can so you can get better at them.

Sean Conner
Posted on: Mon, 02/13/2023 - 14:18

For the breakfast you tell how much to eat but the amount of cinnamon or water. Im still new so some good measurements would be great

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2023 - 08:29

If the author shares that info, we will add it in, Sean. In the meantime, other readers can share what they did here if they like.

Mark Coleman
Posted on: Sun, 07/17/2022 - 00:20

It says do 2-4 rounds. Does that mean do each workout 2-4 times ? That seems a very long workout

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 19:26

Hi, Mark. The 2-4 rounds is only related to the warm-up, not the workout afterwards. Hope this helps!

Mark Coleman
Posted on: Tue, 07/12/2022 - 23:58

This is beginner and I can’t even do 1 pull up let alone 12 warm up pull-ups lol

anna panna
Posted on: Mon, 07/04/2022 - 11:07

Hi.i work out at 5am. I do mainly weight lifting. I find that i am very sleepy throughout the day. Is there any supplements i can take after exercise to replenish my energy levels? Could you please give me some advise? I am so confused with all the products out there.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 22:57

Hi, Anna. Before I answer, let me know what you have tried already because I don't want to recommend something you already found that doesn't work.

Posted on: Wed, 09/15/2021 - 11:19

If I wanted to add deadlifts, or replace another exercise with them, where in this routine would I do that? Could I add a 5th day just dedicated to deadlifts?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/04/2021 - 21:08

If you want to add deadlifts, replace the split squats on day three and plug them in there. If you have the time and feel you can handle a fifth training day, then sure. Pull on that extra day if you like.

lucky harry
Posted on: Mon, 04/19/2021 - 15:37

Can I do cardio after getting up an breakfast thereafter an then directly go for weights in gym, or I have to redo cardio after my breakfast before lifting weights, soo that it may not cause me any muscle injury or even adverse effects on heart, hope you understand what I m trying to ask..

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 04/20/2021 - 12:51

Hey lucky harry - it's best to do cardio after resistance training.

Posted on: Sat, 11/21/2020 - 22:39

What would you recommend for the post workout sport drink?
I like to drink Xtend Sport BCAA during my workout. How would this suffice w/ the scoop of whey protein?
Thank you,

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/23/2020 - 10:04
Posted on: Tue, 11/24/2020 - 17:49

Thanks for the input. Great words of wisdom.

Raghul Thukaram
Posted on: Wed, 12/19/2018 - 04:02

Hey Brad,
Its a very good program my guy.But I am on an intermittent fasting I wanted to ask you if this routine would be fine to run in the morning(as I break the fast at 12:30pm and my feeding window is from 12:30pm to 8:30pm).

Posted on: Thu, 11/29/2018 - 15:42

Hi Brad,

Nice workout!
As I am short in time (need to live the gym in 1h counting workout and the warm up routine) and I am getting out of breath by resting only 60s in the last two workouts, I would like to know how can I modify this training to have only 6 exercises (perhaps changing inverted rows with lat pulldowns as they are easier to do at my gym facilities) and if I can rest for 90s as well in the hypertrophy days.

Thanks in advance.

Posted on: Wed, 11/28/2018 - 17:03

Can I replace the stiff-leg deadlifts with standard or sumo deadlifts? Or are they too much for morning workouts?

Kavi Tailor
Posted on: Tue, 06/26/2018 - 01:13

Hey Brad I’m Kavi
I’m skinny guy ....
I need to gain my weight and build my muscle so
What I’m doing ..?????

Posted on: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 05:06

Hi Brad.
Very nice article, i got a lot of information from it, and what it looks like, an awesome workout routine.
I have to ask though to determine if it is the right one for me. I am a morning person and actually, i am quite new to the gym routine i started to workout 1.5 months ago.
Now i have finished Marc Megna`s 'Building the beginner: Foundation for muscle & strength". - found in this here:
My most important goal is to build muscle on chest, upper and lower back, legs and strengthening the core (I am skinny).
Can this work out program be divided into upper body, lower body or muscle groups, or are they full body everyday workouts? Will it help to get the wished result?

Orxan Mamedov
Posted on: Tue, 04/24/2018 - 07:28

Hi Brad,

Is it possible to do cardio (running/sprinting) on rest days?

Thanks in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 04/24/2018 - 08:36

Hi Orxan,

Sure, I don't see why not.

Posted on: Thu, 11/30/2017 - 15:54

Hi Brad, I have low blood pressure/glucose level genetically, often the time I eat a banana with a protein shake 30min before the morning workout, but feel much less pumped towards the end of training. However if I eat more than that, I will feel gassy throughout the entire workout. So should I also supplement during training? Is 30min too short for the pre-workout meal to settle? I have a tight schedule in the morning, so waiting for longer may not work for me. How should I find the best balance in terms of both meal and schedule? Thanks in advance!

Posted on: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 11:45

In the Morning Meal Plan Suggestions, it says 1 scoop whey protein before and 1 scoop after. Is that 1 serving, or literally 1 scoop? I ask because my whey protein has 2 scoops to a serving, equaling 25 grams of protein.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 12:49

Hi Ron,

It's one serving. Most whey proteins have a serving size of just on scoop. Sorry for the confusion.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2017 - 22:37

My Mondays and Thursday schedule are extensive. I don't want to go to the gym those mornings. Is it okay if I take those days off and do the work out out that you planned on the days that I go to/have time for the gym (saturday Sunday Tuesday Wednesday Friday)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:30

Hi Sefano,

Yes, that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 07/22/2017 - 04:44

can only doing body weight with high reps with this workout meal from thisn page in the morning

Posted on: Sat, 07/22/2017 - 04:40

Can you increase your reps rather staying moderate instead

Zoltan Bedi
Posted on: Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:47

Hi guys. Can you please give an advice about stretching? What streches do you recommend after these workouts?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/19/2017 - 09:56
Posted on: Sun, 03/12/2017 - 16:12

gains are always great

Posted on: Sat, 03/11/2017 - 16:29

You state at the beginning to do ab workout before every workout. There also looks to be ab workouts at the end of each workout too. Are you implying we should do the warm up...then ab workout...then workout routine which includes ab workouts too? Thank you in advance

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:33

Hi JW,

Abs are included in that warm up circuit at the beginning of the workout. You'll also hit them at the end of the workout as they're listed.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 23:43

What if you take an intra-workout BCAA drink, would you still need the 2 protein shakes before and after

Posted on: Wed, 04/27/2016 - 21:34

Hello. Awesome plan. Is this a 12 week workout plan or an everyday routine?

Posted on: Mon, 03/28/2016 - 11:39

Hi Brad.Wanted to know would this work out work for me.I am 16 years old

Posted on: Mon, 03/28/2016 - 11:38

Hi Brad.Wanted to know would this work out work for me.I am 16 years old

Posted on: Fri, 03/04/2016 - 14:47

Brad- I have seen several workouts you have posted, but I'm wondering which will suite me best..? I am 43 and am just now starting to get back into lifting (as in today). I used to be in great shape back in high school/college, but have since fallen to the "fat married with children guy". I am currently 5'10 and at 245lbs!! What the hell happened to me! Anyway, any workout routine suggestions?

David Z
Posted on: Thu, 02/25/2016 - 20:55

Brad, since this routine is for beginners working out morings, how long should we follow this routine before it should we switched ? How about cardio for the extra fat loss

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/26/2016 - 10:04

Hi David. Yes, it ca be for beginners but if you stay progressive and feel like switching things up, just change a couple of things each time versus changing everything. Secondly, if it is working why change? If you have time for cardio by all means add it in. Just make sure it's something you enjoy. It doesn't have to be boring treadmill work.

Posted on: Tue, 01/26/2016 - 12:06

Brad, please can you suggest a good pre-workout morning meal other than a scoop of whey. I want to depend less on supps and more on wholesome natural food. Thank you in advance :)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/26/2016 - 18:25
Posted on: Mon, 01/18/2016 - 21:29

How do you set it up when you superset it?

Jamie Norris
Posted on: Mon, 01/11/2016 - 11:24

On day 3 with the inverted row exercise it says to warm up with 1x12. Then the working sets are 3x8-12. With this being a body weight exercise how do you add weight to the move?? A weighted wouldn't work so would you place a plate on your mid drift like a weighted bench dip???

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/12/2016 - 14:03

Hi Jamie. Yeah, it's tough in print to really get across how to warm-up. You can add weight by changing the angle of the exercise. Place your feet on a bench to make it harder. And yes, you can also place a plate or bar across your lap for added resistance.

Posted on: Mon, 01/11/2016 - 02:11


I'm a morning-gym-person. Just want to ask. Is this exercises work for Ectomorph?