Many people wrongly equate days and hours spent in the gym to muscular growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact copying muscle building workouts designed for professional bodybuilders may not be practical, but could be counterproductive.
You can get good (or great) results by cutting down the days and time you spend in the gym as your muscles get adequate rest.
Following are examples of three day full-body workout that you can modify to suit your own needs. These workouts will hit your whole body in three days, is enough for a busy person to build or maintain muscle mass. This article assumes a gym setting and at least at basic knowledge weight lifting techniques.
Always start with a (compound) mass builder. And begin each exercise with warm up set (or two) with lighter weight and higher repetitions. It is assumed that you will do 8-12 repetitions for each exercise, with 8 being for the heaviest weight you can handle with good form.
3 Day Muscle Building Workout
Day 1: Back and Shoulders
4 sets bent over barbell rows (alternate wide and narrow grip different days)
3 sets pull downs
3 sets bent over dumbbell rows or seated machine rows
3 sets hyperextensions
Note: Shoulders are demanding as they have to be hit from various angles.
4 sets standing or seated barbell/dumbbell overhead presses
3 sets side raises
3 sets bent rear side raises
3 sets forward raises
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Legs
Note: You train legs alone as they can be extremely exhausting.
4 sets barbell squats
3 sets leg presses
4 sets leg extensions
3 stiff legged dead lifts
3 sets standing and seated calf raises (from one straight to the other and then rest)
Side Note: You may notice that your abdominal muscles are already tired on a legs-day, especially if you did some heavy squatting. This is normal.
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Chest and Arms
4 sets bench presses
4 sets bench presses
4 sets incline bench presses
3 sets flat-bench dumbbell presses
3 sets incline or flat bench dumbbell flyes
Note: Alternate incline and flat bench as well as dumbbells and barbell on different days.
Side note: Start with the bigger muscle group, which is the triceps. Since you did chest first, your triceps will already be tired and require less work.
3 sets standing, seated or lying down triceps extensions
3 sets triceps pull downs
3 sets barbell curls
3 sets preacher or concentration curls
3 sets hammer curls
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Repeat the cycle
The above muscle building workouts are just samples. You can change the exercises or combinations as you deem fit to suit your situation, time and goals. You can also superset (that is from one straight to the next with little or no rest in between) opposing muscle groups (biceps and triceps for example).