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