Build your best physique in three months with this complete routine. This 6-day program focuses on each muscle group, emphasizing muscle shape, size, and definition.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

A lot of our readers are passionate about bodybuilding and want to find a program that will help them positively change their physique. They simply want to look and feel better.

If that describes you, then stick around because we have a three-month program here that will help you do just that.

Workout Overview

This program includes six days of workouts with a focus on each muscle group. The workouts will take about 60-90 minutes including the time you take to warm up and prepare.

You should rest anywhere from 60-90 seconds between sets and keep transition time from one exercise to the other to a minimum.

Your goal is to progressively get stronger on each exercise and develop the individual components of each muscle group. This is a bodybuilding program, so we’re focusing on shape, size, and definition.

Recommended: Warming Up For Dummies: A Lifter’s Guide to Injury Prevention

Fit brunette man running on the treadmill at the gym.

Cardio and Nutrition

For this program, do cardio first thing in the morning or after your weight training. Whatever time you choose, schedule 30 minutes of steady-state cardio. That can be a walk, work on a machine, or activities like hiking or riding a bike.

Some of you may be ambitious and want to do more than the time prescribed. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and have the time, go for it. However, if you are trying to drop a few pounds or even build on size, then stick to one session.

If you want to incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT), complete it after your strength training session and keep the sessions to 20 minutes. Yes, burning calories is important, but we want to protect that muscle we have or are trying to build. Do not do HIIT first thing in the morning. 

As for nutrition, we have overall guides here to help you build muscle or lose fat, depending on your goal. One of the best things about this workout is that with the right nutrition plan, you can use this program to help you get sliced and diced, or swole and jacked.

Some of you are likely thinking you want to do both at the same time. You may add a few pounds of muscle while trying to get ripped, but you’re very likely not going to build significant size if you are restricting calories. Picking a lane and going all out would be the best suggestion.

Related: How to Successfully Gain Muscle and Lose Fat

Rear shot of a female doing dumbbell bicep curls in the gym.

Training Schedule

You can set this six-day schedule up however you like with one rule – you can only do two upper-body days in a row before doing a lower-body day. You don’t have to follow a strict seven-day schedule, either. You can do part or most of this during a week, then finish the rest at the start of the next week before starting the rotation over. Below are a couple of schedule examples:

Example 1

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Workout 3
  • Thursday: Workout 4
  • Friday: Workout 5
  • Saturday: Workout 6
  • Sunday: Rest

Example 2

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Workout 3
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 4
  • Saturday: Workout 5
  • Sunday: Workout 6

If you are unsure whether your split would work, leave a comment and we will do our best to help. Remember, the best schedule is one you can follow. So make this workout work for you.

Regardless of your split, you should take one full day off a week for a complete recovery. On your recovery day, you can do extra stretching, get a massage, or simply chill out. If you treat this program right, you will need every hour of that day.

Related: 3 Active Recovery Workouts for Your Next Rest Day

African American man tracking weightlifting progress on his phone.

Progression 

You might be wondering where the strength component comes into this. Each exercise in this program will have three sets. The first rep can be with moderate weight. The second set should be slightly more challenging. When you see reps decrease, that means you should add weight to each set. 

The final set is the heaviest one, and you should go to failure on that set. I mean failure; there is no way you could do another rep with good form. This is where the strength factor and progression come in.

I also want you to track that last set on every exercise with no exception – even the smaller isolation movements. Your goal is to either add one rep or more weight to that set every week throughout the 12 weeks.

As an example, we will use the seated lateral raise. You may start with 20-pound dumbbells for the 8 reps. Next week, go for 9 reps, and then 10 reps the week after that. Once you get more than two reps over your intended target, go heavier. When you compare all those numbers in the beginning to those after the 12 weeks, you should see that you made significant progress over that time.

Sculpted Strength: The Ultimate 12 Week Bodybuilding Program

Each day has at least two different body parts. We even covered the calves and forearms. This guide should be used for all 12 weeks, but you can make small adjustments to help you cater to your individual needs such as focusing on a specific area or changing the training schedule every few weeks. 

Workout 1: Shoulders and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Seated Lateral Raise 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Machine Shoulder Press 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Dumbbell Front Raise 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Cable Crunch     3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Lying Floor Leg Raise 3 Failure 60-90 sec

Workout 2: Back and Traps

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Rack Pull Deadlift* 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Reverse Hyperextension 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Wide Grip Seated Row 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec

*Editor's Note: The demo video shows a trap bar, but this exercise can be performed with a barbell. 

Workout 3: Quadriceps and Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Squat 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Hack Squat or Leg Press 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Bulgarian Split Squat 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Leg Extension 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Seated Calf Raise 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Calf Press 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec

Workout 4: Chest and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Incline Machine Press 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Incline Dumbbell Fly 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Pec Dec or Cable Crossover 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Weighted Crunch 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Seated Barbell Twist 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec

Workout 5: Triceps, Biceps, and Forearms

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Tricep Dips 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
One-Arm Dumbbell Extension 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Rope Tricep Extension 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Concentration Curl 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Preacher Curl 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Standing Hammer Curl 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Reverse Grip Barbell Curl 3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl       3 12, 10, 8 60-90 sec

Workout 6: Hamstrings and Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Walking Lunge 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Standing Cable Hamstring Curl 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Seated or Lying Leg Curl 3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Standing Calf Raise     3 15, 12, 10 60-90 sec
Banded Tibialis Raise 3 Failure 60-90 sec

Lean brunette female stretching lower body after her workout.

FAQ’s

Can I train six days in a row?

For most of you reading this, that answer is going to be no. Three days of training in a row is going to be a lot, and some of you may feel that you need to take some rest after two days. That said, if you’ve been in the iron game for an extended period and are aware of what you’re capable of, then you could try to do all six, but make sure you take the seventh day off. If you’re questioning if that applies to you or not, then it does not.

Can I change the order or the exercises?

Yes, and for some of you, you should. If you know your physique well enough to know that you need to focus on having wider shoulders, then start with lateral raises. If you feel your biceps are weaker than your triceps, then start with the biceps on arm day. You should follow a consistent schedule for all 12 weeks, but don’t be afraid to change the order of movements.

Can I do this while training or doing other sports (karate, baseball, etc.)?

For this one, I believe you need to commit to doing this as a stand-alone program. If you need a program to help you excel in other endeavors, we have other options for you to check out here on M&S. But since this is a bodybuilding-focused program, that should be the main focus.

Can I use this to build muscle or lose fat?

You can use this program for either goal. It could be a plan to help you get bigger, or you can implement it to get shredded. The nutrition, supplementation, and recovery are going to dictate how the physique will look in the end. Let the food take that responsibility. When you’re in the weight room, the goal should be to give it all you got.

Related: 5 Fat Loss Supplements Backed by Science

What if I only have access to free weights?

You can swap out the machine exercises listed for free weight versions by checking out our Exercises section. We have them broken down by body parts. Just make sure you swap them for movements that perform similar functions. A row should be replaced with a row, a press for a press, etc. 

We also have a couple of articles that help with upper-body movement substitutions and lower-body substitutions.

Final Thoughts

Make sure you are tracking your progress by doing things like weight checks, photos, and body composition tests weekly. That progress will help you stay pumped up and motivated to keep going on those days when the ambition may not be there. If you go for this program, share your feedback and results in the comments as well so we can educate and inspire others to do the same.

21 Comments
Mihai
Posted on: Fri, 06/07/2024 - 16:01

I dont have an rack with wich exercise i can replace the rack pull deadlift and reverse hyperextension because i dont have that machine too

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/14/2024 - 07:53

Hello, Mihai? Can you provide a list of what you do have so I can make the best suggestions for you that I can?

Chetan V
Posted on: Mon, 06/03/2024 - 05:46

Should we do cardio of 20 or 30 min daily after weight training. Goal is to build muscle.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2024 - 06:42

I never say no to cardio. 20-30 would be very beneficial. I don't suggest HIIT cardio in your case. Steady state cardio can be very effective.

Chai
Posted on: Sat, 06/01/2024 - 16:13

Hello, I just one doubt , this provides a 12 week programme right, but there are 6 workouts , so how will It work out every week? Should I repeat the same exercise every week? Or?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/07/2024 - 13:31

"This guide should be used for all 12 weeks"

Louis
Posted on: Fri, 05/31/2024 - 03:45

Hi, should a separate ab workout be performed on top of these workouts? There doesn't seem to be a great volume of ab stimulus.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/31/2024 - 05:06

Hi Louis, it doesn't have to be added, but if you want to add one, you can. We have several options for you here.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Emil
Posted on: Thu, 05/30/2024 - 10:57

Hi, what about warm up sets? Do we do any or only the 3 sets specified in the workout plan?

Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/30/2024 - 19:27

Hi Emil, the first set can be used as a warm-up set if you like.

Peter Bisinov
Posted on: Wed, 05/22/2024 - 10:56

Is there a corresponding meal plan that goes with this workout program?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2024 - 20:49

There is no meal plan with this, Peter. I can make a pitch to an editor to see if we could put a strength-based nutrition feature together.

Char
Posted on: Wed, 05/22/2024 - 10:50

What about glutes?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2024 - 20:48

You can add glute kickbacks and hip thrusts to Day 6 with similar sets and reps.

Lyder
Posted on: Mon, 05/20/2024 - 06:19

Hey, i was just wondering if it is possible to swap in a bench press for another excercise, and why it is not included? Is it not optimal for gaining size?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2024 - 20:48

You can put it in to replace the first exercise, Lyder.

Bench is great for strength, but many bodybuilders don't like the bench because it puts the shoulder and pec at risk of injury with so many reps. We opted to make this a little different and put different exercises in as well.

Deverick
Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2024 - 16:35

im on a stretch work out that started 8 weeks and i see very wonderful advantages.. you can bulk up in less than 3 months or 4months as well, but people its hard work and dedication. i gained 10 pounds of muscle in less than 3 months! i kid you not..maybe im a fitness nut, lol but i consume 6 muscle supplements:)

Kp
Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2024 - 12:45

How about the cardio. I do not see any information on it?

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Marina
Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2024 - 13:52

Hey KP,

Under "Cardio and Nutrition" here's what this workout calls for:

For this program, do cardio first thing in the morning or after your weight training. Whatever time you choose, schedule 30 minutes of steady-state cardio. That can be a walk, work on a machine, or activities like hiking or riding a bike.

Some of you may be ambitious and want to do more than the time prescribed. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and have the time, go for it. However, if you are trying to drop a few pounds or even build on size, then stick to one session.

If you want to incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT), complete it after your strength training session and keep the sessions to 20 minutes. Yes, burning calories is important, but we want to protect that muscle we have or are trying to build. Do not do HIIT first thing in the morning.

Odai
Posted on: Wed, 05/15/2024 - 17:09

I typically like to workout 5 days a week and rest for two days. how can this program be updated to fit 5 days instead of 6 days. what workouts can be combined together. thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/27/2024 - 20:46

Hey Odai, I would suggest combining Workouts 3 and 6 to make it five days. That is a lot of work on that day, so make it the last day before your days off.