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.