Q & A: Muscle Gaining!

One point I would like to address is your lack of leg training. You really need to train your legs intensely if you want your entire body to grow and that's the truth.
Dear Phano,
I read some of your articles on www.bodybuilding.com and I thought that you could help me to achieve my goals. I am a 16-year-old guy who lives in Belgium. I've been working out since the beginning of the summer and I see some serious changes in my body. Now I would like to gain some muscle for next summer and I'm thinking about doing that until April and then start burning fat until June. I also want to increase my max. bench for football.

I will now tell you what I'm planning on doing until next June and I hope that you will tell me if it will work or not.

First of all, I found the following program for increasing my bench press (from Matt Ryan):

This is a sample program of some body whose 1 rep max is 250lbs. So targeted max will be 275lbs.

Week 1: Tuesday (heavy day)- 55% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x10 with 151.5lbs (55%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3x10 of 121lbs
Week 2: Tuesday (heavy day)- 60% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x9 with 165lbs (60% of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3x9 of 132lbs
Week 3: Tuesday (heavy day)- 65% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x8with 179lbs (65%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3x8 of 143.2lbs
Week 4: Tuesday (heavy day)- 70% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x7 with 192.5lbs (70%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3x7 of 154lbs
Week 5: Tuesday (heavy day)- 75% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x6 with 206.25lbs (75%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3 sets of 165lbs
Week 6: Tuesday (heavy day)- 80% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 3x5 with 220lbs (80%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3x5 of 176lbs
Week 7: Tuesday (heavy day)- 85% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 2x4 with 233.75lbs (85%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 3 sets of 187lbs
Week 8: Tuesday (heavy day)- 90% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 2x3 with 247.5lbs (90%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 2x3 of 198lbs
Week 9: Tuesday (heavy day)- 95% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets then get straight into it. Now do 1x2 with 261.25 (95%of 275lbs)
Friday (light day)- 80% of heavy day: 1x2 of 209lbs
Week 10: WEDNESDAY (PERSONAL RECORD DAY!)- 100% of targeted max. Start off with 2 light warm up sets, then first attempt 88-92.5% 1 rep = 247.5lbs, second attempt 95-97.5% = 263lbs, Finally 100-102%= 275lbs. CONGRADULATIONS YOU HAVE SMASHED THAT PLATEAU!

In addition to that I will do the following (I'm not sure about the names of the exercises):

Day 1 - Chest
Program above
5 flat dumbbell presses
5 incline dumbbell presses
5 flat flyes
5 incline flyes

Day 2 - Triceps
5 Supersets
French press + close grip presses
5 extensions behind the head
5 pulley pressdowns ? not sure about the name

Day 3 - Back
5 Pulldowns
5 Machine rowing
5 Rowing
5 Dumbbell rowing

Day 4 - Biceps & Chest
Chest from above
5 Inclined bicep curls - supersets - I do heavy weight then I take light weight and do 20 reps
5 Concentrated bicep curls
5 Standing barbell curls

Day 5 - Shoulders
5 lateral raises
5 shoulder presses
5 bent over lateral raises.
5 front raises

Day 6 - Legs

I do a pyramid for all exercises and I do abs a couple of times a week.

Then in April, I plan to start the following program

Workout Rouine:
MONDAY: Chest, Triceps and Abs
Incline Bench Press ----------------- 4 sets of 20, 12, 10, 8 reps
Decline Dumbbell Press ------------ 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
Flat Flye Press ----------------------- 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press ------------- 2 sets of 10, 8, reps

Rope Pressdowns -------------------- 2 sets of 12, 10 reps
Lying Skull Crushers --------------- 3 sets of 10, 8, 8 reps
Incline Crunches -------------------- 2 sets of 15 reps
Seated Leg Pull-Ins ----------------- 2 sets of 15 reps
Seated Twists ------------------------ 2 sets of 30 reps

TUESDAY: Back, Biceps
Barbell Rows ------------------------- 4 sets of 15, 12, 10, 8 reps
Seated Good Mornings ------------- 3 sets of 20, 15, 12 reps
Dumbbell Rows ---------------------- 2 sets of 10, 8 reps
Front Pull-Downs ------------------- 3 sets of 12, 8, 6 reps
Incline Curls ------------------------- 3 sets of 16 reps
Forced Rep Preacher Curls --------- 2 sets of failure

WEDNESDAY: Shoulders, Traps, Abs
Rear Delt Cable Raises ------------- 3 sets of 8 reps
Side Lateral Raises ------------------ 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
Front Lateral Raises ---------------- 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
Upright Rows ------------------------ 2 sets of 12, 10 reps
Shoulder Shrugs --------------------- 3 sets of 30 reps
Incline Cross-Overs ----------------- 2 sets of 16 reps
Leg Raises ---------------------------- 2 sets of 12 reps
Side Bends --------------------------- 2 sets of 30 reps

THURSDAY: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
Barbell Squat ------------------------ 5 sets of 20, 15, 12, 8, 6 reps
Standing Calf Raise ----------------- 3 sets of 15, 10, 8 reps
*1 Leg Curls ----------------------------- 3 sets of 12, 10, 8, reps
*1 Leg Extension ----------------------- 3 sets of 12, 10, 8, reps
Dumbbell Lunge --------------------- 2 sets of 12 reps

FRIDAY: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms
*1 Barbell Curls ------------------------- 5 sets of 15, 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
*1 Close Grip Bench Press ------------ 3 sets of 15, 10, 8 reps
*2 Incline Dumbbell Curls ------------ 3 sets of 16 reps
*2 Skull Crushers ----------------------- 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
*3 Forced Rep Preacher Curls -------- 3 sets of Failure
*3 Press-Downs ------------------------- 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

NOTE:All exercises marked with a * suggests the use of supersets.

Meal Plan:

Meal One (7:00 AM)

Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

1 1/4 cups Vector

275.0

52.0

13.0

3.0

1 Cup Skim Milk

85.0

12.0

8.0

2.0

1 banana

90.0

23.0

1.0

0.0

½ Cup Low Fat Yogurt

69.5

8.0

12.0

1.5

1 protein shake

107.0

2.0

23.0

1.0

TOTAL

625.0

97.0

56.5

14

 

Meal Two (9:30 AM)

Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

120 g tuna

95.0

0.0

22.5

1.0

8 oz orange juice

54.0

14.0

1.0

0.0

1 Cup Skim Milk

85.0

12.0

8.0

2.0

1 apple

50.0

13.0

1.0

1.0

TOTAL

284.0

39.0

32.5

4.0

 

Meal Three (12:00 PM)

Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

1 Baked Potato

230.0

50.0

5.0

1.0

1 tuna sandwich

153.0

2.0

26.0

6.0

1 banana

90.0

23.0

1.0

0.0

TOTAL

473.0

75.0

32.0

7.0

 

Pre-Workout (2:30 PM)Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

 

1 Juice Box

124.0

30.0

0.1

0.3

1 apple

50.0

13.0

1.0

1.0

TOTAL

174.0

33.0

1.1

1.3

 

Meal Five (5:00 PM)

Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

120 g tuna

95.0

0.0

22.5

1.0

1 protein shake

107.0

2.5

23.0

0.5

1 Cup Skim Milk

85.0

12.0

8.0

2.0

TOTAL

287.0

15.5

53.5

3.5

 

Meal Six (8:00 PM)

Calories

Carbs

Protein

Fat

1 protein shake

107.0

2.0

23.0

1.0

1 Spear Broccoli

60.5

9.0

5.0

0.5

TOTAL

167.0

11.0

28.0

1.5

DAILY TOTALS

2000.0

271.5

204.0

31.5

 

And by the way I am not taking any supplements because I kind of afraid of them.

So can you please tell me if that is going to make me big by next summer and eventually how much I will be able to bench if now I can bench 120lbs.

Please write me back because I really want to talk to some one who knows how to make muscles.

Peter


Dear Peter,

Your program looks very well developed but my only worry for a novice such as yourself is the mentality that more is more in weight training. You need to quickly abolish that attitude if you want to see serious gains. Initially, you can perform almost any routine with consistency and you will see an increase in both size and strength. However, the more accustomed your body becomes to resistance training, the more you have to shock it in order to make improvements. Here are some suggestions I would like to make:

I'm not an expert on power training in order to improve max bench press but if you would do a search using the name: David Knowles , you will find that he knows a thing or two about powerlifting. So I will leave that area up to him. Rather, I have always geared my training towards bodybuilding because I knew when I started to get serious about training that I would eventually step on stage. The only concern I have about your attempt to improve your max bench is overtraining. If you're taxing your muscles the way you want to, you may be in for a big shocker. It may take you up to 7-8 days to recover from a heavy chest workout and the only thing a light chest workout will do is impede recovery. Once again, I am not expert on the subject so I would highly recommend that you check out my partner David's articles.

I like the idea of you training using a pyramiding system. The only thing you should be cautious of is tiring the working muscles before they are hit with the heaviest poundages. Mine and David's training now utilizes somewhat of a pyramiding principle but instead of following a 15, 12, 10, 8, 6 rep scheme, we merely use the initial sets as a warm-up, nothing more nothing less. For instance, on bench press we will do a set using 135 lbs for 10-12 reps depending on how we feel. Then we stretch and perform another set using 135 lbs for 6 slow and focused reps. Then we stretch again and perform another set using 185 lbs for 8 slow reps. Then we stretch some more and perform another set of 4 reps using 225 lbs. Afterwards, we stretch some more and proceed to 275 for another 4 slow reps. Then we will stretch and jump straight into our TWO work sets for 6-10 reps. I have tried the 15,12,10,8,6 rep pyramid scheme and it works fairly well but in my experience, if you really want to grow and become stronger, you need not waste time performing needless reps with easy weight. Once you're warm, jump straight into your working sets!

The exercises you have chosen are most of the ones we perform now in our routine. Why are they so good? They are the tried and true mass building basics which have been shown to yield promising results time and time again. So why mess with success, right? I also like the idea of you supersetting arms. Once again, I used to superset arm movements and I was in and out in less than 45 minutes. No talk, all work! You also get an out-of-this-world pump!

One point I would like to address is your lack of leg training. You really need to train your legs intensely if you want your entire body to grow and that's the truth. Once again, I would recommend performing the basic mass builders such as barbell squats, hack squats, leg press for quads and stiff leg deadlifts and lying leg curls for hamstrings. I would only utilize leg extensions as a finishing type move for my quads or perhaps a pre-exhaust movement if my program became stagnant and needed a little pick-me-up.

Outside of the training routine you have outlined for me, your diet looks good. It's clean and loaded with protein. You could stand to eat a little more fat b/c 31.5 grams of fat isn't enough to assist in priming the anabolic environment. The same goes for carbohydrates. The basic rule of thumb I use in training clients/friends for weight gain is bodyweight x 12 to establish BMR (basal metabolic rate). Then I add on 300-500 calories per day based on the amount of time spent training and training intensity. So for a 200 lb individual who trains intense for an hour a day, I would recommend consuming around 3000 calories per day in order to gain LEAN MASS. You did not specify your level of activity nor your weight so I cannot accurately determine how many calories you will require daily.

One final note, make sure you keep your training intense and relatively brief. If you're in the gym more than 60-80 min. then you are probably wasting your time. Train hard, train smart, and get the hell out of the gym because when you rest is when you GROW!