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Gain Mass and Strength With a Framework Workout Routine

Is it really possible to build a muscular body and get stronger with only a few basic exercises?

Not only is it possible, it is the best way to ensure that you maximize both your training efforts and recovery, using the best "bang-for-buck" movements which hit multiple muscle groups with each exercise.

Let's take a look at how to make this work for you!

What are the benefits of a Minimalist Training Program?

Minimalist weight training programs typically involve using a limited number of exercises, sets, and repetitions, and often focus on using bodyweight exercises or simple equipment such as dumbbells or a barbell. There are several potential benefits to using a minimalist weight training program:

    • Simplicity: Training programs which are limited to the bare essentials are easy to follow because they involve a limited number of exercises, making them a good choice for various groups of people ranging from beginners to athletes alike.

    • Time-efficiency: Abbreviated workout routines can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, making them a good choice for busy individuals who may not have a lot of time to devote to exercise.

    • Ease of access: The simplest programs can often be done using only a few pieces of equipment in the gym, making them a good choice for people who don't have access to a gym or a lot of weight training equipment.

    • Focus on foundational movements: Stripped-down programs focus on using compound exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups, which can be essential for building a strong foundation of functional strength.

    • Versatility: Minimalist workout routines can be adapted to suit a wide range of goals and fitness levels, making them a good choice for people who want to focus on improving overall fitness, building strength in specific areas or to complement other athletic training.

Loaded Carries - image credit - Shutterstock

Warmup and Set & Rep Protocols:

Warming up: Start off with some dynamic mobility and 5-10 minutes of some moderate cardio whether on machine or jump rope - whichever you prefer. Then start with as many warmup sets as you need, beginning with the empty bar and then gradually adding weight until at about 70-75% of your max weight.

The first set: Picking a weight that you can perform 5-6 reps with in good form, leaving one rep in reserve, perform this heaviest set.

Progression: Start off with a weight which you can manage for 4 reps and then increase the weight when you've been able to perform 6 reps in good form with the prescribed tempo for at least 2 sessions.

Training tempo: Use a tempo of 2-3 second eccentric, 1-2 seconds concentric, 1 second isometric for 6-8 reps. reference

Rest between sets: Ideally, you should rest between 2-3 minutes between sets consistently.

Working or "drop sets": Lower the weight to approximately 50-60% of your 1RM and crank out 10-15 reps with the same above tempo.

How many days per week? Ideally, this routing is performed three times a week with one day off between, so use the typical Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday rotation.

What about biceps, triceps, or calves?: Feel free to add some of those in, but spend no more than 5-10 minutes on them at the end of every workout. Your arms and core should get plenty of growth stimulus from the compound movements in the routine as it is!

The Simple Three Day A Week Framework Workout

Workout 1

    1. Trap Bar or Rack Deadlift: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

    1. Barbell Incline Press: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

    1. Dumbbell Pullover: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

Workout 2

    1. Leg Press: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

    1. Neutral-grip Lat Pulldown: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

    1. Loaded Carries: 40-50 percent of your bodyweight 200-300 feet

Workout 3

    1. Low Incline Dumbbell Press*: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps
      (use an angle of about 25 degrees on an adjustable bench)

    1. One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

    1. Hip Thrust (barbell, machine, or Smith machine): 4-6 reps
      Lower the weight and do 4 sets x 10-15 reps

The Exercises

The Trap Bar Deadlift

Rack Deadlift

Barbell Incline Press

Dumbbell Pullover

Leg Press

Neutral-grip Lat Pulldown

Loaded Carries

Low Incline Dumbbell Press

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Hip Thrust