Best Morning Workout For Building Muscle Mass

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

Build Muscle
Full Body
6 weeks
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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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

51 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted 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,

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Posted Mon, 11/23/2020 - 10:04
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Posted Tue, 11/24/2020 - 17:49

Thanks for the input. Great words of wisdom.

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

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).

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Posted 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.

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Posted 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?

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

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

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Posted 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?

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

Hi Brad,

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

Thanks in advance!

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Posted Tue, 04/24/2018 - 08:36

Hi Orxan,

Sure, I don't see why not.

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Posted 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!

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Posted 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.

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Posted 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!

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Posted 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)

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Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:30

Hi Sefano,

Yes, that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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

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

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

Can you increase your reps rather staying moderate instead

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

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

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Posted Mon, 06/19/2017 - 09:56
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Posted Sun, 03/12/2017 - 16:12

gains are always great

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Posted 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

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Posted 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!

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Posted 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted 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?

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

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

BradBorland's picture
Posted 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.

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Posted 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 :)

BradBorland's picture
Posted Tue, 01/26/2016 - 18:25
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Posted Mon, 01/18/2016 - 21:29

How do you set it up when you superset it?

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

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???

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Posted 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.

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


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


BradBorland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/11/2016 - 09:40

Hi Radzleey. Yes ! Absolutely. Let me know in the comments how you do. Thanks!

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Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 22:30

This article/programe is just what i needed! I have been working out for 12 year now and l have always been an evening lifter. Now that i have work a wife 4 Boys and school events it makes it imposible to go in the evening! I start work at 6am so im in the gym at 4 and awake by 3:30! This was not easy but once i got used to this schedule ( took about a week) i was hooked! I feel great all day at work, it puts me in a better mood and you just feel all around more confident! You have answered allot of questions for me in this article. Although i usualy do 2 muscle groups per day in my routines im getting kind of bored so im going to try your full body routines that u list in this program. Great workouts just set up a little different from what im used to doing! Cant wait to try it! Thanks for the article! P.S. Would it be better to do my cardio bf my workout in the morning or right after? (Row machine "HIT" for 15 mins)

BradBorland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/11/2016 - 09:44

Hi JMorrow. Wow! Thanks! People like you are the reason I wrote the article and I hope it helps many others as well. I also will be revisiting this subject in the near future.

I would go with doing cardio after your resistance training. That way you aren't spent before you hit the weights.

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Posted Sun, 01/03/2016 - 11:45

I love your program . It has a very nice balance to it.

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Posted Thu, 01/07/2016 - 17:49


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Posted Sat, 01/02/2016 - 13:21

Is there a weight that you recommend for warm-up sets and is it the same for all warm-up sets for each exercise?

BradBorland's picture
Posted Thu, 01/07/2016 - 17:49

About 50% of work set weight.

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Posted Mon, 12/14/2015 - 21:04

Brad, glad to see you do this article (I'm the guy that mentioned a few months back that most all routines are aimed at afternoon workouts). I'm still a morning person but have graduated to two-a-days now.

Just to add a few things that some gym goers may not consider about morning workouts:

1) The morning atmosphere is far different than evenings. You'll get several 'good mornings' upon entering. The people are a little more friendly, almost family like. More consistent people and habits as well. Less equipment tied up with cellphone users, or the multiple groups of 3-4 hulks blocking machines and taking 10 minutes rests. Great time if you're needing to do supersets, unlike evenings when you can't step five feet away without the crowd taking your spot.

2) Can usually skip the pre-workout supps and enjoy a cup or two of coffee instead. I down a glass of fresh squeezed lemon juice water upon waking, then coffee 10-15 minutes later (sometimes a banana on leg day). I drink NutraBlast during workout, then isolate and chocolate milk right after finishing. About an hour later I make breakfast my biggest meal of the day. I'm still tinkering with the rest of the day since I switched to 2-a-days.

3) You'll notice shorter workouts, mostly full-body core focused. Since most people are pushed for time with jobs, they get in and out. I like this, again, because less equipment is tied up.

Regardless of pros/ each their own. Just get in the gym and eat clean the rest of the day. And an added bonus to mornings is the 'pump' you worked for is felt the rest of the day, not going to bed with you as in the evenings.

Thanks again for listening to your readers. Keep up the good work!

BradBorland's picture
Posted Tue, 12/15/2015 - 09:25

Hi Kevin. Yes! You were a major factor in getting this written. Many more like this will be coming soon. All of your points are completely valid. The mornings are absolutely the best time. I personally love supersetting, minimal rests and a enjoy a friendlier/busier atmosphere unlike the evenings when it's more of a social hangout.

Keep the suggestions coming. Thanks!

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Posted Sun, 11/22/2015 - 12:36

I know it says this exercise is for the morning. but you think this can be good to do it in the evening?

BradBorland's picture
Posted Wed, 11/25/2015 - 22:41


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Posted Tue, 11/17/2015 - 00:27

This is a really good post especially for beginners. Anyone new to muscle building should definitely read over this once more if not 3 times.


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Posted Fri, 10/30/2015 - 12:35
David Mata

Great article/workout, just what I need! I would like to lose 25-30 lbs in 3 months. I weight in at 235. I live in a tiny town in Minnesota, so I don't go to the gym. I have an evolving garage GYM at home (heated) and just got a used treadmill. I would like to do some cardio on the treadmill, Is there a routine i can use to blend in with this awesome workout you have designed to increase my endurance?
I would run outside, but for one it is freezing and two it is pitch black! lol

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Posted Mon, 11/02/2015 - 08:09
Jack Elliott

Hey David!

Your goal sounds achievable, its only ever so slightly over 2lbs a week and at 235 that shouldn't be a problem. If you want to do cardio as well as this routine, i would recommend doing that in the evenings if time permits, if not, then you could do some straight after the weightlifting, again, if time permits.

Hope that helps!

BradBorland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/03/2015 - 13:14

Thanks, Jack!