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The 12-Week Plan to Throw on Muscle Mass

Our multiphase approach to gaining size, by way of getting seriously strong rst, is a foolproof method for anyone looking to be at his biggest and baddest right before summer starts.

Mass-Phil-Heath-Bench-Dumbbells
PAVEL YTHJALL / M+F Magazine

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  • Goal

    Gain Muscle

  • Skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    12 Weeks

  • Days per week

    4

  • Type

    Muscle Endurance, Power, Strength Training

  • Goal

    Gain Muscle

  • Skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    12 Weeks

  • Days per week

    4

  • Type

    Muscle Endurance, Power, Strength Training

Our Mass-Attack training routine is a 12-week, three-phase plan consisting of four, six, and two weeks, respectively. The first phase is adhering to a hybrid size/strength routine, one that helps prepare your body to endure the stresses to follow.  In the second phase, you’ll be following a plan resembling that of a powerlifter, with a focus on building raw strength, while paying less attention to muscular hypertrophy (growth). The third phase is once again a hybrid, for two distinct reasons. One is to reacclimatize your body to the standard bodybuilding program you’ll go back to at the end of the 12-week cycle. The other is to put your new strength to the service of isolation exercises.

There’s a general rule of thumb in bodybuilding: Stronger muscles allow for heavier lifting, and heavier lifting (with good form) builds bigger muscles. This mass-attack 12-week-long training routine will deliver you bigger muscles by way of stronger muscles. It’s that simple. So stop messing around and be the biggest and baddest right before summer starts.

Overview

Phase 1:

This is your transitional phase, where we gradually shift your training style from high reps and moderate weight to training with heavy weight and low reps. The total volume is probably less than what you’re performing now, but to compensate, you will be focusing on increasing weight, both in general and progressively, as you reach the second phase of the program. Be sure to rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets, with up to three minutes of rest between exercises. In other words, by the time your breathing begins to normalize, you should have weights in hand again.

Phase 2:

The goal in Phase 2 is to create as much raw strength as possible by lifting the heaviest weights you can without poor form. You’ll build strength that you’ll be applying not just during the final two weeks of our 12-week program but throughout the rest of your bodybuilding days: You’re essentially creating a whole new strength paradigm for yourself.  

The main difference you’ll notice between the first phase and the second is the absence of all isolation exercises. Also, you’ll be switching from dumbbells to a barbell for many of your exercises. This is a pretty primordial routine, probably similar to the one you followed when you first started lifting. Nonetheless, its goal is similar to that first one—to build a strong foundation and increase your strength quickly. This isn’t the time to worry about details; there will be plenty of time for that later.

Phase 3:

By now, your strength should certainly be improved over what it was a few months ago, and you should notice a new degree of thickness to your physique. Odds are you’re handling greater weights with greater ease than ever before, and the results will last a lifetime of lifting. Now we’re bringing isolation movements back into your routine—albeit you’re still expected to lift relatively heavy loads—and increasing the reps and total number of sets over the last phase.

The Plan

  • Goal

    Gain Muscle

  • Skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    12 Weeks

  • Days per week

    4

  • Type

    Muscle Endurance, Power, Strength Training

Weeks 1-4 Transitional Phase
  • Day 1

    Chest and Shoulders

    --

    8

    Yes

    Chest and Shoulders

  • Day 2

    Back and Abs

    --

    9

    Yes

    Back and Abs

  • Day 3

    Rest

  • Day 4

    Legs

    --

    8

    No

    Legs

  • Day 5

    Arms and Abs

    --

    8

    No

    Arms and Abs

  • Day 6

    Rest

  • Day 7

    Rest

Weeks 5-10 Raw Strength
  • Day 1

    Chest and Shoulders

    --

    6

    Yes

    Chest and Shoulders

  • Day 2

    Back and Abs

    --

    6

    Yes

    Back and Abs

  • Day 3

    Rest

  • Day 4

    Legs

    --

    6

    Yes

    Legs

  • Day 5

    Arms and Abs

    --

    5

    Yes

    Arms and Abs

  • Day 6

    Rest

  • Day 7

    Rest

Weeks 11-12 Thick Physique
  • Day 1

    Chest and Shoulders

    --

    8

    Yes

    Chest and Shoulders

  • Day 2

    Back and Abs

    --

    9

    Yes

    Back and Abs

  • Day 3

    Rest

  • Day 4

    Legs

    --

    8

    Yes

    Legs

  • Day 5

    Arms and Abs

    --

    8

    Yes

    Arms and Abs

  • Day 6

    Rest

  • Day 7

    Rest