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 50
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.

Weeks 1 and 2

Day 1: Chest and Triceps

Exercise Sets  Reps
Chest
Incline Barbell Press 3* 6-8
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press  4 6-8
Weighted Dip 4 6-8
Triceps
Close-Grip Bench Press 4* 6-8
Lying Triceps Extension 3 6-8
 

*Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Day 2: Legs, Calves, and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Quads/Hamstrings/Glutes
Smith Machine Squat  3* 6-8
Leg Press 4 6-8
Hack Squat 4 6-8
Hamstrings
Romanian Deadlift 4* 6-8
Calves
Standing Calf Raise 3* 20
Abs
Hanging Leg Raise 2 20
Cable Crunch 2 20
 

*Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Day 3: Shoulders and Traps

Exercise Sets Reps
Shoulders
Overhead Dumbbell Press 3* 6-8
Arnold Press 4 6-8
Barbell Upright Row 4 6-8
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 4 6-8
Traps
Dumbbell Shrug 3 6-8
 

*Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Day 4: Back, Biceps, and Abs

 

Exercise Sets Reps
Back
Deadlift 3* 6-8
Barbell Bent-Over Row 4 6-8
T-Bar Row 4 6-8
Biceps
Barbell Curl 4* 6-8
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 6-8
Preacher Curl 3 6-8
Abs
Crunch 2 20
Reverse Crunch 2 20

*Doesn’t include 1-2 warm-up sets.

Weeks 3 and 4

Day 1: Chest and Back

Exercise Sets Reps
Chest
Dumbbell Flye 3* 10-12
Bench Press 3* 10-12
Incline Dumbbell Press  3 10-12
Cable Crossover 3 10-12**
Back
Rack Pull 3* 10-12
Lat Pulldown 3* 10-12
One-Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10-12
Wide-Grip Seated Row 3 10-122
 

* 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.

Day 2: Legs, Calves, and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Quads/Hamstrings/Glutes
Leg Extension 3* 10-12**
Barbell Squat 3* 10-12
Leg Press 3 10-12
Hack Squat 3 10-12
Hamstrings
Romanian Deadlift 3* 10-12
Lying Leg Curl 3 10-12**
Calves
Seated Calf Raise 3* 10-12
Donkey Calf Raise 3 10-12**
Abs
Reverse Crunch 2 12
Hanging Knee Raise  2 12
Double Crunch 2 to failure
 

* 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.

Day 3: Shoulders and Traps

Exercise Sets  Reps
Shoulders
Cable Lateral Raise 3* 10-12**
Arnold Press 3* 10-12
Smith Machine Overhead Press 3 10-12
Leaning Dumbbell Lateral Raise  3 10-12
Reverse Pec-Deck Flye 3 10-12**
Traps
Dumbbell Shrug 3 10-12**
Incline Dumbbell Shrug 3 10-12
 

* 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.

Day 4: Triceps, Biceps, and Abs

Exercise Sets  Reps
Triceps
Lying Barbell Extension 3* 10-12
Weighted Bench Dip 3 10-12
Reverse-Grip Pressdown 3 10-122
Biceps
Close-Grip EZ-Bar Curl 3* 10-12
Cable Preacher Curl 3 10-12**
Hammer Curl 3 10-12
Abs
Hanging Leg Raise 2 20
Double Crunch 2 20

* 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.

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