Last Chance for Mass

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Spring is a tricky time of year. It’s warm enough to start shedding a few layers of clothing — and maybe even start wearing a T-shirt outdoors, depending on where you live — but it’s not quite time to start rocking shorts, and it’s certainly too early to go to the beach or pool and take off your shirt (unless it’s an indoor pool, of course). Because of this, early spring marks the perfect time to squeeze in another month or so of mass gaining before it’s time to start leaning out for the summer. And have we got the perfect program for you: four weeks of aggressive, balls-to-the-wall bulking-up training, nutrition and supplements followed immediately by a two-week “transition-to-lean” regimen that will lead into our full-length summer fat-burning program in the April issue.

So don’t worry, we’ll help you uncover your six-pack — just not quite yet. For the next month, let’s wring out another 5 or 10 pounds of solid muscle. Starting … now.

MASS GAINING: Four Weeks

The majority of the next six weeks is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like to hit the weights intensely and you eat like a bird, there’s probably a cardio funk-aerobics class at the local health club with your name written all over it. Knock yourself out. But if you’re looking to add up to 10 pounds of muscle in the next month, this program is for you.

>>Training

Bodybuilding great Lee Haney used to offer one rule of thumb to those looking to add size: “Stimulate, don’t annihilate.” Meaning, lift intensely but don’t overtrain if you want to get bigger and avoid training plateaus. The following four-week training program embodies Haney’s mantra nicely. Each major muscle group will be trained only once a week and with no more than 13 total working sets. Just be sure to take all these sets to failure to keep intensity high and properly stimulate new growth.

In the first two weeks, rep ranges will progress within workouts from six to eight (relatively heavy) to eight to 10 (moderate loads) to 12 to 15 (relatively light). This variety of loads will keep your muscles guessing so they don’t get too accustomed to one rep range. In weeks three and four, rep ranges look moderate on paper for the most part, but drop sets are introduced here, which will ramp up intensity to promote further growth.

As for cardio, this depends on the person. If you’re a hardgainer, there’s really no need to do cardio. If you tend to add body fat easily, however, add four days of cardio every week — two high-intensity interval training sessions and two steady-state sessions. That will tip the balance so that the weight you’re gaining is primarily lean mass.

*Does not include one to two warm-up sets

**On your last set, after failing initially at eight to 10 reps, do two drop sets by reducing the weight 20 percent to 30 percent and repping out to failure on each.
^If six to eight reps with only bodyweight is too easy, do weighted pull-ups.

>>Nutrition and Supplements

If you want to gain serious size, you have to eat like it. Your nutritional guidelines for the next four weeks will be aggressive: about 25 calories per pound of bodyweight per day (that’s more than 4,500 calories for the 180-pounder), at least 2 grams of protein per pound (360 grams or more), close to 3 grams of carbs (nearly 540 grams) and about 0.5 grams of fat (90 grams daily for the 180-pounder). Supplements also will play a critical role in squeezing out every last pound of muscle.

Below is a sample day of eating and supplements based on a 180-pound male to give you an idea of what your days at the dinner table and supplement counter will look like:

BREAKFAST
3 whole eggs
6 egg whites
2 packets instant Cream of Wheat

MORNING SNACK
2 scoops casein protein
1 whole-wheat English muffin
1 tablespoon peanut butter

LUNCH
8 ounces turkey deli meat
4 slices whole-wheat bread
1 cup chopped broccoli

AFTERNOON SNACK
2 scoops casein protein
1 cup oatmeal (cooked)

PREWORKOUT
1 scoop whey protein
1 large apple

POSTWORKOUT
2 scoops whey protein
1 scoop casein protein
1 32-ounce energy drink

DINNER
8 ounces top sirloin steak
2 cups brown rice (cooked)
1 cup chopped broccoli
2 cups salad
2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar salad dressing

BEDTIME
1 scoop casein protein
1 ounce mixed nuts

Approximate Daily Total*Cal. Pro. Carb. Fat

4,410 415 468 86

Supplements

Combine some critical mass-gaining supplements with your preworkout and postworkout shakes.

PREWORKOUT SHAKE
Consume 30 to 60 minutes before workout

Mix in water:
1 scoop (20 to 25 grams) whey protein
3 to 5 grams creatine
10 to 15 grams BCAAs
5 to 10 grams glutamine

POSTWORKOUT SHAKE
Consume within 30 minutes after workout

2 scoops (40 to 50 grams) whey protein
1 scoop (20 to 25 grams) casein protein
3 to 5 grams creatine
10 to 15 grams BCAAs
3 to 10 grams glutamine

TRANSITION TO LEAN: Two Weeks

Time to switch gears. After the last four weeks, you should have gained significant size. Now, the goal is to strip off any excess body fat you may have added, especially for those who decided to skip cardio the last month. Your weight workouts will speed up and your calories will drop as you start to see increased definition.

>>Training

The transition-to-lean training program is similar to the mass-gaining program in that the exercises are pretty much all basic movements that will hit a maximum amount of muscle fibers in the most efficient manner. These next two weeks of training, however, will move at a significantly quicker pace. In the first four weeks, rest periods last between 90 seconds and two minutes to ensure that the muscles had adequate time to recover, and you can move big weights on subsequent sets. Now rest periods shrink to 45 to 60 seconds, and workouts consist entirely of supersets. This faster pace will help burn more calories while you train and maximize fat burning. Also, each major muscle group will be trained twice a week, and HIIT cardio is now required, not optional.

Days 3 and 6: HIIT Cardio, Abs

Day 3
Cardio:
Alternate one-minute fast intervals with one-minute slow intervals (active rest) for 20 minutes on a cardio machine of your choice.
Abs:
Hanging Leg Raise/Oblique Crunch/Crunch tri-set — three tri-sets total, 10 to 15 reps per exercise.

Day 6
Cardio:
Alternate 45-second fast intervals with 30-second slow intervals (active rest) for 20 minutes on a cardio machine of your choice.
Abs:
Double Crunch/Oblique Crunch/Plank Hold tri-set — three tri-sets total, 10 to 15 reps for crunches, 30- to 45-second hold for planks.

>> Nutrition and Supplements

The food guidelines for weeks five and six will be noticeably decreased from the last month: about 17 or 18 calories per pound of bodyweight per day (just more than 3,200 calories for the 180-pounder), about 1.5 grams of protein per pound (270 grams), 2.25 to 2.5 grams of carbs (405 to 450 grams) and about 0.25 grams of fat or less (45 grams or less). Here’s a sample day of the transition-to-lean meal plan, along with supplements:

Breakfast
2 large whole eggs
3 large egg whites
1 cup oatmeal (cooked)
1 banana

Late-Morning Snack
½ can light tuna in water
2 slices whole-wheat bread
1 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 large orange

Lunch
6 ounces chicken breast
1 medium sweet potato

Midday Snack
8 ounces nonfat fruit yogurt

Preworkout Snack
1 scoop whey protein
1 banana

Postworkout Snack
2 scoops whey protein
1 medium plain bagel
2 tablespoons jelly

Dinner
6 ounces chicken breast
2 cups spaghetti
1 can green beans
½ cup marinara sauce

Nighttime Snack

8 ounces lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
1 cup oatmeal (cooked)

Approximate daily totals Cal. Pro. Carb. Fat

3,185 281 435 31

Supplements

Take these supplements in these doses to provide the all-important assist as you transition to a get-lean phase.

CLA: 2 grams with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Carnitine: 3 grams with breakfast, 30 to 60 minutes before workouts and immediately after workouts
Green-Tea Extract: 500 milligrams three times per day between meals
Creatine: 5 grams before and after workouts
5-HTP: 50 to 300 milligrams in evenings, as needed

Mass Makers

These supplements are critical for anyone who wants to make the most of this mass program.

Xero Limits H.U.G.E. Mass
MHP Up Your Mass
BPI Sports A-50
BPI Sports Arimedex HD
BPI Sports M-80
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey Protein Isolate
The Vitamin Shoppe Tonalin CLA
ProMera Health Con-Cret