The Blueprint to Mass: Old-School Training Essentials
These are some of the all-time greatest exercises and training techniques for building muscle. Get the knowledge you need to grow!
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When it comes to bodybuilding, the most complicated approach is rarely the best one. The Blueprint to Mass program is steeped in the fundamentals and old-school exercises that should be at the heart of everyone's program. It's a surefire road to growth, but it's fraught with pain and struggle. If you want to learn bodybuilding from the world's best bodybuilders, you're in the right place.
The golden-age greats build their program around a few key lifts: squat, bench, clean and press, and others. But this wasn't due to some grandfatherly desire to live in the past. It came from the hard-earned knowledge that it doesn't take fancy machines or off-the-wall programming to become the best.
Get back to your bodybuilding roots and experience unbelievable growth! Follow the full Blueprint to Mass in BodyFit Elite. Not only can you track your workouts, weights, and rest periods, you can also swap out lifts to match your equipment, and even watch demonstration videos of every movement in every workout from BodyFit's new and improved exercise database.
Key Moves for Timeless Aesthetics
A solid training program built on basic movements will take you far, but a few key accessories and an unflappable intensity level separates the alpha wolf from the rest of the pack. Every rep and every set must be done with intensity because each one is propelling you toward your goals.
Here are some of the key exercises you'll be doing in this program:
- Bench press
- Incline bench press
- Dumbbell fly
You'll vary your approach with all of these. Sometimes, you'll go high rep. Sometimes, you'll change up the angle of a bench. In the case of the presses, however, you'll always get to feel the satisfaction of pressing weight in the classic muscle-building rep ranges. And in the case of the fly, you'll emphasize the stretch—a time-tested approach to achieve full pectoral development. That exercise can't be replaced by any machine.
- Barbell bent-over row
- Single-arm dumbbell row
- T-bar row
Rows for thickness, vertical pulls for width. This is a classic approach that will pay off not only in terms of size, but also strength and safety on big lifts.
- Barbell curl (or EZ-bar curl)
- Incline dumbbell curl
- Concentration curl
- Close-grip bench press
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Triceps push-down
This is as old-school as it gets! And before you think you'll just be hitting 3 sets of 10 and going home, think again. Biceps and triceps need intensity to grow—especially if you're a lifter with a few years in the gym. You'll be hitting these hard, and using intensity techniques that will leave you sorer than you've been in a long time.
- Barbell press & clean and press
- Behind-the-neck barbell press (depending on your shoulder health)
- Lateral raise
- Rear delt fly
- Dumbbell press
- Arnold press
What's a golden-age training program without Arnold presses? Contemporary lifters make shoulder training way too complicated. You'll hit the fundamentals hard and have the caps to show for it.
- Back squat
- Front squat
- Leg extension
- Leg curl
- Lunge variations
- Good morning
Old-school leg day is anything but cute. It's heavy, painful, and built around the fundamentals. You'll hit them for rep ranges that are probably new to you, but build up to a max effort in both the front and back squat in Week 8. Consider yourself warned.
- Leg raise
- Knee raise
- Sit-up variations
Modern abdominal scientists, consider yourself on notice! The all-time greats swore by decline sit-ups and leg raises for the simple reason that they work. You'll hit them regularly, but not go overboard with volume or intensity. Expect new muscular definition soon.
You'll do everything from heavy sets of 5-6 reps to sets of 30 on this plan. In fact, you'll often do both during the same workout, starting on Day 1. How could you possibly know what weight to use?
Here's a solid approach: Start with an empty 45-pound bar, or even a lighter bar if you have it, for the sets of 30. It's pure warm-up. Then, add a weight. It can be a single 45, a 25, a 10—whatever it is, hit 12 solid, no-doubt reps with it. In other words, this is still basically a warm-up. After that, it's time for a solid set of 10. This can be considered your first working set. It'll take a couple of workouts to figure out what your 10-rep weight is, but ideally, it's one you can handle for 10 picture-perfect reps, but reps 11 and 12 would start to look suspect.
After 45-90 seconds of rest, you can use the same weight, or a bit more, for a strong set of 8. Then, another rest, and it's time for a 6-rep finisher with more weight than you've used in any set yet. This is a "pyramid" approach, and it's an approach as old as the iron.
If you have to, use a rest-pause on this final set. That means if you can only get 3-4 reps with the top weight, re-rack, wait 15 seconds, and get another 1-2 reps. Continue doing that until you get to 6 reps. Then, once you can handle that 6-rep weight for a solid 6 reps, it's time to go heavier in your next workout.
That's the approach that will power you for the initial weeks of the Blueprint. You'll encounter many other rep schemes, but the pyramid will help you dial in your loading and technique for everything else to come.
Blueprint Intensity Techniques
It's not all about the sets and reps in the Blueprint! Here's a look at the intensity techniques you'll also use to shock your body into growth.
1. 1-10 Method
After a warm-up set or two, find a weight that you're only able to lift for 1 rep. After you perform that 1 rep, take just enough weight off to perform 2 reps. From there, do the same for 3 reps and 4 reps, going all the way up to 10 reps. This is brutal because you take no rest between sets. The only rest you get is when you're unloading the weights. This technique is a total shock to the muscle.
2. Stripping Method
Immediately after your final working set, take some weight off and lift for another 5-10 reps. Then, with no rest, keep repeating this process. Reduce your weight, lift, reduce again, lift, and continue until you're down to the bar. Once you're down to the bar, lift for 20 reps.
3. Max Effort
When you feel superhuman, or when the program tells you to do it, take one exercise and see what you can do for a 1-rep max. To get there, work up to the weight with the following rep pyramid, taking ample rest between each set: 20, 15, 10, 8, 5, 3, 1, 1, 1-rep max.