STARTING SOMETHING NEW isn't easy—especially in an intimidating space like the weight room. You'll need more than some unfocused guesses at what might be the right way to exercise to accomplish a fitness goal like building muscle. That said, you likely won't find success if you opt to follow a workout plan designed for an experienced muscle master, either. Your best bet will be to begin with the basics.
That's exactly what you'll get with this new four-week workout plan. The program, engineered by Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is designed specifically to focus on the strength training fundamentals you'll need to master to build muscle. There aren't any needless flourishes or pointless protocols meant to make your workout feel more complicated, and you won't waste your time on any extraneous movements beyond what you need to accomplish the task at hand.
You'll do this by focusing on major movement patterns and compound exercises that will recruit your biggest muscle groups. That's right—there won't be any wasted time on narrowly-focused maneuvers meant to target just one muscle at a time. You also won't be required to run through every single piece of equipment in the gym; all you need to do these workouts are dumbbells and an adjustable bench. You should be aiming to level up to heavier weights from week to week, so you'll need access to a range of dumbbells or an adjustable pair. Progressive overload is key for building muscle, after all.
The split is simple. You'll train four days out of the week, with two consecutive workout days punctuated by three active rest days (active meaning you should still be moving in some way, whether via a 20-minute walk or run or focused mobility work). Each workout will be focused on one key movement pattern or muscle group: pull, legs, push, and total body.
Sound like a solid plan to get stronger and grow? All you need to do is download the program PDF below—then get to work.
Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.