Workout Routines

Gain 10 Pounds of Muscle in 4 Weeks

Building mounds of new lean muscle means hitting the weights hard. This month-long program will have you doing just that.

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Gain 10 Pounds of Muscle in 4 Weeks
Duration 4 weeks
Exercises 59
Equipment Yes

It’s a lofty goal: Gain 10 pounds of muscle in just one month. While such results are aggressive and can’t continue at the same torrid rate indefinitely, we’ve seen firsthand individuals who’ve followed our mass-gaining programs and reached double digits in four short weeks, averaging gains of 2-3 pounds a week. Trust us, it can be done. But if there’s one thing such a bold goal needs, it’s an ambitious training and nutrition strategy. In regard to nutrition, don’t even think about taking that aspect lightly. You can work out all you want, but if you don’t ingest adequate calories and macronutrients, you won’t build muscle. What and when you eat is paramount to your results, and you’ll find all you need to know about gaining mass in a short amount of time in our bulking diet meal plan.

First up, however, is training. Our two-phase program is designed to build muscle via the right balance of mass-building exercises, sufficient volume and intensity-boosting techniques. It’s time to get started on your next 10 pounds.

Weeks 1-2: Heavy Hitter

The first two weeks of the program are all about lifting heavy with mass-building compound exercises. For everything but abs and calves, reps fall in the 6-8 range; for those accustomed to doing sets of 8-12, this means going heavier than normal. There are very few isolation exercises during this phase for chest, back, shoulders and legs because the emphasis is on moving as much weight as possible to add strength and size.

The volume here isn’t excessive. You’ll do 11 sets total for large muscle groups (the one exception being shoulders, for which you’ll do 15) and train each bodypart once a week. Reason being, to pack on tons of mass you need ample recovery time. Doing endless sets in each workout can easily put you in a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state in which lean tissue is broken down, not built up. Gaining 10 pounds of muscle in such a short period requires the right balance of adequate volume to rest and recovery.

The four-day split pairs a large bodypart (chest, back, shoulders, quads/hams) with one or two smaller muscle groups (tri’s, bi’s, traps, calves, abs) in each workout. This helps ensure that you’re fresh when doing your heaviest compound exercises.

Weeks 3-4: Intensity Boost

The second half of the program is all about maximizing size with slightly higher reps and an emphasis on intensity. Rep ranges move up to 10-12 for most exercises, which is ideal for promoting muscle hypertrophy (growth). Overall volume increases slightly during these two weeks, mainly due to the addition of isolation exercises that you’ll perform before compound movements for your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Called pre-exhaustion, this technique dramatically increases workout intensity. You fatigue the main target muscle with an isolation exercise, then hit it in this fatigued state with a compound move, which if done right will lead to your main muscle failing before assistance muscles give out. (For example, for chest the dumbbell flye hits the pecs directly, so your triceps shouldn’t end up being the weak link and cause the termination of the set during the bench press).

This phase continues to employ a four-day split, but bodyparts are paired differently - namely, chest and back are trained on the same day (Day 1), as are biceps and triceps (Day 4). This is little more than a means of changing things up, giving your muscles a slightly different stimulus to spark new muscle growth. Each workout includes drop sets to increase intensity, but for only one set per bodypart, so as to avoid overtraining and muscle catabolism.

As a parting thought, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of consistency and staying focused. Your workouts shouldn’t be two-hour affairs - each visit to the gym needs to be fast-paced and intense. With that as your guide and following the heavy-duty blueprint laid out here, we can’t promise it’ll be easy, but the results should be worth every drop of sweat. Just think, 10 more muscular pounds may be a mere month away.

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Weeks 1 & 2 Day 1: Chest & Triceps

Exercise 1

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Weighted Dip You'll need: Dip Station, Ankle Weights How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 5

Barbell Lying Triceps Extension
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3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Weeks 1 & 2 Day 2: Legs, Calves & Abs

Exercise 1

Smith Machine Squat
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Leg Press How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Barbell Hack Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Romanian Deadlift
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 5

Standing Calf Raise You'll need: Box How to
3 sets
20 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 6

Hanging Leg Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 7

Cable Crunch You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Weeks 1 & 2 Day 3: Shoulders & Traps

Exercise 1

Overhead Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Arnold Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Bent-Over Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Weeks 1 & 2 Day 4: Back, Biceps & Abs

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Barbell Bent-Over Row You'll need: Barbell How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

T-Bar Row You'll need: Barbell, V-Handle Attachment How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Barbell Curl
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 5

Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
4 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 6

Preacher Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
6-8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 7

Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 8

Reverse Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Weeks 3 & 4 Day 1: Chest & Back

Exercise 1

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 3

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Cable Crossover You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 5

Rack Pull You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 6

Lat Pulldown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Lat Pulldown Bar How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 7

One-Arm Dumbbell Row
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 8

Wide-Grip Seated Row
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Weeks 3 & 4 Day 2: Legs, Calves & Abs

Exercise 1

Leg Extension How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets. On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 2

Barbell Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 3

Leg Press How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Barbell Hack Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Romanian Deadlift
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 6

Lying Leg Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 7

Seated Calf Raise You'll need: Bench How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 8

Donkey Calf Raise You'll need: Box How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 9

Reverse Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
2 sets
12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 10

Hanging Knee Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
2 sets
12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 11

Double Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
2 sets
to failure reps
-- rest

Weeks 3 & 4 Day 3: Shoulders & Traps

Exercise 1

Cable Lateral Raise
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets. On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 2

Arnold Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 3

Smith Machine Overhead Press You'll need: Smith Machine, Bench How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Leaning Dumbbell Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells, Squat Rack How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Reverse Pec Deck Flye
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 6

Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 7

Incline Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Weeks 3 & 4 Day 4: Triceps, Biceps & Abs

Exercise 1

Lying Barbell Extension
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 2

Weighted Bench Dip
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Reverse-Grip Pressdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Straight Bar Attachment How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Close-Grip EZ-Bar Biceps Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Exercise 5

Cable Preacher Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest
On your last set, do a drop set by reducing the weight 20%-30% and repping out to failure.

Exercise 6

Hammer Curl
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 7

Hanging Leg Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 8

Double Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
2 sets
20 reps
-- rest
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