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All terms of endearment to those of us looking for the ultimate training prize—MASS. While a hard, cut body draws a few looks, especially from the women, traps to your ears, arms that permanently flare to the side, and quads that force you to walk like you have a bad case of hemorrhoids are qualities that make everyone look, and make you feel like a king. Quick and easy? Definitely not. Nothing that inspires greatness, and no one who has achieved it has done it by taking shortcuts. There must be a method, a plan, and a passion for pain if you want to own the giant shoulders that others stand upon. 

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This two-part series was designed to teach you how to become a giant if you aren’t one, and if you are, to give you another push and drive your gains to new heights. No doubt you’ve seen some rockin’ gains so far if you’ve been following the first part of the program. If you missed it, you can certainly start with the second part, however, to truly gain the size you want, it would be wise to backtrack before moving forward. Nonetheless, to recap, for those who missed it, in Part 1 we spoke about the difference between lean mass and fat mass and the importance of adding a few extra calories to your diet, but not overdoing it. We also looked at reducing ab work and some of those isolated exercises in favor of upping the big-mass multijoint exercises to bring out your ultimate thickness. And finally, we zeroed in mostly on strength-type exercises that required longer rest periods to build that foundation of mass. It is now time to begin to refine, see some cuts, but continue that harsh path of adding more size to that base you already built. In other words, you’re still not going to hit a super-shredding routine, rather you’re going to do a hybrid shred-size routine that will not be so restrictive that your size comes to a halt in favor of definition, but both size and definition work in unison, perfecting the machine.


Swiss ball rollout
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When it comes to lifting, science explains some of the basics quite well. The research is rife with studies on animals and humans explaining how strength and size hold a strong correlation to each other. It’s less ubiquitous when it comes to just building size; known in the lab as hypertrophy. However, there is ample evidence proving that the factors that control the continual process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS)—the way in which proteins are utilized to increase total muscle size—are controlled by how you train. That means one thing. It is on you to make sure that you hit every rep, every set, and receive adequate nutrition and recovery periods to do so. Furthermore, not all training sees similar results, and in fact, results are very specific to the stimulus itself. So, while training for strength certainly gives bragging rights, training for size has its own boast-worthy assets. While strength and size parallel each other, you need the intangible effects of training to make the separation and see your true size shine. 


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In Part 1 we hit the strength big, focused on specifc muscles that help give the overall appearance of bigness, and built a solid foundation to support this next phase. Part 2 separates from the strength-size partnership and goes solo toward the hypertrophy end of the spectrum. Since hypertrophy is the scientifc name for size, this seems wise. So why didn’t we do this straight off? By increasing strength you build a foundation for which to lift upon. The stronger you are, the more you lift. Okay, you knew that. That also means that it is easier to lift lighter weights. Tell you something you don’t know, right? What if your previously lighter weights were now heavier? What if the weights you were struggling to get 8 reps for, hit 12 with ease? Or better yet, those 12-rep sets saw a 10–20% increase in their load? That means greater volume. Volume is the total amount of work you do. It can be measured by each set, over several sets, or your total workout or even your total week of workouts. By increasing volume, you increase size. And what is really special about volume is that its correlation to size pushes beyond that from where strength left off. That means that by building strength frst, then continuing with a size program, you get the best of both worlds—bigger and stronger.

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The key to getting big is taking that newfound strength and converting it to help with size development. The strength-to-size conversion works a little like currency between countries. Go to some countries and you get a lot for just a little. Go to other countries where your dollar is weak, and you have to pay to get more. Don’t let yourself become weak, and your currency, in this case strength, is easily converted. So Part 2 of this mass builder, while focusing on size, will not let the strength deteriorate. And unlike a shred routine, where cardio is added and your pace is pretty quick, a good hypertrophy program still requires a little time and care, some strength training, and not too much fat burning. So whereas in Part 1 we actually increased body fat a little to aid in strength development, a goal for this program will be to slightly reduce body fat, but not eliminate it. Remember, the anabolic hormones like fat and tend to work a little better in a nondeprived environment.


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Muscle hypertrophy is triggered by breaking the muscle tissue down in such a way that when it repairs itself, it increases the overall size of the muscle by increasing the muscle fIber’s volume. Whereas increasing muscle strength is due to the strengthening and thickening of the protein strands of the muscle fIber itself. While both sound the same, they are different and unfortunately require different stimuli to trigger the specific repair process. To explain this in layman’s terms, the analogy of building a stronger house versus a bigger house should do the trick. Which would you rather have: a 4,000-square-foot house made of wood two-by-fours (hypertrophy) or a 2,000-square-foot house made of concrete (strength)? Bigger is better—unless you need the strength. If you lived in the hurricane capital of the world, South Florida, perhaps concrete is not a bad idea. Over time though, it is possible to have that 4,000-square-foot house that is stronger and bigger because the concrete base of the 2,000-square-foot house can be built upon. You likely wouldn’t build upward on a structure that couldn’t support it. This is why our program has both elements. Build it strong. Then build it big. At the root of all training is the concept of muscle recruitment. That is, the ability for the brain to process information, for example, how many reps and how much weight, and then how many fibers and which kind should do the work. Each muscle comprised several different fiber types and as many as a few hundred thousand fibers. To hit all of them and make them grow is quite a challenge. Fibers that generally perform slower, more endurance-like tasks, are typically smaller and not called upon during heavy-lifting exercises. Consequently, those faster fibers, while larger in size and more utilized in heavy lifting, are not often used during slower, more steady, longer-duration-type activities. This means that the body preferentially recruits muscle fibers based on the type of stress placed upon them. And in turn, it means that to activate them all, we need to use a variety of exercises, tempos, sets, reps, and loads to eventually require every fber of every muscle to work and grow. As we said before, quick results are not going to happen, but you can control your outcome.


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Research has shown that high-volume training programs stimulate better release of testosterone, growth hormone, and other growth factors, and force MPS to step up its game. When looking to build massive muscle the major hormone is testosterone. It stimulates the anabolic environment and repairs damaged tissue. GH and IGF are the two hormones thought to help overall size and growth. Research has shown with convincing evidence that moderate-to high-intensity, shorter-rest-time, high volume activity promotes its maximal levels. The volume best associated with these hormonal responses is achieved by increasing your reps, shortening your rest times slightly, and increasing the number of sets and/or body-part-specifc exercises. If you remember from basic biology, every hormone has a specific function and a specific receptor to which it binds. The greater concentration of a hormone and the more receptor sites available, the more likely the hormone will have an effect. Since muscle-building hormones react to high levels of stress, if you’re not working hard, you are minimizing your chances of successful positive interaction. And guess what? Hormone concentration and receptor binding increases with training meaning that prolonged training effects (months to years) will have profound effects on your muscle quality.


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The most important thing you can remember here is to not let things get out of control. In building super strength, we allowed for a slightly higher body fat level in order to facilitate building strength. It’s now time to bring things back to perspective and set a target goal that’ll reveal some of your hard work with some nicely placed cuts. Your target body fat should not exceed 14% and should really try to hit between 10–12%. If you overate and got chunky during the strength phase of this mass builder, now you will really need to modify your program. If you followed the rules we set for strength and added an extra couple hundred calories to your diet, all you need to do is drop those and should naturally lose fat over the next 4 to 6 weeks. Without measuring your body fat specifcally, you’ll know you’re where you need to be if you can make out a tracing of most of your abs and even seeing some decent cuts. You should be targeting about 14–17 calories per pound of body weight if you have a slower metabolism, and for those with the faster metabolism you should likely be around 20 calories per pound during your hypertrophy phase. And just like any program designed to keep muscle size on, you need to keep a good supply of protein coursing through your veins.

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The big-strength exercises and increased calorie intake reduced the need to train abs independently. However, great physiques of mass proportions are built on solid abs, so we’ll bring them back in for the next phase of this program. Don’t worry if you are having trouble seeing them or wondering if they lost size. You will, and they haven’t. In fact, they have likely gotten deeper and thicker. And since this program will continue to bust out the big time chest, back, and shoulder groups for the upper body, your overall look will exude hugeness and your V shape will show its true size. Since hypertrophy is the name of the game, in addition to fine-tuning your abs, there will be a greater focus on other individual muscle groups to help push the mass toward a more perfected shape.


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This is a six-week, five-day split that will alternate between a true hypertrophy program and a strength-based version of that same program each week. Weeks 1, 3, and 5 will use the same exercise routines. Weeks 2, 4, and 6 will be the same and use the same split, but we will add a little variety, a few new exercises, and change the rep and set scheme. The up-down cycling of reps by week will provide a challenge, keep the body building, while continuing to open up more receptor pathways and stimulate greater concentrations of GH, IGF, and testosterone. Exercises are selected based on the fact that certain larger muscle group exercises (like a squat) increase testosterone and GH release more quickly, while it is the smaller muscle group exercises (such as biceps curls) that give you the look you want. Since we are coming of a strength-based mass-building program, this transition will amp up the pace but keep things moving forward. So we’ve included a little of everything to keep your physique tight while promoting muscle size.

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The variation between even and odd weeks is designed to help activate a few of those dormant fibers. In a few cases the exercises themselves have changed in order to make sure that both maximal volume and proper recovery can be achieved. During the odd weeks, you want to shoot for 12 rep sets with 1½ minutes to no more than two minutes of rest. Each exercise, unless otherwise noted, should be performed for 4–5 sets. During the even weeks, you want to increase your load slightly, look to achieve 10 reps but no less than 8 reps and use a rest time of two minutes but not more than 2½ minutes. You will perform the same 3–4 sets. On odd weeks you will extend your sets by doing dropsets on the last set of a few of the exercises. On the even weeks, you will just complete your sets as such and give yourself a little extra chance to recover.Use this routine for six weeks and you will notice harder, leaner muscles. Add to proper nutritional timing pre-and post-workout, and you will want to repeat this time and again.



A picture of assorted foods for the Whole30 diet.

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Adding muscle mass
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Chris Nicoll
Chris Nicoll

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