The Ultimate Mass Routine
Muscle mass comes from hard work on the basic exercises, heavy weight, lower reps, taking each set to at least failure. It also comes from proper recovery and proper nutrition/supplementation. This routine is ideal for natural bodybuilders and people with busy schedules, but anyone can use it with great results.
This is the one I currently use and I'm working two jobs and seeing good progress with it. This is partly due to my current supplement stack—which I will outline later in this article.
Most articles like this—those pushing a basics only mass routine—tend to also push a full body workout, done 2-3 times a week. Sorry, but I just don't see that approach as being productive. How can you do a tough full body routine, with exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and expect to hit each one hard enough? As well, doing that 3 days a week—such as Mon-Wed-Fri leaves no real time for recovery.
You train on Monday and should just be getting pretty sore by Wednesday, if you've trained hard enough. Does it make sense to hit the gym at that point? No, it doesn't.
My approach is to use a split routine, training only twice a week.
But, if you only train 2 times a week, isn't that too much time in between workouts for the same muscles? It can be, unless you design the routine the right way. You see, when I designed this, this was my dilemma: working two jobs for as much as 60 hours a week, many of those as 13 hour days, how could I effectively work out with really just 2 days available for training?
I solved this problem by making sure each workout has 1-2 exercises that stimulate the entire body: squats, deadlifts or power cleans. On back day, as you'll see, I use power cleans as a warm-up, and then go into heavy deadlifts. Both of these exercises build overall size and power.
I have to combine legs with chest and shoulders, so I do heavy squats and heavy power clean and presses. Again, I'm stimulating overall size and power with these two exercises. As well, these really stimulate testosterone release.
Combine this with direct back/arm work on back day and direct chest/delt/tricep work on chest day and problem solved. Of course, your situation may be different and may allow for a 3rd work out, I'd do legs on their own day in that case.
Before I detail the routine, let me touch on recovery, one of my favorite subjects. When people talk about how everyone is different and responds differently when it comes to bodybuilding, one of the things that refers to is recovery.
Recovery allows muscle growth to happen, but how fast you recover is based on individual differences, such as:
- Whether or not you use steroids or are natural.
- Your job (how demanding it is).
- Your schedule (how demanding it is).
- How long you've been training, to name a few.
Case In Point
When I started back in 1980, I didn't know about steroids, I worked a physical job for 9-10 hours a day, 6 days a week and tried to train on a high volume routine 6 days a week. I didn't gain. Why? Because I was overtrained and underfed.
Had I cut back to a routine like the one I'll be detailing here, ate more (there were limited supplements back then, and no shaker cups or water bottles, but protein powder was available, I could have taken a thermos of protein powder to work) and maybe tried to get some naps in, I would have made gains.
The point here is that you have to allow enough recovery time to allow growth to happen and you have to think about how your individual circumstances affect your recovery ability and make intelligent adjustments to maximize recovery.
OK, here's the routine:
- Power Cleans: 1-2 sets to act as a warm-up
- Deadlifts: 2 warm-up sets, 2-3 work sets, 6-8 reps
- Bent Rows: 2 work sets, 6-8 reps
- Reverse-Grip Bent Rows (biceps): 1 set, 6-8 reps
- Lat Pull-downs: 2 work sets, 6-8 reps
- Squats: 2 -3 warm-up sets, 3-4 work sets, 6-10 reps
- Bench Press to neck (upper chest): 2 warm-up sets, 3 work sets, 6-8 reps
- Power Clean and Press: 2-3 work sets, 5-8 reps
- Close-Grip Bench Press (triceps): 1 set 8-10 reps
On warm-up sets, add weight with each set pyramid style, make your first working set your heaviest, then pyramid down in weight. Rest 1 to 1 1/2 minutes between sets. Take each set to positive failure, you can extend your sets past failure with techniques like rest pause - which works great on basic movements, and forced reps. Adding techniques like this enhances hormone release, especially growth hormone.
Keep on top of your form, don't use cheating to lift heavier, and keep your reps smooth and controlled. As to set totals, these work for me. More is not always better, work these hard enough and more shouldn't be an option.
I usually alternate incline presses with bench presses to emphasize upper chest work.
If I had more time, I would add a third day and do legs on that day, those with time should do so. I would set it up like this:
- Squats: 2-3 progressively heavier warm-up sets 4-5 working sets, 6-8 reps, go all the way down, don't pause and come all the way up. Do your reps in one continuous motion, like a piston. Your first working set should be your heaviest.
- Leg curls: 1 warm-up set, 2-3 working set of 8-10 reps.
- Standing calf raises: 3 working sets of 15-25 reps, full motion on each rep.
If you do this, adjust workout #2 by taking squats out and adding 2 sets of Incline Presses for chest, and 1-2 more sets of power cleans.
This routine should be used for about 6 weeks before changing things up a bit.
Here is the supplement stack I am using along with this routine:
- Whey protein
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Nitric oxide
- A pre-workout energy drink that also enhances the pump by adding NO and creatine
- A multivitamin
While you can get more "formula" type testosterone boosters, and you should if you can afford to, as a combination of products designed to do one thing will always work better than one single element designed to do one thing.
This stack, as is, is one of the best current stacks available for adding size, strength, enhancing the pump and promoting energy. I would suggest that you follow label directions as to the timing of the nitric oxide and creatine, you should always take a multi with food, anytime of the day is fine. I would suggest taking 3 tribulus capsules 3 times a day, with a protein shake or meal.
Keep your protein intake to 1-1 1/2 grams per lb of body weight, eating every few hours.
Your food sources should be low fat sources such as:
- Lean red meat
- Low-fat dairy
Note: A good whey protein powder works great for in between meal protein feedings.
As for carbs, shoot for 2 grams per lb. of body weight. If you weigh over 200 lbs., up it to 3 grams per lb of body weight.
Stay with complex carbs:
- Brown rice
Except after your workout—take 40-60 g of protein to 40-60 g simple carbs, like fruit.
I also keep two logs, a training log which everyone should be doing (I list the date, my routine for that day, rep and set totals, time started, time completed, how I felt and how the workout went) and a supplement log which insures my timing is correct and that I take what I'm supposed to take.
Whether, like me, you have no time or whether you adopt this to include one more day; this routine will pack on some serious size. Give it a try!