Lift, eat, rest, repeat. It’s the “magic formula” for growth. Do those four things right, and there’s no doubt you’ll make gains.
That said, it helps to have a blueprint to follow in the gym. Here, we have created a nine-week, two-phase program. It’s designed to build a foundation of strength and muscle mass, and includes a split that focuses on various aspects of your structure — the major bodyparts that you need to develop for optimal results.
You can adjust the plan based on your needs. For instance, if you’re newer to training, say, three to six months of experience, you may want to go longer on Part 1, up to three months or so, before transitioning to Part 2.
Related:The Perfect Mass-Gain Day
You can also cycle through the plan more than once, going back and forth between the two phases over time while mixing in a higher-rep (12 to 20 per set) program to keep your systems off-balance and responding.
Whatever route you choose, one thing is certain: You’ll be making use of the best exercises ever devised, putting you on track to finishing your dream body on schedule.
PART 1 (WEEKS 1–5)
Setting the Foundation
Split the following four workouts over a seven-day week. So you could do Workouts 1 and 2 on Monday and Tuesday, and Workouts 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday, for instance. Focus on gaining strength, taking advantage of the rest days. For abs, see the Best Abs article on Page 30 of this issue for a five-minute core session you can tack to the end of one to two workouts per week.
Dumbbell Upright Row
This move is similar to the EZ-bar upright row, except switching out the bar for dumbbells. Keep the ’bells close to your body on the way up and down, and get your elbows high, as Brandon Fokken demonstrates here.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
You can kneel on a bench or you can just go right off the rack, especially helpful as you work up to the heavier weights.
PART 2 (WEEKS 6–9)
Raising the Structure
In these final four weeks, you’ll bump up the intensity by doing five workouts per week, thus starting the cycle over one day sooner and hitting each bodypart slightly more than once per week on average. So if you do Workout 1 on Monday, Workout 2 on Tuesday, Workout 3 on Thursday (after a rest day), Workout 4 on Friday, you’ll start over with Workout 1 on Saturday before another rest day, going right back to it on Monday with Workout 2.
The reps have dropped a bit, but with a reason: You’ll be going heavier, choosing weights that cause you to fail at the listed rep target. Never let up, and push yourself as hard as you can: The key is the stronger you get, the more growth you’ll stimulate, especially if you make sure to eat for maximum mass.
Barbell T-Bar Row
The T-bar row apparatus you find in most gyms these days didn’t always exist. But if you have a barbell and some weight plates, you don’t need it — just stick one end of the bar into a corner, load the other side up, straddle it, grasp it (with a V-handle from a cable apparatus if you prefer, but you can simply do a hand-over-hand grip style too) and row.
Standing EZ-Bar Curl
Whether you curl with a barbell or an EZ-bar doesn’t much matter with regard to your biceps development, truth be told, both are excellent mass builders. That said, the EZ-bar may offer some comfort for the wrists, and it ever-so-slightly changes the muscle recruitment pattern of the movement, so you’ll want to keep both as regulars in your exercise arsenal.