Hardcore Off-Season Training For Lean Mass, Part 1!

If you're looking to put on slabs of lean muscle follow along and I will give you the run down on hardcore training, diet, and supplementation. Check it out!

Part 1 | Part 2

Article Summary:
  • The off-season is the time to assess your weak points and put the work in the gym.
  • For me training doesn't change much from pre-contest to off-season.
  • The off-season is a time to put on quality weight so that means eating quality food.

This off-season is all about putting on mass over the entire body. So, if you are looking to put on slabs of lean muscle mass follow along and I will give you the run down on how I am planning to put on beef this off-season.

Before we go any further, I want to make this clear - this article is not for the beginner lifter, which means if you have not been lifting and eating like a bodybuilder seriously for more than a year, this training article is not for you. Now that we got that cleared up lets get down to business!

If you want to be a successful bodybuilder you need to take the off-season as serious as the pre-contest, especially if you are taking the natural route like me.

The off-season is the time to grow, the time to assess your weak points and put the work in the gym and the kitchen to improve upon those areas. When contest prep comes along improving weak body parts for natural guys are few and far between.

Author, Alex Stewart: 'I Will Give You The Run Down On How I Am Planning To Put On Beef This Off-Season.'
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Author, Alex Stewart: 'I Will Give You The Run Down On
How I Am Planning To Put On Beef This Off-Season.'

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Off-Season Training
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It's time to train! For me training doesn't change much from pre-contest to off-season. I always mix up my training, including heavy and moderate weights with shock techniques thrown in there from time to time to spice things up.

  • Day 1: Upper Body
  • Day 2: Lower Body
  • Day 3: Cardio And Abs
  • Day 4: Chest And Back
  • Day 5: Deadlifts And Calves
  • Day 6: Shoulders
  • Day 7: Arms
  • Day 8: Cardio And Abs

As you can see from the split above I don't have the common seven day rotation that you will see in many magazines. The reason for this is to make sure I am lifting a different muscle group on different days every week.

This is a great way to keep the body guessing. Also, you will see that I do cardio on my off days. I have tried to do my cardio post workout in the off-season, but find myself skipping it because of time issues and then I end up never doing it (Which, if you read my 10 Mistakes While Bulking, you will know that is unacceptable).

If I find myself too run down I will add a day of rest whenever needed, but that very rarely happens because I make sure that I get my 8 hours of sleep a night. Below I am going to go a little more into detail on the exercises, sets and reps of all workouts.

With each workout I start with 5 minutes on the treadmill just to get the blood flowing, speed is between 3-3.5 mph and the incline is 5. Regarding weight training - I warm up with several lighter sets then move to my working sets. I will only list my working sets, but make sure you warm up properly.

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Day 1: Upper Body

With this workout I really focus on compound exercises and pushing heavy weight. As you can see all the exercises are in straight set fashion and rest periods are around 60-75 seconds.

Day 2: Lower Body

With this workout I like to start with heavy squats then work on my explosion - that is why I do sets with a pause at the bottom.

As I progress through the workout my rest periods shorten from 120 seconds to 60 seconds and I start to do higher reps. I have found that my calves grow very well with light to moderate weight with around 20 reps per set and 30 second rest periods.

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Chest And Back

I like to alternate between chest and back exercises. This workout style was tough in the beginning, but once you do it for a couple workouts you start to love it and the upper body pump you get is amazing.

The Upper Body Pump You Get Is Amazing. The Upper Body Pump You Get Is Amazing.
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The Upper Body Pump You Get Is Amazing.

Day 5: Deadlifts And Calves

This is a short and sweet workout that focuses on increasing my deadlift strength by 5 lbs every week. The deadlift is a complete body exercise, so increasing your strength in this exercise increase strength for everything else.

Day 6: Shoulders

For the drop set, I line up a pair of 50lb, 40lb, 30lb and 20lb dumbbells in a line. I take the first pair (50's) and perform 10 reps. On the final rep I hold it as high as possible for 10 seconds. When that is finished I squeeze out one more rep.

After I perform that set I drop the weight and immediately move on to the 40's and perform 12 reps. Again on the final rep I hold for 12 seconds. After that I squeeze out one final rep, drop the weight and move on to the 30's to perform 15 reps and hold for 15 seconds on the final rep.

As before, I perform one last rep then move on to the 20's where I do 20 reps, hold for 20 seconds on the last rep and squeeze out one final rep. That is set 1. I take a rest and do that 2 more times.

Though shoulders are a relatively small muscle group, I give them a complete day of training because they are a weak point of mine. Dedicating a day to shoulders has helped bring them up some, but I am still working hard to get those cannonball deltoids.

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Day 7: Arms

My arms are another weak body part (mainly my biceps) because they are on the longer side, so I give them a full day of work. I like to alternate between biceps and triceps exercise as it gives a great pump to the upper arm.

As you can see I don't do many free weight movements for my triceps like (close-grip bench presses and triceps extensions) because my elbows have been giving me some trouble.

Day 8: Abs

Then I usually do some low intensity cardio for 30 minutes.

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Off-Season Diet
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There you have it for my training. Let's move on to my diet for the off-season. The off-season is a time to maximize lean muscle tissue gain while minimizing body fat gain.

This off-season I am taking a new approach, I am going to be doing mini bulking stages where I am eating at a surplus looking to put on 15lbs. Once I hit my goal weight I will switch into diet mode and diet off 10lbs.

I have realized in the past when I was bulking, I would hit a wall at a certain point from eating at a constant surplus. My body wouldn't put on any weight unless I eat very unhealthy; in which the weight would be fat.

With my new approach I have found the perfect numbers to my bulking and cutting phases. Once I have gained 15lb I am starting to hit that wall and my body tells me it is time to get into diet mode and cut away all the fat I have gained in the bulking stage. The bulking stage usually takes about 8-10 weeks and the cutting phase take about 4-6 weeks.

As I said above, the off-season is a time to put on quality weight so that means eating quality food. I stick to a clean diet 95% of the time and the other 5% I enjoy myself when I go out with friends, but I very rarely consume empty calorie foods like sweets. I would rather have a nice loaded burger! I started this bulk at 205 and my goal weight is 220.

The Off-Season Is A Time To Maximize Lean Muscle Tissue Gain While Minimizing Body-Fat Gain.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
The Off-Season Is A Time To Maximize Lean Muscle
Tissue Gain While Minimizing Body Fat Gain.

Meal 1:

Meal 2:

Meal 3:

Meal 4:

Meal 5:

Meal 6: Pre-Workout

Meal 7: Post-Workout

Meal 8:

The above food comes out to around 4000 calories. On days that I don't hit the weights I will just get rid of meal 7.

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Off-Season Supplements
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That is it. I don't take too many supplements; whole foods are the key to putting on the weight in the off-season. The few supplements that I take just give a little extra kick.

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Conclusion
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Well, there you have it. My off-season bulking stage - I gave you a little glimpse into what I am doing right now to put on slabs of lean muscle the natural way.

Follow along, next time I will bring you up to speed on my progress and I will give you some insight on my mini cutting phase in the off-season. Till next time, train hard.

As always if you have any questions or comments drop me an email and I will do my best to help you out.

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