A bodybuilder in mass-gain mode will face all sorts of questions. Well-meaning friends and family will comment with a tinge of worry about the superhuman amounts of food you’re eating. They’ll question why you can’t skip the gym “just this once.” Some jokester will suggest a steady diet of fast food and ice cream to get huge. (Yep, no one has ever thought of that before.) 

Thing is, you probably have questions, too. But you can’t turn to all those laypeople in your life who wonder why anyone would want to transform themselves into a human anatomy chart. No, you need experts. Someone who understands your quest, who helps dedicated folks just like you pack on solid, lean mass for a living.

We’ve tapped our favorite trainers to get their key dos and don’ts, covering a range of training, nutrition, and supplementation tips. Just one extra “don’t” before we begin: Don’t let any of the doubters get to you. All will be clear to everyone soon enough, when your relentless efforts lead to awe-inspiring results. 

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THE FLEX MASS BLAST

Just starting out? Or have a stale training regimen and need a new challenge? Here’s a straightforward program, designed around the major compound lifts and augmented with an array of free-weight, cable, and machine moves to maximize muscle stimulation and development. You’ll lift four days per week and take three days off—arrange those around what works best for your schedule. For weighted exercises, choose a resistance that elicits failure at or around the listed rep range. 

DAY 1: BACK, SHOULDERS

  • BACK
    • Pullup | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 10, 10, 10
    • Smith Machine Row | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8
  • SHOULDERS
    • Standing Barbell Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Arnold Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8
  • BACK
    • Lat Pulldown to the Rear | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 8, 6
    • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 8, 6
  • SHOULDERS
    • Dumbbell Lateral Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 10, 8
    • Bentover Dumbbell Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 10, 8
  • BACK
    • Back Extension | SETS: 3 | REPS: 20, 20, 20  

DAY 2: THIGHS & CALVES

  • QUADRICEPS
    • Barbell Squat | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Hack Squat | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Stationary Lunge | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 8, 6
  • HAMSTRINGS
    • Romanian Deadlift | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
  • QUADS
    • Walking Lunge | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10 Steps Per Leg
    • Leg Extension | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8, 6
  • HAMS
    • Lying Leg Curl | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12, 10, 8, 6
  • CALVES
    • Donkey Calf Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 15, 12, 10, 8
    • Seated Calf Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 15, 12, 10

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DAY 3: CHEST, TRICEPS & ABS

  • CHEST
    • Bench Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Incline Dumbbell Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Decline Dumbbell Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8
    • Cable Crossover | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12, 10, 8
  • TRICEPS
    • Close-Grip Bench Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Incline Triceps Extension | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8
    • Dip | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 10, 10
  • ABS
    • Decline Twisting Crunch | SETS: 3 | REPS: 25-30
    • Hanging Knee Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 20-30
    • Plank | SETS: 3 | REPS: Hold for 30 seconds

DAY 4: TRAPS, BICEPS, FOREARMS, & LAGGING BODY PART OF YOUR CHOICE

  • LAGGING PB
    • Your Choice | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Your Choice | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
  • TRAPS
    • Smith Machine Shrug | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Rope Cable Shug | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10, 10, 10
  • BICEPS
    • Barbell Curl | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Barbell Preacher Curl | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10, 6-8, 6-8, 5
    • Alternating Dumbbell Curl 3 | REPS: 10, 10, 10
  • FOREARMS
    • Dumbbell Wrist Curl | SETS: 4 | REPS: 15, 12, 10, 8
    • Farmer’s Carry Walk | SETS: 3 | REPS: 50 Feet