This page includes routines primarily aimed at building strength and muscle. Be aware that the differences in training for general strength and training for muscle growth (or hypertrophy) are often vastly overstated. All of the programs on this page are effective at getting you both bigger and stronger, provided you eat to support it. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle and vice versa.
As you make your choice, don’t forget the importance of having at least some cardio in your overall fitness plan, even if it’s not your primary focus. Read more about the benefits here: Why You Should Do Cardio
Choosing a Routine
The choice of a workout routine is one of the most heavily debated topics, bar none, especially among those just getting started. It can often feel overwhelming or like you have no idea what’s right for you, what’s the best choice, what’s the most effective, and so on. The truth is that this choice doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Your effort and consistency over time are, by orders of magnitude, much greater drivers of your results than the specific routine you follow.
If you’re on this page, your goal is probably to get bigger and/or stronger. Every routine listed on this page has been vetted and used by many people, successfully, to achieve gains in size and strength. It truly matters very little which one you pick, as long as you work hard at it, eat correctly, and give it enough time. Don’t get caught in the weeds trying to compare volume or intensity or pulling up an INOL chart or pouring through PubMed studies. Pick literally anything you find here and bust your ass at it for six months. It is impossible for you to waste your time on any of these routines unless you sandbag or eat like a dummy.
The true important factors to consider are these:
- If you have access to all of the equipment that the routine requires, or can make reasonable substitutions
- If you can handle the time investment the routine requires – both in session time and number of days
Mismatches in these factors will have the greatest effects on your ability to work hard at your routine and be consistent in your execution. Don’t get married to a six day routine if you know that a three day routine will fit better into your life and schedule just because you fear missing out on gains.
If you are a complete beginner, we strongly recommend getting your feet wet with one of the following, depending on your equipment access:
- r/Fitness Basic Beginner Routine
- r/Bodyweightfitness Recommended Routine
- Dumbbell Stopgap or Dumbbell Stopgap PPL
Barbell / Compound Lift Focused Routines
- r/Fitness Basic Beginner Routine
A simple, slightly modified version of Phrak’s GSLP to be used as a short term “training wheels” program for learning the fundamental barbell lifts, with guidelines for cardio and conditioning.
- Greyskull LP
A beginner’s linear progression program. A 3 day or A/B routine.
- The GZCL Method
Powerlifter and r/Fitness regular Cody LeFever’s training system. A very flexible program that can be adapted for many different goals. See r/gzcl for more. Read reviews in the Program Review Archive.
A linear progression template derived from the GZCL Method. A 3 or 4 day routine.
- Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1
A popular, proven system for training that is effective for trainees of all levels by Coach Jim Wendler. Reading 5/3/1 Forever is strongly recommended to better understand it and have more variations available, but there are many variations available for free online. Read reviews in the Program Review Archive.
- 5/3/1 For Beginners
The 5/3/1 program with modifications to target it more towards novice lifters. A 3 day routine.
- 5/3/1 – Boring But Big
One of the most popular 5/3/1 variants. Simple to follow and good for both strength and size.
- 5/3/1 – Building the Monolith
A variant of the 5/3/1 program with a focus on building size. A 3 day routine. Read more about it in r/Fitness MVP and competitive strongman u/MythicalStrength‘s program review, or in r/Weightroom’s BtM Program Party wrap-up thread.
- Greg Nuckols’ Programs – 28 free training programs from longtime friend of r/Fitness and one of the juggernauts of strength science, Greg Nuckols of Stronger By Science. Read reviews in the Program Review Archive.
- Average to Savage
A strength and muscle building program by Greg Nuckols. Read reviews in the Program Review Archive.
- Strong Curves
A program aimed at introducing women to weight lifting. The program can be tailored to the user and offers at-home alternatives for those without access to a gym. Some spreadsheets can be found in this post on r/xxfitness. More info can be found at /r/StrongCurves.
- nSuns LP
A linear progression focused program based very loosely on elements of 5/3/1 Spinal Tap, created by r/Fitness regular nSuns. Comes in 4 day, 5 day and 6 day variations. See r/nSuns for more.
- Metallicdpas PPL (Archive)
Linear progression based push/pull/legs program. A 6 day routine.
- Westside For Skinny Bastards
A strength and muscle building program by Joe DeFranco. A 4 day program.
- PHUL (Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower)
Size and strength program by Brandon Campbell. A 4 day program.
- PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training)
Size and strength program by Dr. Layne Norton. A 5 day program.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Splits
Body part splits from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two variations, both are 6 day programs.
- Jon Anderson’s Deep Water Method
A free e-book on pro strongman and IFBB pro bodybuilder Jon Anderson’s training methods. Includes programs for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced trainees. Read reviews in the Program Review Archive.
Dumbbell Focused Routines
Bodyweight / Home / Minimal Equipment Routines
- BWF Routine
The recommended routine from r/BodyWeightFitness. Provides many variations of the classic bodyweight movements for different levels of strength and skill.
- BWF ‘Move’ Routine
Alternative routine from r/BodyWeightFitness meant to take you through your first two years of training.
- BWF Minimalist Routine
A bare-bones bodyweight circuit from r/BodyWeightFitness.
- BWF Skills Routine
Skills and mobility work
- StartBodyweight Basic Routine
- Intermediate / Advanced Bodyweight routines
From the r/BodyWeightFitness wiki
Hotel / Apartment / Planet Fitness-like Gyms
- The r/Fitness Planet Fitness / Hotel / Apartment Gym Workout Routine Megathread
This megathread has r/Fitness users sharing the routines they use at gyms with less than a full range of equipment.