The Best Workout Routine for Quick Muscle Gains


January. What a year. In spite of all the chaos that 2021 has already thrown at us, and the ensuing chaos that is almost certain to come as we unwrap the probably horrible surprises contained in the pass-the-parcel of the new year, one thing remains constant: The unrelenting desire to become shredded.

While fitness has perhaps been low down on your agenda for the past few months, New Year’s goals offer fresh stores of determination and encouragement. While we creep cautiously out of lockdown, now is the perfect time to get working on those 2021 fitness intentions.

It is challenging to maintain a ripped physique with the time constraints and external pressures of day-to-day living. We all know, however, that exercise and fitness contributes huge benefits to overall wellness and your mental health. Focusing on your own strength and physical wellbeing is a great way to find meaning and focus restless energy while all around you descends into chaos.

So, to help you do just that, we’ve enlisted the help of some of the country’s top personal trainers to find a balanced routine that can offer maximum muscle gains while keeping the workout within a comfortable timeframe.

The Philosophy

Jessica Neill is a Sydney-based PT with seven years experience in strength training who has worked under world-record-holding powerlifters like Amir Fazeli and Liz Craven.

In terms of muscle growth, Neill says the key is getting each muscle group through 10 to 15 sets of exercise per week.  This can be done either with targeted muscle group days in the gym or a full-body workout which allows for faster recovery and more training across the week.

“If you’re someone with a lot of time, splitting up the muscle groups is a really good way to hit those targets. If you have less time, doing a full-body workout that incorporates things like supersets and compound sets can be a really good way to still hit those numbers.”

Supersets are where you do one set of repetitions on one exercise and then another set that uses an opposing muscle group straight after, going back and forth between these two until you finish all your sets. Compound sets use two different exercises that hit the same muscle group back to back.

“Segregating body parts has its benefits because you can definitely fatigue the muscle quite a bit, but on the flip side, if you’re fatiguing the muscle, maybe the amount of weight you’re lifting isn’t quite as much. Therefore, you might not actually get as much muscle damage as a full-body workout and hit each muscle group in that workout four times a week.”

Neill also talks about the benefits of splitting up a workout into push and pull categories. “If you’re short on time, I would do full-body, but focusing on either front or back, so you’d be doing push and pull days.

“Push exercises include squats because they’re predominantly quad exercises. You can do leg extensions, you’ve got your pushups, you’ve got bench press, shoulder press, all those sorts of things are pushing movements and they target the front of the body.

“On another day, you would do your pull movements, so you’ve got your deadlifts, your seated rows, your lat pull-downs, pull-ups, all that kind of stuff.”

Outside of the gym, Neill also stresses the importance of eating enough protein to give your body the fuel it needs to repair the muscle damage done in the gym.

“For men, in particular, you’d want to be hitting between one to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and for females, it’s between 0.75 to 1.5”.

The Routine

For a good example routine that focuses on muscle growth and time, we turn to Chief Baron. Baron’s expertise is formidable. He has trained members of some of the world’s most elite special forces including the Royal Marine Commandos, SWAT, and Navy SEALs.

He is also responsible for the fitness transformations of Guy Sebastian, Osher Gunsberg, and Sophie Dillman.

Baron says when he’s looking to add “considerable lean muscle to a client” he aims to get them to do four sessions per week on a two-day split.

That split would look something like this:

MONDAY: Upper Power Session

SUPER SET A: 3 sets x 3 – 5 Reps
– A1: Barbell Bench Press
– A2: Bent Over Barbell Row

SUPER SET B: 3 sets x 6 – 10 Reps
– B1: Incline DB Bench Press
– B2: Lat Pull Down

SUPER SET C: 2 sets x 6 – 10 Reps
– C1: Overhead Press
– C2: Supine Jackknives

SUPER SET D: 2 sets x 6 – 10 Reps
– D1: Barbell Skull Crushers
– D2: Barbell Bicep Curls

TUESDAY: Lower Power Session

SUPER SET A: 3 sets x 3 – 5 Reps
– A1: Back Squat (Safety Bar if Possible)
– A2: Hex Bar Deadlift

SUPER SET B: 4 sets x 10 – 15 Reps
– B1: Leg Press
– B2: Seated Calf Raises

SUPER SET C: 3 sets x 6 – 10 Reps
– C1: Seated Leg Curl
– C2: Hip Thrusts


THURSDAY: Upper Hypertrophy Session

SUPER SET A: 3 sets x 8 – 12 Reps
– A1: Incline Barbell Bench Press
– A2: Seated Cable Row

SUPER SET B: 3 sets x 8 – 12 Reps
– B1: Flat Dumbbell Fly
– B2: Single Arm Dumbbell Row

SUPER SET C: 2 sets x 8 – 12 Reps
– C1: Dumbbell Lateral Raise
– C2: Incline Dumbbell Curl
– C3: Tricep Push-Down

FRIDAY: Lower Hypertrophy Session

SUPER SET A: 3 sets x 8 – 12 Reps
– A1: Front Squat
– A2: Step Back Lunges

SUPER SET B: 4 sets x 10 – 15 Reps
– B1: Leg Extension
– B2: Lying Leg Curls

SUPER SET C: 3 sets x 8 – 12 Reps
– C1: Seated Calf Raise
– C2: Calf Press

SATURDAY: General Activity

This could be running, swimming, cycling, or going for a hike.


Notice here that Baron uses push-pull supersets to balance his workout. This gives more time for the muscles to recover between movements but goes against what Neill says for time-saving – though there may not be much in it.

Feel free to adapt the above to suit your needs and chase those goals of being a rock-hard, Herculean titan.

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