Workout Plans
  • Goal: Build Muscle, Burn Fat, Gain Strength
  • Duration: 3 Weeks
  • Days per week: 4
  • Type: Strength Training
The Winter Mass Workout Program thumbnail

Forget about abs and calves. Gain maximum size and strength with the most effective exercises known to man.

Start this program

We know everyong isn't focused on counting every gram of carbs and fat en route to "beach-ready abs." Some of us are more interested in strength and gaining size where it counts. There's no time like to present to shift your training to a powerbuilding split focused on putting up big numbers and adding prime beef to your frame and, when the time comes, allow you to quickly shed the excess bulk and reveal the dense muscle beneath.

To this end, we polled three of our favorite experts—Joe DeFranco, a strength coach to several pro foot- ball players; CJ Murphy, a strength coach, powerlifter, strongman, and all-around badass; and Mike O’Hearn, a bodybuilder, powerlifter, former American Gladiator, and the model for these pictures—to get their picks for the best muscle and strength-building exercises, period. We then mixed as many of them as we could together to fashion a damn fine mass-gain program that will have you setting new PRs—safely—while pumping up the muscles that show behind even the ugliest sweater: the traps, shoulders, chest, and arms.

The Directions

Perform each workout (Days I, II, III, and IV) once per week. Exercises marked with an asterisk (*) indicate that they should be rotated with similar movements each week. For example, on the first leg day, you can do the classic back squat one week, then a box squat the next, and a pause squat in Week 3. (If you have access to special bars, like a safety squat bar, you can use these as well for more variety.) On upper-body days, you can rotate among the bench press, incline bench press, and floor press, just for example. On the second leg day, you can opt for any variety of deadlift you like (such as a trap bar, sumo, or conventional); you can also change the height of the bar, choosing to do deficit deadlifts (where you stand on a platform to increase the range of motion) or rack pulls (where you rest the bar on a rack or blocks just below knee level to shorten the range of motion). Cycle the lifts as you like or need to, depending on recovery and how your lower back and shoulders feel.

On all of the main lifts (squat, bench press, and deadlift) and their variants that you cycle, you’ll work up to a one- to 10-rep max. Begin with an empty bar and gradually add weight until you reach a load that cuts you off at a certain number of reps within that range. You can shoot for a 10-rep max one week on one lift and then an eight-rep max on another lift the next week. You can work down to a one-rep max over time or play it safe and stay within five to eight reps; it’s up to you and how far you want to push your strength gains. Just be aware that repeatedly training very heavy (five-rep maxes or heavier) will be stressful and will require occasional deloads. Once you reach the load that allows you the number of reps you’re shooting for but no more, you’re done with that lift for the day.

Note that some exercises are alternated. This means you’ll do one set of the first lift, rest, then one set of the second lift, rest again, and repeat until sets are complete.

The Moves

Sliding Leg Curl: Use Valslides, furniture sliders, or paper plates on a waxed floor. Lie on your back on the floor and rest your heels on the sliders and slide them up close to your butt so your knees are bent. Brace your abs and drive your heels into the floor to raise your hips up in the air. Extend your legs, sliding your feet out straight, and then bend them as in a leg curl to come back up. Keep your abs braced so your back doesn’t hyperextend. If you have access to a glute-ham bench, you can do glute-ham raises (GHR) in place of sliding leg curls.

Concentration Curl: Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in one hand and brace the back of your arm against the inside of your thigh. Perform a strict curl move- ment and then lower the weight one half of the way back down. Curl it all the way up again and then lower fully. That’s one “11⁄2” rep.

Face-Pull: Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand with palms facing each other. Pull the rope to your forehead while flaring your elbows out until your back is fully contracted.

Bulgarian Split Squat: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand lunge length in front of a bench. Rest the top of one foot on the bench behind you. Bend both knees and lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor. Keep your torso upright. To perform 1 1⁄2 reps, lower your body into the bottom position and then come up halfway. Go back down and then come up to the start position. That’s one “1 1⁄2” rep.

Incline Tate Press: Set a bench to an incline and lie back with a pair of dumbbells locked out overhead. Flare your elbows out and lower the weights in toward your chest. 

Deadlift: Keep your back flat and drive through your heels. For the key- stone variation, hold the bar at arm’s length at your thighs. Push your hips back and lower your torso until the bar reaches the top of your knees. It is similar to a Romanian deadlift, only with a shorter range of motion. (It’s also easier on the lower back.)

One-Arm Farmer's Walk: Hold a heavy dumbbell in one hand and walk as far as you can while keeping your torso upright and straight. Alternate sides each set. 

Band Pushdown: Attach a band to the top of a power rack or other sturdy surface and grab an end in each hand. Perform pushdowns as you would at a cable station, but do as many sets as needed to reach 100 total reps, resting along the way. 

Pullup: Grab the bar with a wide grip. Keep your back flat and initi- ate the pull by retracting your shoulder blades. Initiate each rep from a dead hang; don’t use momentum to get up.

Earn Cold Hard Mass

Weekly Routine