Maximum Growth Muscle Workout

Build a new body
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What are compound exercises?

A compound exercise is one that uses more than one muscle group to lift a weight. For example, a deadlift – lifting a barbell off the floor – targets muscles in your thighs, glutes, abs, lower back, upper back and forearms. By using so many muscles, compound moves can encourage the body's hormonal system to build muscle mass.

How do these workouts work?

Recruiting as many muscles as possible at the start of the workout makes sure that the energy stored in your muscles goes towards putting microscopic tears into their fibres. And the single-joint moves at the end of the workouts target any remaining fibres. These are subsequently repaired and grow after the workout.

Workout A: Chest And Back

Target your chest and back with a mix of compound and single joint moves in this muscle-building workout routine that will help you see results in four weeks.

1 Dumbbell bench press

Dumbbell bench press

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Sets 3 Reps 10 

Target chest, triceps

  • Position yourself on your back on the bench holding dumbbells by your shoulders.
  • Press the weights straight up and keep your back flat.
  • Lower back to the start.

2 Wide-grip cable row

Wide grip cable row

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Sets 3 Reps 10 

Target upper back, lats

  • Sit at a horizontal cable machine, place your feet on the foot pads and take a wide grip on the attachment.
  • Keep your head, back and spine neutrally aligned, with your chest elevated and core engaged. 
  • With a small bend in your knees, pull the attachment in towards your body to just below the naval, keeping the elbows in and shoulder blades retracted throughout.

3 Dumbbell pull-over

dumbbell pullover

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Sets 3 Reps 10 

Target chest, lats

  • Lie on your back on a bench holding a dumbbell above your head with both hands.
  • Slowly lower the weight in an arc behind your head.
  • Return to the start.

4 Lat pull-down

Lat pull-down

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Sets 3 Reps 10 

Target lats, forearms

  • Sit at the lat pull-down machine, take a wide grip on the bar.
  • Keep your torso still as you slowly lower and raise the bar.

5 Incline press-up

incline press up

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Sets 2 Reps 10 

Target chest, core

  • Place your hands on a bench and your feet on the floor, with your body at a 45° angle.
  • Lower all the way to the bench to target your lower chest.

6 Dorsal raise with shoulder rotation

Dorsal raise with shoulder rotation

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Sets 2 Reps 10 

Target lower back

  • Lie face down with your arms in a T shape.
  • Raise your arms and chest off the floor, turning your thumbs to the ceiling at the top of the move and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower slowly back to the start, keeping your arms off the floor between reps.

Workout B: Legs And Abs

Target your legs and abs with a clever mix of compound and single joint moves in this muscle-building workout.

1 Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlift

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Sets 3 Reps 10  

Target hamstrings, glutes

  • Start off standing with the bar in your hands. 
  • Bend over at the hips, not the waist, and slowly slide the bar down your shins. Keep a slight bend in your knees and a straight back. 
  • When you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings drive your hips forwards and use your hamstrings to push back up to the start. 

2 Smith squat

Smith squat

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Sets 3 Reps 10  

Target quads, glutes

  • Check this Smith squat form guide and set up the Smith machine.
  • Lower until your thighs are level with the floor.

3 Lateral lunge

Lateral lunge

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Sets 2 Reps 10 each side  

Target adductors

  • Stand holding dumbbells by your sides. 
  • Perform a lateral lunge by stepping to one side. Make sure you keep your torso upright.

4 Bulgarian split squat

Bulgarian split squat

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Sets 2 Reps 8 each side  

Target quads, glutes

5 Cable crunch

Cable crunch

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Sets 3 Reps 10 

Target abs

  • Kneel in front of a cable machine, starting with the cable by your head.
  • Curl your shoulders down, using your abs to pull the cable down, not your arms.

6 Plank


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Sets 2 Time 20-60 seconds  

Target abs, core

  • Hold your body in a straight line and don’t let your hips drop.

Workout C: Shoulders And Arms

Target your shoulders and arms with a mix of compound and single-joint moves.

1 Push press

push press

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Sets 3 Reps 10 each side  

Target shoulders, quads

  • Push up with your knees and arms simultaneously.

2 Chin-up

chin up

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Sets 3 Reps up to 10  

Target biceps, lats

  • Pull up so your chin is over the bar.
  • Lower all the way down without swinging.

3 High cable reverse flye

High cable reverse flye

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Sets 3 Reps 10  

Target rear shoulders, upper back

  • Keep your arms almost straight so you work the targeted muscles.

4 Lying triceps extension

Lying triceps extension

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Sets 3 Reps 10  

Target triceps

  • Begin with the bar above your head with arms straight – use an EZ-bar so you can keep your wrists at a natural angle.
  • Hinge at the elbow and slowly lower until the bar almost touches your forehead. 
  • Push back up to the start.

5 Lateral raise

Lateral raise

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Sets 2 Reps 10  

Target shoulders

  • Stand, with a dumbbell in each hand, use a light weight.
  • Raise your arms out to the side and pause at the top for one second.

6 One-arm preacher curl

One-arm preacher curl

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Sets 2 Reps 8 each side  

Target biceps

  • Keep your upper arm pressed against the pad as you curl.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.