A bodybuilding legend launches a routine, swears it inspired his record-setting IFBB run and promises a stage-ready aesthetic physique (if you don’t call it quits before 16 weeks are over).
Sounds tempting, eh?
Well, these programs are almost always letdowns.
Their “hacks” are dumping $300 into weekly groceries, training for 90 minutes a day, hitting the genetic lottery, and — of course — decades’ worth of vein-popping muscles owed to PEDs.
Mike Robertson’s Built By Science 6-Week Muscle-Building Trainer is almost the polar opposite. Short. Realistic. Science-based. Tons of potential.
Learn more about this program below!
About the Creator – Mike Robertson
He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page bursting at the seams, a cult-like Instagram following (23.5k as of August 2021), a hulking physique like Steve Cook, or IFBB titles out the wazoo.
But viral fame be damned, Mike Robertson is the epitome of bodybuilding brains.
His resume — now 20+ years in the making — says it all:
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
- Experience coaching collegiate teams with their strength & conditioning
- A Master’s Degree in Sports Biomechanics from Ball State University
- Co-ownership of I-FAST, an athletic training facility based in Indiana
- More than 100 published online articles in the fitness realm
- 530 lb. squat, 335 lb. bench press, and 525 lb. deadlift in his final powerlifting meet
Yet, it’s his noob-friendly approach mixed with years of industry experience that makes Robertson a stand-out coach for both seasoned athletes and those starting from square one.
So what’s this Built By Science thing? … and which came first — Mike Robertson’s Built By Science or Jeremy Ethier’s Built With Science?
Looking at the Built By Science 6-Week Muscle-Building Trainer
Two types of athletes inspired the Built By Science program: first-timers trying their hand at split training and those scorned by previous splits that led to burnout.
This moderate-volume routine is “back to basics.” No drop sets. No supersets. No training to failure. No silly fitness fads or supplements were disproven by researchers time and time again.
This seemingly tame-sounding six-week program promises muscle growth through:
- Five days of resistance training targeting 1–2 muscle groups per session
- Two “active rest days” per week (brisk walking)
- A supplement and nutritional guide
- Beginner-friendly lessons in anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics
- About 16–20 or so sets per muscle group
It also brings that research-backed edge that Jim Stoppani, Jeff Nippard, and Jeremy Ethier are known for (though, oddly enough, Robertson’s program is missing links to related studies).
And the program duration is 6-weeks shorter than Lean Body by Lee Labrada. Interesting.
Ready to learn more? Keep scrollin’.
Program Details & Features
Six weeks to build a muscular physique … is it even possible? If it is, does this Mike Robertson program follow the training and dietary principles to guarantee a more aesthetic build?
Let’s find out!
The online bodybuilding forums are strangely hush-hush about this program, which could mean either 1) it’s a still-yet-to-be-discovered routine or 2) the crickets are chirping for a reason.
That’s why the best place to learn about this program — other than right here — is on its BodyFit “Main Page” tab.
Here, you’ll learn:
- What equipment you need, including a squat rack, barbell, dumbbells, adjustable bench press, EZ-bar, pull-up bar, weight plates, and traditional resistance training machines
- How to substitute exercises with the BodyFit app’s database if you’re bouncing back from an injury or don’t have much equipment access
- Whether you can repeat this program after the six weeks end (Robertson claims there’s “no risk of burnout,” but boredom is definitely possible)
So far, so good!
Ready to dump that pre-workout scoop into your shaker bottle, pack your protein bar, and fire up the ignition? We hope so … because this Workout Schedule tab creeps up fast.
Each training session begins with a few intro paragraphs, an inspirational blurb, and an overview of any changes this week (new tempos, form tips, rest periods, etc.).
(Unlike the quirkiness in Goblet of Gains, this part is boring and can be skipped. As long as you pay close attention to the tempos, sets, reps, and rest for each exercise, you won’t be missing much!)
Here’s a look at your training schedule for the next six weeks:
- Monday: Legs & Lower Body
- Tuesday: Chest
- Wednesday: Back
- Thursday: Rest (Active)
- Friday: Shoulders
- Saturday: Arms & Abs
- Sunday: Active Rest
You can also print out today’s workout as if the 90s hadn’t called and asked for their printer back. Or you can download the BodyFit app on your phone and log your progress there.
The Training Guidelines module is where Robertson maps out what inspired the next six weeks of training. He explains that this program isn’t high intensity; it’s simply “just enough.”
In other words, don’t expect training fads like supersets or drop sets anywhere in this program — not that research provides much support for them anyway.
While supersets can cut training sessions almost in half (2017), they risk workout volume and intensity unless they’re upper/lower or agonist/antagonist pairings.
Studies also suggest that drop sets can significantly improve triceps thickness in newbies, though additional research discovered the opposite in well-trained athletes.
So we can’t blame Robertson for leaving them out.
This program also includes:
- Regular mention of tempo, particularly 301, 201, and 221
- 5–10-minute light cardio warm-ups plus two warm-up sets to kick off each session
- A once-a-week frequency for all muscle groups*
- Two light-to-moderate, 45-minute cardio sessions per week
Robertson splits this program into two, three-week-long phases.
The first is the so-called “Accumulation” phase, where you’ll train at higher reps (5–24) with shorter rest periods (60–90 seconds between sets).
Next is the three-week “Intensification” stage that experiments with other rep ranges (5–12) that’ll build strength and sculpt muscle.
* = Systematic reviews, like this one from 2016, conclude that targeting each muscle group twice per week is ideal for hypertrophy, leaving the door wide-open for extra benefits with an even higher frequency. However, a 2019 meta-analysis found that you can achieve similar mass benefits with once-a-week training if the program has equal volume.
Training & Anatomy
If you’re an admitted science buff, the six Training and Anatomy sections are definitely worth the skim. Robertson divides these by muscle group: core, arm, back, chest, leg, and shoulder.
Each section dives into the nitty-gritty in noob-friendly terms with:
- Diagrams of the muscles and bones in the area
- Explanations for what each does and what it connects to
- Details about how to target each muscle group via exercise
- A video of Robertson delivering a crash course in anatomy
Next time you plan on skipping face pulls or half-assing dumbbell triceps extensions, open up this tab and remind yourself why that’s a terrible idea!
Robertson designed the nutrition plan with muscle growth, improved strength, and minimal fat gain in mind. Here’s the bad news: that means no dirty bulking or “Bear Mode” for six weeks.
Now, here’s where things take an … interesting turn.
Instead of calculating your TDEE or even your BMR, he recommends using your current daily calories as a baseline. Simply add 300 to that number to get your new daily calorie count.
(He mentions that more experts than ever recommend this strategy, though he doesn’t link to any single nutritionist claiming that. Surprisingly, that’s the trend of this program.)
You’ll also track your progress every few weeks and adjust your calories as you see fit. If you’re gaining weight, add 300; if you’re not packing on anything, bump that up to 500 calories.
The remainder of the diet plan mentions:
- How many meals you’ll eat per day (typically 3–4 equally sized meals, including a post-workout meal with about 20% more calories than average)
- How many grams of each macronutrient you should consume based on your weight
- The healthiest sources of carbs, protein, and fats
- How to balance fats and carbs in each meal
- A sample meal plan featuring 2,700 calories and 180 grams of protein
Not sure what to do with Robertson’s list of 50+ foods? Plug your favorites into a site like SuperCook, and it’ll spruce together recipes featuring your list of ingredients!
Robertson finishes out the trifecta with a list of recommended sports supplements, and, to our surprise, creatine somehow missed the cut. But he did include these four supplements:
Pre-Workout Powder (With Caffeine)
While many experts insist that pre-workout powders simply fool your brain into thinking you’re more energized, one ingredient shares links to improved athletic performance: caffeine.
C4 Ripped Pre-Workout and Cutting Formula
Formulated with CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine and caffeine to improve your muscular endurance and keep fatigue at bay as you crush it in the gym.
Whey Protein Powder
Of course, be selective about your choice of protein products. Make sure it’s low in filler ingredients and high in protein (20g+ and 80%+ protein content per scoop).
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
This is one of our top recommended whey protein powders because of it’s high protein content per serving, extreme deliciousness, and the fact that all Swolverine products are sourced from GMP-certified facilities
BCAAs — or branched-chain amino acids — are amongst the more hotly debated supplements in the bodybuilding community.
Robertson explains this one away by saying that a considerable chunk of the population doesn’t consume enough zinc and magnesium in their diet; this supplement would simply fill that gap.
These two nutrients can — in turn — improve your sleep quality, which is when your muscles will recover and repair the most.
However, it’s not the end-all-be-all, like some bodybuilders believe. Few, if any, studies link ZMA to improved muscle growth, boosted 1RM, or enhanced athletic performance.
6 Awesome Benefits of Robertson’s Program
- Robertson’s in-depth biomechanics and coaching experience is apparent in the training aspect of this program.
- The training really does seem like “just enough.”
- While there are two cardio sessions per week, they’re little more than 45 minutes of brisk walking. It sure beats running or HIIT, right?
- There’s no ridiculous supplement or dietary recommendations. Both seem easy to follow, and — although he doesn’t include any research or studies — his suggestions do check.
- This routine is 100% doable in a home gym, assuming you have a squat rack, adjustable bench, barbell, and dumbbells. You can also replace any exercises you can’t do with similar ones in the BodyFit database.
- The inclusion of the anatomy and training guidelines is a nice touch for anyone interested in the science behind bodybuilding.
2 Negatives of 6-Week Muscle-Building Trainer
- For somebody with his level of expertise, it’s odd that Robertson doesn’t link any studies when claiming “research says …”
- Muscle growth doesn’t sprout up overnight. By the end of the six weeks, you might not see any noticeable changes in the mirror (use body measurements instead early on!).
Wrapping Up This Review
Mike Robertson’s 6-Week Muscle-Building Trainer is an awesome program for beginners transitioning into their first split or anyone returning to the gym after a long break.
There’s no doubt that this program was “built by science,” and it’s the sweet spot between overtraining and complete boredom — it truly is “just enough,” as Robertson says.
The only two downsides we could find were nitpicky, at best.
If you’re transitioning from a PPL or full-body routine, this program is a great start!