Workout Routines

8 Weeks to Muscle Workout

Pack on muscle this spring with M&F's high-volume eight-week mass program.

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8 Weeks to Muscle Workout
Duration 60 days
Equipment Yes

My lifting career started out like that of many other teenagers looking to build muscle: Find the biggest guy in the room and do what he did—which typically meant putting as much weight as possible on the bar and completing the reps by any means necessary. Not only did my size increase, but so did my strength. Naturally, I continued to lift big, expecting my size to grow proportionately. This didn’t happen. I got stronger, but my muscle gains stagnated. What was going on? I thought size was directly related to strength. At least, that’s what the “experts” were saying.

That’s around the time I began studying exercise science in college. Soon I was learning about the physiology of training and how the body responds to resistance exercise.

When I learned the chemical processes of how the body builds muscle and the finer points of protein synthesis, I saw the light. I had finally learned what muscle mass was truly about. The eight-week training program I’ve mapped out here incorporates all of this knowledge into one straightforward mass gaining plan. Follow it as written and you’ll build serious muscle in the next two months and lay the foundation for more size gains to come after that.

Turn up The Volume

A lot of guys have trouble adding size. The solution? Increase volume. This, however, requires more recovery. Without it, you’ll crap out before long. Resting between sets should allow you to keep things moving along but not so fast that you burn out. Choose weights within your means. Because you’ll be doing more reps and sets per body part, you need to start with a slightly lighter load than you might normally use. Pick at least three exercises per body part, or more if you can handle it. Four per body part will typically work better, as you switch up stance and grip on each move. None of your sets should be fewer than 10 reps—rather, 12 should be your target. You need to put in some work to really tire out the muscles and make them grow. Save cheats, forced reps, and dropsets for the last set of your final exercise or two for a particular body part.

Strength Vs. Size

You can get stronger and bigger, but you need to focus on one at a time. Yes, size and strength are related, but how you train to maximize each is signifcantly different. Strength is about long rest periods and heavy weight. Size is about shorter rests and moderate weight. That said, both size and strength will be worked in this program — just in different phases. This program is periodized, which simply means it changes every four to eight weeks in a pattern to ensure proper recovery. This program is designed to pump up the volume for three weeks, address strength for the next two weeks, then finish up with three more weeks of volume. During the strength phase, you’ll cut volume, increase weight by about 10–20 pounds per exercise, and rest more between sets. The end result will be marked increases in size and strength.

Workout Tips

  1. Use a full range of motion. Extend the range where possible by stretching or bending — e.g., with upper back/ lat exercises, a slight lean forward will allow a longer range of motion.
  2. Squeeze and hold each rep at its peak contraction. You don’t need to hang out there for five seconds, but give it a one-two count before going back to the start position.
  3. Experiment with different hand and foot positions, which shift the stress on the muscles. Never get comfortable using the same grip, and force your muscles to adapt.
  4. Keep the load on the muscles. Avoid swinging, bouncing, or short-changing the length of the lift, to ensure the muscle fights the entire battle it’s up against.
  5. Add dropsets. On the last set of each exercise per body part, do 1–3 drops, decreasing weight about 20% each time and banging out a couple of extra reps.
  6. Control your reps. The reps don’t have to crawl along, but they shouldn’t be so fast that momentum takes over and helps you complete the lift.

Weeks 1-3

Day 1: Back/Traps/Rear/Delts/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest (seconds)
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 4 12 90
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 3 10 90
Reverse-Grip Pulldown or Chinup 4 10 120
T-Bar Row 3 12 120
Barbell Shrug 4 12 90
Barbell Wide-Grip Upright Row 4 12 90
Rear-Delt Flye (Machine) 4 12 90
Standing Calf Raise (Toes In) 3 12 90
Staning Calf Raise (Toes Out) 3 12 90
Seated Calf (Toes Straight) 4 12 90

Day 2: Chest/Delts/Hamstrings

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Cable Pec Flye (Low to High) 4 12 90
Cable Pec Flye (High to Low) 4 12 90
DB Bench Press 3 12 120
Barbell Incline Press 4 10 120
DB Shoulder Press 4 10 90
Cable Lateral Raise 4 12 90
DB Incline Seated Front Raise 3 12 90
Seated Leg Curl 4 12 90
Standing Single Leg Curl 4 12 90

Day 3: Glutes/Quads/Triceps/Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Stepup 3 10 120
Leg Press*** 4 12 120
Hack Squat*** 4 12 90
Leg Extension 4 12 90
Weighted Dip 3 12 120
Skull Crusher 4 10 120
Rope Triceps Pushdown 4 12 90
Barbell Curl** 4 10 120
One-Arm DB Preacher Curl 3 12 90
Cable Curl 4 12 90

 

Day 4: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90

Rest/Abs

Weeks 1-3, 4-5, 6-8

Decline Weighted Situp

Sets 4

Reps 12

Rest* 90

Rotational Lying Crunch

Sets 4

Reps 12

Rest* 90

*In seconds

Day 5: Back/Chest/Hamstrings/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 4 12 120
One-Arm DB Row 4 12 90
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 3 10 120
Seated Cable Wide Row 3 12 90
DB Decline Bench Press 3 12 120
DB Bench Press 4 10 120
Machine Pec Flye 4 12 90
Seated Leg Curl 4 12 90
Deadlift 4 10 120
Seated Calf Raise (Toes In) 3 12 90
Seated Calf Raise (Toes Out) 3 12 90
Standing Calf (Toes Straight) 3 12 90

Day 6: Arms/Delts/Quads

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
DB Skull Crusher 3 10 120
Triceps Pushdown 3 12 90
DB One-Arm Overhead Extension 3 12 90
One-Arm Cable Curl 3 10 120
DB Preacher Curl (Single Arm) 3 12 90
DB Seated Alternating Curl 3 12 90
DB Shoulder Press 3 12 90
DB Lateral Raise 3 12 90
DB Stepup 3 10 120
Leg Press** 4 10 120
DB Stationary Lunge 4 10 120

Day 7: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90
Hanging Leg Raise 4 12 90

Weeks 4-5

Day 1: Back/Traps/Rear/Delts/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 4 6 120
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 3 8 120
Reverse-Grip Pulldown or Chinup 4 8 120
T-Bar Row 3 10 120
Barbell Shrug 4 8 120
Barbell Wide-Grip Upright Row 3 10 90
Rear-Delt Flye (Machine) 3 10 90
Standing Calf Raise (Toes In) 3 8 120
Staning Calf Raise (Toes Out) 3 8 120
Seated Calf (Toes Straight) 4 10 120

 

Day 2: Chest/Delts/Hamstrings

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Cable Pec Flye (Low to High) 3 8 120
Cable Pec Flye (High to Low) 3 8 120
DB Bench Press 4 6 150
Barbell Incline Press 4 10 120
DB Shoulder Press 4 10 120
Cable Lateral Raise 3 8 120
DB Incline Seated Front Raise 3 10 90
Seated Leg Curl 3 8 120
Standing Single Leg Curl 3 8 120

Day 3: Glutes/Quads/Triceps/Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Stepup 2 10 120
Leg Press*** 4 6 150
Hack Squat*** 4 8 90
Leg Extension 4 8 90
Weighted Dip 3 10 120
Skull Crusher 4 8 120
Rope Triceps Pushdown 4 10 90
Barbell Curl** 4 10 120
One-Arm DB Preacher Curl 3 10 90
Cable Curl 4 8 90

Day 4: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90

Day 5: Back/Chest/Hamstrings/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 3 8 150
One-Arm DB Row 3 10 120
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 3 8 120
Seated Cable Wide Row 3 6 150
DB Decline Bench Press 3 10 120
DB Bench Press 4 8 120
Machine Pec Flye 4 10 90
Seated Leg Curl 3 8 90
Deadlift 3 8 150
Seated Calf Raise (Toes In) 2 8 120
Seated Calf Raise (Toes Out) 2 8 120
Standing Calf (Toes Straight) 3 10 120

Day 6: Arms/Delts/Quads

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
DB Skull Crusher 3 6 120
Triceps Pushdown 3 10 120
DB One-Arm Overhead Extension 3 8 90
One-Arm Cable Curl 3 8 120
DB Preacher Curl (Single Arm) 3 10 90
DB Seated Alternating Curl 3 10 90
DB Shoulder Press 3 8 90
DB Lateral Raise 3 8 90
DB Stepup 3 8 150
Leg Press** 4 6 150
DB Stationary Lunge 4 8 150

Day 7: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90
Hanging Leg Raise 4 12 90

Weeks 6-8

Day 1: Back/Traps/Rear/Delts/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 4-5 12 90
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 3-4 10 90
Reverse-Grip Pulldown or Chinup 4-5 10 120
T-Bar Row 3-4 12 120
Barbell Shrug 4-5 12 90
Barbell Wide-Grip Upright Row 4-5 12 90
Rear-Delt Flye (Machine) 4-5 12 90
Standing Calf Raise (Toes In) 3-4 12 90
Staning Calf Raise (Toes Out) 3-4 12 90
Seated Calf (Toes Straight) 4-5 12 90

*In seconds

Day 2: Chest/Delts/Hamstrings

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Cable Pec Flye (Low to High) 4-5 12 90
Cable Pec Flye (High to Low) 4-5 12 90
DB Bench Press 3-4 12 120
Barbell Incline Press 4-5 10 120
DB Shoulder Press 4-5 10 90
Cable Lateral Raise 4-5 12 90
DB Incline Seated Front Raise 3-4 12 90
Seated Leg Curl 4-5 12 90
Standing Single Leg Curl 4-5 12 90

*In seconds

Day 3: Glutes/Quads/Triceps/Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Step-up 3-4 10 120
Leg Press*** 4-5 12 120
Hack Squat*** 4-5 12 90
Leg Extension 4-5 12 90
Weighted Dip 3-4 12 120
Skull Crusher 4-5 10 120
Rope Triceps Pushdown 4-5 12 90
Barbell Curl** 4-5 10 120
One-Arm DB Preacher Curl 3-4 12 90
Cable Curl 4-5 12 90

*In seconds

**Alternate between wide and close grip each set.

***Alternate between wide and narrow foot stance each set.

Day 4: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90

Day 5: Back/Chest/Hamstrings/Calves

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 4-5 12 120
One-Arm DB Row 4-5 12 90
Barbell Reverse-Grip Bentover Row 3-4 10 120
Seated Cable Wide Row 3-4 12 90
DB Decline Bench Press 3-4 12 120
DB Bench Press 4-5 10 120
Machine Pec Flye 4-5 12 90
Seated Leg Curl 4-5 12 90
Deadlift 4-5 10 120
Seated Calf Raise (Toes In) 3-4 12 90
Seated Calf Raise (Toes Out) 3-4 12 90
Standing Calf (Toes Straight) 3-4 12 90

*In seconds

Day 6: Arms/Delts/Quads

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
DB Skull Crusher 3-4 10 120
Triceps Pushdown 3-4 12 90
DB One-Arm Overhead Extension 3-4 12 90
One-Arm Cable Curl 3-4 10 120
DB Preacher Curl (Single Arm) 3-4 12 90
DB Seated Alternating Curl 3-4 12 90
DB Shoulder Press 3-4 12 90
DB Lateral Raise 3-4 12 90
DB Stepup 3-4 10 120
Leg Press** 4-5 10 120
DB Stationary Lunge 4-5 10 120

*In seconds

Day 7: Rest/Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest*
Decline Weighted Situp 4 12 90
Rotational Lying Crunch 4 12 90
Hanging Leg Raise 4 12 90
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