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Best Hypertrophy Program (Goal, Principles & Tips Included)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: May 4, 2023

Muscle hypertrophy isn’t easily achievable, but it can be done with adequate exercises and proper programming techniques and methods.

To increase your muscle mass and strengthen each muscle group, you must implement the basic hypertrophy training principles across the time of a mesocycle.

After 20 hours of extensive research and based on my own expertise and personal knowledge as a certified personal trainer, I singled out the best exercises and put them into a workout program, so that you can experience the best muscle growth benefits.

In addition, you will get plenty of helpful insights into nutrition and supplementation to maximize muscle hypertrophy and bring your resistance training to the next level.

Quick Summary

  • The best hypertrophy program for building muscle mass includes the principle of progressive overload, hits every major muscle group, allows for enough time to recover, and uses advanced nutrition and supplementation techniques.
  • To maximize muscle hypertrophy for multiple muscle groups, you must implement the basic hypertrophy principles for sets, reps, rest intervals, and training frequency (training volume).
  • To build muscle and increase the hypertrophy of muscle fibers, you must eat enough proteins and carbs after each weight training session during the anabolic window.

What Is Hypertrophy?

Performing one of best hypertrophy programs

Hypertrophy is the enlargement of muscle fibers. It manifests as the enlargement of the diameter of each myofibril (muscle fiber) individually and resembles muscle growth.

Hypertrophy and hyperplasia are two ways to appear more muscular.

However, hyperplasia is the formation of new muscle fibers, which primarily occurs during the development of our bodies at the child's age.

We can't affect the number of muscle cells by training regime. However, we can affect how big our muscle fibers are with the proper weight training programs [1].

Hypertrophy occurs after we allow our bodies proper nutrients after an intense workout.

Sometimes, this is also called the theory of supercompensation. Supercompensation replenishes glycogen stores in our muscle cells and recovers the same fibers [2].

It is primarily affected by proper protein and carbohydrate intake 2 hours after the training session.

This is also known as the anabolic window or the time in the day when our muscle cells' membranes are still open and ready to receive energy replenishments [3].

"Hypertrophy is the process by which you grow muscle. For bodybuilders, it’s literally everything. For strength athletes, it is a tangential but welcomed benefit of dedicated physical training. And, for the average human, hypertrophy is an insurance policy that helps guarantee a long and healthy life."

- Jake Dickson, Certified Personal Trainer

The Workouts

Doing machine rows inside the gym

This is a 4-day split hypertrophy workout routine. It is primarily separated into four main workouts, each targeting different muscle groups:

  • Monday – Side delts and chest
  • Tuesday – Rear delts and upper back
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Abs and arms
  • Friday – Legs
  • Saturday and Sunday – Off

However, this is an example of how you may spread the workouts throughout the day.

Many of you may have a problem organizing exactly like this because of your jobs.

You may decide to alter how these workouts are spread in the week, but remember the recovery factor, which is crucial for your muscle tissue to recover.

I suggest having four workouts per week, where a maximum of three workouts are done in a row before getting a day off.

Workout 1: Chest and Side Delts

Doing bench press with heavy weights

Here is the entire first workout of the week, hitting chest muscles and side delts:

  • Incline Barbell Bench Press - perform 2 sets of 12 reps and the rest of 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press - do 3 sets for 10 reps and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Cable Crossover - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for no more than 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Seated Lateral Raise - perform 3 sets of 12 reps without resting for more than 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise - complete 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.

Workout 2: Upper Back and Rear Delts

Here is the entire second workout for hitting upper back muscles and rear delts:

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Dumbbell Pullover - complete 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest up to 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly - complete 12 reps for 3 sets and rest for 90 seconds between each set.
  • Cable Face Pull - perform 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Dumbbell Shrug - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for up to 90 seconds in between.

Workout 3: Arms and Abs

Performing arm workouts using dumbbells

Here is the entire third workout of the week targeting arms, muscles, and abs:

  • Close Grip Bench Press - complete 12 reps for 3 sets and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Weighted Dip - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for no more than 90 seconds in between.
  • Rope Tricep Extension - complete 10 reps for 3 sets and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Lying Leg Raise - perform 12 reps for 3 sets and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Cable Crunch - complete 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Barbell Curl - perform 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for less than 90 seconds.
  • Hammer Curl - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for less than 90 seconds.
  • Cable Curl - perform 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for no more than 90 seconds in between.

Workout 4: Legs

Here is the entire fourth and last workout of the week targeting leg muscles:

  • Deadlift - complete 3 sets of 8 reps and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Lying Leg Curl - complete 3 sets of 12 reps and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Walking Lunge - complete 8 reps for each leg, 3 sets, and rest for 90 seconds between the sets
  • Front Squat - complete 10 reps for 3 sets and rest for no more than 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Leg Extension - perform 12 reps for 3 sets and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.
  • Dumbbell Side Lunge - complete 10 reps for each leg, 3 sets, and rest for 90 seconds in between.
  • Seated Calf Raise - complete 12 reps for 3 sets and rest no more than 90 seconds.
  • Calf Press - perform 10 reps for 3 sets and resto for 90 seconds in between.

Workout Summary

Doing back workouts

Below, you may find the most important information before implementing the hypertrophy program.

Main Goal

The main goal of this workout is building muscles, meaning we will use specific techniques for programming to increase muscle mass.

However, the total volume and intensity are also considered together with appropriate nutritional and supplementation plans that must follow along to ensure proper recovery.

Workout Type

The primary workout type we are using is the split workout. The best type of workout for hypertrophy is split, and the worst one you can choose is the full-body workout.

Full-body workouts don't allow you to have enough intensity for each muscle group since many of them must be hit in the same workout. 

This becomes a problem since we have limited energy stores, and our concentration tends to lower toward the end of the workout due to CNS (central nervous system) fatigue.

Training Level

Doing bicep curls

The training level of this hypertrophy program was created with intermediate users in mind.

This means that percentage of 1 repetition max, sets, reps, rest intervals, and training frequency will be tailored to the group of intermediate lifters.

Program Duration

The whole program lasts 8 weeks, which is a 56 days, representing one mesocycle.

Usually, mesocycles don't last more than two months, and my general recommendation is to stick to 42-45 days max.

However, since we want to achieve superior hypertrophy gains and there is no follow-up phase of strength or power, we may prolong it to 8 weeks in total.

Days per Week

Using an inclined bench for workout

The four-day split routine was chosen since that is the best amount of sessions for intermediate lifters to achieve a superior muscle-building effect.

Also, 4 days per week allow for enough recovery between the sessions, and you can focus on one muscle group at a time, which is the best for hypertrophy training.

Equipment Required

We will use our body weight, regular machines, barbells, dumbbells, and cable machines.

Target Gender

The program is tailored for males and females since there is no difference between the muscular hypertrophy of both genders.

You may adapt certain exercises to your specific preferences and where you want to see your body grow.

Staring at a protein supplement

The recommended supplements include protein, creatine, multivitamins, and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids).

If you are on a tight budget, stick to a regular protein powder, and if you have more money to spend, then take additional creatine monohydrate.

Principles of the Program

Couple performing a workout inside the gym

The principles of the program resemble the techniques and methods used during the workout sessions that help facilitate the hypertrophy effects.

Here are some basic principles to follow during your hypertrophy workout sessions.

Rest-Pause Sets

During the rest-pause sets, you must push the entire set to failure within the recommended rep range.

Then, you will rest for up to 15 seconds and perform as many reps as possible.

This is how a set of barbell curls would look like:

  • Barbell curls - complete 8 reps with 70 lbs, rest for 15 seconds, then do 4 reps with 70 pounds.

This assumes the 4 reps at the end of the set is the maximum number of reps you can complete after the initial set failure.

Simply put, this number will slightly change based on your freshness, training experience, and motivation.

In addition, I love this principle because it allows you to increase the volume of the workout by performing additional reps at the end of each set, and it is only possible because of the small 10 to 15-second break you make.

Drop Sets

Asian man doing dumbbell rows

Drops sets are a technique used after you finish desired reps of the set and then purposefully decrease the load to complete some additional reps.

The difference between drop sets and rest-pause sets is the rest interval between the initial and additional sets.

Drops sets don't use any rest interval, and the rest-pause sets use the 15 seconds break.

Once you fail the drop set, you reduce the weight and continue to train.

This is how an incline dumbbell press with the drop set method may look like:

  • Incline dumbbell press - complete 10 reps with 60 lb dumbbells, then do a drop set with 30 lb dumbbells for 12 reps.

Again, the 12 reps with 30 lbs is an arbitrary number and will depend on your current fatigue, motivation, and freshness, amongst other important factors.

Drop sets are excellent methods to induce hypertrophy effects, but if you feel intimidated or inexperienced enough, you may skip them for the first two weeks and return to them later.


Negatives are an excellent way to break in with an advanced exercise and gain initial traction before transitioning to a full-fledged exercise.

Negatives count for the eccentric portion of the lift.

For instance, a negative pull-up is simply an eccentric portion of the exercise or the phase where you lower yourself to the hanging position. 

In this program, we specifically use slow negatives because the biggest damage to the muscle is done during the lengthening of the muscles or the eccentric phase of the lift (those are the same things).

You will complete 5-second negatives for the desired amount of reps.

How Much Weight Should I Use?

Woman holding two dumbbells

You should use the weight between 60 and 87.5% of your 1 repetition maximum for the maximal hypertrophy results.

Aim to slightly increase the resistance weekly since that is the best for muscle growth.

However, hypertrophy can be achieved across the whole range of the abovementioned percentage of your 1 rep max.

Remember that the quality of reps, rest intervals, and sets are more important.

Nutrition Tips

I suggest eating at least 1 g of protein per pound of body weight to support your hypertrophy program [4].

This has proven to be a bare minimum or a recommended dose to preserve or gain muscle mass, depending on your current fitness regime.

Also, eating enough carbohydrates after each intense workout session will be crucial to support the time of the anabolic window.

This is when supercompensation of glycogen occurs, and you don’t want to miss it because your muscles will lack energy for the following workout and feel exhausted.

This will decrease your overall performance and hinder hypertrophy results from the program.

"Proper nutrition is just as vital as bulking as it is for losing weight, if not more so. If your calories or macronutrients are off, even by a little bit, you could find yourself putting on a winter coat of fat rather than packing on quality muscle."

- Nick English, Certified Personal Trainer

Supplementation Tips

Holding a scoop of a supplement product

The most important supplement to take is protein powder.

If you can choose one supplement due to your budget, stick with the protein powder since it will significantly affect your muscle-building results.

Remember to have a protein shake after every hypertrophy training, and don’t exceed the 30-minute post-workout time.

Taking protein powder in this time frame has been proven to have the best effect on recovery, rebuilding of muscle fibers, and increased performance.

The next supplement I highly recommend is creatine monohydrate. It will help replenish the fastest energy source in your body, called creatine-phosphate [5].

Your body uses creatine-phosphate during high-intensity activities such as weight lifting, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions, sprinting, etc.

However, the anaerobic threshold, or when your body starts using creatine-phosphate, will differ and is highly individual.

The most important thing you should know is that creatine-monohydrate will help you do more reps, lift more load, recover faster, and have more energy.

All these factors are crucial in general muscle gain and whole-body muscular development.


What Is the 5 3 1 Program for Hypertrophy?

The 5, 3, 1-program for hypertrophy is the type of workout program that utilizes different rep ranges across the 3-week cycle. In the first week, you do 5 reps for each set; the following week, sets of 3 reps; and the last week, you are doing heavy singles.

Is 12 or 15 Reps Better for Hypertrophy?

The 12 reps are better for hypertrophy than the 15 reps. The best rep range for hypertrophy is between 6 and 12, with a 60-87.5% percentage of 1 repetition maximum.

Is 20 Sets Too Much for Hypertrophy?

Yes, 20 sets are too much for hypertrophy. It is impossible to avoid exhaustion of your energy system if you complete 20 sets, so the best advice is to stay between 5 and 10 sets if you are an advanced lifter.

What Is the Best Supplement for Hypertrophy Training?

The best supplement for hypertrophy training is protein powder.

When you finish an intense training session, there is a 2-hour time frame called an anabolic window that resembles the opportunity to feed your muscle cells with glycogen and protein.

Taking enough protein after each workout will help your muscle grow faster, improve recovery time, and boost your lifting performance.

I suggest reading our guides on protein powders to pick the one that will suit your personal needs and goals the best:

Let me know how you plan to implement the hypertrophy program in your current training regime.


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