This question was not well received originally, so I will rephrase it.

Is there a hypertrophy routine that stands above the others in terms of size gain, given that infinite motivation and resources(no steroids) are available?

What I am trying to ask is: Is there a routine that most people couldn't put the effort in to stay consistent, that someone who has exceptional discipline would benefit more than any other on.

2 Answers 2


I'm going to start off with that there is no universally best routine. Only what is most appropriate for you given your level of training, physical development, and your goals. Advice in the world of bodybuilding (i.e. hypertrophy work), opinions are so severely divided that it's even hard to compile a list of routines. That's probably due to the fact a number of bodybuilders go to the gym with a rough idea of what they want to accomplish, and the rest kind of falls into place after that.

The best thing I can recommend is hire a coach who has had good results from his clients, and see if you can get 3rd party opinions about his coaching results and style. They will help you figure out exactly what is going to work for you.

However, to that end I do have to outline a couple of things:

  • 5x5 routines are a decent compromise for getting stronger and a little bigger. However, they are general programs and you will get general results.
  • Most people only see quick results when they are beginners, so doing just about anything will give them results. There are some people who don't see this, but after years of hard work they still get results.
  • The more you train, you will need more variation to your training stimulus.
  • Even if your emphasis is hypertrophy, you will need to do blocks of emphasizing strength so that you can build more mass later. The reverse is also true.

The bottom line is that to develop a routine that works for you, you'll need to be really smart:

  • Log your work, sets/reps/timing/type of work, as well as how you are feeling (fatigue levels), scale and measurements.
  • When you get more results with a style of training, keep at it until you start to stall.
  • When you stall, change the focus of your training to emphasize a different aspect. I.e. if you have been training for size, start training for strength. This is called periodization.
  • Approach any new claims you hear with a healthy skepticism. If the arguments seem sound and don't conflict with anything concrete you already know, you may decide to give it a try. Just make sure it fits your current goals, and feel free to make modifications to make it work best for you.

There is no best. That concept is a marketing ploy in the fitness industry. There's what's best for you give your training maturity and how you respond to exercise, but there is no unequivocal best approach to training for everyone. You might find that what works very well for someone else doesn't really do anything for you. There can be any number of reasons for it ranging from training maturity to personal genetics. Just train, and make minor tweaks as you go along. After a decade or so, you'll have a very good idea of how to train yourself better than anyone else.


The best routines for natural lifters are 5x5 routines for the most part. Stronglifts, starting strength and bill starr routines all stand out above the rest for achieving maximal results in the shortest time. If you are a natural lifter make sure to stay away from body part splits, these are useless in my opinion. As for gaining size a caloric surplus is necessary in my opinion, but if you are careful you will be able to do this with minimal fat gain. It is possible for a beginner to gain muscle on a deficit but only to a point and I would not recommend it.

  • There are no bests. Just what's appropriate for goals and what is personally something that works. Jul 6, 2014 at 12:46
  • And a 5x5 template is personally something that works for everyone, regardless of age, body type or gender. The rep range is enough to induce hypertrophy whilst still being able to drive neuromuscular adaptations to systematically stress the body on a workout by workout basis. Stress = muscular adaptations = gains. They hit all major muscle groups and are the perfect introduction for beginners to the basic lifts whist for the most part being able to take them all the way up to an advanced level with very few changes in programming. I have never seen this kind of programming fail.
    – user10019
    Jul 6, 2014 at 14:57
  • 1
    You can't make blanket statements like that. It works for many people, particularly when they are starting out. However, the strict 5x5 beginner programs like the ones you mentioned no longer work for me. My training maturity has gone beyond what they offer. Additionally, for the purpose of hypertophy they only work marginally well. There are other protocols that I've used that work better for me. I'm not a special snowflake either. There are several people who are at my level or beyond that would agree. No program works forever. Period. Jul 6, 2014 at 20:15
  • And I think the question was referring to an all round blanket routine in general. 5x5 routines are the best answer in my opinion. The only reason not to progress on these program's is if you are not eating properly. And saying just about anything will give results is bad advice in my opinion. Half my gym are skinny teenagers on body splits from muscle mags with no results after months and months of training. You see it all the time. 5x5 is best for beginners period. And the guy asking is obviously a beginner to ask this question in the first place.
    – user10019
    Jul 7, 2014 at 7:46
  • It doesn't take much thinking to simply add assistance exercise if size is the goal. As long as the overall template is followed it will yield the best results in the shortest time. Not some personal trainer who will sit him on silly machines working on his 'pec width or something equally ridiculous'. The majority of these people can shed some weight and get people ripped no doubt, but the 99% know dick about building muscle. Almost any trainer with any knowledge will just refer him to some form of 5x5 anyway. Play
    – user10019
    Jul 7, 2014 at 7:54

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